Owner's Title Insurance

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Have you bought an Owner's Title Policy?

May 2010

Has anyone ever bought an Owner's Title Policy. I just read about this. If so, Where did you get it? Were you able to use it? Have you ever shopped around for a title company to get the best rates? or do you use whoever the broker sets up? If you did shop around, do you have someone to recommend? thanks! Michelle

When you buy real property, you buy an owners' title policy. (Or you should, anyway, and it's quite rare not to.) A lot of people, however, don't really understand this type of insurance and probably don't know they have it nor how much they paid for it.

In California, the title policy is normally sold to you by, or through, the same title company that handles the purchase (or loan) escrow. And most people, when buying real estate, use the title company their real estate agent recommends. But it is definitely possible to ''shop around'' and sometimes it's well worth doing so. Contact the title companies in your area -- making sure they provide services in the county where the property is located, if that's different than where your home or office is located -- and ask them to tell you what they charge as an escrow fee on a transaction of $X and what the owner's policy premium is for that amount on whatever type of property it is and the type of coverage you want. If you are buying commercial or other investment property (not your home), then you may want to consult a real estate attorney or other expert about the differences between ''standard'' and ''extended'' form policies. If you are getting a loan, often the cost of the owner's policy is quoted as a relatively small fee on top of the premium for the lender's policy (which the lender will require you to pay).

It is possible, but very unusual, to get a title policy from a different company than the one handling the escrow.

If you have inherited property or for some other reason now own something for which you did not go through an escrow and do not have a policy, you can still buy a policy. Again, call up a couple of the major title companies, explain the situation and ask for the premium on a policy in the amount of whatever you believe the market value of the property is.

I've had good and not-so-good experiences with Old Republic, Chicago, First American and Fidelity, and with smaller local companies (whose policies are underwritten by one of the big guys). If you're working with a broker who has a relationship with a particular escrow officer, it's not a bad idea to go with that referral. Just make sure the fees are competitive. Holly, Realtor