Study: Homebuyers who shop for title services save big

Written by Nikki Smith Thursday, 17 February 2011

Washington, D.C. (17 February 2011) – SHOPPING FOR TITLE SERVICES in the District of Columbia could save homebuyers up to $1,180, according to a recent study, while shopping in Maryland or Virginia could mean a savings of over $900.

"This serves as a reminder to homebuyers and their agents the importance of shopping for a title company," said Todd Ewing, president of Federal Title & Escrow Company.

The study, commissioned by Federal Title and conducted by Veris Consulting from February 1 through February 11 of this year, compared title charges among Washington Metro Area-based title companies, revealing stark differences in charges for identical real estate purchase transactions.

It included only those title companies that published their settlement fees/charges and title insurance premiums for both owner’s and lender’s coverage – also known as title charges – on their respective website.

Further, the study used identical criteria for real estate purchases in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. In the District of Columbia, the difference between the most expensive and the least expensive title services was $1,180; in Maryland, the difference was $935; and in Virginia, the difference was $934.

"About 70% of variable closing costs paid by the average D.C. Metro Area homebuyer are title-related," Ewing said. "Yet, very few homebuyers, or their agents, take the time to shop settlement companies to compare title charges."

Title expenses such as settlement fees, title insurance and lender origination charges may vary among service providers, and these kinds of expenses are known as variable closing costs, Ewing said.

He added that comparing title charges among D.C. Metro Area settlement companies can be a daunting task for the untrained eye, which may explain why so few consumers take the time to research title companies.

The study also examined each title company's Better Business Bureau rating to determine if there was any connection between higher title fees and ranking but found none.

Out of 25 companies, six had rankings and the only two that were accredited – Federal Title & Escrow Company and Express Title – were among the lowest and highest cost title service providers, respectively.

"The study suggests that higher fees do not equate to a higher BBB rating," Ewing said. "To the contrary, Federal Title is one of the lowest cost title service providers and also has one of the highest Better Business [Bureau] ratings, proof that a title company can offer top-notch customer service at competitive prices," he said.

Study Criteria

· Only Washington Metro Area Title Companies that published a settlement fee and enhanced title insurance premiums for Owner’s and Lender’s Coverage.

· Purchase Price: $500,000.00

· Loan Amount: $400,000.00 (1st Mortgage Only – not including costs for simultaneous 2nd Mortgages)

· Type of Title Insurance: Enhanced Coverage (aka, Extended, Standard, Homeowners) Full Premium/Non-Reissue Rate

· Owner’s & Lender’s (Simultaneous Issue) Policies

· The “Total Title Charges” figure excludes Government Recording Costs & Recordation Taxes and Location Survey

 

While the study mostly focused on how shopping for title insurance services can amount to significant savings for homebuyers, fees charged to the home seller were also examined. Seller fees ranged from $393 to $736 and averaged around $500.

Here are the results of a study of rates published online by D.C. Metro Area title companies. Study criteria was the same across the board, and results are accurate as of February 11, 2011. For the most up-to-date rates from each company, please visit the respective company's website. 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Company Name / Website Total Title Charges
(As of 2-11-11)
Seller Fees
(As of 2-11-11)
BBB Rating
       
Federal Title & Escrow Co. $3,190.00 [PDF] $495.00 [PDF] (A) A+
Counselor’s Title, LLC $3,265.00 [PDF] $443.00 [PDF] See Rating
Settlement Pros $3,580.00 [PDF] $438.50 [PDF] See Rating
Stewart Title $3,925.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Pinnacle Title $4,084.99 [PDF] not published See Rating
National Settlement Services $4,089.99 [PDF] not published See Rating
District Title $4,090.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Paragon Title $4,125.00 [PDF] $454.50 [PDF] See Rating
Mid-Atlantic $4,130.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Capitol Title $4,135.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
KVS Law Group $4,139.99 [PDF] $520.00 [PDF] See Rating
RGS Title $4,185.00 [PDF] $641.00 [PDF] See Rating
Express Title $4,339.99 [PDF] not published See Rating
Avenue Settlements $4,370.00 [PDF] $468.75 [PDF] See Rating

Accurate as of Feb. 11, 2011. Visit each title company's website for current rates. 

MARYLAND

Company Name / Website Total Title Charges
(As of 2-11-11)
Seller Fees
(As of 2-11-11)
BBB Rating
       
Federal Title & Escrow Co. $2,300.00 [PDF] $495.00 [PDF] (A) A+
Counselor’s Title, LLC $2,375.00 [PDF] $443.00 [PDF] See Rating
Settlement Pros $2,755.00 [PDF] $410.00 [PDF] See Rating
Stewart Title $2,787.50 [PDF] not published See Rating
Paragon Title $2,870.00 [PDF] $454.50 [PDF] See Rating
Olde Key Title $2,943.00 [PDF] $433.00 [PDF] See Rating
Mid-Atlantic $2,948.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Capitol Title $3,045.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Pinnacle Title $3,045.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
RGS Title $3,045.00 [PDF] $530.00 [PDF] See Rating
National Settlement Services $3,050.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
KVS Law Group $3,100.00 [PDF] $520.00 [PDF] See Rating
Village Settlements $3,149.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Express Title $3,175.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Avenue Settlements $3,235.00 [PDF] $538.75 [PDF] See Rating

Accurate as of Feb. 11, 2011. Visit each title company's website for current rates.

VIRGINIA

Company Name / Website Total Title Charges
(As of 2-11-11)
Seller Fees
(As of 2-11-11)
BBB Rating
       
Lighthouse Title $2,321.00 [PDF] $570.00 [PDF] See Rating
Federal Title & Escrow Co. $2,380.00 [PDF] $495.00 [PDF] (A) A+
Counselor’s Title, LLC $2,455.00 [PDF] $443.00 [PDF] See Rating
New World Title $2,550.00 [PDF] $535.00 [PDF] See Rating
Dominion Title $2,595.00 [PDF] $470.00 [PDF] See Rating
All American Title $2,645.00 [PDF] $393.00 [PDF] See Rating
Settlement Pros $2,960.00 [PDF] $411.00 [PDF] See Rating
National Settlement Services $2,980.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Republic Title $3,025.00 [PDF] $460.00 [PDF] See Rating
Key Title $3,029.00 [PDF] $624.00 [PDF] See Rating
Mid-Atlantic $3,060.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Stewart Title $3,087.50 [PDF] not published See Rating
Capitol Title $3,125.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Pinnacle Title $3,125.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
Global Title $3,175.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
RGS Title $3,175.00 [PDF] $736.00 [PDF] See Rating
District Title $3,180.00 [PDF] not published See Rating
KVS Law Group $3,180.00 [PDF] $520.00 [PDF] See Rating
Avenue Settlements $3,235.00 [PDF] $418.75 [PDF] See Rating
Express Title $3,255.00 [PDF] not published See Rating

Accurate as of Feb. 11, 2011. Visit each title company's website for current rates.

About the Author

Nikki Smith

Nikki Smith

A graduate of California State University, Fullerton, where she served as executive editor of the school's award-winning Daily Titan newspaper, Nikki Smith moved to Washington D.C. in 2006 to take a job as a financial reporter. Since the demise of print, however, Ms. Smith has shifted her focus to the wonderful world of Web. At Federal Title she wears many hats including: copy writer, event planner, media liaison, graphic designer, Web developer and marketing strategist. She is the architect behind federaltitle.com and managing editor of its official blog.

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