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Why you should know what a title company is

If you’ve bought or sold a home in your lifetime, chances are you’ve signed a whole whack of paper you had no clue was about in front of a person you had no idea why they were there.

We’ll save why and what you were signing for later date, but we can start with the person that had you sign enough papers to kill a tree. That was an escrow officer. To give you a better idea, we sat down with Jan Dooley of Security Title to break it all down for us.

1. What is a title company?

A title company is a very important part of your real estate transaction. It focuses on the examination of the quality of titles or deeds associated with property holdings. It serves three main functions: First, to perform a title search, second to offer title insurance and third to reconcile and close the transaction. Basically, it balances the books and disburses funds to all parties.

2. What is an escrow officer?

An escrow officer is a neutral third party who follows the terms and conditions in the purchase contract, as agreed upon between a seller and buyer. From the time the fully executed purchase contract is submitted to escrow, the escrow officer orders the title commitment, payoffs, homeowner association documents, prepares the closing documents — including settlement statement — and finally takes the signatures of, or arranges for, the signatures of the seller and buyer on all documents necessary to consummate the transaction. Once everything is in order and the escrow officer has received all monies to close, the file is released to record and funds are disbursed to the applicable parties.

3. How long have you been an escrow officer?

Thirty-five years

4. What do you like most about your job?

Interacting with a diverse group of people. The best reward is completing a successful closing where all parties are satisfied with the result.

5. What do you like least about your job?

The deadlines.

6. Any advice for people when signing their paperwork?

If possible, review the documents prior to coming to the signing table. Be sure names are spelled correctly and terms are what you expected them to be.

7. What would people surprised to know about your job?

That it encompasses so many facets of the home selling/buying process.

8. What type of policy are buyers required to purchase?

If the buyer is obtaining a new loan, the buyer would have to purchase an ALTA extended lender’s policy for their lender.

9. What type of policy are sellers required to purchase?

There are several types of policies, but for a single family residence that will be used for a primary residence, the seller would be required to purchase the ALTA homeowner’s policy, which is set forth in the purchase contract.

10. What’s the difference between the two?

The ALTA homeowner’s policy specifically insures the buyer that they have free and clear, marketable title. The ALTA Lender’s policy insures a lender that they have a valid first or second lien, whichever the case may be, on the real property.

Listen to That Real Estate Show with Diane Brennan and Linda Williams every Saturday at 3 p.m. on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR.

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