Ask Will: What is Title Insurance?

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A  column is written by Will Wiard, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Washington’s Best Realtors of 2015 by Washingtonian. Please submit your questions via email.

Q: I’m in the market for a new home and have started researching the costs. I know I need title insurance. How do I decide the type of insurance and find the right insurance provider?

A: Buying a home is often the single biggest investment a person makes in their lifetime. Selecting your type of coverage and provider are few of many important decisions you’ll make when going through the process. And, if you’re financing the purchase, you may need more than one kind of insurance. In addition to title insurance, you’ll most likely purchase homeowner’s insurance to protect your property and mortgage insurance if required by the lender.

What is title insurance?

In short, title insurance protects a real estate owner against fraudulent activity regarding documentation, including unknown wills or other claims that may arise from prior owners that were not discovered during a title search. Title insurance will typically cover you up to the sales price of the home.

You can also elect for an enhanced policy that can provide coverage 150 percent beyond the standard policy, which includes mechanic liens, forgeries and any other issue that may affect the title after the policy is issued.

In some cases, a purchaser may elect not to get title insurance altogether. Although it might not be recommended, you do have the option.

To explore your options, I recommend asking a local title company. Ask these companies for a breakdown of your options and costs before making a decision.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.