Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Real Estate Title?

The Title to real estate is a state of being generally created by the filing of legal documents in the Public Records . This is not to be confused with the title to a car, boat or mobile home which is generally tracked by a single agency and evidenced by a single piece of paper, the title. Rather a real estate title is the evidence, of the right(s), that a person or other entity has to the ownership, possession and/or use of land. It is possible that someone other than the person representing himself to be the owner may have a legal right to the property. If that right can be established, this person can claim that right and make demands on the owner as to its use.

Do I need Title Insurance?
Most definitely! Title insurance is a means of protecting yourself from financial loss in the event that problems develop regarding the rights to ownership of your property. In addition to protection from financial loss, title insurance pays the cost of defending against any covered claim.
What Did People Do Before Title Insurance?
Many years ago people would buy an abstract then hire an attorney to render a legal opinion. There are many problems with this approach beginning with hidden title defects that even the most careful title search will not reveal. Additionally courts render decisions and laws are changed so that even if the attorney and the researcher do their jobs perfectly a valid claim might arise. Finally your recourse, if any, is against the attorney or researcher. In the first place no one lives forever and their liability to you may die with them. Also, should you prevail, you will only be able to collect what they have. Is their insurance still in effect or do they have the net worth to repay you the purchase price of the property? And you may not be the first in line.
Why Do I Need Title Insurance?
Buying a new home is one of life’s most gratifying, and expensive, experiences. As you approach the big day of closing, however, all the details can be a little overwhelming. You might easily overlook one of the most important steps in the entire process, the purchase of Title Insurance on your home.
What can make a Title Defective?

Any number of problems that remain undisclosed after even the most meticulous search of public records can make a title defective. These hidden “defects” are dangerous indeed because you may not learn of them for many months or years. Yet they could force you to spend substantial sums on a legal defense, and still result in the loss of your property. Among these are fraud and forgery, yes Virginia it does happen, matters or survey, improperly conducted court proceedings, missing heirs, construction liens, and so on.

In addition and perhaps more importantly is the probability of human error through mis-indexed documents, technical errors on documents, bad legal descriptions and the like.

I’ve heard the Lender and Real Estate Agent speak of different types of policies.
There are two basic types of Title Insurance Policy the first of which is the Lender’s Policy. This policy only insures that the financial institution has a valid, enforceable lien on the property. Most lenders require this type of insurance, and typically require the borrower to pay for it. The Owner/Purchaser receives no coverage from the Lender’s Policy. An Owner’s Policy on the other hand is designed to protect you from title defects. There are some variations on this theme such as Leasehold Owner’s and Lender’s Policies but basically Owner’s and Lender’s is what you need to remember.
So the lender already requires Title Insurance. Won’t that protect me?
No. The Lender’s Policy insures the Lender’s Interest. Title troubles, as previously described, could put your equity at serious risk. If a valid claim is filed, in addition to financial loss up to the face amount of the policy, your owner’s title policy covers the full cost of any legal defense of your title.
Is there an annual premium?
No. A policy of title insurance incurs a one time premium paid at closing. In addition you should be aware that when two policies are issued simultaneously the premium for the second policy is drastically reduced. See the Cost section below which goes in to more detail.
The how long am I covered?

Basically your Owner’s Title Insurance Policy protects you from covered losses for as long as you or your heirs own an interest in the property or are obligated under Warranties of Title you have given for that property. The period of time covered ends with the effective date of the policy which brings to light one of the basic differences between title insurance and most other forms of insurance. That is title insurance covers against events which happened in the past as opposed to casualty insurance which insures against losses suffered due to future events.    

Run that by me again.
Let’s say you buy auto insurance last week and a tree falls on your car this week. The effective date of the policy was from last week forward and the tree fell this week during the period covered. Bingo, you have coverage.

Generally, a title policy covers events which occurred at or prior to your effective date but which do not become apparent until after the effective date. For instance, you buy a home and an owner’s title insurance policy last week. This week a lady claiming to be the previous seller’s wife appears at your door wondering why you’re living in her house. It turns out the wife at closing who signed your deed was the seller’s girlfriend and forged the real wife’s name. Assuming you weren’t in on it, Bingo, you are covered because the claimed interest arose prior to your effective date (the real wife never signed the deed) and you still hold title.

How much does Title Insurance cost?
This question can get a little tricky due to the rate structure designed by the Legislature of the State of Florida and the Department of Financial Services. These rates are set forth in the Florida Administrative Code or FAC as well as the Florida Statutes. As previously stated, a one time premium is paid at closing. The amount is based on the purchase price or loan amount and we have included Rate Calculator to assure you get the most accurate quote possible for estimation purposes. Be aware that the Rate Calculator is giving an estimate and you must call one of our offices and speak to a human for a guaranteed quote. By the way, call us dinosaurs if you will but you will always speak to a human when you call our offices. Our cell phones may have voicemail but our office phones never will.
How tricky is it to get Title Insurance?

Pretty mind bending actually but there are a couple of things an educated consumer such as yourself should be aware of regarding title insurance premiums in the State of Florida.

  1. If you are selling an existing home within 3 years of purchase look for your prior owner’s title insurance policy and give us a copy so we can apply a reissue credit.
  2. If you are selling vacant, unimproved land look for your prior owner’s title insurance policy and give us a copy so we can apply a reissue credit.
  3. If you are refinancing any time after purchase look for your prior owner’s title insurance policy and give us a copy so we can apply a reissue credit.
  4. If you are refinancing with your current lender and the existing mortgage policy insures that lender you may qualify for an even greater credit called the substitution loan rate.
  5. If you are refinancing with ANY lender and the existing mortgage balance and the new mortgage balance both exceed $250,000 you may also qualify for the substitution loan rate.
  6. If you are closing on the first sale of a previously unoccupied dwelling there is a possibility the “New Home Discount” may apply so tell us so that we can apply it if the requirements are met.
  7. Unless we did the closing from which a reduced rate arises we cannot know it exists. In addition the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, RESPA, requires that the settlement statement accurately reflect the disbursement of funds. Therefore we must be told if there is a possible credit due prior to closing. Once the transaction is closed with information available at that time it can’t be changed under RESPA.
When should I look into purchasing Title Insurance?
Call us or place the Title Order Online when the Contract is signed or the Loan Commitment is issued. With a brief summary of the details, our team of title experts will begin a search of the Public Records and issue a Title Commitment. Because there are a number of steps we must take to make certain that we know all we can about the title, it is wise to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Have more questions?