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Those of you buying or refinancing residential real estate, including primary residences, always see a title insurance charge on the GFE but don't always realize that there are often situations under which it can be reduced rather significantly. In fact, I've been finding that quite often the charge is exorbitant (or higher than it ought to be) because both the processor and the title agent don't know what they are doing and, with a little guidance, can provide the same coverage at a significant discount.

For instance, I am currently going through yet another refi with Penfed. Upon my request for Penfed's title insurance requirements, Penfed emailed both the title company and I the list of the following endorsements:

- Environmental Protection Lien Endorsement ALTA Form 8.1

- P.U.D. ALTA Endorsement Form 5

- Adjustable Rate Mortgage ALTA Endorsement Form 6

- Non-Forfeiture Reversionary Clause, if applicable

- Endorsement 100, if applicable

- Endorsement 300 or survey

- Restriction, Encroachments and Minerals, Form 9

Based on that list, the title company provided a quote of $956.58 for just title insurance. What neither Penfed nor the title agent realized, however, is that the title policy itself already provides affirmative coverage with respect to all these matters to the lender without the need for additional endorsements. In just about every state in this country it is quite common in residential transactions for title companies to issue and for lenders to accept what is known as the 2006 ALTA Short Form Residential Loan Policy, which is a standard loan policy the text of which is promulgated by the American Land Title Association ("ALTA"). ALTA is the predominant trade association of the title insurance industry and is responsible for drafting standard title policies that are used by every single title insurance company out there. In other words, if you are using an ALTA policy (and something like 95% of title policies that are issued are ALTA policies), it will be exactly the same regardless of the insurance company that issues it. The text of all the ALTA policies out there can be found here: link

The Short Form Residential Loan Policy already automatically covers all the risks above, with the exception of usury. The Short Form Expanded Residential Loan Policy also covers usury (here is the text of the expanded policy: link.Therefore, since no endorsements are required, title insurance costs drop dramatically. In my case, after I explained all of this to Penfed and to the title company, the title insurance costs dropped to $208 for a basic Short Form policy (78% savings off the original quote) and $420 for an Expanded policy (56% savings off the original quote). I am working on convincing Penfed that usury is not a concern in this case, so we can just use the basic policy.

You do not need to know all that much about this issue to save yourself money. Simply ask your lender for its title requirements, including the list of required endorsements. Then pull up the text of the basic Short Form Loan Policy on ALTA's website and simply search for the required endorsements. If all the required endorsements are not mentioned there, do the same thing with the Expanded policy. In residential transactions, there is a VERY high likelihood that one of these policies will fully and completely satisfy the lender's title insurance requirements and that short form policies are used in your state. At that point, you can ask the title agent (as well as any other title agents that you may be contacting to obtain the quote) how much it would cost to issue such a short form policy given your loan amount and other discounts that may apply (such as the re-issue discount, for instance).

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Has anyone every had the need for or know of someone who has actually made a title claim?
When I bought my last house (ne... (more)

Yelf (Mar. 30, 2014 @ 11:30p) |

I know this is a old thread, but reading it helped me.
My attorney gave me a high quote for title insurance. They claime... (more)

beatme (Nov. 05, 2014 @ 9:42a) |

Sounds like great cause for an ethics violation to your state bar. The right to shop around for title insurance is guar... (more)

NEDeals (Nov. 05, 2014 @ 10:36a) |

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Awesome information on widely misunderstood topic. Thank you.

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Also the charges for the endorsements are negotiable. I was able to reduce my title insurance cost from $275 to $150 with entitle direct.

ALL i needed to do was ask.

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Separate but related question: is it worth getting title insurance on top of what the lender requires for the mortgage?

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mmyk72 said: Separate but related question: is it worth getting title insurance on top of what the lender requires for the mortgage?
I am also interested in hearing thoughts on this. Anybody got any info?

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jfunk138 said: mmyk72 said: Separate but related question: is it worth getting title insurance on top of what the lender requires for the mortgage?
I am also interested in hearing thoughts on this. Anybody got any info?
Please take a look at this now archived thread entitled Should I buy owner's title insurance? I explained a lot of issues related to owner's title insurance there.

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This is probably one of the most useful and helpful posts on FWF for a real long time.

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Bravo OP! This is why I come to FWF.

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Any comments on closing fees. I recently refinanced thru penfed, entitledirect (thanks to FWF) and they kept me in the dark till the day before closing about 'closing fees'. Entitledirect gave the initial quote for title only and then later found from penfed that entitledirect will be doing closing and added closing fees but did not inform me till the last day. Given the short time, I simply agreed to pay up but maybe somebody can give a quick dump on "all things refinance and where to save on different settlement statement items". thanks!

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Nice job Geo

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Anyone else find it a scam that you need to buy a NEW title insurance policy for a refi? The risk hasn't changed (much if cash out refi). Title insurance is a ripoff to begin with.
They should reuse the old one perhaps endorsing for new lender.

Do a proper comprehensive title search and stop hiding behind overpriced insurance.

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I never knew the key points to challenge. Thanks for this very useful info. I'm sure it will save me some serious bucks on the next buy/refi.

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I still don't know what you said. I am doing a refinance next week, i m trying to figure out how this is helpful to me.

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srl99 said: Anyone else find it a scam that you need to buy a NEW title insurance policy for a refi? The risk hasn't changed (much if cash out refi). Title insurance is a ripoff to begin with.
They should reuse the old one perhaps endorsing for new lender.

Do a proper comprehensive title search and stop hiding behind overpriced insurance.


You have to buy new title insurance for the lender, but not for the owner. It's usually a re-issue fee if you use the same agent that sold you the policy. So for instance when you first bought it, it could have been like 3.65 per thousand, but the re-issue rate could be 1.25-1.50 per thousand. I believe it covers the lender from the time the first policy was issued to the time it was refinanced.

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I think all PenFed has asked me for is a straight ALTA policy for my purchase.

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If you are refinancing with the same lender and not increasing your original loan amount, ask the title company for a "revamp" rate. I was told by a friend in the title business that the title companies don't advertise their "revamp" rate, so you have to ask. The revamp rate turned out to be considerably less than what they quoted for a standard refinance. This was two years ago in California so I don't know if the same is true for title insurance in other states.

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Crazytree said: I think all PenFed has asked me for is a straight ALTA policy for my purchase.There is no such thing. As you can see on ALTA's website that I linked above, for instance, even when it comes to the same policy, there are numerous versions of it and all of them are available. For instance, when it comes to the long form, there is the 1970 policy, the 1992 policy, the 2006 policy, etc... Then there are basic and expanded versions of each policy. Further, there will almost never be a situation under which a lender will accept just a long form insurance policy, without any endorsements (hence, the reason that in residential transactions you can typically save money by switching from an endorsed long policy to just a short form policy). Penfed and every other residential lender out there will also often accept a non-ALTA policy (often because they don't know what it is that they are accepting but sometimes because non-ALTA policies are often advertised as offering additional protections not found in ALTA policies).

The issue with residential loans is that people that you typically deal with (loan processors and even closing attorneys and title agents) have no idea about any of this and often make statements without understanding what it is they are saying. If you understand even some of the basic issues, such as the ones that I mentioned in this thread, you can explain it to them and in many cases easily save quite a bit of money.

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henry33 said: It's usually a re-issue fee if you use the same agent that sold you the policy.It varies state to state, but you usually get a re-issue rate by going through the same title insurance company rather than the same agent.

So for instance when you first bought it, it could have been like 3.65 per thousand, but the re-issue rate could be 1.25-1.50 per thousand. I believe it covers the lender from the time the first policy was issued to the time it was refinanced.That is correct. By the way, unless you are in a state in which title insurance rates are regulated and standardized (meaning that all companies are required to offer the same rate structure), you can certainly save a lot of money by shopping around. In my state, for instance, depending on the loan amount and the agent, title insurance rates on residential loans can be as high as about $4.50 per thousand to as low as $0.35 per thousand. You should also keep in mind that your loan amount can significantly affect your title insurance rate as well, so that the higher the loan amount is, the lower will the rate be for every thousand dollars of your loan.

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Sorry to bump a month old thread, but is there another place similar to having good rates as entitle direct but is available in Texas? I was quoted $2100 for LENDERS title insurance with Penfed and am only refinancing a 2008 loan. Looking to drastically cut down this fee.

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I am refi-ing right now.

Is the following BS from the lender? Perhaps I just misunderstood him.

"You are required to have owner's title insurance for loans originated directly from Fannie Mae. Since we're a direct lender, Fannie Mae requires owner's title insurance."

Geo123 once said "Owner's title insurance is ALWAYS optional."....

While I am inclined to believing Geo123, I am unequipped to defend the albeit small charge for owner's title insurance.

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jackcrawfish said: I am refi-ing right now.

Is the following BS from the lender? Perhaps I just misunderstood him.

"You are required to have owner's title insurance for loans originated directly from Fannie Mae. Since we're a direct lender, Fannie Mae requires owner's title insurance."

Geo123 once said "Owner's title insurance is ALWAYS optional."....

While I am inclined to believing Geo123, I am unequipped to defend the albeit small charge for owner's title insurance.
Unless there's something very recent and very bizarre from Fannie Mae, I suspect that the lender's rep doesn't understand what he/she is telling you. The reason that this requirement would be bizarre, is because, by definition, the "owner's" policy only protects the owner and the lender's protection is obtained through, gasp, the "lender's" title policy. Hence, it would make no sense for Fannie Mae to require borrowers to purchase "owner's" policies. I just checked with a very large lender and they have never heard of this.

If I were you, I would double check with you contact person to ensure that he/she did not mean to say that the "lender's" policy is required. If the contact insists that he/she is correct, I'd escalate the issue to that person's superior. If Fannie is in fact imposing this requirement, I'd like to see something in writing to this effect.

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bjamm said: Sorry to bump a month old thread, but is there another place similar to having good rates as entitle direct but is available in Texas? I was quoted $2100 for LENDERS title insurance with Penfed and am only refinancing a 2008 loan. Looking to drastically cut down this fee.

Can't do it. Title fees are regulated in Texas.

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BlueEyesAustinTexas said:
Can't do it. Title fees are regulated in Texas.


Maybe that one line item fee (major expense) is regulated. I assure you there are differences between title co's - just ask for a good faith estimate and compare apples to apples, throwing out 3rd party fees.

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Bump for anyone under contract to get their tax credit.

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bump

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bookmark this one for the next time your purchase/refinance...

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Geo, in another thread you said that you'd feel very secure passing on owner's title insurance for a foreclosed home. I'm guessing this is because the foreclosure/REO process wipes out all liens before the home is sold. Is there any situation where you WOULD need owner's title insurance on a foreclosure?

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PMonkeyDishwasher said: Geo, in another thread you said that you'd feel very secure passing on owner's title insurance for a foreclosed home. I'm guessing this is because the foreclosure/REO process wipes out all liens before the home is sold. Is there any situation where you WOULD need owner's title insurance on a foreclosure?

You absolutely do want an owners title policy. I am closing on one this week where an old loan was missed, in other words an old loan that by all accounts should have been paid off and almost certainally was paid off, 2 generations back, there is not a release recorded for said loan. This loan would be in a superior position than the foreclosing loan which had appeared to be a 1st. My title company has agreed to insure over this old loan. Otherwise I would not have marketable title, and could not sell the property.

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So you're actually closing on a foreclosure that had a title issue? But you say you haven't closed on it, so wasn't the issue caught by the title company before closing?

In my situation, the title company has said that they determined the property has a clear title. Does that change the situation at all? I'm fairly ignorant on the topic, and googling has given arguments for both sides (getting owner's title insurance or passing on it). For the most part, though, the people with title issues on foreclosures have caught it before closing. I don't know if that's a universal thing, though.

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PMonkeyDishwasher said: Geo, in another thread you said that you'd feel very secure passing on owner's title insurance for a foreclosed home. I'm guessing this is because the foreclosure/REO process wipes out all liens before the home is sold. Is there any situation where you WOULD need owner's title insurance on a foreclosure?Yes, I would purchase an owner's title insurance policy on a foreclosure if the property had a federal tax lien that the lender wiped out at a foreclosure and I could get a policy without a federal tax lien exception (if the policy contains such an exception, then you have no coverage with respect to this issue, so purchasing a title policy wouldn't provide you with any additional protections). This is because wiping out federal tax liens requires some technical expertise that most lawyers, particularly residential foreclosure lawyers, do not have, so I'd be concerned that it wasn't done properly. You'd still have coverage under the lender's warranty deed in that case but I'd feel better with a federal tax lien exception free owner's policy.

I'd also purchase an owner's policy if there are any issues with the legal description but only if the issue can be identified prior to closing and a corrected legal description can be insured. Otherwise, purchasing an owner's policy on a legal description that has problems won't do you much good.

Other than that, I can't really think of any other situations under which I'd purchase an owner's policy on a foreclosure, unless we are talking about a complicated commercial transaction, in which case it would be a case by case decision for me.

P.S.
You are correct, in that the reason that I would ordinarily pass on an owner's title insurance policy in a foreclosure setting is because a foreclosure cleanses the property of junior liens. Another reason is the fact that in a foreclosure setting, you are getting a warranty deed from a lender and, therefore, have direct recourse against this lender for any and all title issues. From my perspective, in most cases having direct recourse against the lender that used to own the property is just as good if not better than having recourse against a title insurer that issued you an owner's title policy.

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mrlandlord said: PMonkeyDishwasher said: Geo, in another thread you said that you'd feel very secure passing on owner's title insurance for a foreclosed home. I'm guessing this is because the foreclosure/REO process wipes out all liens before the home is sold. Is there any situation where you WOULD need owner's title insurance on a foreclosure?

You absolutely do want an owners title policy. I am closing on one this week where an old loan was missed, in other words an old loan that by all accounts should have been paid off and almost certainally was paid off, 2 generations back, there is not a release recorded for said loan. This loan would be in a superior position than the foreclosing loan which had appeared to be a 1st. My title company has agreed to insure over this old loan. Otherwise I would not have marketable title, and could not sell the property.
This is incorrect. The fact that a title insurer has insured over an old unreleased mortgage does not remove the cloud from title and does not substantially improve its marketability, since your policy won't apply to the next purchaser and, therefore, won't do him/her much good. Having an owner's policy in your case can help but only if the title insurer will provide an indemnity to the next insurer over this issue when you go to sell the property.

As a practical matter, you haven't really bought much protection in this case. Remember that the warranty deed that you receive from the lender that foreclosed on the property indemnifies you against any liability with respect to any claims that you do not own the property, or that you own it subject to a prior mortgage. Hence, you already have recourse against the lender in this case. Having a title policy in this case gives you some additional protection but not much -- a title claim based upon marketability would almost certainly fail in this situation unless the holder of the old mortgage suddenly announced that the mortgage was still in existence (in which case you'd simply file a claim against the lender that gave you the warranty deed).

P.S.
It is very, very, very common to have rather old unreleased mortgages on residential properties, that it's not particularly easy to get a release on because the old lender has been bought and sold quite a few times. Getting title insurance over this issue is typically not a problem. Regardless, for the reasons I mentioned above and in other threads, having clean title is far better than having title insurance, so I would concentrate on tracking the mortgage back to an existing lender and getting a release therefor.

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I think some of thing things you're talking about is state specific and varies from state to state. In massachusetts, there was recently a case where the judge ruled that a foreclosure that a bank did that didn't actually show that they owned the property because it had been sold so many times may not be valid and hence the previous owner that was foreclosed on may still get a shot at owning the home. I'm not sure if that precedent has been cleared up, but I think having title insurance may have been better than having none. The entire meaning of that case I think is still unresolved but it's made banks a bit more careful in proceedings with foreclosures. Not sure what that really means for all those that already bought. And in MA, they do quitclaim deeds, so I don't think the protection is the same/exists with a warranty deed.

Also there are firms out there that specialize in tracking down releases.

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henry33 said: I think some of thing things you're talking about is state specific and varies from state to state. In massachusetts, there was recently a case where the judge ruled that a foreclosure that a bank did that didn't actually show that they owned the property because it had been sold so many times may not be valid and hence the previous owner that was foreclosed on may still get a shot at owning the home. I'm not sure if that precedent has been cleared up, but I think having title insurance may have been better than having none. The entire meaning of that case I think is still unresolved but it's made banks a bit more careful in proceedings with foreclosures. Not sure what that really means for all those that already bought. And in MA, they do quitclaim deeds, so I don't think the protection is the same/exists with a warranty deed.Although the foreclosure process varies very widely state to state, this doesn't really affect my comments because I've been trying to focus on things that are fairly universal. For instance, the process for terminating federal tax liens at foreclosure is governed by federal statutes and regulations and, therefore, not state specific.

Moreover, in the vast majority of states conveyance documents allow you to go after the seller if there's a challenge to your ownership of the property because, for instance, the seller did not properly acquire the property. Hence, the reason that in a foreclosure context an owner's policy doesn't provide you with too many additional protections when it comes to such challenges to your ownership. If you encounter such a challenge, conveyance documents will typically allow you to obtain recourse from the seller. When a bank is the seller, obtaining such recourse is not any more difficult than obtaining recourse from a title insurer.

As I've been saying for a while, it is not that title insurance can't be valuable. To the contrary, it can be a very worthwhile and useful tool but only if you know what you are doing. Title insurance is very different from things like car insurance that people are accustomed to and it is extraordinarily difficult to obtain a payout from a title insurer, particularly if you are a lay person. It is an extremely technical area and the vast majority of people (this includes the vast majority of attorneys, by the way) just don't have the knowledge required to properly structure the transaction up front to maximize title insurance protections, nor do they have the leverage or the knowledge required to force the title insurer to compensate you for your losses in the event of a claim. What makes things worse is that the vast majority of people out there who tell residential homebuyers about title insurance learned about the topic from a brief overview of a topic that they heard 10 years ago, so they have no idea of what they are talking about and have never even come close to working on a title claim.

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This is the response I got from the lender after telling them I'd like to refuse owner's title insurance:

The seller is paying for the Owner's policy and you will be paying for the lender's policy.

We are able to close without the Owner's Title Insurance Policy if the Buyer does not wish to purchase it as long as we are issuing a Lender's Title Policy. We are only able to close if we are issuing a title insurance policy. If the Buyer declines to purchase Owner's coverage, the Lender's policy becomes the "primary" and the premiums will change based on the loan amount.

I definitely recommend purchasing the Owner's Title Insurance for the Buyer's protection and future benefits for reissue on refinancing but it is their choice.


Care to translate/offer suggestions on this one, Geo? The owner's title costs were quoted at $1200, so I'd love to say no thanks to that one and use the cash for more Hot Deals items.

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PMonkeyDishwasher said: This is the response I got from the lender after telling them I'd like to refuse owner's title insurance:

The seller is paying for the Owner's policy and you will be paying for the lender's policy.

We are able to close without the Owner's Title Insurance Policy if the Buyer does not wish to purchase it as long as we are issuing a Lender's Title Policy. We are only able to close if we are issuing a title insurance policy. If the Buyer declines to purchase Owner's coverage, the Lender's policy becomes the "primary" and the premiums will change based on the loan amount.

I definitely recommend purchasing the Owner's Title Insurance for the Buyer's protection and future benefits for reissue on refinancing but it is their choice.


Care to translate/offer suggestions on this one, Geo? The owner's title costs were quoted at $1200, so I'd love to say no thanks to that one and use the cash for more Hot Deals items.


It would probably help to mention what state you're in. It sounds like in your state, it may be typical for the seller to include a title policy with the sale. In this case, the seller is paying for the policy so I'm not sure it would make sense for you to decline something where the seller is paying for it and probably already agreed to do so. Normally you always have to buy lender's coverage as the lender needs to protect their interest in the property. Only way around it is to pay cash and not borrow money. On the HUD they typically break down what amount is for owner's coverage and which is for lender. If the buyer declined owner's coverage, just the lender's coverage would be cheaper as there's usually some fee for issuing two policies, but it goes away if there's just one. In my state, buyer pays for both, but I'm guessing that maybe it's split in your state. Dunno. But of course I'm not familiar with states where the seller pays for title. Did you consult with your attorney on this one? As they're the ones who make a good commission on it (in mine, about 60% of the premium goes to the attorney) they should be able to sell it to you.

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PMonkeyDishwasher said: This is the response I got from the lender after telling them I'd like to refuse owner's title insurance:

The seller is paying for the Owner's policy and you will be paying for the lender's policy.

We are able to close without the Owner's Title Insurance Policy if the Buyer does not wish to purchase it as long as we are issuing a Lender's Title Policy. We are only able to close if we are issuing a title insurance policy. If the Buyer declines to purchase Owner's coverage, the Lender's policy becomes the "primary" and the premiums will change based on the loan amount.

I definitely recommend purchasing the Owner's Title Insurance for the Buyer's protection and future benefits for reissue on refinancing but it is their choice.


Care to translate/offer suggestions on this one, Geo? The owner's title costs were quoted at $1200, so I'd love to say no thanks to that one and use the cash for more Hot Deals items.
Sure. They are just saying that the owner's title policy is optional, and it always is. If you elect not to purchase an owner's policy, the lender's policy premium (which is paid for by the borrower) may go up somewhat. As I am sure you realize, neither I nor anyone else out there can properly advise you whether an owner's tite policy in this case is appropriate. All that we can do is to provide you with some of the relevant considerations.

An owner's title premium of $1,200 is quite the quote. What's the loan amount and what state are you in?

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henry33 said: If the buyer declined owner's coverage, just the lender's coverage would be cheaper as there's usually some fee for issuing two policies, but it goes away if there's just one.That's incorrect. Buying a lender's and an owner's policy is typically cheaper than buying each one separately, as the title insurance should provide a simultaneous issue discount.

But of course I'm not familiar with states where the seller pays for title.A purchase contract should NEVER be structured to provide that the seller will pay for specific closing cost category on behalf of the buyer. Instead, what should be done is a closing credit in an agreed upon amount, which the contract should allow the purchaser to use in his/her discretion in whatever manner he/she chooses. The contract should also provide that any portion of the credit that that purchaser elects not to use for any reason will be used to reduce the purchase price instead. Without the latter provision, you will typically end up in a situation at closing where a portion of the credit hasn't been used and the seller is arguing that he/she is entitled to just keep it.

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geo123 said: henry33 said: If the buyer declined owner's coverage, just the lender's coverage would be cheaper as there's usually some fee for issuing two policies, but it goes away if there's just one.That's incorrect. Buying a lender's and an owner's policy is typically cheaper than buying each one separately, as the title insurance should provide a simultaneous issue discount.

But of course I'm not familiar with states where the seller pays for title.A purchase contract should NEVER be structured to provide that the seller will pay for specific closing cost category on behalf of the buyer. Instead, what should be done is a closing credit in an agreed upon amount, which the contract should allow the purchaser to use in his/her discretion in whatever manner he/she chooses. The contract should also provide that any portion of the credit that that purchaser elects not to use for any reason will be used to reduce the purchase price instead. Without the latter provision, you will typically end up in a situation at closing where a portion of the credit hasn't been used and the seller is arguing that he/she is entitled to just keep it.


In TX the seller almost always pays for the buyer's title policy. This is above and beyond whatever is negotiated that the seller will contribute towards closing costs. For example we got $5000 towards closing costs. Title policy was a given for the seller to pay + an additional $5000.

Had I declined the title policy I would not have gotten an extra $1200 (or whatever amount)

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mikef07 said: In TX the seller almost always pays for the buyer's title policy. This is above and beyond whatever is negotiated that the seller will contribute towards closing costs. For example we got $5000 towards closing costs. Title policy was a given for the seller to pay + an additional $5000.I understand that it's customary in some places to do this. From a buyer's standpoint, however, it is still more advantageous to negotiate a specific credit up front than to break it up into a $5K closing cost credit + the cost of the owner's policy. As a buyer, you want to have as much flexibility as possible and, even more importantly, you want to ensure that any cost savings that you are able to obtain on various items benefit you rather than the seller.

Had I declined the title policy I would not have gotten an extra $1200 (or whatever amount)Right, this is precisely the reason that I recommend negotiating a seller's credit up front to be used at the buyer's discretion, with the unused portion thereof applied to reduce the purchase price. This way you would've had the option to decline the owner's policy and still benefit from the seller's credit with respect thereof.

Obviously, if you were planning on getting an owner's policy anyway and knew that there were no cost savings that you could benefit from, structuring the credit in a different way would not have made any difference.

Skipping 90 Messages...
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beatme said:   I know this is a old thread, but reading it helped me.
My attorney gave me a high quote for title insurance. They claimed that this was not negotiable and I could not shop around.


Sounds like great cause for an ethics violation to your state bar. The right to shop around for title insurance is guaranteed by federal law.

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