TITLE INSURANCE COST: How Much Does It Cost And Do You Need It?

title insurance cost
Image source: Western title & escrow

When buying a house, you’ll have to pay closing costs. One of the most significant is the cost of title insurance. There are two types of title insurance policies that homebuyers can purchase. A lender’s title insurance policy protects the lender’s financial interests and an owner’s title insurance policy that protects you the buyer. The owner’s title insurance is based on the purchase cost, whereas the lender’s insurance is based on the loan amount and is regulated by the state. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about title insurance, including its cost and why you need it.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance protects mortgage lenders and homebuyers from problems with the deed to a property after the transfer of ownership. However, this depends on the policy. If a title conflict occurs during or after a sale, the title insurance company may pay for the legal damages.

A home’s title is a representation of the owner’s legal rights to the property. When purchasing a home, you should ensure that the property has a clear title and is free of collateral or other ownership claims. If you do not have title insurance, you may be responsible for resolving these issues as the new owner.

When applying for a mortgage, lending institutions require the borrower to obtain a lender’s title insurance policy (also known as a loan policy), which protects the lender in the event of a claim against the property. A separate policy called “owner’s title insurance cost” is usually optional. This shields the buyer from any ownership claims. Some states have a fixed lenders’ title insurance cost, while others are market-driven, allowing homebuyers to shop around and save.

How Does Title Insurance Work?

Obtaining title insurance is typically a two-step procedure. When you’re ready to buy, a title search is the first step a title company takes. The company will make sure that the person selling the property has the legal right to do so by confirming a clear title. If a defect or other problem arises, the title company will notify you.

As soon as the search is complete, the company assesses any potential problems and then provides a quote for a title insurance policy. If a title has numerous flaws, the company may refuse to offer a policy.

What Are the Types of Title Insurance? 

Lenders’ and owner’s title insurance are the two most common types of title insurance. A lender’s title insurance policy is almost always a requirement for borrowing money. This shields the lender, not you, from any costs if a title dispute arises after closing.

The owner’s title insurance is usually optional, but it is strongly recommendable. Without it, you’ll be on the hook for the entire cost of resolving a title claim, which could run into the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even though it may appear that you are losing money when closing on a home, a title insurance policy is one of those things that can save you money in the future. 

It’s clear why it’s risky and ill-advised to purchase real estate without a title insurance policy. You can get basic or enhanced owner’s title insurance, with the latter providing more coverage for things like mechanic’s liens and boundary disputes.

While your title insurance will cover you for things like mistakes in the legal description of your property or human error, be aware that it will have some exclusions, particularly in cases where there are violations of building codes after you buy your home.

What Does Title Insurance Cover?

Title Insurance protects mortgage lenders and homebuyers from having to fix title defects such as:

  • Liens resulting from unpaid contractors, homeowner’s association dues, or any other outstanding debts
  • Instances of fraud, such as a fraudulent deed or document,
  • Infringements
  • Inheritance disputes, such as the existence of a nameless heir

For instance, if you purchase a property from the estate of a deceased person and an unknown heir later claims ownership of the property and that it was improperly sold to you. There was a good chance that the heir’s name would have surfaced during the title search process. If not, title insurance would cover the cost of settling the heir’s claim.

How Much Does Title Insurance Cost for Lenders and Owners?

While title insurance policies typically cost around $1,000 on average, the price varies greatly by state and by the value of your home.

The cost of title insurance can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. The title search, examination, and approximate value of any title defects are all factors that can affect the cost of your premium.

However, each policy price depends on the purchase price of the home or the total amount of the loan. Because title insurance is a highly competitive industry, the types and costs of title insurance policies will vary from state to state. The Department of Insurance in each state can provide information on pricing regulations in their state.

The government in some states, such as Texas and Florida, sets the cost of the lender’s title insurance. Other states, like California and New Mexico, allow buyers to shop around for the best price. As a result of this, Iowa has the nation’s lowest insurance premiums, at just $110 for a home worth up to $500,000.

A title insurance policy, unlike other types of insurance, is paid with a single premium during escrow while your mortgage is closing. If you’re buying a resale or refinancing a home, you may be eligible for a “reissue” rate, which could offer a significant discount on the regular premium. This is because the title policy is already in effect and the title research has already been completed.

How to Calculate Title Insurance Costs

Calculate your insurance coverage up to a maximum of $999,999.00 using the calculator. If the cost of your home’s value exceeds $999,999, you should consider purchasing the owner’s title insurance through National Title. For any purchase price of $30,000.00 or less, the minimum premium amount for owner’s insurance is $175.00.

When calculating the cost of insurance, the purchase price, and/or loan amount, you must round up to the nearest thousand. If your purchase price is $50,000.00, for example, you must round up to $51,000.00 to get an accurate cost of the owner’s title insurance.

For the remaining balance, the calculator subtracts the loan amount of the lender’s title insurance cost from the owner’s insurance fee. You can also add $100.00 of the lender’s title insurance to the total amount of the owner’s title insurance cost to arrive at a total amount.

How to Save on Title Insurance Costs

While title insurance premiums in some states are the same regardless of who you work with, most states allow you to save money by shopping around. There are ways to save, even in states with highly regulated title insurance industries. Here are some suggestions for lowering your title insurance costs.

  • Shop around. If premiums in your state are unregulated, shop around for the best deals. Just be careful not to sacrifice customer service to save a few dollars. Resolving a title issue can be hectic, and you want to work with a company that will guide you through the process. Read reviews and seek advice from your real estate agent.
  • Bundle. If you combine your lender’s and owner’s policies, some companies will give you a discount.
  • Negotiate any extras. Even if the premium is fixed, other fees are also included in the total premium price. Look for any room to maneuver with those items. They could be optional, or the insurance company could be willing to discount them.
  • Make a Deal With the Seller. Closing costs are always negotiable, and picking up the tab for title insurance may be worthwhile for a seller who is eager to close the deal. However, if you’re in a highly competitive market, you may want to reconsider using this strategy.

A title insurance policy protects the lender and the borrower from lawsuits arising from a dispute over property ownership. While the cost may not appear to be worth it, it protects you from potential future litigation.

What Are the Risks of Not Having Title Insurance?

In most cases, homebuyers must purchase a lender’s title insurance policy from a mortgage lender. You can also purchase the owner’s title insurance, which is separate from the lender’s policy, to protect yourself from having to be responsible for title issues.

If you do not purchase the owner’s title insurance and an issue arises in the future, you will be responsible for correcting it, which can be expensive. When a previous owner failed to pay their property taxes, the municipality may place a lien on the property. At that point, you cannot remove it until you pay the debt.

How to Buy Title Insurance

You can buy a lender’s title insurance policy from a title company of your preference. However, you are not obligated to use the recommendation of your lender or real estate agent. If you pay cash for your home, you don’t need to purchase a lender’s title insurance policy.

Choosing a title company is not a requirement for working with your lender or real estate agent. Therefore, you should do some research before making a decision. You may discover that your lender’s affiliate provides the best coverage or the lowest cost, or you may discover that another company provides a better deal.

You may also want to use a different title company than the seller did so that a different company can conduct the title search.

There are a number of things you’ll want to keep in mind when looking for a real estate agent. When comparing providers, don’t be afraid to ask prospective companies if they’ve had any claims and if they have any insurance coverage for their own company.

Also, make inquiries with the title company to see if you are eligible for any discounts. It may provide programs for first-time homebuyers or other ways to help you save money.

What Are the Most Common Title Insurance Claims

Title insurance can assist homeowners in obtaining and paying for the lawyers necessary to correct common issues like typographical errors, the spelling of someone’s name, or discrepancies with the property’s legal description, even if they seem insignificant.

However, issues that are frequently overlooked include:

  • Problems that arose after the date of the owner’s transfer of ownership
  • Items that the owner knew about or should have known
  • Title insurance policy “exceptions” list items

In some cases, the title company may not pick up on those issues because they are not visible in the public record, but such issue is obvious if you go to the property and look at the driveway or building. If there are obvious issues, or issues that should have been obvious to someone visiting the property, title insurance will not cover them.

Conclusion

Title insurance costs differ from one company to the next and from one location to the next. They may also vary according to what is included. Closing costs, which include title insurance costs, typically range between 2% and 5% of the total loan amount. The owner’s title insurance cost is optional, but the lender’s title insurance cost is important. If a claim arises after purchase, an owner’s policy can protect you from losing your equity and your right to live in the home.

Title Insurance Cost FAQs

How much does title insurance cost?

Title insurance policies typically cost between $500 and $3,500 per policy, but this varies by provider. The cost also varies depending on the location of the property, the purchase price, and the extent of the coverage.

Who pays for title insurance?

As a closing cost, the buyer typically pays for their lender’s title insurance policy. The seller frequently pays for the owner’s title insurance (which is not usually required) as part of the offer negotiation.

How to buy Title Insurance?

Following the completion of the property purchase agreement, an escrow or closing agent begins the insurance process. A lender’s policy and an owner’s policy are frequently required in tandem to ensure that everyone is adequately protected. At closing, the parties pay a one-time fee for title insurance.

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