Land Title of America


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So you’ve inherited real estate with your brother. He’s willing to sell you his half of the estate. He’s family. You pay him in cash. So now what do you do? You get him to sign a deed, right? It’s just a deed, you can type it up, there’s forms online, why go to an attorney to have him type it up (and knowing attorneys, they’re going to talk you into getting title insurance), he’s family, what can go wrong?

So you are about to take a shortcut on Real Estate Title, let me share a little story. Once upon a time—no, scratch that, this is no fairytale. Unfortunately what I’m telling you is a true story in Florida. The names have been changed, but the situation is real and ongoing.

This story begins with a set of grandparents. Let’s call them Bob and Sally. Sally died, leaving the house to Bob, and then Bob died shortly thereafter. Bob had a will that left the house to Bob’s son and daughter, we’ll call them Jack and Jill. Seems simple enough, but wait-there’s more.

Jill had agreed previously to purchase all of Jack’s interest in their father’s (Bob’s) estate. Because Jack was her brother, a handshake and a hug was all they had to solidify their agreement. They would take care of the legal paperwork later. “We’re family, what could go wrong?” she said. Some months later, Jack unexpectedly becomes ill and goes into the hospital.

Shortly thereafter, Jack dies.

Jill decides to sell the property, and then realizes in order to get this property in her name so she can sell it, she is now going to have to pay for a probate—penny-wise dollar-foolish! When the probate was complete, Jill was designated as the personal representative and Jack’s wife and her two children would get Jack’s share of the money for the sale of the home.

So Jill lists the property and finds a buyer.

The buyer insists on getting title insurance so a title search was ordered. Title search came back squeaky clean and closing was set. A simple happy ending to what could have been a very complicated situation, except for, prior to closing, a young lady by the name of Jackie surfaces and claims to be the biological daughter of Jack. Talk about sliding home and missing the plate entirely!

Right / Wrong / or Indifferent-it doesn’t matter! Jackie felt that she had rights to seek financial interests in her father’s estate.

Had this closed and Title Insurance issued ( thank heavens it didn’t!), we would have paid a Title Claim to the Biological Child either in legal fees incurred to defend the title, or given her the money she needed to make her go away.

Did the Title Examiner miss something?

No. No matter how many times you look at the Title Search, you can’t see what’s not there.

Was it the Probate Attorney’s fault for not asking about other heirs?

In the end, it doesn’t matter! If you are the Owner, you are stuck with the problem!

I don’t care how many times you look at a Title Search and the Title Search looks great, you can still have problems for things not recorded in the public records. Shortcuts on real estate title can bring unnecessary hardship on you and your family.

Whenever you take title to real estate, get title insurance, no matter if you’re inheriting a piece of property, someone gives it to you, no matter if it comes from your pastor, your brother, your father, your best friend, your son’s wet nurse—crap happens! Unless you’re independently wealthy and have a slush fund with my brother, Rusty’s name on it (he’s an attorney by the way) get title insurance.

This is story 283 in my book of 1001 reasons to get title insurance.

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A sower went to buy a field. To decide which field to buy, he took some seed and went forth to sow. Some seeds fell by the wayside and the birds devoured them. Some fell upon rocky soil where they had no roots and they withered and died. And some seeds fell among the weeds and the weeds choked them. But other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth fruit a hundredfold! Thus the sower went and soldeth all that he had to buy the field with good soil. And he bought title insurance to go along with the property.

The sower became a very wealthy man indeed from the harvest of his field with good soil, and soon he had neighbors on every side, but these neighbors were not wise men. One had bought the field by the wayside, and he had no luck at all. Another had bought the rocky field and was very hopeful when the plants first sprang up, but then he was crestfallen when they withered and died. And another man had bought the field of weeds.

A wicked envy arose around the sower’s success. The three unwise neighbors conspired to take his field. The man who owned the wayside claimed that the property survey was incorrect and that one-third of the sower’s field was actually on his land. The man on rocky soil claimed his late grandmother had left one-third of the sower’s field to him. And the man with the weed patch claimed that one-third of the sower’s field was his easement. In this way, the three unwise men planned to divide the sower’s field amongst them. They would not only get his land, but would break the sower of his wealth as he tried to defend his ownership in a court of law.

The sower listened to their claims…and then he unfolded a lawyer from his title insurance policy. The sower’s title insurance provided legal representation in defense of his land ownership rights, and in so doing, protected his financial interest in the property. Because that policy covered legal fees, the sower did not have to ply his wealth in court costs regarding these property challenges.

In the end, the neighbors could not withstand the legal battles they had waged. The one by the wayside hit the road. The one on the rocky ground started a band. And the third got busted for his weed. The wise sower who had title insurance to financially protect his field of good soil continued to reap a wealthy harvest, and he lived and worked carefree of property disputes.

The sower who had title insurance on his good soil reaped a wealthy harvest regardless of property disputes.

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Some words you cannot say in polite company-at least you shouldn’t-and some words you cannot print online. Automatic censors will mark out the Latin genus of the human species, and also will not allow the customary gender distinction of a male roach. While these words in context are okay for radio-speak, they get edited for a general public online forum.

Smash your thumb with a hammer and you might be given to shout: “Shania Twain!” But that’s nothing compared to to what you’d sai if you lost your home in a ownership dispute and you didn’t have title insurance.

Title insurance helps to keep the language clean. If you’ve got title insurance and somebody says, “Hey, that’s my real estate,”you’d get to reply, “Oh, drat,” instead of “Oh, BLEEeeeeeeeeeeeeep!@#$%^&*!!”

Title insurance takes the high drama out of home ownership risk. Sorry about that if you were seeking more stress in your life. The reason is, title insurance pays for the legal defense of your ownership rights. Whether someone disputes two feet of easement of all two acres of your lot, proper title insurance takes care of the court fees and pays valid claims.

You don’t need a string of expletives if you’ve got a title insurance policy. You won’t need to wash your mouth out with soap if someone claims your land is theirs.

Land Title of AmericaTERMS OF OH-DEAR-MENT!
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I’m glad you’re paying attention because title insurance is often overlooked. In the half-inch stack of disclosures and mortgage documents you sign at your real estate closing, you might not realize the threat you have of losing your home or land—it’s odorless, soundless, and you can’t see it with a title search—you don’t know it’s there until it’s on top of you! And then you’ve got to pay to defend yourself against it!

I’m passionate about title insurance, maybe you’ve noticed. It’s not just spaghetti on the wall. Title issues are a real estate subject with broad reaching ripples. What affects the real estate market affects the overall economy. I don’t care if you’re buying a singlewide mobile home or the Taj Mahal, title insurance helps protect everyone.

Everyone can see flood damage, everyone knows what a fire can do to a house, but the harmful effects of losing your home or land because of a legal challenge to your ownership aren’t real obvious to outsiders.

There’s a lot to know in a real estate transaction, and there’s a lot I want you to understand at the closing table. If I can educate you on the importance of title insurance beforehand, then we’re ahead of the game. The closing table is not an ideal place to learn all the subtleties of risk to your ownership. You’ve got the title search in your hand showing clear title—it’s hard to see the need for title insurance when the risk is hidden.

Some people learn the hard way , and that’s very bad. If you’re aware of the risk, what you’re up against, and the advantages of title insurance, then you can prevent a financial loss that could swallow up your property.

No, the law does not require title insurance. But the law does allows its citizens the right to own property and the right to protect it. If you buy a security system for your home, why not title insurance? Both protect your property.

I live here. Your loss is my loss. We’ve had enough devaluation in the real estate market. Support sure ground with title insurance.

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Purchasing title endorsements is not like ordering a side of fries. Title endorsements close the gap between your title insurance policy and the exceptions and exclusions of that policy. For instance, title insurance does not cover covenants and restrictions violations, mineral issues, easements, abusive association, challenges against condominium declarations, and the list goes on. That’s where title endorsements come in.

Title endorsements aren’t for wishes—they’re for needs. Title endorsements allow you to customize your title insurance to meet your specific needs.

Proper title insurance coverage means having proper title endorsements. Your title insurance isn’t going to do much good if it only goes as far as the monumental exceptions, like the eight foot utility easement that runs right through your house.

You could probably scrape together enough cash in your car to get a side of fries, but it’ll cost you a lot more on a title claim if you don’t have proper title insurance with proper endorsements. Title endorsements are a very inexpensive way to cover some very real issues that can be very expensive.

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You’re after the facts before you buy real estate. That’s why you get a title search. Not only do you need to know who owns the property, you also need to know if anyone else has ownership interest that could complicate the title.

For example, let’s say you go to buy a home from a Seller who’s owned the place for eight years. The Seller had bought the property from the Next Door Neighbor. You have a title search done and find that the Next Door Neighbor sold a private mortgage on the same property to Another Party two years ago. That’s the kind of thing you as the home buyer want to know ahead of time! You don’t wait till after closing to find that out!

But a title search can come back clear and you can still have title issues. Errors and omissions, heirs, and sometimes even fraud can be revealed after the transaction. A title search can’t see a misfiled deed, an undisclosed heir, or a forgery. So what do you do then? Hopefully you’ve got title insurance.

Title insurance financially protects after the fact if title problems occur. Yes, you’ve had your real estate closing, you’ve lived in the place for a decade, and made payments on the mortgage. That does not prevent a title claim against your ownership.

Title insurance covers you from the day you purchase it forward through all the title issues of the past. It pays for the legal defense of your ownership rights, and should that defense fail, it pays out the policy amount insured. You don’t want to have to use it—matter of fact the best title insurance policy is the one collecting dust in the drawer—but title insurance can save you a bundle if you do need it.

The best time to get title insurance is when you acquire a piece of real estate ,however, if you’ve owned a place for a while and never had title insurance on it, you can buy title insurance after the fact as long as there’s no title claim against it. That’s like putting on a bulletproof vest after getting shot—a little late isn’t it?

Get Title Insurance when you own real estate..and before someone challenges your title to the property.

Land Title of AmericaAFTER THE FACT
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$10,000 QUESTION

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What would you do with $10,000? Was your first answer: “Pay legal fees for a lawsuit I could have prevented for a nano-fraction that amount?”

For a one-time fee at closing, you can buy Title Insurance that covers legal costs relating to ownership disputes on your property.

Sure, title claims don’t happen every day in your life, but they do happen every day, but they can wreck your whole week if they do. More realistically, Title Insurance prevents months of worry about how to par for legal defense of your ownership title.

Don’t waste your money-spend it wisely. The small cost of Title Insurance can prevent a giant expense in legal fees.

What would you do with $10,000? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Land Title of America$10,000 QUESTION
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In 1980 a man and a woman purchased property. They were married when they bought it, but did not put that on the deed. The husband died. He had six children from a previous marriage and the wife had one daughter from a previous marriage, and the daughter had Power of Attorney for her mom. The wife sold the property to a family friend, a contract for deed, but it was unrecorded. The arrangement was in writing, but without witnesses or notary. Then the wife died. You cannot make up stories like this– they can only happen in real life real estate!

To recap, the man and woman took title without putting their marital status on deed. The man died. The woman sold the home. In 2004, the family friend that bought the home paid it off, but was it conveyed properly? The woman passed away. What about the six children from the man- do they need to be notified?

We’re talking about a mobile home in a more challenged area and the family didn’t have the money to pay the doc stamps on the deed. It costs money to put things in public records. They did the best they could but they didn’t have the resources.

There are a lot of issues going on here- a lot of muddy water. Yeah, everything can be fixed- it’s going to take an attorney and some money, but it can be fixed- but are you willing to buy that property without some kind of financial protection?

With that many issues, there’s a lot of looming risk. If you’re going to buy the property, you take on that risk. It might be a great deal, but only if you don’t have to hire a lawyers yourself. Seriously, this is why you get title insurance- to cover the legal defense of your property ownership and to give you financial protection and assurance should there be a valid claim. Again, that is a true story.

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Pistols as dawn was a much faster way of settling property disputes-a lot less paperwork. Forget the title search, who needs a survey, never mind easement issues- we can solve all that at twenty paces! Personally, I think the modern way we handle disputes in this country is a lot better.

We’re evolving as a nation. We have an election system which allows a peaceful transfer of power, and we have channels for making laws and changing laws which don’t involve violence. What we can’t change is the past.

In our early history, many people did not have the land ownership rights we enjoy today- Native Americans, blacks, women. Land ownership in the United States was an exclusive right for a long time…. not any more. The wrongs of the past do not invalidate the good of today. We can learn from out past and better our future because of it.

Land ownership is open to any US citizen and enforceable with equal housing laws. Land ownership rights provide the landowner with distinct delineation of property on which to live, raise a family, keep a dog, or all of the above with stability of homestead and the financial investment in that land. It may not be the perfect system, but this is the United States, where the process has the opportunity to evolve, and do so peacefully.

Today I can disagree with you (and you can disagree with me) in words rather than gunpowder. Land ownership is not a sad concept- it’s a sign of equality and freedom.

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Home ownership should be hassle-free. Once you close on your house and get settled, you shouldn’t have to worry about who owns your home. Doesn’t always work that way.

In our human world, errors occur… and sometimes omissions… or disclosed heirs. Sometimes a title company (not mine I hope!) misses a document in public records during a title search. And every now and then, there’s a case if forgery. Any of these things can put your home ownership in jeopardy.

Title Insurance can’t fix that. What it can do is pay litigation costs should one of these events become an event in your life.

Home ownership comes with responsibility. As a homeowner, you are responsible to defend your ownership. Title Insurance gives you peace of mind knowing that if your ownership comes into question, the cost of legal defense (an attorney and all court fees) is paid for with you policy.

Home ownership is not hassle-free, but you can have financial peace of mind over a piece of property with Title Insurance.

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