Real Estate Investing Basics

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know Your Title Company Could Do for You

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics, Business Management
42 Articles Written
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When most people think about title companies, they don’t see them as resources. Most people don’t even know what title companies do because title companies don’t advertise their services. Do you know a title company or title representative? Probably not.

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Let’s look at the purpose of title companies, then get into what they can do for you as an investor.

A title company looks over the title history of a property to ensure that when title is transferred (property bought or sold), all liens and other claims of ownership from past owners are taken care of and removed. Liens can include past due property taxes, unpaid contractor fees, etc.

Title companies also insure their work. The insurance covers problems and legal fees that arise if there were still liens or claims of ownership that weren’t taken care of.

Lastly, once the transaction is complete, they put your name on the title.

What Title Companies Can Do for Investors

Being a title representative is a competitive business just as with most real estate activities. While they don’t go and put out ads and commercials—let’s face it, they would be very boring—they do still need to market to get business.

Related: What is Title Insurance? The Real Truth About How Title Insurance Works

A title company markets by providing services, information, and just all around help to real estate agents. The more business a real estate agent does because of a title company, the more referrals the title company will get. If title companies can help real estate agents, they can also help real estate investors.

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Some of the services I use title companies for include:

1. Access to Property Information

My title rep sends me names, addresses, and sometimes phone numbers of properties my clients or I want to buy. You can ask for only properties of a certain age or in a certain area, properties with a certain number of years that the owner has lived there, properties with absentee owners, properties with less than $X left on their loan (not very exact), etc. They have a lot of data they can use to identify properties you might want.

If you want to find seller financed properties, you can use title companies to get addresses for only properties that are paid off. If you want to find houses likely to be for sale soon, then you can ask for owner-occupied addresses where the owner lived there between seven to 10 years, because this is the average timeframe that people start thinking about moving.

You can also drive around looking for properties and pick out the ones you like, and the title company will get you the contact info and addresses of the owners when the owners live somewhere else.

2. Advertising Purposes

Most people don’t realize there is an advertising budget for title companies. However, they use it to help those that send them business. The law forbids them from paying you for sending them business, but they are allowed to print out mailers, pay for postage, or help pay for other advertising, as long as the money is only going to goods and services and not into your pocket. The possibilities are endless.

Related: 6 Insider Hacks for Finding Profitable Off-Market Real Estate Deals

3. Maps & Marketing Materials

They have maps and different marketing materials they give to real estate agents to better prepare them for working in that market. These resources can also be helpful to you.

4. Informational Classes

Title companies also give classes on a lot of different aspects of real estate that you might be able to attend.

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5. Finding Deals

Title companies have departments whose only jobs are to help real estate agents get more deals. If you’re looking for properties yourself and you can give the title company business by using them when you find the properties, they just might help you, too.

One thing to keep in mind is not every title company and every title rep are the same. I’ve had some representatives tell me they can’t get contact information, while another at the same company has done it. 

If you want to find a title rep to help you, I suggest calling a few in the local area and letting them know what your plans are and that you will use them if they can help you get business. Then, ask them what they can do for you.

You want to work with someone you like and someone that’s going to help you. It’s best to build a mutually beneficial relationship over time. You can’t beat that.

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Have you ever used your title company for any of the above resources? Anything to add to the list?

Be sure to leave a comment below!

Brett Lee is a licensed Real Estate Broker in Portland Oregon where he helps people achieve a better future so they can do the things that truly make them happy. Brett is also a buy-and-hold investor, property manager and investment advisor.

    PJ
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Has anyone ever used a title company to find out who the local MH investors are? Perhaps by asking them to do a search only on MH in the last 7 years that are not yet paid off?
    Isaac Rothermel Rental Property Investor from Malvern, PA
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hey Brett, I’m curious — would title companies be able to identify which properties have outstanding debts from previous tenants? I’m currently pursuing a strategy of buying seller-financed rental units from frustrated landlords, so if someone has a ton of damage done by previous tenants to a property, they may be very willing to consider selling.
    Brett Lee from Portland, Oregon
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    They might be able to use a combination of non owner occupied and recent refinancing (pulled out cash to make repairs) to find them. I would call a title person, not an office, and see if they know how. Let me know if it works.
    Isaac Rothermel Rental Property Investor from Malvern, PA
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Also, I was completely unaware of those extra, potential services that you wrote about in this article! Thanks for writing this.
    Brett Lee from Portland, Oregon
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    They might be able to use a combination of non owner occupied and recent refinancing (pulled out cash to make repairs) to find them. I would call a title person, not an office, and see if they know how. Let me know if it works.
    Terrence Arth Investor from Scottsdale, Arizona
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Brett, Who Knew? I never had a clue! I always figured all they did was Titles. It makes sense that they are not a 1 trick pony. Thanx for the insight!!!
    Benjamin Cowles from Cape Coral, FL
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hmm, I’ve met a couple and they looked at me funny after inquiring about providing lists. Id like to hear more from others who’ve found, or not, these title co’s that offer such benefits to ‘investors’.
    Timothy Friars
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Really seems to be hit or miss here. Some seem to do this, while others, not. I’d just keep asking around.
    Gary O
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Honestly, I don’t remember how much the title insurance cost. What I do remember is that when I bought owner financed property I never saw the owners or wrote them a check. Every month I wrote the title company a check and they for a $6 a month fee were a barrier and a witness to the entire process. I just thought it was a cost of business. It was pleasant and super easy so when circumstances developed similarly I took the easy road. Must have been okay,when I sold the property their realtor insisted on using a different title company and it was fine. Thank you for connecting this all so well.
    George C. Rental Property Investor from My City, NY
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I’m in an area where everyone uses a lawyer for any transaction, since doing RE investments in PA too, I started using just title agents like they do in PA. So for a long time now I’ve been using a local title co to handle anything local as well. The guy I deal with is AWESOME, the guy is like a walking google when it comes to RE and just about anything else. He’s so generous with his knowledge too, I love that about him. You could sit and he would gladly talk for hours, then his wife will have to drag him away to get back to work. He used to be a local county politician years ago so he knows everyone, knows all the local bank people. I can’t think of a better person to go to than the Title guy I deal with. I’ve dealt with a lot of lawyers over the years, non of them could compare to him in knowledge or time generosity.
    Aaron Koski Investor from Denver, Colorado
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Sounds like a great source of info to vet potential properties for buy and hold scenario, or even a flip. If you do enough deals you likely have a preferred title rep. I imagine this type of relationship, and the repeat business, would make the initial conversation a whole lot easier. Thanks for the tip!
    Gloria Almendares
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hi Brett: Here in Hawaii Title companies are not allowed to print postcards or pay for postage for your marketing. It is a RICO violation, and it also violates HUD rules. Title companies can print address labels for you, and they can print flyers, but they will bill you (a small charge). Title companies can pay for refreshments for your Open House, sponsored by the Title company. They can email an “email blast”, announcing your Open House to all the agents. Not sure if they can give me a list of homeowners that no longer have a mortgage. I’ll check and let you know. I have a very good working relationship with Old Republic Title and Escrow Co. Gloria Almendares
    Marie
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I can hear the collective groan of title companies everywhere “Ugh, now they’re gonna make us do stuff!” Haha, just kidding. This is good stuff to know; I had no idea they could do so much for me!
    Shunda Hunt Wholesaler from Simpsonville, South Carolina
    Replied about 3 years ago
    How can I asked title company help me to research a property that have been vacant
    Gregg Hutton Investor from Centreville, VA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Great Read! I am attending a Title Companies open house tonight, this was great info!
    Lynn E. Mickens
    Replied 12 months ago
    You Guys Rock! For Everyone Who Shared. Thanks.
    Tucker Fahling from Seattle Area
    Replied 21 days ago
    Great article Brett! I have been using ActiveFarm through Chicago Title to access all of the areas you discussed in this article and it is fantastic! Sitting down with a title rep and letting them know what I wanted and was looking for was all it took. I am able to get different lists of every type of property imaginable as well as having access to properties all over the US, and it is very easy to use. In my first few months of 'figuring out' real estate investing I spent hours a day on this and deciding which type of properties I wanted to look for. Feel free to reach out to me on here if you have any questions, I am happy to help!
    Cathy Dela Cruz New to Real Estate from Valley Village, CA
    Replied about 15 hours ago
    I just joined the site tonight and this article was super interesting. I’m going to see if I can find any class or training now from title companies near me! Thanks!