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Everybody has a right to be defended, and every lawyer has a duty to defend people accused. And my office is to defend him, to discuss the accusation point by point, as I think this is a normal step in a democracy.- Mario Puzo
You understand the benefit of car insurance and homeowners insurance, but chances are you’ve never thought about title insurance until you started the process of buying a house. What is title insurance? It’s a policy that insures that you won’t have any unknown claims made to the ownership of your home.
What could go wrong?
A clean or clear title is important because the title is what gives you ownership of a property. Imagine buying your dream home, closing the deal and then realizing the previous owner hadn’t paid property taxes for several years. Those taxes remain charged against the property and as the new owner, you are responsible. The taxing entity could even take your home. Or perhaps two sales ago someone sold the home without getting the signature of an estranged husband who now wants to stake his claim. Perhaps the previous owner didn’t pay a contractor for some work on the home and the company put a lien against the house. Or the power company shows up with a crew to take advantage of an easement though your new backyard. The scenarios are seemingly endless and tracking down every last possibility is more than you can practically do on your own. That’s where title insurance comes in.
An ounce of prevention
Unlike most insurance policies, you pay just a one-time fee and your property is covered for as long as you or your heirs own it. If you are taking out a loan to buy your home, the lender will require you to purchase lender’s title insurance to cover its investment. Essentially, the lender wants to make sure this is a legitimate deal with someone who has the full right to sell the property to you. But the lender’s policy will only cover the outstanding amount of the loan at the time a claim is made. You also want to make sure you have a policy that covers your interest, called an owner’s policy. When purchased together, the owner’s policy is a relatively inexpensive addition.
As you’ve probably guessed by the one-time fee, title insurance doesn’t work the same way most other policies do. The truth is that title insurers rarely have to pay out on claims. But that doesn’t mean you’re paying them for nothing. To the contrary, unlike other types of insurance, title insurance companies mostly incur their expenses upfront and help prevent any kind of title surprise later on.
While you are in the escrow phase of your purchase, the title insurance company will conduct a comprehensive search to make sure there are no such surprises lurking in the dusty files in some forgotten corner of the county courthouse. The title company searcher looks at deeds, wills, and trusts, tracing the history of the property back many, many years. The search can be manual or on a computer or both, depending on records in your area. Among the important questions is whether all past mortgages and liens have been paid. Does anyone hold an easement? Are there any pending legal actions? That’s where most of your insurance premium goes – to conducting that search. Then, just to make sure you’re protected in case they missed something, title insurance will cover your losses if it turns out later that they missed something.
In some areas, the cost of the title search and the title insurance are separate, while in other regions they are lumped together.
What kinds of policies are there?
What’s covered depends upon your policy. If you purchase only lender’s title insurance and end up losing your home to a previously unknown lien, your mortgage will be paid off. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you won’t get anything to cover the payments you’ve made, including the down payment. You’re out a house. That’s why experts advise buyers to get an owner’s policy as well.
Owner policies come in different flavors. A standard policy will generally cover you up to the purchase price of your home. If you want to protection that will cover inflation, you’ll want an enhanced policy or an inflation rider. That also provides coverage for liens filed after your closing date. Say, for example, you buy a new home and at closing everything is clear. The next day, a subcontractor who worked on construction of your home files a mechanic’s lien. Without an enhanced title insurance policy, you aren’t covered and may end up paying the subcontractor. It’s up to you to look at coverage and decide which owner’s policy you want to purchase.
The only time you can purchase insurance is at closing. Whether buyer, seller or both pay for the coverage varies according to local custom. In some areas, the seller buys the owner’s policy and the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. Both policies take effect on closing day. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act prohibits sellers from requiring you to buy coverage from a specific title insurer. However, if the seller is paying for it, the seller can use whichever company they want.
You can purchase title insurance from whichever company you choose. But the reality is that your lender probably has a preferred title company and it is much cheaper to piggyback your policy onto the lender’s. If you have a strong preference, you may be able to convince the lender to use the company you prefer. Costs are fairly similar from company to company in any region.
If you find yourself looking at the prospect of finding a title insurance provider with dread and want to just go with your lender’s choice, don’t feel bad. You buy title insurance whenever you purchase a home. Lenders buy it several times a day. In this case, the lender’s interest – a good, solid insurance provider – lines up with yours. So don’t beat yourself up for not pushing back on selecting your own title company.
Is there anyone who doesn’t need it?
If you are buying co-op housing, cross title insurance off your list. When buying a co-op you won’t actually own real estate. Instead you’re buying shares in a corporation so no title insurance is needed. Everyone else? Pony up.
In this section, we explain the ins and outs of the 1031 Exchange and how it works.
Still, “Section 1031” is slowly making its way into daily conversation, bandied about by realtors, title companies, investors and soccer moms. Some people even insist on making it into a verb, à la FedEx, as in: “Let’s 1031 that building for another.”
So, what is 1031? Broadly stated, a 1031 exchange (also called a like-kind exchange or a Starker) is a swap of one investment property for another. Although most swaps are taxable as sales, if yours meets the requirements of 1031, you’ll either have no tax or limited tax due at the time of the exchange. (For background reading, see Avoid Capital Gains Tax on Your Home Sale.)
What is Escrow?
An escrow is a financial arrangement where a third party holds and regulates payment of the funds required for two parties involved in a given transaction. It helps make transactions more secure by keeping the payment in a secure escrow account which is only released when all of the terms of an agreement are met as overseen by the escrow company.
Escrows are very useful in the case of a transaction where a large amount money is involved and a certain number of obligations need to be fulfilled before a payment is released like in the case of a website being built where the buyer might want confirmation of the quality of work being done before making a full payment, and the seller doesn’t want to extend a massive amount of work without any assurance that he or she will receive payment. While traditional escrow service is quite difficult and must be obtained through banks and lawyers, Escrow.com provides online escrow services at affordable rates. While the payment is ‘In Escrow’ the transaction can be safely carried out without risk of losing money or merchandise due to fraud. This eliminates all legal jargon and allows for secure transactions and confident buyers and sellers.
How does Escrow Work?
Escrow.com reduces the risk of fraud by acting as a trusted third-party that collects, holds and only disburses funds when both Buyers and Sellers are satisfied.
- Buyer and Seller agree to terms – Either the Buyer or Seller begins a transaction. After registering at Escrow.com, all parties agree to the terms of the transaction.
- Buyer pays Escrow.com – The Buyer submits a payment by approved payment method to our secure Escrow Account, Escrow.com verifies the payment, the Seller is notified that funds have been secured ‘In Escrow’.
- Seller ships merchandise to Buyer – Upon payment verification, the Seller is authorised to send the merchandise and submit tracking information. Escrow.com verifies that the Buyer receives the merchandise.
- Buyer accepts merchandise – The Buyer has a set number of days to inspect the merchandise and the option to accept or reject it. The Buyer accepts the merchandise
- Escrow.com pays the Seller – Escrow.com releases funds to the Seller from the Escrow Account.
Knowing at every step
Every time you log into Escrow.com, our status updates will let you know exactly where you are in the transaction process and if there is action required by you.
Having access to this step-by-step timeline means, whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you’ll never get stuck wondering what to do next or where you are in the transaction.
When you make a transaction using Escrow.com, your funds are held in secured, non interest bearing trust Escrow Accounts until the transaction is completed. This ensures that your transaction is protected against chargebacks, fraud or wrongly described goods. Learn more about Escrow Accounts.
Personal service behind every transaction
Our licensed and regulated services are also backed by our experienced and knowledgeable escrow officers. Our friendly escrow professionals are available to assist you personally with any need that may arise.
At Escrow.com, we offer live phone support Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm Pacific. In addition, we offer email support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Why Should We Pay Online?
With dozens of other payment options available such as checks, drafts, money orders, and electronic bank transfers, one may wonder why so many people use this new method of payment. Indeed, the older payment methods are tried, tested, and a lot more comfortable for some people. However, online payment offers exclusive advantages that other payment options don’t.
When paying online, you can easily use your credit card to process a transaction much faster than the check-and-stamp method. Automated payments also mean that there are no delays or late penalties. Contrary to popular belief, it is much safer to conduct your transaction online as everything is documented, and there are no sensitive details on paper. Online payment eliminates clutter by, in some cases, eliminating the need for paper bills that require filing. It makes organizing and keeping track of payments easier and more convenient. Finally, if using online payments, many banks will provide graphs and information that help you track your spending and keep your budget on task.
There are many types of transactions that can be made online, everything from paying your phone bill to purchasing small gifts for family members. For larger transactions, though, you may want to seek the services of an escrow company. By putting your money into an escrow account, you can protect yourself from fraud.
Escrow.com offers many types of payment options including wire transfers, checks and money orders, credit cards and PayPal. Payment types may have certain limitations, however. For example credit cards and PayPal are subject to additional fees and have a maximum of $5,000 while checks and money orders have a $2,000 maximum and are subject to a ten business day hold.
Advantages of Using Escrow.com
As one of the leading providers of escrow services online, Escrow.com provides a host of advantages for people who choose to transact with it. Whether it is digital goods, vehicles, antiques, jewelry, art work, or domain names and websites, Escrow.com ensures that all buyers and sellers are protected equally and their disputes dealt with the utmost concern. Escrow.com verifies the funds sent by the buyer and keeps them in our secure trust escrow account for the seller. The seller ships the merchandise only after the buyer has made complete payment to Escrow.com. Escrow.com tracks your merchandise to make sure that it is delivered in time according to the conditions mentioned in the agreement. The seller is not paid until the buyer accepts the merchandise and has the chance to fully inspect it. After the buyer inspects and accepts the merchandise, the funds will be moved from our escrow account to the seller’s account.
There is no scope for uncertainty or worries as the entire transaction is conducted under the supervision of Escrow.com’s honest and diligent professionals. With Escrow.com’s reliable brand shielding your transaction, you can rest assured that your funds are in safe hands, free from fraud. The sale is highly simplified as you, the buyer, just pay off your price and let Escrow.com handle everything else, be it shipping, delivery or quality inspection. Escrow.com’s sliding revenue scale ensures that large transactions don’t mean huge chargebacks and fees.
Using a licensed escrow service to buy and sell merchandise, services and more is the most convenient way to complete transactions online. Facilitated by a trusted third-party, the escrow process acts as your personal tool to ensure a safe, secure and intuitive sale for both buyers and sellers.
SOURCE INFO: escrow.com