Choosing a trusted title company to partner with is crucial to your success as a real estate agent or attorney. It serves as a neutral third party to ensure the smoothest possible transaction for you and your important clients.
From vital research to escrow to all the bells and whistles of the closing process, the right title company will be your go-to for everything you need, whether you’re representing the buyer or the seller.
Let’s explore what you need to know when considering your title company options.
Location and Expertise
The laws governing real estate transactions vary from state to state. In some areas, the buyer and seller may each choose their own closing agent, but generally, the process is handled by one organization that both parties have agreed upon. In Illinois, the seller’s attorney typically selects the title company that will handle the escrow and closing process. In Wisconsin, it’s usually the seller’s real estate agent who makes the decision.
Your title company should have a record of customer satisfaction — and in this internet age, a few simple clicks will deliver a host of information and reviews.
The business should be in good standing with the American Land Title Association. This non-profit national trade association was established in 1907 and represents more than six thousand title insurance agents and underwriters. They advocate for the safe and lawful transfer of land title records and the elimination of real estate fraud and other problems.
ALTA’s consumer education website has a search feature by state and city or county to help you find a member company with the in-depth local knowledge you need to protect your client’s best interests.
By law, any conflicts of interest must be disclosed to the home buyer or property seller in advance. The best title company is one that is truly neutral and will faithfully perform its duties for all involved.
Questions to Ask
Consumers these days are interested in virtual and innovative options. When researching title companies, it’s critical to serve your clients by presenting choices tailored to their specific needs.
In the interest of safety and accessibility, some title companies now perform remote closings. Per a recent law passed in Illinois, online notarization of legal documents is allowed as long as the notary is physically in the state at the time of the transaction. Wisconsin law also now permits remote notarizations.
Purchasing a home is typically the biggest financial decision many people will make in their lifetime, so doing some comparison shopping makes sense. Buyers, especially first-time ones, may have many questions about title insurance and why it’s a smart investment.
An owner’s title insurance policy is acquired with a one-time premium paid at closing and will protect their financial interests for as long as they own the property. The title company should provide a clear choice of coverage, and their agent should be happy to answer any questions regarding the policy.
Not all title companies charge the same rates or offer the same quality of service, and your client depends on you to help them get the best deal.
Another consideration is the safety of funds held in escrow, such as the buyer’s earnest money deposit. One of your fiduciary duties is to ensure that the title company has a stellar reputation and a financial rating of B+ or higher.
In the past, unwitting homebuyers were sometimes scammed out of their hard-earned money during closing by unscrupulous real estate and settlement agents.
The federal “Know Before You Owe” law, also known as TRID (the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule) requires mortgage lenders to send a comprehensive closing disclosure that lists the terms of the home loan, all associated fees, property taxes and insurance costs, and other details.
When your client’s disclosure arrives, they will need your expertise to carefully review this document and ensure that there are no junk fees or other attempts to illegally siphon funds from an unaware buyer.
Your title company partner should be completely transparent about the service fees that they charge, and your client should be aware of these before committing to a closing agent. These charges should be clearly outlined and are usually located on page 2, section C of the disclosure document, or may be further down the page in section H, “Other.”
Here are the common title-related fees:
- Owner’s title insurance binder/ premium
- Lender’s title insurance binder/ premium
- Closing/ escrow agent fee
- Title/ escrow company fee
- Title search fee
If you or your client has any questions at all about these costs, be sure to address this with the closing officer as soon as possible.
Your Top Choice
Selecting the right title company and closing agency for your client doesn’t have to be difficult. You want to work with a well-respected and well-reviewed organization that employs experienced and knowledgeable professionals who take pride in their work and provide exemplary customer service.
Landtrust Title Services offers twenty-two closing locations in Illinois and Wisconsin as well as a full spectrum of services for real estate agents, attorneys, and commercial real estate investors. We have the skills and resources you need to ensure your clients enjoy a smooth and efficient closing process.
Questions? We’re here to help — reach out today to see how we can become your trusted title partner.