What is title insurance?

Most kinds of insurance are self-explanatory. Fire insurance protects against losses from fire. Collision insurance guards against the cost of a dented, damaged car. But what does it mean to insure your title to real estate? Real estate has always been considered a valuable possession. It is so basic a form of wealth that many special laws have been enacted to protect ownership of land and the buildings which stand on the land. You should realize that whenever you buy property, the owner selling it to you has extremely strong rights, as do his family and heirs. Also, there may be others, in addition to the owner, who have “rights” in the property you are going to buy. These may be governmental bodies, or contractors who performed work on the property, or other individuals who have unpaid claims against the property. These claims attach to the property. Anyone who has such “rights” and/or claims is, in a sense, a part owner of the property and may not know the property is being sold so they will not come forward on their own to reveal their “rights” and/or to have their claims satisfied. If not resolved prior to your purchase of the property, you may “inherit” these outstanding rights and/or claims. The seller’s problems will become your problems. There is a saying in real estate, “BUYER BEWARE.” This means that a buyer should investigate the title to the property thoroughly to insure that all outstanding rights and/or claims are revealed and resolved by the seller prior to the transfer of title.