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Frequently Asked Questions

What is title insurance?

When a property changes hands, a title company like ALTC conducts a title search that verifies that the seller is the legal owner and holds the rights to sell. This title search is a comprehensive review of all the legal, financial, and regulatory records relating to a property. Title insurance protects property buyers and their mortgage lenders against any ownership issues that are not revealed by the title search.

What is a title search?

A title search is a detailed examination of the historical records related to an individual property. These records include deeds, court records, property and name indexes, and city and county tax records, among others. The purpose of the search is to verify the sellers’ right to transfer ownership, and to uncover any claims, rights, or burdens on the property.

What is a title?

A title is the foundation of property ownership. It is proof of an owner’s right to possess and use a property.

What kinds of problems can a title search reveal?

In our half-century in business we’ve seen it all: errors in public records, unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, boundary disputes, forged wills and deeds, secret marriages, undisclosed heirs, invalid divorces, false affidavits, unknown land use restrictions, and more.

Who needs title insurance?

There are two types of title insurance: owner’s policies and lender’s policies. These protect the buyer’s property rights and the lender’s mortgage investment in the event a title defect later comes to light.

Even newly constructed homes and properties require a thorough title search. New buildings sit on land that may have changed hands many times over the years, making ownership disputes a real possibility. New construction is also more likely to come burdened with liens from subcontractors or suppliers. Whether you are buying a new home or a historic one, a commercial property or open land, title insurance is a must.

How is title insurance different from homeowner’s insurance?

Unlike fire or flood insurance, which protect against problems that might arise in the future, title insurance protects against “hidden hazards” in your property’s ownership that were not discovered at the time it was purchased.

How long does a title insurance policy last?

An owner’s policy protects you as long as the owners or their heirs own the property. The lender’s policy expires once the loan is fully paid off.

Who pays for the title insurance policy?

In most cases, the seller pays for the owner’s policy and the buyer purchases the lender’s policy.

Can I choose my own title company?

The party who pays for the owner’s policy may choose which title company to use. This is usually the seller in two-party transactions, and is always the owner when a property is being refinanced. Let your realtor or banker know your preference!

What is an escrow agent?

An escrow agent (like ALTC) is a disinterested third party that helps buyers, sellers, and lenders complete, or “close,” a property sale.

What is an escrow officer?

Escrow officers (also called “closing agents”) are the individuals who gather information and assemble the documents required to close a real estate transaction. Their work allows buyers and sellers to make and receive payments, assume or end mortgage loans, and transfer ownership and title.