I mentioned that because while the questioner is local, Trulia is national. In many parts of the Country, Title is done much differently than it is here. I was surprised they didn't do full Title Plant searches here when I arrived in Seattle several years ago. I miss them. They were very interesting, especially in Philly with its history.
I used to get Wills from the 1800s and even earlier when I worked in Philly. They were mega cool big parchment things tied with ribbon. Very cool document review...
Years ago I actually did see someone do just that! Rather than call up a title company, they did their own search. Totally crazy.
1) Agent for the Seller orders Preliminary Title in advance of an offer as "Title" services are more than simply "insurance". Agents review the Title Report for unusual easements or encroachments or liens, etc. Often the buyer reserves the right to cancel the contract after reviewing that same Title Report, so best to order it in advance of having an offer, and have it ready for the buyer's review. There is often no charge for this portion of the service, but there may be a cancellation fee if you do not sell eventually.
2) Buyer usually chooses the Escrow Company and uses the seller's choice of Title Company, since it was "pre-ordered" If it wasn't pre"ordered as shown in 1) then often the buyer may choose both. The buyer's name is "added" to the Pre-liminary Title Order for the insurance purposes. Buyer is given a copy of the report per 1) above for review. Whether or not they have the right to cancel after reading it depends on whether or not a Form 22T was included in the offer and accepted by the seller.
3) Seller pays "Owner's Title Insurance" as it is the seller's customary means of conveying "clear title" in the Seattle Area (not everywhere in the Country).
4) If the buyer is paying cash, there is no requirement for the buyer to have separate Title Insurance. If the purchase is Financed and the lender requires "Lender's Title Insurance" (which most if not all do), then the buyer pays for that portion required by the buyer's lender
Customary Escrow Fees (separate from Title costs) are usually split 50/50 between the buyer and the seller in our area by standard contract agreement, unless that provision is negotiated and changed...and most often is not.
Besides Title and Escrow fees, excise tax and commissions are the remainder of most of the cost...total cost for seller is usually between 8% and 9% total including excise tax and other costs of sale.
Hope that is helpful
I'd dispute the claim that the seller has no need for it. They typically sell under a warranty deed, and that means they have continued liaiblity for claims against the property. Whether the title insurance company has subrogation rights against the seller is another issue.