ORT Invites Local Agents to hear Chief Title Officer

Local agents were brought up to speed on the California Land Title Association(CLTA) owner’s coverage and how beneficial it can be, particularly for Coastside homeowners.  Invited speaker, Old Republic’s Chief Title Officer, Steve Johnson, is a 30 year veteran of San Mateo County title issues.

With so many details to pay attention to at the closing, buyers may not notice that one of the items they are paying for at settlement is a one-time fee for Owner’s Title Insurance.  This coverage protects the owner’s title to the property.  You might think, why do I need it if I can see the public record?  Because not everything related to the title of a particular property may be recorded.

Back in 1998, apparently with very little fanfare, homeowner’s title insurance coverage was expanded to include previously excluded issues, including unrecorded encumbrances.  A few examples:

  • Someone else has an easement on the land.
  • Someone else claims to have rights affecting your title arising out of fraud, duress, incompetence or incapacity.
  • You are forced to remove or remedy your existing structures – possibly not boundary walls or fences – because any portion was built without obtaining a building permit from the proper government office.
  • You are forced to remove or remedy your existing structures or any part of them, because they violate an existing zoning law or zoning regulation.
  • You cannot use the land because use as a single-family residence violates existing zoning law or zoning regulation.
  • Your title is unmarketable…allowing someone to refuse to perform a contract to purchase, lease it, or make a mortgage loan on it.
  • The map attached to the policy does not show the correct location of the land according to the public records.

The list goes on… These items are from a sheet provided by Old Republic Title called “29 Covered Risks for Homeowners”.

When you buy or sell property in our area, the Listing Agent typically opens a “pre-sale escrow” which includes ordering the Preliminary Title Report.  That Report is included in the Seller Disclosure Package.  The prospective buyer can then review what this Title Report shows, we call it the “Prelim”.  This report includes items that have been recorded with the County Recorder’s Office.  Your Realtor will review this report and order items in the report that may be prudent to review further, called “Exceptions”.

Fortunately the claim rate in San Mateo County is below the national claim rate average of approximately 4%.  While this type of coverage is good for all homeowners, Coastsiders who own property in areas such as Montara, south of Half Moon Bay, Sunshine Valley area, and other rural areas, will be glad for this blanket of coverage.  Country properties can have fuzzier histories than clean-cut subdivisions.

To find out who your carrier is and what is covered and excluded, review your Closing Documents or ask your Realtor get you the name and contact information of your Title Insurance carrier.  To check out different carriers and their prices, check out this cool online tool called CLTA TitleWizard.

By the way, Old Republic Half Moon Bay is moving to a smaller location at 785-H Main Street, Half Moon Bay, to be staffed part-time/as-needed.  Phone number 650-726-9095 will remain the same as will the contact information of your escrow officer.  Call them for further information on this change.  Thanks to Angela Burnett for arranging for Steve’s visit.