It’s like the old joke about screwing in a lightbulb … How many people does it take to close a simple real estate transaction?
There’s the closing agent, the escrow agent, the title agent … maybe a settlement agent, a title processor, a title insurance agent … What do these people even do? Are they just different terms for the same thing?
First things first — although what happens behind the doors of the title office may seem obscure, it is very necessary. Title complications are common; title offices solve dozens of problems in every transaction so you don’t have to.
And every now and then, someone at a title office catches a potential disaster, saving the financial bacon for the purchaser. Imagine taking out a six-figure mortgage on a property that the seller doesn’t even have the right to sell, because someone screwed up the recording of a deed years ago. The fraudulent seller walks up with the mortgage money, you’re on the hook to the lender, and you don’t even have a home to show for it!
These kinds of title disasters do happen, and they only get nipped in the bud thanks to the diligent work of a whole team, either in one title office or working together across multiple offices. Pick good title professionals, and you will never have to worry about it — it all happens in the background, and all you need to worry about is brainstorming paint colors and planning the housewarming.
But considering what’s at stake, it can be good for peace-of-mind to know what these characters are doing behind those closed doors. It can not only help you ask informed questions, but also pick the right title companies in the first place.
Let’s dig into the actual roles of three important characters in the behind-the-scenes cast of a real estate transaction …