Frequently Asked Questions
Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make – and you want to make sure it’s protected long-term with title insurance. For 30 years, we’ve worked with homeowners to give them peace of mind that their property is financially covered from any defects or title issues that may arise for as long as you own the property.
Do I need title insurance?
Yes. It financially protects you for as long as you own the property. Unfortunately, title claims can happen, and having title insurance is your one-time payment for peace of mind in case any defects, liens or other issues arise.
What is title insurance?
Once you purchase a new property, the title proves you legally own it. Title insurance helps protect property owners and lenders from potential financial loss and legal expenses in the result there is an issue or defect in the title to your property. It’s important to note that title insurance is different from traditional types of insurance as it covers problems that have already occured. Title underwriters will review the history of the property and look to eliminate potential title issues before the title switches to you. Plus, with title insurance, it is a one-time premium paid at closing compared to making monthly payments.
What is escrow?
Escrow refers to a third party that is hired to handle the property transaction, the exchange of money and any related documents while the parties work through the details of the transaction. The escrow process starts once both parties have reached a mutual agreement or offer and any terms and contingencies surrounding the deal. An escrow account will be created by the listing agent of the property. The escrow officer handles a variety of important items, including the transfer of the buyer’s loan documents and property taxes, helps ensure that the title does not have any liens on it before the transfer of ownership is completed, and works with all parties to complete any and all forms during the process. You will hear the term, “Being in escrow,” which is a legal procedure that is used when the property requires a transfer of title.
What do I need to do to prepare for my closing?
This is a list of possible items to bring. However, always speak with your attorney to confirm what you specifically need to bring and prepare for closing.
(a) Your valid Driver’s License or Passport, for identification.
(b) Receipt or confirmation for the wire you are sending for the funds needed to close (if applicable), or a cashier’s check payable to the title company in the amount of the funds needed to close (see below);
(c) A paid receipt showing one year’s prepaid homeowner’s insurance. Provide this to your lender in advance. They will help you with any questions you have on this. If they have not discussed insurance requirements, you should contact them immediately.
(d) Your checkbook for any miscellaneous charges which are not reflected in the check you bring under section (b) above.
(c) Any other documents your lender has told you to bring.
What do I need to do to prepare for my sale closing?
Always speak with your attorney to confirm what you specifically need to bring and prepare for at closing. This is a list of possible considerations.
a) Payoff Demand Letter – For each mortgage, home equity line, or other loans you may have secured by the property, you need to have a “payoff demand letter,” which you can obtain from your lender. This is a letter stating how much money the lender needs to receive from the closing to release their lien on the property. You will need to provide them with the loan number, the closing date, and often other personal information such as date of birth, social security number and the like. Be sure to provide them with your forwarding address and phone number. Be sure to pay your mortgages until then. If your closing is anywhere after the 10th of the month, ask the mortgage company if you need to make your payment for that month before closing. As many mortgage companies have 24-72 hour turn around on issuing these, you should contact them immediately. The funds needed to pay off the loan are wired or sent via FedEx to the lender.
b) Termination of Utilities and Home Insurance – Don’t forget to terminate utilities as of the date of surrender of possession. As a courtesy to your buyer, tell the utility companies that you are moving and give them the name of the new owners. Ask them to NOT disconnect the service, but rather transfer it to the new owner, if possible. You should also contact your homeowners’ insurance company and tell them to cancel coverage one day after closing. Your homeowners’ insurance should be left in place until the day after closing; at that time, you should call your insurance agent to cancel. They will refund you any unearned premium. Be sure to leave utilities on until 11:59 pm on the date of the closing, as they all need to be working at the buyers’ final walkthrough.
c) Schedule Final Walk-Through – Ask your realtor to arrange the final walk-through of the property with your buyer. Also, be sure the realtor brings keys to the closing.
d) Should you attend the closing? You DO NOT have to attend the closing of selling your property. If you don’t attend, speak with your attorney to prepare and send you documents for your signature that are needed to close the sale. You should be able to send these over as soon as the closing is scheduled. You will need to print, have signed and notarized, and then return the original documents to your attorney prior to closing. THESE MUST BE THE ORIGINALS; scans or emails are not acceptable. Be sure to be available via phone or email in the event something comes up. You will also need to provide one set of keys to the property at closing (any other sets can be left in the home).
e) Receiving Funds – You will be able to receive proceeds from your sale via wire to your checking account or have a check mailed to you. Do not ever send, or accept, wire instructions via email. Contact your bank to get “Wire instructions” from them for an incoming wire. These are not necessarily the same as the numbers on your check or as ACH instructions. You need to have a conversation with an individual at your bank to confirm that you have “incoming wire instructions.” If you give the wrong instructions to the title company, your money can be wired to the wrong place.
f) Forwarding address and your social security number. You will need to provide these to your attorney and they can provide you with a form so you can give this in paper rather than email.
g) Pay your Assessments (if applicable) – If you are selling a condo or property that requires paying assessment fees, be sure to pay them through the last day of the month of closing (at the closing, the buyer will reimburse you for their share of the month). If your association permits it, we strongly suggest that you pay forward one month (for example, with an April closing, I suggest you pay through the end of May); this allows for any short delays in closing, and you’ll be reimbursed by the buyer for their share of what was prepaid. Once you have done so, ask the Condo Association or management company for a paid assessment letter. You will need to send this to your attorney no later than three business days before closing, and many condo associations have long lead times on generating these, so please call them promptly to get this in the works.
Do I need to attend the closing?
You DO NOT have to attend the closing of selling your property.
If you’re a buyer, you will need to be there and your attorney and realtor will inform you of the date, time and location of the closing.
How will I know where the closing will take place?
Your attorney will typically tell you when and where the closing will take place.