How do I choose a Title & Escrow Company for my real estate closing?

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Answered by: Todd, An Expert in the Real Estate 101 Category
Looking to buy a home? Sell a home? Refinance? Need help with a real estate contract? Don't know where to place money into escrow? Ask any potential buyer who's had a closing on a home complicated, postponed or fall through. Choosing the right title & escrow company is the difference between a smooth closing and an unnecessary nightmare.

Here is the top 4 considerations when choosing a title & escrow company.

• Professional Reputation - Ask someone who bought a house. Were they satisfied? Did the staff return phone calls promptly? Did they meet expectations? Were they open to answering questions? Was working with them flexible and easy; did it seem smooth? Were they generally helpful? Work with attorney operated title & escrow companies because they're more professional and held to higher standards.

• Service - There are title & escrow companies that treat every transaction like it is the most important transaction ever. Interview the staff or managing attorney. See what kind of transactions they close regularly; is it new construction homes, commercial real estate, vacant land, refinances, for sale by owner's (FSBOs) or short sales. Find out who does the dirty work when there's a title issue. The title & escrow company is going to be your go to person for the closing.

• Location - You will have to go there at least once to sign pages and pages of legal documents. So, choose a local title & escrow company with an office that is convenient because chances are you probably will have to go there more than once. It is common to make an average of 2 to 3 trips to their office for a real estate closing.

• Cost - Airlines are not the only business trying to make an extra buck. Title & escrow companies are ripping people off with their fees today. Go into the closing as informed as you can. Spend a little time to get quotes from multiple title & escrow companies. Ask them for a copy of their fee sheet before the closing. Because of new 2010 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) rules, a title & escrow company has strict guidelines for switching fees, changing fees or adding junk fees. The rules are there to protect the consumer. Do not let them stick you with a fee at the closing table that was not originally quoted.

How do you know a closing was effective and smooth? When the title & escrow company seemed invisible. When they silently worked in the background. When issues arise, that is when you need the title & escrow company the most. A good title & escrow company can save a bad transaction. So when you find a good company, stick with them and share that experience with others.

Effective communication is the key to successful closings - make sure there is open communication and professional response time with all parties involved in your real estate closing transaction.

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