Purchasing a home is probably the biggest investment you will make in your lifetime. So before you commit to the transaction, you must be sure that the property's title is free of any other claims.
Determining that your rights and interests to the property are clear is the business of a title company.
You pay the title insurance company a single premium which includes the cost of verifying clear title and covers you in case some fault is later discovered in the title.
The title insurance company searches the title history of the property. The title company can usually identify any title problems that may arise and have these problems cleared-up before you close on the property.
Because real estate law is so complex, you need an expert to make sure that all previous transactions have been correct. This way you don't end up with legal problems or a problem with the title to your property. Your title insurance owner's policy will describe the property and outline any recorded limitations on your ownership. It will also set forth the title insurance company's responsibilities should any claim covered by the policy terms arise. Typically, your title insurance will protect you in the following cases:
- Contested Title — This usually happens when someone who owned or even lived in the home before you claims to still hold an interest. If this happens, the title insurance company will defend the title and will cost you nothing.
- Defective Title — "Defective Title" covers any number of problems with the title to your home. It can even include a "contested title." Defects are rare, but they can be very difficult, making the property inaccessible, unable to be built, or unsaleable. Any number of other complex problems define "Defective Title" or "Clouded Title." The title company will uncover these title problems, or should they miss them, insure your loss up to the amount of the policy.