What Is Title Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

To answer this question, we must first ask: what is title?

Title is simply who owns a property. A person whose name is on title has ownership rights to a property.

A person on title may be different than those on the loan document (those who are paying for it). This difference may occur in the case of married couples, when one spouse earns the entire income for the family, but they both have ownership rights to the property.

So, what does title insurance have to do with any of this? Title insurance is designed to protect you and your lender from third-party claims toward ownership of the property.

What are third-party claims? If you’re buying a house from someone who was sued while he or she owned it, the party suing the owner is making a third-party claim.

A common example is a contractor who wasn’t paid by the owner. If that contractor were to put a claim against the property, and you were to find out about it after you took ownership, you could potentially be involved in a lengthy and expensive legal process.

This is where your title insurance comes into play. The title insurance company researches the title of a home before your lender will agree to lend money on it and before you close on the home. This research includes court records and other sources. Then, if a situation like the one above comes up, your title insurance will bear the brunt of addressing it.

There are, in fact, two types of title insurance policies. The first is the Lender’s Policy. This is to protect your lender up to the loan amount. This policy is required in many states.

The other policy, an Owner’s Policy, can cover up to the purchase price of the property. For more details on this important coverage, contact your mortgage professional.

What Is an Assumable Mortgage?

An assumable mortgage involves the transfer of loan ownership from one party to another. Why would anyone be interested in this method of purchase? The answer to this question lies in mortgage interest rates, which are generally going up in today’s market.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you wanted to purchase one of two identical homes in the same area, for the same price. One has an assumable 30-year mortgage, with an interest rate of 3.5%. The current mortgage has been in place for four years, and the original loan amount was $150,000. Home #2 would require you to obtain a new mortgage, with market rates of 5.0%.

The current mortgage has a monthly principal and interest payment of $673.53. With 26 years left, this would mean that your monthly payments over that time would total $210,153.84. A new mortgage for the same $150,000 at 5.0% would generate a monthly payment of $805.23. Over the life of the loan, this would set you back $289,882.80.

Keep in mind that you may pay a higher initial price for the home with the assumable mortgage, because the lower rate will make it very attractive to other buyers looking for the same thing.

Restrictions: While both FHA and VA loans are assumable, those taken out under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines are ineligible for transfer from seller to buyer. Also note that anyone wanting to assume a mortgage must qualify for it under current lender guidelines. Your mortgage professional can lead you through this process.