At The De Bruin Law Firm, we are experienced and knowledgeable real estate attorneys. We often help our clients when they are buying a home to ensure that the closing process goes as smoothly as possible. One aspect of what we do as real estate closing attorneys is help our clients with a title search and title insurance. If you are a first time home buyer, you may not be aware of everything related to real estate titles; in fact, this is an area about which we get many questions. To help you, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about titles.

What Is A Title?

A title is a document that serves as evidence of an owner’s right to possess a property. It’s possible for someone other than the owner to have a legal right to the property in question; in this case, the other person may be able to stake claim over the property or demand use of it.

What Is A Title Search?

A title search entails examining the historical records of a property, including deeds, property and name indexes, court records, and other documents. This search serves to confirm the seller’s right to transfer ownership to the buyer, and to uncover any other claims, defects, burdens, or rights to the property.

What Issues Can A Title Search Uncover?

A title search could reveal a number of issues with the title, including title defects, liens, encumbrances, or restrictions. This could include unpaid taxes, unpaid mortgages, legal issues with the seller, and restrictions on how to use the land.

Are There Potential Issues With The Title That A Title Search Won’t Reveal?

Yes. There are certain hazards that a title search might not reveal. For example, if a previous owner did not reveal his marital status, his spouse could have a legal claim to the property. Other examples include forgery, fraud, defective deeds, and clerical errors. It is possible for these issues to arise after you have already purchased your home, jeopardizing your ownership rights.

What Is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a type of insurance policy that protects you against the loss if any of these issues present themselves after you have purchased your home.

What Happens If A Claim Is Filed Against My Property?

This varies depending on the claim. In the worst case scenario, you could lose your property and still be liable to pay off your mortgage balance. This is an extreme occurrence that doesn’t happen in most cases, but even a small claim will cost you money, time, and stress, and may require you to hire a lawyer.

If A Claim Does Arise, How Does Title Insurance Protect Me?

If a claim against your property is made, title insurance assures you a legal defense and will pay all court costs. If the claim proves to be valid, you will be reimbursed for your loss (up to the face amount of the title insurance policy).

Isn’t The Deed The Proof Of Ownership?

Actually, no. A deed is a document through which ownership rights to property are transferred, but it is not proof of ownership, and does not eliminate another’s rights to the property. Additionally, a deed does not show liens or claims against the title.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Title Insurance?

There are two types of title insurance policies: a loan policy and owner’s policy. The loan policy protects the lender in the property as security for the outstanding balance of the buyer’s mortgage. The owner’s policy protects the buyer’s investment in the property.

How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?

While it varies, in general, title insurance costs one percent or less of the total cost of the property. Additionally, a title insurance is not paid annually, like other types of insurance; it is one upfront cost paid at closing.

How Long Does My Title Insurance Coverage Last?

Title insurance coverage lasts as long as you or your heirs have an interest in the property, and in some cases, beyond that.

When buying real estate, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced attorney. As real estate attorneys in South Carolina, we can help you during your real estate closing. Interested in our legal services? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your real estate closing.