MA owner’s title insurance

When you find out you have a major title problem that prevents you from selling or refinancing your home, have fun explaining to your spouse that for a fraction of the cost of your home you could’ve prevented it by buying title insurance.

Enhanced Owner’s Title Insurance Coverage

Available for a few years now, enhanced coverage policies offer vastly improved protection for common title problems at about a 10% cost over a standard coverage policy. (These policies run about $4 per thousand of purchase price). Enhanced coverage policies now cover some of the most common title problems facing Massachusetts residents. Realtors and mortgage professionals should be aware of the benefits of an enhanced coverage policy, and should recommend that their clients opt for the increased coverage. It’s well worth the small cost in premium.

Additional Coverages:

  • Appreciation in property value. Standard policies do not increase their coverage amount in a rising market as a home increases in value. The enhanced policy will increase coverage by 10% per year for 5 years up to 150% of the original policy limit.
  • Encroachments/adverse possession. Standard policies, to most homeowner’s chagrin, do not cover encroachments like a neighbor’s fence, wall or structure over a property line. Enhanced policies provide coverage for such encroachments, and also cover adverse possession–which occurs when an encroachment exists for 20 or more uninterrupted years. For more info on Massachusetts adverse possession, please read our post “Good Fences May Make For Upset Neighbors”.
  • Zoning/Subdivision/Building permit violations. Enhanced coverage policies now provide coverage if the property is not zoned for residential 1-4 family use, in violation of subdivision regulations, or if there is a defect or lack of a building permit. This is a tremendous benefit for commonly arising situations.
  • Easements. Enhanced policies offer coverage for easement encroachment situations such as deeded driveways, drainage easements, utility easements, beach paths, walking paths, etc.
  • Expanded Insured. Enhanced policies will now transfer to a spouse who gets property in a divorce, inheriting heirs, related family trusts and their beneficiaries.
  • Expanded Access Coverage. Enhanced policies now guarantee that your home as adequate vehicular and foot access over adequate streets or roads if there’s a title defect rendering your lot “land-locked.”

Do I Really Need Title Insurance?

The decision to get an owner’s title insurance policy is one of the most important choices you make in connection with your real estate transaction.

As part of every real estate transaction, the borrower/buyer is offered the opportunity to get an owner’s title insurance policy. (For refinances and purchases, your lender will require you to purchase a “lender’s” title insurance policy.) An owner’s title insurance provides the most comprehensive protection available for most every known type of title problem which could affect your property rights. I’m proud to say that every single one of my buyer clients have benefited from an owner’s title insurance policy at their closings, at my strong recommendation.

One needs only to look at the recent controversies over “robo-signing” and the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez defective foreclosure sales, which has stripped thousands of Massachusetts property owners of their property ownership rights, to see why an owner’s title insurance policy could be the best decision a home buyer ever makes. The unfortunate souls who declined owner’s title insurance are now left without legal title to their homes and looking at the prospect of spending thousands of dollars in legal fees to resolve their title issues with no guarantee of success. With a title insurance policy, the title insurance company will hire expert title attorneys to solve title issues at no cost to you, defend against any adverse claims, reimburse you for covered damages, and most valuable, issue affirmative coverage to enable a pending closing to move forward.

When you find out you have a major title problem that prevents you from selling or refinancing your home, have fun explaining to your spouse that for a fraction of the cost of your home you could’ve prevented it by buying title insurance.


Essential-Paul-Simon-395x298-staffpicks_0She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover

“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” (c) Paul Simon

50 Ways To Lose Your Home

As Massachusetts real estate closing attorneys, we are often asked by buyers-borrowers, “Why should we get an owner’s title insurance policy if you are already doing a title examination?” This is a really good question, and the perfect lead in to a conversation about of the coverages and cost of a Massachusetts owner’s title insurance policy. Do you know the Paul Simon tune, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”? Well, there are more than 50 ways to lose your home without an owner’s title policy. Simply put, don’t take the risk of foregoing title insurance. It’s not worth it.

Title Insurance Basics

Title insurance protects homeowners from financial loss in the event that certain covered problems develop regarding the rights to ownership of their property. While all borrowers of conventional mortgages will receive a certification of title by a Massachusetts real estate closing attorney that their title is “good, clear and marketable,” there can be a host of hidden, off-record title defects that even the most careful title search will not reveal. In addition to protection from financial loss, title insurance pays the cost of defending against any covered claim.

50 Ways to Lose Your Home

Like the Paul Simon song, there are at least 50 ways you can lose title to your home if you don’t get an owner’s title insurance policy. The vast majority of these situations will not be ascertained in a typical title examination.

  1. Forged deeds, mortgages, mortgage discharges/satisfactions
  2. Deeds executed by a mentally incompetent or insane person
  3. Deed from a minor subject to avoidance
  4. Unauthorized deed from partnership or trustee
  5. Deed by foreign person vulnerable to challenge
  6. Deed from a corporation unauthorized by by-laws or resolution
  7. Undisclosed divorce of person who conveys as sole heir of a deceased former spouse
  8. Deed signed by mistake or under financial duress
  9. Deed signed under defective power of attorney
  10. Foreclosure deed where underlying foreclosure was defective
  11. Ineffective release/discharge of prior mortgage
  12. Deed of deceased not joining all heirs
  13. Missing heirs claiming interest in property
  14. Transfer void under contract law
  15. Deed includes protected public trust wetlands
  16. Ineffective release of mortgage subject to bankruptcy avoidance powers
  17. Ineffective mortgage subordination
  18. Mistakenly indexed deed/release
  19. Undisclosed federal/state tax lien
  20. Undisclosed spousal/child support lien
  21. Undisclosed lawsuit affecting property
  22. Undisclosed restrictions/covenants
  23. Incorrect legal description
  24. Errors in tax records
  25. Erroneous tax release
  26. Misinterpretation of wills
  27. Deed without right of access to public way
  28. Access eliminated by foreclosure
  29. Defective notarization
  30. Forged notarization
  31. Improperly recorded or indexed deed/mortgage
  32. Deed acquired through creditor fraud
  33. Mechanic’s lien claims
  34. Incorrect property boundaries
  35. Encroachments of buildings
  36. Federal or state estate tax liens
  37. Preexisting violation of subdivision laws
  38. Preexisting violation of zoning laws
  39. Deed from joint owner without joint tenant joining
  40. Undisclosed right of first refusal
  41. Undisclosed easement affecting property
  42. Undisclosed party wall agreement
  43. Special assessment liens
  44. Adverse claim of vendor’s lien
  45. Discovery of un-probated will
  46. Claims for prescriptive rights, not of record
  47. Easement does not conform to recorded instrument
  48. Incorrect survey
  49. Deed following lawsuit where all parties of interest not joined
  50. Deed executed under falsified power of attorney

Getting an owner’s title insurance policy is simply a “no brainer.” I did the title to my own home in Sudbury, and I got an owner’s policy. It’s a one time premium paid at closing, and stays in effect as long as you own your home, through refinances and even the death of a spouse. Please contact us about carriers, rates and coverages.