Without a doubt, buying a home is one of the single largest investments a homeowner will make in his or her lifetime. Along with a home purchase, buyers protect their property from fire, theft or wind with homeowners insurance, and from rising water with flood insurance. Purchasing these policies is a no-brainer for homeowners across the board, as they are all part of caring for their newly acquired asset. However, hidden hazards may lurk under the surface of a transaction in the form of an outstanding lien, pending legal action against the property, possible tax issues and more, all of which could place a severe financial burden on the new owners. In order to be truly protected from these lesser-known, but not less severe matters, homeowners will want to pursue one last line of defense: title insurance.
Although it may not be the first thing prospective buyers consider, title insurance is one sector of the real estate transaction that should not be overlooked. With new industry regulations on the horizon and a beckoning movement to create more transparency in the real estate industry and the transaction process itself, it is imperative that consumers understand their right to buy title insurance, as well as their options for doing so.
When a buyer purchases a property, he or she is actually purchasing the title to the property—meaning, the right to occupy and use the space as listed. In addition to the aforementioned issues that could conceivably arise, title insurance protects owners of single-family residences and condominiums from a litany of other problems, such as building permit violations and trust and zoning matters, improper documentation and wording of deeds, wills and trusts.
“One of the biggest problem areas for consumers over the last six years or so has been fraud and inadvertently getting tripped up in fraudulent transactions,” says Glenn Clements, group president of Direct Operations for Stewart Title. “For example, if a false conveyance occurs on a house that’s been vacant for six months and a deed is recorded and the house is sold, and six months later the real owner comes back home, the situation could wind up in a claim.”