Are Independent Title Agents a Disappearing Act?

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The independent title agent is fighting for inclusion in the new Real Estate of 2012 and beyond. More and more of the Real Estate Brokerages are opening up their own title and mortgage companies and shrinking the available marketplace. Is it better for the consumer to not be offered choice? Is forced compliance better than free market choice? The independent agent does not think so, however the voices of the 800 pound Gorillas of Real Estate do. And so, the debate lives on.

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In response to a question that was recently asked via Linked In conversation, "How and When Does One Choose A Title Company Anyway"? Mary wrote, "I'm presently in the process of buying a home, and I assume a title search was done because I got a request for documentation, but I don't, in point of fact, know for sure. Certainly, no one ever asked me who I wanted to hire."

The question asked is a good one! There are a number of answers. The most prominent answer is, “You don’t, your Realtor or Attorney already arranged that for you." It is a common practice, at least in the major counties of Eastern PA, that the Realtor simply choose a title company. This makes it easy for the consumer since they, in general, have absolutely no idea what a Title Company is or does. Title Insurance has done an excellent job of working seamlessly into transactions. In fact, so perfectly, that title agencies are transparent at this point.

Does one choose to buy or sell (depending on your region)? Does one Brokerage shop strongly suggest the use of the “in-house” title and mortgage companies? HR4323 is being bantered around congress that will ostensibly create a totally uneven playing field between the large Brokerage houses and the Independent title agencies.

There was an unofficial poll on several groups in Linked In that found the following results. Consumers do not have a clue what title insurance is in a residential purchase or refinance. It was overwhelming the number of respondent’s that never consider the consumer. The buyer and or seller choosing the title company resulted in less than 5% of the transactions, the largest number of steered transactions belonging to the Broker or Agent for the buyer or seller depending on the area of the country. Attorneys were very disappointed that they didn’t make it to the polling, so I added them as part of the Realtor control. The bottom line is that Title Insurance is a fringe business that is corporately driven and not consumer driven.

“What Title Insurance Agency should someone use”?

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Glenn Freezman
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