You’re almost there! You’ve found the home or your dreams, or maybe a perfect investment property in the New Orleans area. Your offer has been accepted, and you’re ready to purchase so you can move in, or start renovations. All that’s left to do is finalize the transaction. Well, you’re going to need to choose a title company.
For many people, choosing a title company isn’t a decision they put a whole lot of thought into. Unfortunately, this can have some very negative consequences. Even the simplest real estate transaction can turn into a nightmare by using the wrong title company.
Something like poor communication could delay your closing, or maybe even cost you the whole deal. Inferior title searches can jeopardize your ownership of the property, which can result in huge financial losses.
As you can see, this is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and certainly shouldn’t be an afterthought. Here, we’ll discuss the roles of a title company, and what you should be looking for to choose the right one.
What title companies do
When it comes to the handling of real estate transactions, a title company has many roles. First of all, they keep paperwork and funds in escrow. They also make sure that the person attempting to sell the property has the legal right to do so. And finally, they assist at the time of closing.
If there is earnest money that a buyer has paid as part of the contract, the title company holds those funds. When it’s time to close, they disperse these funds, or, should the deal happen to fall through, release it to the appropriate party.
Should there be any issues related to the title of the property, the title company will identify and resolve them. Through the proper research, a title company will determine if there are any factors that could have an effect on the ownership of a property. This could be something that affects you, or any future buyers.
The title company will search for issues such as claims against the property, easements, and encroachments. If they do find any problems, they disclose them to all parties involved in the transaction.
What you need to look for to make the right choice
When choosing the right title company to finalize your purchase, there are some factors to look for and questions to ask.
Safe money handling practices
Title companies handle a lot of money. In the case of your transaction, they’ll be handling your money. You’ll want to be absolutely certain to choose a title company that knows what they are doing, and are following the proper procedures. To make sure your money is safe, ask these questions:
- What systems are in place to comply with local laws as well as state and federal regulations?
- What are the internal controls to ensure that financial information is kept safe?
- What are the procedures that are used to safeguard funds?
Level of professionalism
Aside from holding your funds, the title company you choose should be one you want to work with. Consider the following questions to help you determine in the organization meets the level of professionalism you expect:
- How much experience do the people working there have in dealing with real estate transactions?
- Does the staff communicate well, and are they friendly and carry themselves with a professional demeanor?
- Is the company well branded? Do they have a digital presence like a website and social media accounts?
- Are there online reviews or testimonials available from previous clients they assisted?
In order to save yourself a lot of time and frustration, you’ll need to choose a title company that’s reputable and competent. Here are some questions that’ll need to be answered to help you make your choice:
- Will the company provide timely project status updates?
- Will the title search be thorough?
- Will any issues be identified, disclosed to all parties, and resolved before the closing date?
- Will documents be provided for anything that affects the title?
Find a local title company
Can a national title insurance company provide you with the services you need to complete your transaction? Yes, they can. However, there are numerous benefits to choosing a local title company for your real estate transaction.
The first, and perhaps most important benefit is that a local title company is familiar with the local real estate market. They will also be up to date with all the regulations for your area and state.
In addition, you’re far more likely to get a fast response from a local company. They have a reputation to upkeep, and understand the importance of customer service.
Also, you’ll be supporting a local business, as well as the staff, who are people that live and work in your community!
Ask for referrals
A great way to help in finding the right title company is to ask someone who knows. Talk to people who’ve worked and the organizations you’re already working with about referring you to a title company.
Start with your real estate agent. Real estate agents deal with title companies regularly. They’ve no doubt worked with a reputable title company in the past. Also, lenders have close working relationships with many title companies. And ask your friends and family. It’s a great way to get a first hand account from someone who’s worked with a company for their closing services, and their level of satisfaction.
Discuss fees upfront
There is no standardized pricing for title services at either the local or national level. So, before you make a final decision on the title company you’ll use, discuss fees and who’ll be responsible for them.
On most occasions, it’s the buyer that chooses the title company that will be used for the real estate closing process. Make sure to speak with multiple companies and compare. You’ll want fees to be reasonable. That doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest. First of all, there may be hidden fees. Also, choosing the lowest priced title company can result in a lower level of overall service, or less thorough title search.
The key is to look for fair and competitive rates. And make sure to ask what’s included, what could result in higher closing fees.
Choosing the right title company is one of the final steps of a real estate transaction. But it is by far one of the most important. Make sure to do the proper research and ask the right questions. This will help to ensure a smooth and successful closing process.