Residential title services
Whether you’re selling or buying a house, residential real estate transactions can be exhilarating but also nerve wracking! When it comes to some of the most important transactions of your life, we sweat the small stuff, so you don’t have to.
Birmingham Title Agency provides title services for all residential real estate transactions, from refinances, lines of credit, cash purchases, financed purchases, and for sale by owners (“FSBOs”). We work with your lenders, realtors, and attorneys to make sure that your transaction is handled properly. This coordination will make sure that lender requirements are satisfied, contractual requirements are addressed, and closing documents are in proper order.
We are staffed to provide the best service, customizable to your specific needs and preferences. Whether you are a first time homebuyer, an experienced investor, or a real estate agent or mortgage broker looking for professional title services for your client, our agency is best equipped to get you to the closing table as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
Our residential title products
We provide two basic residential title products – a residential title insurance policy and a residential title search. The average residential real estate transaction will require a residential title insurance policy. This product is the end result of the entire suite of Birmingham Title Agency services, including order processing, title commitment issuance, title clearance, processing of the settlement statement, drafting of closing documents, execution of closing documents, recording of security instruments, and frequent updates on the property throughout the process.
Title insurance is unlike any other insurance you will purchase in your lifetime. The premise is similar to your other policies – like your car insurance or homeowner’s insurance – but there are some key differences.
First, like all insurance policies, the goal is protection of your assets. Purchasing a home is usually one of the most significant financial investments you will make. You have already decided to purchase homeowner’s insurance to protect the physical structure of your house, but you probably have not considered the land your house sits on. Real property is an extremely unique asset – so much so that the law considers each lot irreplaceable. Because of this, land is often used to secure debts. A title insurance policy insures that when you close on your new house, that you are the only owner; all debtors have been wiped out, and no one can lay claim to your property.
Second, title insurance lasts for the entire time you own the property, and the cost for it is a one-time premium paid at closing. You do not have to worry about annual premiums, renewals, changes in coverage, or shopping around your policy. The coverage amount is the entire purchase price of the property, so your investment is protected.
There are two types of residential title insurance policies. The first type is an owner’s title insurance policy. This policy is typically paid for by the seller, per the terms detailed in the purchase agreement. The cost is based on the purchase price of the property, and the premiums are regulated by the state of Michigan. This type of policy covers the buyer from any loss on the property. While owner’s title insurance is an optional product, there is no reason why a buyer should not require it as a part of the transaction – the buyer is fully insured and does not pay a penny!
The second type of residential title insurance policy is a loan policy. Every lender requires a loan title insurance policy to secure first lien position on the property, whether you are using the lender funds to purchase the property, or you are refinancing your current loan, or taking out a loan to get equity out of your house. The buyer is responsible for the cost of the loan policy, which is based on the loan amount, for the purchase of a home, and the homeowner is responsible for the cost of the loan policy in the case of a refinance.
We understand that the history of title on a property can provide a wealth of information long before and long after the sale. That is where our residential title search product comes in – our experienced title examiners will perform the same 40-year search of the county records on the property, and the same examination that would occur with a title insurance policy, and provide you with a report that details the owner of the property, the encumbrances, taxes, easements, and copies of all relevant recorded documents. Our residential title searches can help you identify if a property is free and clear and can close quickly, or determine a good price point to negotiate considering all outstanding liens.
Whether you are a real estate agent, mortgage broker, lender, For Sale by Owner seller, or a first time home buyer, Birmingham Title Agency provides more than just title services. With decades of legal experience and title industry knowledge, we have formed connections with the best in the industry. If you are looking for top rated inspectors, appraisers, contractors, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, or lenders, we have worked with the very best and we are happy to provide referrals. If you are navigating the probate world because a loved one has passed and you need assistance managing their estate, we have the professionals you need to help you get the estate properly settled and closed. No matter the circumstance, we have seen it before at Birmingham Title Agency and if we cannot handle it ourselves, we know the right professional who will provide the same standard of dedication and exemplary service we hold ourselves to.
Your For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) deal
In an increasingly digital real estate market, it is becoming more and more common for sellers not to use a real estate agent for the sale of their residential properties. Birmingham Title Agency can provide you with the resources and guidance you need from start to finish.
For Sale by Owner sellers typically contact Birmingham Title Agency once they have secured an interested buyer. At this point in the process, we provide the necessary documents to get the buyers under contract, including purchase agreement templates, seller disclosures, lead paint disclosures, and purchase agreement addendums.
Because Birmingham Title Agency is owned and operated by three hands-on real estate attorneys, we can do more than just provide you with blank forms. We can create a custom purchase agreement for your transaction with all the necessary protections, or guide you through filling out one of our purchase agreement templates.
Additionally, we are happy to educate you throughout the entire process. Selling a home on your own does not have to be a daunting experience. We provide you with step by step instructions, a generalized timeframe, and, of course, all our usual title and escrow services. Rest assured, as a For Sale by Owner seller, Birmingham Title Agency will be your partner using our expert legal knowledge and experience to guide you through the process.
Our closing options
In-person closings (together, or apart)
There’s nothing like an in-person closing to feel the excitement and accomplishment of getting a deal done. Even during COVID, we’ve committed to keeping our office open, while maintaining appropriate safety protocols for sanitizing, masking, and social distancing. Our multiple conference rooms allow us to “stage” closings throughout our office. We can accommodate all comfort levels—just let us know your preferences.
Remote closings are the “new normal” in the title industry, because many of our clients either cannot or prefer not to take hours out of their day to attend an in-person closing. We are fully equipped to make your closing happen when and where works for you. We can arrange a mobile notary to meet you, literally anywhere in the country and at any hour, to conduct your signing and then get the documents back to us.
Signatures on most of our documents can take place over DocuSign, anywhere you have an internet connection to your computer, phone, or tablet. Where there are documents that need to be notarized, such as lender documents, we can even arrange for notarizing to take place via a smart-phone app, for a completely mobile and paperless experience.
Most people think of closing as an in-person at-the-table event, but a “closing” is really just a process of gathering and distributing funds and documents. As long as the parties are on board, that can happen in a very piece-by-piece way, over days or even weeks. However complex the closing might turn out to be, our closing agents can shepherd the process to make sure everything is collected, reviewed, confirmed and released to the parties.
The split title transaction
Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services no longer allows a title agency to discount title insurance costs issuing both the owner’s and the loan title policies. This is great news for our clients because it has created a competitive industry of title agents clamoring to provide the best services at the best price.
There are substantial advantages to having both the owner’s and loan title insurance policies handled by Birmingham Title Agency. However, split title transactions are the industry standard, and we love working with other title agencies. Both buyers and sellers can choose their own title agency to issue their respective insurance policies.
The seller in a transaction chooses their own title agency to issue the owner’s title insurance policy. This involves title clearance of any and all outstanding title issues the seller may have, including clearing the chain of title and paying off any outstanding mortgages, liens, and taxes.
The buyer in a transaction chooses their own title agency to issue the loan title insurance policy. This involves working with the lender to make sure all requirements are met to insure the lender has first lien position on the property at the date of closing. If the buyer is purchasing the property with cash and not financing, then there will be no loan title insurance policy.
While the title industry is competitive, it is also incredibly cooperative. Birmingham Title Agency works every single day with its competition because ultimately, our goal is the same – to get you to the closing table. We collaborate with other title agencies on transactions, sharing information, stepping in to help with closings, and making sure our clients have everything they need. We may represent different sides of the transaction, but it is not an adversarial process – the seller wants to sell and the buyer wants to buy. We never shy away from providing the best of service and working with whichever parties are involved to make that happen.