As a business decision, I would purchase title insurance. This makes certain you are getting clear title to the property. The title company will normally conduct the title search for you. So, you buy title insurance from Title Companies. You will probably find them online. Ask any attorney that works in real estate for the name of his/her title company.
Marty Davidoff, email@example.com, 732-274-1600. This answer is provided for general information only. You should seek advice from an attorney or tax professional.
In Massachusetts, you hire a lawyer to examine the title and not a title company. The lawyer can arrange for you to purchase title insurance as well. However, a title search is conducted by lawyers who cause the records of the Registry of Deeds and the Registry of Probate to be examined. In my opinion, you should obtain title insurance as this is a major purchase, the price of title insurance is minimal in comparison, and there are potential problems that are not of record that could cause you to purchase less than you think you are purchasing.
I have been teaching property law in law school for many years and each year address this issue with my students (as well as with clients, of course). When there is a loan, of course, the bank or other finance company does a lot of the legwork. However, in a cash deal you are on your own.
First, you need a reputable title company to do a title search for you. The title company can then handle details of the closing. If you need counsel in your area contact my former colleague David Ekelund in Boston, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then get title insurance. I hate paying title insurance premiums as in my view they are outrageously high for coverage that rarely is used. However, if you ever need it you will be thrilled that you bought it. You pay for it only once and it covers you as long as you own the property.
Just to illustrate, a colleague and I purchased an investment property in Baltimore, MD from an LLC. There was a title company involved and we did have title insurance. Later we were sued with the allegation that the person who signed the contract and deed on behalf of the LLC had no authority. Fortunately, I called the title insurance company and they took care of everything from legal fees to the settlement payment. (We were in the right but the company determined it was cheaper to settle than litigate.)
So I urge you to get a title company and title insurance.
Title insurance is different from homeowner's insurance or personal mortgage insurance. Title insurance is meant to protect you in the event of some defect with the title that you are receiving from the seller. I would actually recommend it even more in your case, since there are no banks scouring the record title for defects or blemishes. It is not terribly expensive, and if you ever need it you will be absolutely thrilled that you have it. I'm happy to recommend someone if you would like.
As a real estate closing attorney in Massachusetts, the question that I most often encounter is "do I really need an owner's title insurance policy?" My answer to this question is always a resounding YES! Just like any other type of insurance premium, it's definitely a pain having to pay for it and you can risk not having it, but when a problem does arise, you are going to most certainly wish you had it!
Title insurance protects you against hidden hazards that can cause problems in any real estate transaction. In Massachusetts, it is the closing attorney's responsibility to perform a thorough title search of the property by combing through the public records to determine whether there are any title defects. These may consist of a number of items, such as liens for unpaid mortgages or real estate taxes, judgments, or complaints for unpaid condominium fees just to name a few. It is the closing attorney's responsibility to find these defects and to remove them so that you as the Buyer obtains "good, clear and marketable" title at the closing.
Unfortunately, even the most diligent title search may fail to uncover defects that are hidden or off-record. Purchasing owner's title insurance will protect you against these potential problems and pay for any legal fees involved in defending a claim.
When you buy a home, or any property for that matter, you expect to enjoy certain benefits from ownership - you expect to be able to occupy and use the property as you wish, to be free from debts or obligations not created or agreed to by you, and to be able to freely sell or pledge your property as security for a loan. Title insurance is designed to cover these rights that you bargain for.
Owner's title insurance is a one-time fee that protects you as long as you own the property. You hear it over and over again, "your home may be one of the largest investments you'll ever make". That's why I advise my clients to obtain an owner's title insurance policy to make sure their investment is protected.
I would advise hiring a real estate attorney to perform your title search. Such attorney can also assist you in obtaining a title insurance policy.
You will need a real estate attorney to help you negotiate the purchase and sales agreement, perform the title search and provide you with an owners title insurance policy.
This is crucial as the attorney will also make sure that all real estate taxes and condominium fees are to date. The seller will have to provide with a certficate of insurance and a 6(d) certificate showing that there are no unpaid condominium fees due to the association.