Buying or selling real estate usually involves the transfer of large sums of money. It is imperative that a neutral third party, such as a title company, handle the transfer of funds and related documents from one party to another. It is essential that all conditions of the sale are met before the property and money change hands.
The Escrow Holder impartially carries out the written instructions given by the principals (buyer, seller and lender). This includes receiving funds and documents necessary to comply with those instructions, completing or obtaining required forms, and handling final delivery of all items to the proper parties upon the successful completion of the escrow.
A property title is the vehicle in which ownership transfers from one person or business to another, and is composed of three basic elements:
- Rights and interests that are published in public records or by inspection of the property (such as deeds, mortgages and leases);
- Rights and interests that are not recorded but exist (such as limitations imposed by laws and statutes);
- Rights and interests that are hidden (such as forgeries, secret marriages and unknown heirs).
Every title is made up of many different “rights” and “interests” that may be owned by different people. The most valuable rights and interests are owned by the property’s owners, but others may also have rights to the property, such as liens for unpaid utilities, homeowner’s dues or mortgages.
Most premium title insurance policies will work to protect you against the following:
- False impersonation of the true owner of the property
- Forged deeds, releases or wills
- Undisclosed or missing heirs
- Instruments executed under invalid or expired power of attorney
- Mistakes in recording legal documents
- Misinterpretations of wills
- Deeds by persons of unsound mind
- Deeds by minors
- Deeds by persons supposedly single, but in fact married
- Liens for unpaid estate, inheritance, income or gift taxes