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1) What is title insurance? How much does it cost? Should I buy it?
Owner’s title insurance protects the Buyer of a property against undiscovered liens or defects in the title prior to the time of purchase. Title insurance insures the record title and protects an owner of property from losses arising from defects occurring prior to the date of the policy. Therefore, it differs from other types of insurance because it is retrospective in nature. It also differs from other types of insurance because there is only a single premium charge for title insurance, but the protection lasts for as long as you own the property. There are different title insurance policies which protect both owners and lenders. Lender’s title insurance performs the same purpose, but only for the lender in a transaction. The fee is typically about $2.50 per $1000 for lender’s coverage and $3.50 per $1000 for owner’s coverage. Lender’s insurance is required and you are strongly encouraged to purchase owner’s insurance for numerous reasons. If you have any questions in this regard or have been given advice that owner’s insurance is not necessary, please contact one of our attorneys to make an informed decision.
Since one’s home is usually the single biggest financial investment, it is highly prudent and wise that a homeowner would want to protect that investment and enjoy the benefits of ownership. An owner’s title policy is that protection.
2) What type of claims are covered by Owner’s Title Insurance?
The owner’s title policy insures against loss or damages sustained by the owner by reason of historical discrepancies such as forgery, undisclosed but recorded prior mortgages, bankruptcies, liens or divorces, deeds not properly recorded, missing wills or heirs, and inadequate property descriptions.
3) Why do I need an attorney for a closing?
An attorney should always be present at a closing to answer legal questions and to resolve disputes. Most lenders require the presence of an attorney at all closings. At our firm, all closings are always conducted by an attorney. In Rhode Island, the buyer has the right to choose the attorney to handle the title search. You should always insist on an attorney instead of a title company, as we will help to resolve the problems which arise, and will not limit our scope to merely searching the title.
4) When do I get my proceeds as a Seller?
The Seller will be given the proceeds from the sale after the deed has been recorded. In our office, we always record the documents the same day if the closing occurs before noon, and within 24 hours of closing in any event, barring weekends and holidays.
5) What happens if the house is not ready for me to move in on the day of closing?
If the house is not in the proper condition to move in at the time of closing, you will need to consult with an attorney. At our firm, if we are handling the closing, we will always strive to help the buyer with the predicament. Options include postponing the time of closing, giving a buyer credit, or escrowing funds from the seller until the property is in the proper condition.
6) Where does the closing take place?
The closing will occur at the attorney’s office for the buyer. Occasionally, the closing may occur at the lender’s office or a real estate agency, but the vast majority close at the attorney’s office.
7) What form of money should I bring to the closing?
Buyers should bring a bank check or certified funds to closing. If one of these options is not available, buyers should make arrangements to wire funds directly to the closing attorney at least one business day prior to the day of closing. If verifiable funds are not present at the time of closing, the recording of the documents will be delayed and the buyer may not be able to move into the new home. Personal checks or cash are acceptable in nominal amounts up to a maximum of $1000.
8) What other obligations are there as a Seller of property?
The seller is obligated to produce a Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detector Certificate at the time of closing. To obtain a certificate, the seller or its agent must contact the fire department for the municipality in which the property lies to conduct the inspection.
9) Will I receive a survey of the property at the closing?
No. In Rhode Island, lenders do not require surveys. Unless the buyer requests a survey, no one will physically verify the boundaries of the property. In Massachusetts, a lender may require a plot plan of the property which does not formally locate all of the property boundaries, but it does locate the house in particular vicinity within the boundary lines.
10) Will I receive an appraisal of the property at the closing?
You are always entitled to a copy of the lender’s appraisal if there is a lender involved on your behalf as a buyer. The appraisal is often presented at the closing, or it can be requested in writing.
11) What if my property is in a flood zone?
If the property you are purchasing is in a flood zone as depicted on the government maps, the lender will require you to obtain flood insurance. You should be careful of this whenever the property is near the water as flood insurance is often quite costly.
12) Does a title search or title insurance cover zoning issues?
No. Zoning determinations are completely separate from the title to the property. If you want an attorney to verify the zoning for you, an additional fee would be required.