Home/mortgage shopping: Any recommendations ofr "Title Examination/Closing Agent" or title insurance provider?
August 24, 2011 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Bank wants us to specify title examination/closing agent and title insurer along with our mortgage pre-qualification app. The bank will kindly provide these if we have no preference - do we have a preference? Any recommendations? This is in Durham/Chapel Hill/Raleigh NC USA. Application form is due tomorrow, along with this information.

I'm not sure why we have to decide *now*, but either we fill in choices for "Title Examination/Closing Agent" and "Title Insurance" provider, or we check "I have no preference...I authorize the Bank to designate ...provider".

This is First Citizens Bank, FWIW. They seem OK as banks go. We're not sure what town(s) we'll look in at the moment; we currently live in Chapel Hill, but we might consider Hillsborough, Durham, Raleigh, or rural Orange County.

Specific recommendations for these services will be welcome. We don't have a real estate agent at the moment.
posted by amtho to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
That's really an odd thing to nail down for certain at the pre-qual stage. Does it absolutely lock you in, or is it just for reference?
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:54 PM on August 24, 2011

Response by poster: I'm not 100% sure. We have to decide eventually, anyway, so we might as well decide now.

I get the impression we will be locked in if we decide to "authorize the Bank" to designate someone, so designating someone else ourselves would be nice.
posted by amtho at 7:03 PM on August 24, 2011

This is probably a local thing, but when I bought a house a few years ago, the seller specified a title agent.

I actually originally authorized the Bank to choose an agent, and came back a few days later with the seller's required agent, so that didn't seem like a big deal.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 PM on August 24, 2011

The bank has a title company it normally works with. You'll probably be just fine with it. The bank is a sophisticated use of these services.

It is offering you the chance to choose another if you have a basis to do so. It doesn't look like you do.
posted by yclipse at 7:55 PM on August 24, 2011

Response by poster: OK, but what about "closing agent" -- isn't that a real estate attorney?

To be clear, these are two different agencies we're being asked to select; one is the title insurer, the other is both title examiner and closing agent.

I certainly find just letting the bank choose to be attractive (easy!), but I know that, for example, we should really find our own inspector to avoid falling victim to a conflict of interest. I'm not sure how important that would be with these two services. Anyone?

(Sorry to thread-sit; I feel lost enough that I figured my question would lack pertinent info.)
posted by amtho at 8:17 PM on August 24, 2011

The reason they're asking is because of the new Good Faith Estimate laws. Banks are required to recommend a closing agent and a title insurance company to you. If you accept their recommendations, the amounts that are listed on the Good Faith Estimate for those charges cannot increase by more than 10% on the final HUD-1 form. If you choose your own closing agent or title insurance company, that 10% cap does not exist.

Caveat: I'm in New York State so your real estate customs in NC may be different, I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.

I've been doing mortgages and real estate and the like for 15+ years now.

The title examination/closing agent is essentially who will process the closing documents, make sure everything's notarized and signed properly; will make sure the documents get recorded in the appropriate recording office, etc. (A good description is here.)

For this one, I'd recommend going with whom the bank suggests. Chances are that they have a running relationship with a local attorney/closing agent already, who knows their documents backwards and forwards. (The attorney for whom I work is a regular closing agent for one of the local banks and I can prepare the documents with my eyes closed. Occasionally we'll have clients ask us to be their closing agent for a bank we've never worked with before and it's a nightmare, learning a whole new set of documents and policies and procedures.)

As for the title insurer, check with your own attorney, if you have one. (Again, I'm going on the assumption that it's like NYS and the title insurance is ordered by the buyer's attorney.) He or she may have a good relationship with a particular person at a particular title agency. ("Hey, Bill, this is Lucinda. We need a title insurance policy by Wednesday morning, and, yeah, it's Tuesday at noon. Can you help me out?" "Sure thing. I'll have it to you first thing Wednesday.")
posted by Lucinda at 10:19 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

If they pick one for you, it'll cost you a hundred or two more than if you open the phone book and get offers from a handfull of title companies. They are the people who for $500 or so photocopy a bunch of pages and sit down with you while you sign them. They are all the same, they all have nice offices, and they all have the same insurance. Picking one over another is just like picking fast food joint over another. I'd imagine $100 out of the purchase price doesn't amount to much, but if you're the type of person who says, "but it's the principle of the thing..." then you should pick your own.
posted by pwb503 at 8:47 AM on August 25, 2011

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