Professionals in the title industry go by many names. The state calls us “title insurance producers.” You may call us “home closers” or “title agents.” No matter what we’re called, our job is to coordinate and oversee the closing of your home.
That’s no small task, and you want to make sure your home closer knows what they’re doing. That’s why title agents must be licensed in the state where they’re doing the closing, and there are reasons you want a licensed agent. First, you want to make sure that the person has up-to-date knowledge and knows the regulations of the state where the closing is taking place. The title agent should know what they’re doing throughout the process and be able to direct you through the steps and answer any questions you have along the way.
But a licensed title insurance producer does more than just sit at the table at your closing. Beforehand, they do the work to ensure that you and your ownership are protected against anyone who would come back and make any claim against your ownership. This is called a title search. A claim could be made for many reasons, including a mortgage that wasn’t properly paid off or released; or a lien or judgement against a previous owner. Perhaps they owned money to the IRS or didn’t pay a contractor who did work on the home. The IRS or the contractor can place a lien on the home.
Your title agent does the research to see whether the title on the property you want to buy is clear, and if it is not, notify you and the seller so that steps can be taken to fix the problems. The title agent will give you the ability to purchase title insurance to protect yourself against any problems not discovered in the title search.
The requirements for licensing vary from state to state. Licensed title agents working in Maryland and Virginia – like Foote Title Group – are required to take classes every year. This helps us keep up with the latest information to make sure we can protect you and your investment.
Plus, our licenses must be renewed every two years, and in order to get that renewal, agents must take 18 hours of continuing education. As part of that education, we learn the latest changes and nuances in federal and local laws that affect our industry.
Of those 18 hours, 3 hours are dedicated to ethics. It’s a great refresher to make sure we understand how to properly and ethically work with you to protect you and your home.
Lastly, title insurance producers carry bonds that guarantee that we won’t act illegally while we search the title and prepare your closing. That’s like getting insurance from us that we will act in your best interest and no one else’s. It’s one more way we insure your ownership.
Before you choose which title company you’d like to work with, make sure their agents are licensed in the state where your purchase will take place. From knowledge of the process to up-to-date information about state laws, having a licensed agent can make the process easier and protect you and your investment.