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Who Pays Title Insurance Costs in California – Buyer or Seller?

White modern kitchen with island and white tile backsplashTitle insurance is required for nearly all mortgage loans in California. This special type of insurance carries a one-time cost and acts as a critical safeguard for homebuyers against “title claims” – such as undisclosed debt associated with the previous owner.

How Title Insurance Works

In the state of California, government officials record all real estate transactions. Occasionally, records related to a property can indicate unpaid debt – we have seen “mechanics liens” and debts associated with bail bonds, just to name a few colorful examples. Since these types of debts or issues are associated with ownership in the property, homebuyers should be aware of the risks.

Buyers want homes that they will own “free and clear” aside from any mortgage-related funds. This is where title companies play an invaluable role.

When a buyer purchases title insurance for a property, the title company will scrutinize all available records that relate to the property. In particular, the company will work to identify any potential ownership issues – if discovered, the title company will attempt to resolve the issue.

Despite the rigorous search, there can be cases where problems arise after the homebuyer has purchased the property. This is when a title insurance policy is critical. Homebuyers who encounter these issues are grateful for the protection offered by title insurance.

 

Who Pays the Title Insurance, Buyers or Sellers?

So, who pays for title insurance in California? The buyer or seller? While this can vary from one transaction to the next, it is customary for the buyer to pay for title insurance – both insurance for the lender, as well as the buyer. Similar to many closing costs, these things can be negotiated between buyer and seller.

To recap, there are two different kinds of title insurance policies:

  • The lender’s policy is required in most situations where the transaction is financed. This policy protects the lender or bank, typically until the loan has been paid off or refinanced.
  • The owner’s policy is paid for by the buyer and is usually optional. In most cases, the cost of the owner’s title insurance policy is paid only once, though the coverage lasts as long as you own the home. While exact details can vary, this is typically how this coverage functions.

According to the American Land Title Association:

“An Owner’s Policy is typically issued in the amount of the real estate purchase price, and remains in effect for as long as the owner, or his or her heirs, retains an interest in the property. In addition to identifying risk before a transaction is completed, the Owner’s Policy will pay valid claims and all defense costs against attacks on the title.”

This blog covers the very basics of title insurance and aims to explain “who pays for title insurance in California.” For any additional questions you may have about title insurance in California or other mortgage-related inquiries, feel free to reach out to one of JVM Lending’s knowledgeable Client Advisors. You can reach our team 7-days a week either by phone at (855) 855-4491 or by email at jvmteam@jvmlending.com.

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