This article was originally published in Real Estate Agent Magazine Twin Cities, written by Charity Malmberg, Founder and President of Trademark Title
You’re nearly at the point when you can let the ink dry on a transaction, input the final acceptance date on the purchase agreement and watch your client walk happily into their new home.
It’s an exciting time, but there are still a few very important steps. You need to help ensure your client connects with a reputable title company.
At this point, one of two things will probably happen. Your client will say they have a friend or neighbor they’d like to work with or they might ask you to handle it.
With the new rules in effect and the demands of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stating consumers should choose their own title provider, how do you ensure your client is in good hands without making the decision for them? It’s a balance. As a professional and trusted REALTOR®, you need to both fulfill your fiduciary responsibility and advise your client well, but you also need to be sure not to take the reins and make the decision for them.
Let’s take the first scenario for an example. The client says they already have a title company and closer in mind. At this point, ask your client if you might look into the company to ensure they are reputable.
As you research the company, look into the following:
- Do they follow and have proof of their best practices manual? This is a must have if you are going to work with a title company.
- Who is their underwriter? Be sure they have a strong and stable underwriter behind the policies they issue.
- What is their claims ratio? Look for one that has a ratio of less than 2%.
- How long have they been in business? Is the owner(s) active in the industry?
- Are they in good standing with the state department?
- Do they have a license number? Each closer needs to be licensed to conduct business.
- Are they BBB accredited? If so, check on their score and what the reviews say about them.
- Are they members of Minnesota Land Title Association and American Land Title Association? If so, this is a good indicator that they follow ethical practices.
- Are their office locations professional and convenient?
- Do they offer fair and guaranteed pricing of title fees?
- How do they handle recording procedures?
- How do they handle final policy issuance?
In the other scenario, your client asks you to handle the details, maybe even pressuring you to just pick a title provider for them. At this point, it’s your responsibility to iterate that you cannot make this decision for them. Instead, offer them a list of two or three reputable title companies and closers you’ve worked with in the past, along with some distinguishing features of each. Be prepared to answer any questions your client may have, while trying not to sway their decision. Perhaps even have the questions in the list above already answered for each company so your client can distinguish what’s important to them. As a REALTOR, it’s your privilege and responsibility to walk alongside your clients as they take this monumental step. So with either scenario, it’s vital to offer sound advice while at the same time letting your client take the reins and choose a title company that will offer the best protection for their biggest investment.