Title Insurance

Our firm, through David B. Shulman, Esquire, provides title insurance from First American Title Insurance Company. Attorney Shulman is an authorized title insurance agent for First American Title Insurance Company. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, title insurance costs are regulated by the state. By having an attorney supervise the real estate settlement and the issuance of the title insurance, you have a professional overseeing your transaction as well as protection of title insurance from a national title insurance company.

Buying or selling a home or other property can be a complicated, confusing, and cumbersome process. Real estate transactions are major investments, perhaps the biggest in your life, but there can also be dangerous risks involved without the right protection.

One such protection is Title Insurance. Before you enter into a real estate transaction, make sure you speak with an experienced real estate attorney so that you understand what Title Insurance is, how it works, how it affects you, and why, with the help of our attorneys, it can greatly reduce your risks and make the whole process an easier and more enjoyable one. In the meantime, we hope the questions and answers below will help to give you a basic understanding of Title Insurance.

What is Title Insurance?

There are numerous requirements that must be met before any real estate transaction can take place. One such requirement is “marketable title,” which means clear ownership and the ability to convey the property. The purpose of title insurance is to secure your legal claim to the property and to protect you against title "defects"— claims to the legal rights of the property by others that would not give marketable title. Unfortunately, hidden defects can arise even after you've gone through closing. With title insurance, the title insurer not only pays the costs if you're ever forced to defend your ownership in court, but also covers any financial loss if the title defects can't be settled. If you’re getting a mortgage, you'll almost certainly have to buy a lender's title insurance policy. This protects the lender against any title problems. To protect your interests, though, you'll need owner's title insurance of your own.

Title insurance is like homeowners insurance right? Isn't all insurance basically the same

No. Most people are familiar with one kind of insurance - casualty insurance - and assume that all insurance works the same way. It doesn't, and this misunderstanding can cause confusion.

To the extent that buying insurance protects you from the costs of unforeseen events and losses, yes, insurance is insurance. You buy homeowner's insurance in case a burglar breaks into your house, auto insurance to cover repairs after an accident, and life insurance to pay for your child's education if you are not there. These are all varieties of casualty insurance. Land title insurance protects you, too, but it covers a different kind of loss, and its one-time premium pays for much more than simple risk protection. In short, not all insurance is the same.

What does title insurance cover?

Land title insurance protects you from events that may have happened in the past, not events that are likely to occur in the future. Some common losses covered by title insurance include misplaced records in courthouses, unpaid taxes, boundary disputes, and hidden defects in the title like forgery, missing heirs, fraud, and other items which do not show up in even the most thorough of title searches.

Am I protected?

Even the most intensive search cannot avoid claims. Suppose there are back taxes owed on a property. Your title insurance provider goes into the local courthouse, reviews the tax files, and finds no evidence of these back taxes because a file is missing. The title insurance provider then insures the property and a defect to marketable title later arises due to the tax claim. They pay the claim. Without title insurance, the owner must pay claims like these.

Do I need Title Insurance?

In virtually every real estate transaction, from a condo unit to a commercial property, you certainly should have title insurance to protect your investment, and most lenders require it.

Home buyers obtain title insurance to make sure that the seller has the right to sell their property. When a seller delivers "marketable title" on a property, it means there are no liens or legal judgments against the seller. If the property title includes liens or judgments against the seller, then those liens or judgments would become the responsibility of the buyer if the seller did not resolve the liens before passing the title over to the buyer. The wise buyer will make sure to purchase only clear title and avoid taking on financial responsibilities of the seller. Likewise, the wise seller will make sure to have clear title before selling property, to avoid discouraging potential buyers.

Why should I get Title Insurance from an Attorney?

First, whether your real estate questions and legal needs involve your home or your business, you have made a large investment of time, money and commitment. An experienced real estate lawyer can ensure that your real estate assets are fully protected, your transactions are legally sound, and that your property and titles are properly secured.

Second, many companies sell title insurance. But a lay title agency only prepares documents for closing and issues your title insurance policy. A lay title agency cannot give you legal advice regarding the content of documents you sign during closing.

Our clients receive the benefit of a lawyer's knowledge and experience at a title insurance agent's rates.

If you want to protect your ownership rights, a person trained in the complexities of real estate law is best qualified to issue your owner's title insurance policy. That person is your real estate attorney. Since the fee for title insurance will be the same with or without a real estate attorney, it just makes sense to get the added value of an attorney's legal advice and counsel.

What type of transactions do you deal with?

We write title insurance policies for the full range of properties, including:

  • Single-family homes
  • Duplexes, twins, multiplexes, multiple-family residential dwellings
  • Commercial
  • Apartment complexes
  • Condominiums
  • Mobile Homes
  • New housing developments
  • Land
  • For Sale by Owner
  • Farms

Our law firm offers expert handling of the simplest commercial transactions to the most complicated multi-property / multi-state transactions, providing personalized and individualized service for every client and every situation, including:

  • Residential and commercial transactions
  • Disclosure statements and seller misrepresentation
  • Contractor and construction liens
  • Title questions, including adding and removing owners
  • Condo conversions
  • Boundary line disputes
  • Business and residential leases
  • Mortgage law and deeds and transfers
  • Easements
  • Zoning
  • Contract review
  • Refinancing
  • Real estate sales, including contracts involving property contained in buildings
What do I get when I buy Title Insurance?

After the buyer retains a title insurance provider, it then prepares an abstract of title. The provider finds the original deed to the property and researches associated records to find out whether the title is marketable. A search is performed for the subject property and a title insurance commitment is developed which identifies those items found in the real estate records that describe the property, who owns the property, as well as any requirements that must be met in order to issue a title insurance policy, such as unresolved liens or judgments.

How much will it cost me?

Title insurance rates are regulated by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. This means that the price you pay for title insurance is going to be the same no matter who you acquire it from, even if your agent is an attorney. For this reason, it makes even more sense to obtain title insurance through an attorney, since it does not cost anything extra, plus you have the added protection of an experienced attorney overseeing your policy.

Call us to get a personalized quote today.

Contact Us!

We provide experienced service, competitive rates for our legal services, and the knowledge that your real estate transaction will proceed smoothly.

We can assist clients in the full process of buying a home: negotiation or review of the purchase agreement, arranging inspections, reviewing seller disclosures, providing title insurance, and representing you at the closing. If a seller has misrepresented the condition of property, we can work to recover damages. We can also handle complex transactions, such as the purchase of equipment, the leasing of a building, or the arranging of an equity loan to pay a judgment with accompanying second or third mortgages and credit lines.

Our real estate attorneys have been serving real estate buyers and sellers in the greater Lehigh Valley for over 35 years. Contact us today to receive the full benefit of our combined experience of over 75 years.

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