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Jonathan Bow…, Real Estate Pro in Dorchester, MA

As a real estate broker, do you research the property title or do you let the closing attorney handle it?

Asked by Jonathan Bowen, Dorchester, MA Tue Oct 14, 2008

The co-broke of my listing is blaming me for title issues related to the closing. She says that I should've researched the title prior to the closing attorney completing the title search. The seller is not using an attorney. Do you research titles when listing properties? I have been selling real estate for nine years and have never researched a title before. I've also never had any real issues with titles proir to this closing. What are your thoughts?

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In Sydney, Australia the Agent list the property for sale via the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, standard Agency/Auction agreements. The Agent needs to provide documentation and keep on record showing the vendor actually 'ownes' the property. However before any marketing can be done the Vendors Solicitor (Attorney) researches & provides a full 'contract of sale' to the Agent, which includes the properties 'title search'.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 14, 2008
Ditto on Cameron's response but from the mortgage side.

I don't have the expertise or credentials to conduct a proper title search to the level required to bind title insurance. I can eyeball the history of liens and deed transfers, and as Cameron points out I can identify key items that require additional documentation (such as tax liens or a divorce)... but nothing I can do is nearly as reliable as an abstract produced by a title agent.

I would never expect a Realtor to conduct a title search prior to submitting a purchase contract for mortgage underwriting, nor would I expect a Realtor to analyze a borrower's credit history or income documentation prior to accepting an offer. The Realtor's professional expertise and licensed activity lies in other areas.

Title searches are produced by licensed professionals because the of the expertise and education required to conduct the job properly. I would think the other agent would understand this, but with a pay check on the line, perhaps he/she isn't thinking as clearly as he/she should.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 14, 2008

This might make me a terrible listing agent but I don't spend a lot of time with title issues at the time of listing. If there is something that I can see (divorce, foreclosure, recent improvements, etc.) that raises a title flag for me, we look into it, but we normally assume that title is fairly clear and if it isn't, we will be able to work things out with the title company as the transaction progresses. Either way, I never do the research myself, we have a title company handle that for us.

Tell the cobroker that it is as much her responsibility to do the research for the buyer as it is your's to do the research for the seller. You might consider starting a new thread with what title issues you are facing. Their are many agents who answers questions here and one just might have faced the issue before and have a creative solution for you.

Cameron Piper
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 14, 2008
I feel that as soon as you take the listing one of the first things to do would be to order a prelim so you would be aware of any leins or judgments against the property which could hold up the transaction
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 17, 2008
Yes, every listing. I also do a title check on every property when I am representing the buyer. If there are issues, I work with the title company and whoever else is needed to clear the title well before closing.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 16, 2008
Well, the property closed today but I definately felt the tension at the final walkthrough and also at the closing table. I wish the other broker didn't set up this finger pointing stuff as I feel the title issue was not my responsibility and out of my scope of expertise. To make this title issue more frustrating, the seller received the title discharge in the mail yesterday after paying an additional $375 to get the discharge taken care of. At least the property closed and my seller is happy. Take care, Jon
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 15, 2008
And yes, the same goes here in New's order the title search.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 14, 2008
In North Carolina, real estate closing are done by an attorney. The attorney researches the title and orders title insurance.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 14, 2008
Hi Cameron, good points. The title issue has been resolved. Bank of America bought The Provident Institution for Savings and never discharged the mortgage. Bank of America can be a nightmare to navigate. It's not necessarily the title issue that I am concerned with. It's the finger pointing that bothers me.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 14, 2008
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