Title Insurance and Real Estate
Closing Services

Southern Security Title Services, Inc. provides exceptional title insurance, real estate closing and related services to lenders, brokers, servicers and asset managers in both the origination and default servicing sectors. Southern Security Title is licensed to write title insurance in Florida for your residential or commercial real estate transactions.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is insurance against loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. It is available in many countries but it is principally a product developed and sold in the United States. It is meant to protect an owner's or lender's financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. It will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title as it is insured, or reimburse the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.

Typically the real property interests insured are fee simple ownership or a mortgage. However, title insurance can be purchased to insure any interest in real property, including an easement, lease or life estate. Just as lenders require fire insurance and other types of insurance coverage to protect their investment, nearly all institutional lenders also require title insurance to protect their interest in the collateral of loans secured by real estate. Some mortgage lenders, especially non-institutional lenders, may not require title insurance.

Why Title Insurance Exists in the United States

Title insurance exists in the US in great part because of a comparative deficiency in the US land records laws. Most of the industrialized world uses land registration systems for the transfer of land titles or interests in them. Under these systems, the government makes the determination of title ownership and encumbrances on the title based on the registration of the instruments transferring or otherwise affecting the title in the applicable government office. With only a few exceptions, the government's determination is conclusive. Governmental errors lead to monetary compensation to the person damaged by the error but that aggrieved party usually cannot recover the property.

A few jurisdictions in the United States have adopted a form of this system, e.g., Minneapolis, Minnesota and Boston, Massachusetts. However, for the most part, the states have opted for a system of document recording in which no governmental official makes any determination of who owns the title or whether the instruments transferring it are valid. The reason for this is probably that it is much less expensive to operate than a land registration system; it doesn't require the number of legally skilled employees that the registration systems do. Greatly simplified, in the recording system, each time a land title transaction takes place, the transfer instrument is recorded with a local government recorder located in the jurisdiction (usually the county) where the land lies. The instrument is then indexed by the names of the grantor (transferor) and the grantee (transferee) and photographed so it can be found and examined by anyone who wants to see it. Usually, the failure by the grantee to record the transfer instrument voids it as to subsequent purchasers of the property who don't actually know of its existence.

Under this system, determining who owns the title requires the examination of the indexes in the recorders' offices pursuant to various rules established by state legislatures and courts, scrutinizing the instruments to which they refer and making the determination of how they affect the title under applicable law. (The final arbiters of title matters are the courts, which make decisions in suits brought by parties having disagreements.) Initially, this was done by hiring an abstractor to search for the documents affecting the land in question and an attorney to opine on their meaning under the law, and this is still done in some places. However, this procedure has been found to be cumbersome and inefficient in most of the US. Substantial errors made by the abstractor or the attorney will be compensated only to the limit of the financial responsibility of these parties (including their liability insurance). The opinions given by attorneys as to each title are not uniform and often require time consuming analysis to determine their meanings.

Title insurers utilize this recording system to produce an insurance policy for any purchaser of land, or interest in it, or mortgage lender if the premium is paid. Title insurers use their employees or agents to perform the necessary searches of the recorders' offices records and to make the determinations of who owns the title and to what interests it is subject. The policies are fairly uniform (a fact that greatly pleases lenders and others in the real estate business) and the insurers carry, at a minimum, the financial reserves required by insurance regulation to compensate their insured's for valid claims they make under the policies. This is especially important in large commercial real estate transactions where many millions of dollars are invested or loaned in reliance on the validity of real estate titles. As stated above, the policies also require the insurers to pay for the costs of defense of their insured's in legal contests over what they have insured. Abstractors and attorneys have no such obligation.

Types of Policies

Owners Policies

The owner's policy insures a purchaser that the title to the property is vested in that purchaser and that it is free from all defects, liens and encumbrances except those which are listed as exceptions in the policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy's coverage. It also covers losses and damages suffered if the title is unmarketable. The policy also provides coverage for loss if there is no right of access to the land. Although these are the basic coverage's, expanded forms of residential owner's policy exist that cover additional items of loss.

The liability limit of the owner's policy is typically the purchase price paid for the property. As with other types of insurance, coverage's can also be added or deleted with an endorsement. There are many forms of standard endorsements to cover a variety of common issues. The premium for the policy may be paid by the seller or buyer as the parties agree; usually there is a custom in a particular state or county on this matter which is reflected in most local real estate contracts. Consumers should inquire about the cost of title insurance before signing a real estate contract which provide that they pay for title charges. A real estate attorney, broker, escrow officer (in the western states), or loan officer can provide detailed information to the consumer as to the price of title search and insurance before the real estate contract is signed. Title insurance coverage lasts as long as the insured retains an interest in the land insured and typically no additional premium is paid after the policy is issued.

Lender's Policies

This is sometimes called a loan policy and it is issued only to mortgage lenders. Generally speaking, it follows the assignment of the mortgage loan, meaning that the policy benefits the purchaser of the loan if the loan is sold. For this reason, these policies greatly facilitate the sale of mortgages into the secondary market. That market is made up of high volume purchasers such as Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation as well as private institutions.

The American Land Title Association ("ALTA") forms are almost universally used in the country though they have been modified in some states. In general, the basic elements of insurance they provide to the lender cover losses from the following matters:

1. The title to the property on which the mortgage is being made is either o Not in the mortgage loan borrower, o Subject to defects, liens or encumbrances, or o Unmarketable. 2. There is no right of access to the land. 3. The lien created by the mortgage: o is invalid or unenforceable, o is not prior to any other lien existing on the property on the date the policy is written, or o is subject to mechanic's liens under certain circumstances.

As with all of the ALTA forms, the policy also covers the cost of defending insured matters against attack. Elements 1 and 2 are important to the lender because they cover its expectations of the title it will receive if it must foreclose its mortgage. Element 3 covers matters that will interfere with its foreclosure. Of course, all of the policies except or exclude certain matters and are subject to various conditions.

There are also ALTA mortgage policies covering single or one-to-four family housing mortgages. These cover the elements of loss listed above plus others. Examples of the other coverages are loss from forged releases of the mortgage and loss resulting from encroachments of improvements on adjoining land onto the mortgaged property when the improvements are constructed after the loan is made.

Construction Loan Policy

In many states, separate policies exist for construction loans. Title insurance for construction loans require a Date Down endorsement which recognizes that the insured amount for the property has increased due to construction funds that have been vested into the property.

Citrus Springs Office

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7601 N. Florida Ave.

Citrus Springs, FL 34434

352.522.1131 Phone

352.522.1031 Fax

Spring Hill Office

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13117 Spring Hill Drive

Spring Hill, FL 34609

352.688.9771 Phone

352.688.1352 Fax

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We're here to help close loans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our title and closing services can be conveniently ordered by...

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