Sunday, September 8, 2019

Title Policy Endorsements

This is a wonderful free resource for title insurance endorsements:

I have often stated to clients that my 30+ years in real estate has taught me that real estate law is what the title company says it is.  This of course, is hyperbole, but it’s not too far off the mark.  The fact of the matter is that transactions real property loan, sale, long-term lease, joint venture transactions, often require a title insurance policy of some sort.  Also, the price of title insurance is, in my opinion, a great value.  A title company will insure against specific losses for a price lower than it would take for an attorney or other professional to simply assess the risks without providing any insurance.

Title insurance is just that, insurance.  Insurance is an assessment of risk by the insurer and assumption of that risk for a price, the insurance premium.  Assessment of risk/premium is a judgment call.  Not all insurers will see it the same way, and rarely are things set in stone.  One title insurance underwriter may see a risk one way, but another one sees it a different way.  You can persuade an underwriter to undertake a risk that may be out of the ordinary with a good argument backed by legal authority, but ultimately it is a judgment call.  Also, maintaining a good relationship with underwriters from several of the major title insurers is very important.  Underwriters within a certain company are unlikely to overrule each other, and sometimes the best argument and persuasion fails.  In that case, you need to pitch it to a different underwriter at a different company.  Even though there are a lot of different title companies out there, according to The American Land Title Association, most of them are owned or underwritten by the top 4, Fidelity, First American, Old Republic and Stewart.

Family Market Share (85.3%)
  • Fidelity, 33.3%
  • First American, 26.2%
  • Old Republic Family, 15.0%
  • Stewart Family, 10.8%

Independent Companies (14.7%)
  • Westcor Land Title Insurance Co., 3.4%
  • WFG National Title Insurance Co., 2.5%
  • Title Resources Guaranty Co., 2.2%
  • North American Title Insurance Co., 1.7%
  • Alliant National Title Insurance Co., 0.8%”


The link provided at the beginning of this article is to a free guide that focuses on “endorsements.”  Endorsements are special coverage above and beyond the standard title insurance policy.  With prices like free, $100, $300 to 10% over the standard policy, these endorsements are extremely important and valuable.  They can reduce the risks of a transaction to a buyer or lender and can even save deals.  For example, if a sale negotiation were to get hung up on the point of whether an existing structure could be required to be removed because of recorded CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions), the buyer wouldn’t want to purchase a property and assume that risk.  Likewise, the seller wouldn’t want to indemnify the buyer against that possibility.  Sellers want to take their money and forget the property.  Rarely do they want to be called up to solve or pay for a problem with a property they sold.  Enter the title company who, with an ALTA 9.2-06 endorsement would insure: “loss or damage sustained by the Insured by reason of...Enforced removal of an Improvement as a result of a violation, at Date of Policy, of a building setback line shown on a plat of subdivision recorded or filed in the Public Records, unless an exception in Schedule B of the policy identifies the violation...”  There are other items covered and limitations to this coverage, but you can see how the title company can solve a problem which neither a buyer nor seller could or would be willing to solve on their own.  That’s value added!!!  Many title officers will work cooperatively with the attorneys, brokers and customers who they interact with, and brokers, attorneys and other professionals who have working knowledge of title insurance can provide real value to their clients.  I often have an idea of what I want with respect to title insurance and endorsements.  For example, an owner’s policy with an ALTA 9.2-06 endorsement, but even in those situations, I often will ask the title officer an open-ended question, like, what other coverage or endorsements would you suggest for a transaction like this.  This gets them out of the “yes” or “no” mode of my specific request and invites them to become a creative member of the team.  Speaking of team members, if you need a referral to a title company or title representative, just let me know. I have worked with all of the major companies over the years, and development of strong relationships with title and escrow officers is a must for anyone in the real estate business.   I will share with you one special member of my team, Erin Graeber.  She is a title rep. for First American Title Company who I have worked with for probably 20 years, even when she was at another company.  She is a problem solver and is my go to person for title issues. She can be reached at: and ‭909-240-3268‬.  Of course, there are matters which title companies can’t help with, i.e. individualized legal help.  For that you need to consult with your own attorney, but good teams will lead to better results for you and your clients.

Required Disclaimer: This is Attorney Advertising. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.  An attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the matter occurs must interpret the facts of any specific case and advise as to whether and how any of these concepts may apply to a particular case.

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