Welcome to Stewart Title Company. We place the customer at the center of the transaction, and our focus is providing service that exceeds your expectations.
Whether buying, selling, refinancing, building, developing or conducting a tax-deferred exchange, Stewart Title is there for you. The strength of the company is its associates who dedicate their enthusiasm, creativity, diligence and loyalty, and embrace Stewart's vision of "Magnificent Service by Inspired Professionals®," providing an end result of a magnificent customer experience.
Basic Steps of Closing
Step 1: Starting the process
A sales contract is signed by the buyer and seller and delivered to the closing agent, usually with a deposit check. The escrow is accepted by the escrow agent, usually by written notation on the contract. The escrow agent starts the closing process by opening a title order. The file begins to be processed. Tax information, loan payoffs, survey (if necessary), homeowner/maintenance fees, inspections/reports, and hazard and other insurances as well as legal papers are ordered. A title search is ordered.
Step 2: Title search and examination
This is a search made of the public records. Records searched include deeds, mortgages, paving assessments, liens, wills, divorce settlements and other documents affecting title to the property. Title examination is the examination of the documents found during the title search that affect the title to the property. This is when verification of the legal owner is made and the debts owed against the property are determined. Upon completion of the search and examination, a title commitment/preliminary report is prepared and reviewed and sent out to interested parties.
Step 3: Document preparation and/or request to produce
The closing agent reviews the new lender’s instructions/requirements, reviews instructions from other parties to the transaction, reviews legal and loan documents, assembles charges, and prepares closing statements and schedules the closing.
Step 4: Settlement/closing the transaction
Escrow/settlement agent oversees closing of the transaction. Seller signs the deed and closing affidavit. Buyer signs the new note and mortgage. The old loan is paid off. Seller, real estate professionals, attorneys and other parties present at the closing of the transaction are paid.
Step 5: Post-closing
After the signing has been completed, the escrow/settlement agent will forward payment to any prior lender, and pay all parties who performed services in connection with your closing (if they have not been paid). The transaction documents are recorded in the county in which the property is located. Title insurance policies are prepared and sent to the new lender and to you. This all happens without any further actions by the buyer or seller.
Why You Need Title Insurance
Protecting Your Home Investment
A home is usually the largest single investment any of us will ever make. When you purchase a home, you will purchase several types of insurance coverage to protect your home and personal property. Homeowners insurance protects against loss from fire, theft or wind damage. Flood insurance protects against rising water. And a unique coverage known as title insurance protects against hidden title hazards that may threaten your financial investment in your home.
Protecting Your Largest Single Investment
Title insurance is not as well understood as other types of home insurance, but it is just as important. You see, when purchasing a home, instead of purchasing the actual building or land, you are really purchasing the title to the property – the right to occupy and use the space. That title may be limited by rights and claims asserted by others, which may limit your use and enjoyment of the property and even bring financial loss. Title insurance protects against these types of title hazards.
Other types of insurance that protect your home focus on possible future events and charge an annual premium. On the other hand, title insurance protects against loss from hazards and defects that already exist in the title and is purchased with a one-time premium.
Two Kinds of Title Insurance Benefit You in Two Ways
There are two basic kinds of title insurance:
Owner’s title insurance lasts as long as you, the policyholder – or your heirs – has an interest in the insured property. This may even be after you have sold the property.
Depending on local practices and state law where the property is located, you may pay an additional premium for an owner’s policy or you may pay a simultaneous issue charge – usually a smaller amount – for the separate lender coverage. You may even split settlement costs with the seller for the lender or owner’s policy.
What Does Your Premium Really Pay For?
An important part of title insurance is its emphasis on risk elimination before insuring. This gives you, as the policyholder, the best possible chance for avoiding title claim and loss.
Title insuring begins with a search of public land records affecting the real estate concerned. An examination is conducted by the title agent or attorney on behalf of its underwriter to determine whether the property is insurable. The examination of evidence from a search is intended to fully report all “material objections” to the title. Frequently, documents that don’t clearly transfer title are found in the “chain,” or history that is assembled from the records in a search. Here are some examples of documents that can present concerns:
Hidden Title Hazards – Your Last Defense
In spite of all the expertise and dedication that go into a title search and examination, hidden hazards can emerge after closing, resulting in unpleasant and costly surprises. Some examples of hazards include:
Your home is your most important investment. Before you go to closing, ask about your title insurance protection, and be sure to protect your home with an owner’s title insurance policy.