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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a title?
What is title insurance?
Do I need Title Insurance?
What is a title search?
What kinds of problems can a title search reveal?
Are there any problems that a title search cannot reveal?
What is meant by a title defect?
How does title insurance protect my investment if a claim should arise?
How much does title insurance cost?
What is a closing?
What are closing costs?
What about an attorney's opinion?
Why does buying a home differ from all other purchases?
But the lender already requires Title Insurance, won't that protect me?
The contract I signed makes the sale subject to title to the property's being good. Doesn't that protect me?
The real estate broker said the title is good. Isn't that good enough?
What happens if my home is protected by title insurance and it's challenged?
Should I shop around for the best Title Insurance deal?
Can Sentry Title handle the closing?
Who pays for which expenses at closing?
What items are needed at closing?




What is a title?

When you purchase a home, you are really purchasing the title to the property—which is the right to occupy and use the space. That title may be contested based upon past rights and claims asserted by others. These types of claims can infringe upon your purchase of the property or cause you to lose money.

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What is title insurance?

Title insurance is your policy of protection against loss if any of these problems—even a “hidden hazard”—results in a claim against your ownership.

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Do I need Title Insurance?

Most definitely! Title insurance is a means of protecting yourself from financial loss in the event that problems develop regarding the rights to ownership of your property. There may be hidden title defects that even the most careful title search will not reveal. In addition to protection from financial loss, title insurance pays the cost of defending against any covered claim.

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What is a title search?

A title search is a detailed examination of the historical records concerning a property. These records include deeds, court records, property and name indexes, and many other documents. The purpose of the search is to verify the seller's right to transfer ownership, and to discover any claims, defects and other rights or burdens on the property.

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What kinds of problems can a title search reveal?

A title search can show a number of title defects and liens, as well as other encumbrances and restrictions. Among these are unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, judgments against the seller and restrictions limiting the use of the land

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Are there any problems that a title search cannot reveal?

Yes. There are some “hidden hazards” that even the most diligent title search may never reveal. For instance, the previous owner could have incorrectly stated his or her marital status, resulting in a possible claim by a legal spouse. Other “hidden hazards” include fraud and forgery, defective deeds, mental incompetence, confusion due to similar or identical names and clerical errors in the records. Click here for a list of 70+ “hidden hazards”. These defects can arise after you've purchased your home and can jeopardize your right to ownership. “Title insurance” protects your right to ownership (see definition below).

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What is meant by a title defect?

Anything in the entire ownership of a piece of real estate which may encumber the owner's right to the "peaceful enjoyment" of the property or which may cause the owner to lose any portion of the property.

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How does title insurance protect my investment if a claim should arise?

If a claim is made against your property, title insurance will, in accordance with the terms of your policy, assure you of a legal defense—and pay all court costs and related fees. Also, if the claim proves valid, you will be reimbursed for your actual loss up to the face amount of the policy.

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How much does title insurance cost?

Probably a lot less than you think. Charges vary in different sections of the country, but generally the cost of title insurance (including search, examination and related services) amounts to about one percent or less of the cost of the property. And unlike other insurance premiums, which must be paid annually, a title insurance premium is paid one time only, usually at settlement.

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What is a closing?

Closing, which is also known as “settlement” or “escrow,” is the event where the title to a property is transferred from seller to buyer. Closing is typically held in an office, such as that of an attorney, title agent or title insurance company, and involves the completion of all the necessary paperwork to finalize the agreement between buyer and seller. In addition, all financial issues are settled at closing—closing costs—and once the title is successfully transferred, the necessary documents are prepared, signed, and filed with local authorities.

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What are closing costs?

Closing costs are all costs required to close the real estate transaction. They can include (but are not limited to) surveying fees, property taxes, title insurance, attorney fees, agent fees, points, loan origination fees, primary mortgage insurance (PMI), and the balance of your down payment. Prior to closing, you should review your final closing statement or HUD-1 Statement (whichever is in use) to ensure that all the calculations are correct and that you have been given all the credit for deposits and other agreed upon buyer and seller credits. Also recheck all lender, title, and escrow fees to make sure they are accurate.

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What about an attorney's opinion?

An attorney's opinion is based on a search of the public records. So, once again, even the most exhaustive search of these records may not reveal everything. Unlike a title insurance company, an attorney is not liable if you should suffer loss because of “hidden hazards” in the title.

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Why does buying a home differ from all other purchases?

No other property has a useful life that compares with that of land. Owners die, new ones succeed, but land goes on forever. Owners of goods may change their locations at will, but land is immovable, it lends itself to the absorption of innumerable rights. Over the ages, this so impressed lawyers and jurists that they formed a separate body of laws for land. These laws, creating many types of rights in land, are so numerous and so complex it is impossible for there to be a mathematical certainty of ownership.

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But the lender already requires Title Insurance, won't that protect me?

Not necessarily. There are two types of Title Insurance. Your lender likely will require that you purchase a Lender's Policy. This policy only insures that the financial institution has a valid, enforceable lien on the property. Most lenders require this type of insurance, and typically require the borrower to pay for it. An Owner's Policy on the other hand is designed to protect you from title defects that existed prior to the issue date of your policy. Title troubles, such as improper estate proceedings or pending legal action, could put your equity at serious risk. If a valid claim is filed, in addition to financial loss up to the face amount of the policy, your owner's title policy covers the full cost of any legal defense of your title.

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The contract I signed makes the sale subject to title to the property's being good. Doesn't that protect me?

If anything should happen to defeat the title, your cause of action would be against the seller, and his ability to pay. Attorney's fees and expenses would not be covered.

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The real estate broker said the title is good. Isn't that good enough?

No one can be sure the title is clean.

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What happens if my home is protected by title insurance and it's challenged?

You notify the title insurance company and they defend the title, even if it goes to court. The title company bears all expenses.

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Should I shop around for the best Title Insurance deal?

Florida regulates the rates on the premiums for title insurance. The only costs that may differ would be the actual fees, such as search and examination, closing, and miscellaneous fees such as wire transfers, FedEx or courier fee and endorsements.

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Can Sentry Title handle the closing?

Yes. We act as a central clearinghouse for the parties involved—collecting necessary documents, insuring adherence to the lender's title instructions, making arrangements for proper payment and distribution of funds. We are fully prepared to work with you from the beginning of your transaction all the way through to conclusion.

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Who pays for which expenses at closing?

Closing costs are customarily, but not always, divided between the buyer and seller, as follows*: Buyer Recording Fees - Record Deed: $6.00 first page, $4.50 each additional page; Record Mortgage: $6.00 first page, $4.50 each additional page State Documentary Stamp Tax - $0.35 per $100.00 or fraction therof based on the amount of the mortgage Intangible Tax - 2 mils per dollar of exact mortgage amount (approx. $0.20/hundred) Termite Inspection - $45.00 - $65.00 Survey - $225 - $260 Lender's Title Insurance Policy - If issued simultaneously with Owner's Policy, $375 in most cases Refinances - Variable, depending on production of Prior Owner's Title Insurance Policy Endorsements to Lender's Policy - If required by Lender, $35.00 and up depending on type of endorsement Express Mail - If applicable, charged to the appropriate party Seller State Documentary Stamp Tax for Deed of Conveyance - $0.70 per $100.00 or fraction thereof Assessment Search - $15.00 - $40.00, depending on City Owner's Title Insurance Policy - Based on the sales price Taxes - Current year's real estate taxes are prorated as closing Title Search, Exam and Closing Fee - Approximately $200.00 * Prices are subject to change without notice

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What items are needed at closing?

You will want to have these items complete or in hand when you come to the closing (please confirm with your escrow officer prior to closing): Buyer Buyer's copy of purchase agreement Cashier's check for amount needed to close Proof of purchase of insurance for fire, casualty, etc. Photo identification (passport, driver's license, or state-issued identification card) Seller Seller's copy of purchase agreement Any unrecorded instruments that affect the title Proof of satisfaction of any mechanics' liens, chattel mortgages, judgments, or mortgages that were paid prior to the closing Photo identification (passport, driver's license, or state-issued identification card)

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|Welcome| |Working For You| |Info on Us| |Free Property Listing Service| |Property Search Page| |Purpose of Title Insurance| |Why You Need Title Insurance| |Sentry Services| |Counties Searched| |Title Insurance Cost| |Homebuying 101| |Glossary Of Terms| |FAQ| |Mortgage Calculator| |Refinance Pricing Request| |Sale Purchase Price Quote| |Order Form | |Printable Order Form| |Moving Related Links| |Property Tax Exemptions| |Calculators | |News Stories| |Directions| |Site Map|