Q: Why do I need an Owner's Title Policy?
A: When a lender loans money on a piece of property, the lender generally requires a Loan Title Policy, which insures the lender's interest in the loan. The Loan Title Policy does not protect the property owner’s interest in the property. An Owner’s Title Policy protects you, the purchaser, against numerous title defects.
Q: What protection does an Owner’s Title Policy provide against defects?
A: Title insurance will pay for defending against a lawsuit attacking your title as insured, and will either establish title as insured or pay the insured's actual monetary losses or damage incurred by reason of the matters insured against up to policy limits. For a one time premium, an Owner’s Title Policy remains in effect as long as you, or your heirs, retain an interest in the property, or have any obligation under warranty in any conveyance of it.
Q: How can there be a title defect if the title has been searched and a Loan Title Policy issued?
A: Title insurance is issued after careful examination of the public records. Even the most thorough search cannot absolutely assure that no title hazards are present, despite the knowledge and experience of professional title examiners. In addition to matters shown by public record, other title problems may exist that cannot be disclosed in a search. Some risks that can cause a loss of title or create an encumbrance on title are: • 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 • Fraud
Q: I already have an Owner’s Title Policy that I obtained when I purchased my home. Now I am refinancing, so why do I have to pay for title insurance again – I thought I was still covered?
A: Your Owner’s Title Policy is still in effect. Refinancing means there will be a new loan, so it is likely the new lender will require a Loan Title Policy to insure the lender’s interest in that new loan. You are not paying for an Owner’s Title Policy again. The purchase of a Loan Title Policy (when applicable) is a lender requirement, not a title company requirement.
Q: Is it common in Texas for the seller to pay for the buyer's Owner’s Title Policy?
A: Yes, in Texas it is a common practice for the seller to pay for the buyer's Owner’s Title Policy unless negotiated otherwise in the earnest money contract.
Q: How are title insurance rates determined?
A: Title policy forms, premium rates, rules and procedures for title insurance are promulgated and set by the Texas Department of Insurance in accordance with the Texas Insurance Code. Therefore, all title companies must charge the same premium rates. If you are interested in estimating the premium for a potential transaction, please visit our rate calculator
Q: On a refinance, am I entitled to a credit on my title policy if I do not close with the same title company?
A: The Texas Department of Insurance regulates all title premiums in the state of Texas. Title companies are required to give the same refinance credits regardless of what title company issued the prior policy. A credit on a refinance transaction is available if a title policy was issued on the prior loan, and if the prior loan is not more than seven (7) years old. Title insurance rates may change from time to time. Current title premiums may be found on the Texas Department of Insurance website at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/title/titlemm3.html
Q: I need something out of the file from my purchase or refinance. Will you still have my information and how do I get it?
A: The Texas Department of Insurance has rules governing how long title companies must keep different kinds of records, and Chicago Title also has internal rules regarding record retention time periods. Those record retention requirements may change, so we highly recommend that parties to the transaction keep their own copies/records in a safe place. Important note: we may only provide file records to our insured or a party to the transaction. If you were a party (buyer, seller, lender) to a prior file and need something from that file, the fastest way to get it is to contact the branch office that handled the closing. If that is not possible, please submit a request in the “Contact Us” portion of this website, providing as much information as possible so we may quickly assist you: our file number, complete property address including zip code, closing date, borrower/seller name and a description of what document is needed. Depending on the age of the transaction, it may take a few days to retrieve a file. **Please be aware we may require individuals to provide photo ID prior to our releasing any information, and if you ask us to email something to you, in most cases we are required to do so using encrypted email.**
Q: I am an agent representing a seller on a current transaction, but the seller’s purchase was insured through you and I need something from the prior file.
A: We may only provide file contents to our insured or a party to the transaction. Our insured can contact us directly and we will be glad to assist.
Q: What will happen at my closing?
A: Your closing will take place at Chicago Title, which will act as escrow agent and title insurer. As detailed in the earnest money contract, the title insurance agent may hold the earnest money, prepare the closing statement and generally coordinate with all the parties involved in the closing. This includes collecting invoices and written information from the mortgage lender, insurance agent, surveyor, attorneys for buyer-seller-lender, tax search firm, mechanical and termite inspection companies and title underwriter. In addition to acting as escrow agent, Chicago Title will research title to the property and issue a commitment for title insurance reflecting the ownership, restrictions, easements, liens and other exceptions that may affect the property. At the time of closing, Chicago Title will allocate fees between the purchaser and seller in accordance with the contract and lender's instructions. The closing will take about forty-five to sixty minutes; however, occasionally there are last minute delays from one of the many servicing companies, especially at the end of the month. After the buyer and seller have signed the necessary documents, Chicago Title will return the mortgage papers and closing statement to the lender for review and funding of the loan. Upon receipt of collected funds from the buyer and lender, Chicago Title will disburse funds as shown on the closing statement. To protect our customers, we generally require a wire transfer for closing funds. If borrowers/purchasers bring a check to closing, disbursement may be delayed so we can ensure collected funds.
Q: What identification must I have for valid ID at closing?
A: Buyers and sellers must all present current, unexpired identification issued by a US state (such as a driver’s license), or by the Federal Government (such as a US passport.) Foreign passports are also acceptable ID for closings in Texas. We cannot accept Mexican Consular ID cards (aka Matricula Consular Cards.)
Q: If closing prior to the end of the year, is it imperative that the taxes be paid for the entire year?
A: In Texas, taxes are due and payable for the current year on October 1 and delinquent on February 1 of the following year. If you close your transaction on or after October 1 and want the policy to insure that taxes for the current year are paid, then Chicago Title must collect the taxes and pay them to the taxing authorities. Chicago Title can collect and pay taxes for the current year only if all taxes have been published for the property in question. Regardless of whether taxes are paid, taxes will be prorated pursuant to the contract charging each party for taxes for the portion of the year in which they own the property.
Q: Does the title company inform the city, county, school or other taxing authorities when property sells so the tax records can be updated with the new owner?
A: No. It is the buyer's responsibility to contact the taxing authorities, advise them of the new ownership and establish homestead, over 65 and/or other tax exemptions that may apply to the new property owner.
Q: What happens to the earnest money if a sale/purchase deal cancels?
A: The sale/purchase contract should set out how earnest money will be released in the event of a cancellation. We strongly urge all parties to read and understand those provisions. Title companies are not a party to the contract and cannot take sides in earnest money disputes, so we encourage buyers and sellers to come to an agreement.
Q: I deposited earnest money two days ago, but the deal fell through and the seller agreed I can have the earnest money back. Why was I told I can’t have it back yet?
A: The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) mandates that we can only disburse on collected funds. If earnest money was deposited by personal check or other instrument that is not good funds as defined by TDI, we cannot disburse until we confirm the check has cleared, and that can take several days. If we receive proof directly from your bank that the funds have cleared your account, we will be happy to release the funds. You will have to ask your bank to send confirmation to us since they will not talk to us about your account.
Q: I am selling my home myself and there will not be a real estate agent on the transaction. Will you close our deal?
A: We do handle for sale by owner (FSBO) transactions. Please note that since title companies act as a neutral third party, we cannot provide or assist you with sale/purchase contract forms, give advice or help structure your deal. If you need those services, we do recommend you use a real estate agent. We can open title once you provide us with a fully executed sale/purchase contract.
Q: I want to transfer part or all of my property to my spouse or family member. We don’t need title insurance – we only want you to handle the paperwork. How much does that cost?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot facilitate real property transactions that do not involve a title policy. To protect your best interests and to avoid unintended consequences, we recommend you contact a real estate attorney, your current lender if there is a mortgage on the property, and/or a CPA to discuss your plans.
Q: Before I buy this property, I need Chicago Title to confirm I will be able to make certain changes to the property or use it for a particular purpose.
A: Chicago Title cannot interpret documents, nor can we provide advice on permissible uses for, or modifications to, real property. To protect your best interests and to avoid unintended consequences, we recommend you contact a real estate attorney and/or the applicable homeowners’ association to discuss your plans.
The statements made on this web page and any page that follows within the Chicago Title website are not intended, and shall not be construed to expressly or impliedly issue or deliver any form of written guaranty, affirmation, indemnification, or certification of any fact, insurance coverage or conclusion of law.