One of the most stressful things you can do in life is buy or sell a home. It is an enormous transaction. Even the smallest mistake will cause major headaches. Last minute issues could add unwanted drama and completely stop the deal. It might even lead to legal problems.

For these reasons, finding a qualified and experienced title company is essential. They will help you complete your transaction successfully.

Reputation

The best title companies have a solid reputation with real estate agents and attorneys. A great way to choose a title company is to ask for referrals.

Find out which title companies Realtors and real estate experts prefer in your community. Be sure to get several recommendations.

Remember, title companies have a key role in real estate sales -- everything from researching the title’s history to setting up escrow accounts and verifying what taxes are owed. You don’t want to trust such an important job to a company without happy clients and a long track record.

Local Knowledge

It is vital that you find a title company that knows your local area well.

Real estate laws vary from state to state. Municipalities will also have their own common practices and policies that real estate agents must navigate.

Skilled title companies will excel in three areas: quality, speed and service. Having a company that knows your local area, including everyone involved from the Realtors to the courthouse employees, will go a long way toward helping you at the closing table.

When problems or questions arise, a title company should already have long-standing relationships with people who can get the issue resolved quickly and correctly.

Location

Title companies are typically where participants sign documents at the closing table, so the title company’s location and hours are important to consider.

Even if you are closing at another site -- such as an attorney’s office -- having an accessible title company can be an asset.

All other things being equal, you should pick a company with a convenient office location where you feel comfortable.

Fees

Have a clear understanding of all the applicable costs and fees upfront.

Some charges may be negotiable, while others may be set in stone. A Realtor can explain all the title-related costs to make sure you’re being charged a reasonable rate for the services provided.

Basing a title company on their fee schedule, however, is not a good idea. Don’t try to pinch pennies. It is very important they do the job right. You may find that it wasn’t worth the savings if problems arise or if the cheaper title company doesn’t offer fast, friendly and experienced service.

It is important to trust the judgment of professionals. Discuss different title companies with real estate experts in your area. After all, they work with title companies every day.

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