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Whe buying a house or piece of property, does the Title Company work for the buyer, the seller, or are they neutral, just playing the part of administering the deal?

  • Read [this answer] to a somewhat different question regarding title insurance policies. – Dilip Sarwate Feb 17 '15 at 14:39
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When buying a house or piece of property, does the Title Company work for the buyer, the seller, or are they neutral, just playing the part of administering the deal?

It depends on what you mean by title company.

In one case they are the company handling the closing.

Some call this a settlement company, but many have the word Title in the name. In my real estate transactions the buyer has paid for the service a part of the settlement costs. Who is picked is a negotiation between buyer and seller. On a day I sold one house and bought another having them back-to-back in the same office was the most convenient.

The Title company agent may be a lawyer, but at least in Virginia they don't have to be. But even if they are a lawyer they don't represent either party. They are making sure all the proper forms and money is ending up in the correct place at the correct times. They will facilitate the transaction, but they don't protect either side from a bad deal.

The other use of the term Title company may mean Title Insurance Company.

They are a company that insure the lender, in case there is a problem with the ownership of the property. The lender will make you buy the Title insurance policy. They will dictate who to use, and the term of the policy.

The buyer of the property can also buy an optional policy to protect themselves if the title is bad. The lender doesn't require you to purchase this policy.

Title policies protect the lender and you when the ownership is not clear. The ex-spouse may claim ownership, the homeowners association may claim back dues owed, a construction company may claim that they were never paid. In some cases the issue could have occurred years before your transaction, and were missed during the title search. Without a policy the ownership could revert to the previous party. The lender wants their policy to make sure they don't lose their money, you want a policy to make sure you don't lose the equity and the roof over your head.

  • Can you add something like that tile insurance protects you from liens on the property that existed before you bought it? – Bishop Feb 17 '15 at 14:00
  • @Bishop I added what you suggested – mhoran_psprep Feb 17 '15 at 14:30
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In Massachusetts (all i have experience with) they do nothing but sell you a service. RE agents here often push this product because they get a commission on the sale, but it may not be worth the cost; ask your lawyer for advice on that. (You do have a lawyer examining the paperwork, right? Their lawyer does work for them, not for you.)

Things may be different elsewhere. If so, your real estate lawyer will know, and will be able to help you evaluate whether you need to buy this protection or not.

(Better? )

  • When you say their lawyer, do you mean the title company's lawyer? Or the other party's? – soakley Feb 17 '15 at 3:23
  • This is a bad answer, quite unlike almost all of keshlam's other answers. The answer might depend on which State in the US is being asked about, and the pejorative "They do nothing but sell you a service" is false in many jurisdictions. That real estate agents push this service is equally false in many states. – Dilip Sarwate Feb 17 '15 at 14:45
  • Any lawyer you do not have an explicit contract with is there to protect someone else's interests, not yours. – keshlam Feb 17 '15 at 19:36

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