Experienced folks: WHO researches your title? (I need help from all 50 states)

46 Replies

Here in Washington State, I go to a Title Company after signing a contract with a seller and the title company researches the chain of title and issues title insurance, and then the Title Company will actually close the transaction. 

So my question is: 

WHAT state are you in?

WHO researches the title in your state? (title company, escrow, lender, attorney, etc?)

WHO closes the transaction? (title company, escrow, lender, attorney, etc?)

Thanks for your help! (this is for an upcoming book from BiggerPockets!) 

Medium fbprofileBrandon Turner, BiggerPockets | http://www.BiggerPockets.com | Podcast Guest on Show #92

Missouri- Title company does the title search. Title company closing agent handles the closing.

I should add they will also double close and assign here.

Medium head icon colorRyan Dossey, Call Porter | http://Callporter.com | IN Agent # RB15001099

Pennsylvania is like MO - title company does both activities. Assuming a "typical" transaction of course. 

@Brandon Turner , in Michigan the research, escrow, and closing are almost always handled by a title company. I have never participated in a transaction that wasn't handled this way. Both the buyer and the seller may use their own title agent for their portion of the closing and that is becoming increasingly common. 

In IL the attorney reviews title, sometimes the title company pulls it and sometimes the attorney does, and we close at the title company.  The attorneys pretty much take over once we go under contract and handle the transaction.  

In WI the seller hires the title company to pull title and it is customary to close there, but I hire my own and we close at my title company.  No attorney's are involved with the transaction.  

Medium second city real estate logo   white close upBrie Schmidt, Second City Real Estate | [email protected] | http://www.SecondCity-RE.com | IL Agent # 471.018287, WI Agent # 57846-90 | Podcast Guest on Show #132

In South Carolina the attorneys research the title and they handle the closing. They also help you obtain title insurance if you choose to purchase it.

Originally posted by @Brandon Turner :

Here in Washington State, I go to a Title Company after signing a contract with a seller and the title company researches the chain of title and issues title insurance, and then the Title Company will actually close the transaction. 

So my question is: 

WHAT state are you in?

WHO researches the title in your state? (title company, escrow, lender, attorney, etc?)

WHO closes the transaction? (title company, escrow, lender, attorney, etc?)

Thanks for your help! (this is for an upcoming book from BiggerPockets!) 

@Brandon Turner - Florida works pretty much the same as Washington State, though in some cases Attorney's offices perform the same functions (in my experience, this is more common with REOs).

Medium mfg logo resizedJeff Copeland MBA, The Multifamily Guy | [email protected] | 727‑235‑7988 | http://themultifamilyguy.com | FL Agent # BK3326487

@Brandon Turner

In California the Title company handles research and makes sure title is clear.

Closing happens through escrow.

I use a firm in Utah called Guardian Law.  They are a law firm licensed in several states.  I've closed a fair number of transactions with them and I've always been satisfied.

I have two main states:  Iowa and Indiana.

Iowa - Abstract state.  Abstract company updates the abstract, attorney reviews and issues title opinion, if desirable state can issue a form of "title insurance", attorney typically handles closing although a separate escrow company can be hired.

Indiana - Title company researches / issues title insurance,  they also typically close the transaction.  

In Indiana though I have had separate escrow agents on transactions. Typically this is when seller offers to pay closing costs on REO properties (HUBZU being the primary source of this annoying process, the extra party can cause excessive lead time when minor issues arise such as closing date shift or last minute credit grant).

Medium c logo small logoMitch Coluzzi, Coluzzi Real Estate INC | [email protected] | http://www.coluzzirealestate.com | IA Contractor # C124035, IA Agent # B63267000

In Georgia it's done through an attorney. Some attorneys go to the courthouse and pull their own title work and others hire an independent title researcher. Then the attorney will go through the title and if there's something not quite clear or complicated, he/she will discuss it with an attorney at the title company, who is going to write the title insurance.

In Fulton county (Atlanta - have not worked in other counties) the title has to be guaranteed for 30 years and I've taught myself to do my own title work ahead of time, so, that there are no surprises at closing. And if you work in some of the original black neighborhoods in Atlanta with 100 year old houses you can be thrown for a loop, because the properties often were passed down within the family without probate (because the lawyers were usually white and they didn't trust them). 

So, unless the house had recently changed hands with a mortgage and title insurance, it's always best to spend the time and look at the titlework ahead of time, because the attorney puts it off until the last minute. They get it back a day before closing and then you'll have potential problems to solve.

In Mass anyone can research a title, the registry of deeds is open to all. A lot of it is on line too. But in a typical purchase, the Buyers attorney has the title run by a title search company. They give a basic cover sheet run down noting anything they think is out of the ordinary then the attorney reviews it and decides if it is good to go or what may be needed to clear the title. The attorney usually handles the closing, transfer of funds, putting on record, prepare HUD etc. So if you are using a lender in MA and there is no attorney the real estate bar may come after you for UPL (unauthorized practice of law). Of course if you are doing a cash deal no attorney is needed and you as buyer can contact a title research company directly. Usually the closing attorney is also a Title Insurance Agent if the lender wants/requires title insurance or if it is a cash deal and you want Owner's insurance.

I think MA is about one of five states where an attorney is required to do the closing or you run into UPL.

good info from @Douglas Snook

however if it is a property that I am buying for myself I go to the Registry of Deeds myself and trace every single deed back, just to cover myself, get a history of ownership and to make sure no easements, liens or concerns get skipped by the attorneys, have had problems in the past so I like to know the answers before I start asking questions...just my opinion ! 

Ditto @Michaela G. 's comment -- in Georgia, an attorney handles the closing details (I think by law), though it doesn't hurt to do your own "due diligence."

In Tennesse (as I'm learning with a new personal property purchase) closing and documentation can be done by a title company w/o an attorney.

I do want to add, that I've worked with one title company directly in Atlanta. It's the only one I've ever come across, that does their own title work and does closing right in house. But the standard is that closings are done by attorneys.

And ALWAYS get title insurance!!!

@Brandon Turner

I know you are nationally focussed, but here to your north, in most (though off the top of my heard, I cannot swear all ... some may use notaries as well) provinces and territories a lawyer performs both tasks (title search and close).

Medium greenapartmenthires 1024x1024Roy N., Louer Louer Ltd. | 1.506.471.4126

Originally posted by @Darren Sager :

In NJ the Title company researches the title and an Attorney or Title Company can be the settlement agent.  

What Darren failed to mention is that in NJ it is like a north / south thing. North NJ does like NY (attorney), south NJ does like PA (all at title company). 

Originally posted by @Tim Watts :

Texas... Title Company for both.

 Actually in Texas you can use a Title company for both as well as a fee Attorney. The  title insurance lobby did win a small victory a couple of years ago in that a Fee Attorney now has to be affiliated with one title company as they used to be able to shop title companies 

Maryland- Title company for both.

Hawaii - Depending on the transaction, escrow handles the closing by ordering the title report from the title company, payoff demands, signing of docs, wiring of funds. At time of closing, escrow will deliver the closing docs to the title company for recordation at the bureau.  The title policy is mailed to the insured party by the title company when it is completed.

The above is pretty much standard for most real estate transactions in Hawaii except when you're dealing with foreclosures. Closings on foreclosures where the property reverts back to the lender is sometimes handled by the attorney's office. Title work is usually ordered by the attorney prior to the initiation of foreclosure and that research is always performed by a title company.

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Wyoming, and title is researched by title company and they do the closing.  It was not always this way but it is very much the norm now in my area.

Florida: I use a title company for search, closing, and title policies. Some people use attorneys. I believe the title companies are less expensive. The attorneys argue they do a better job of protecting the client.

No company avatar mediumJohn Thedford, John Thedford | 239‑200‑5600 | http://www.capehomebuyers.com | FL Agent # BK3098153

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