Just how does a consumer choose a title company, and why should they? Maine state law indicates that it is the buyers’ option to choose the title company their lender uses. Although the home buying process is often a difficult and nerve-wracking process, taking that extra step to choose your title company versus letting the lender choose for you is an important one.
A title company is the last step in your home buying process. While the realtor finds the house, the lender provides the funding, the title company serves to actually perform the transaction. The title company, in a nutshell, prepares all the required paperwork, figures all the taxes, sewer, water, and other fees, and ensures the documents are recorded in the local registry of deeds. They serve as the pivotal communication point between the buyers and seller, the realtors and the lender.
Though the cost between title companies is fairly competitive, it's worth a call to price them out. Ask what the closing costs are and what additional fees may apply. In addition, how your request is handled by the office is a good indication of what kind of customer service you will receive during the transaction. Are you sent off into voice mail land? Are you placed on perma-hold? If you have to leave a message, is it returned promptly? Also, does the title company provide any kind of discounts, such as for veterans or first time homeowners? It never hurts to ask. Also, if you have a crazy work schedule, are they willing to do the closing at a place other than their office? If they really want your business, they will make it convenient for you.
When working with your lender and realtor, be sure to ask them who they have had good experiences with. Though they may seek to guide you towards who they always use and have an established relationship with, this is not always a bad thing. The realtor and/or lender’s relationship with the title company may provide a smooth closing as they are familiar with each other and work well together. Don't be afraid to go out on a limb, however, if you get a good feeling about using a different title company.
Is the title company one that is perhaps local and Maine-based? Given the choice, it's great to be able to support a local business. Find a title company that is established and has been in business for a number of years. Having the resource of a company that has the experience to figure out if something goes wrong (and sometimes, things go wrong!) is priceless. It is also a great resource if the title company has an attorney on staff. An attorney is not required for a closing in the State of Maine, but again, if something should go wrong having that resource may help ensure the closing gets completed.
Matthew and Randee McDonald are the owners of Cumberland Title Services, with offices in Portland, Windham, Brunswick and Augusta. For questions or to contact them, email columnist@TheWindhamEagle.com.