How to assemble a winning homebuying team

Let's face it: When it comes to buying a house, title insurance is likely the farthest thing from your mind. After all, there are so many steps along the path to homeownership that you'll take before you find your way to the settlement table.Securing a loan, finding the right real estate agent and finding a dream home to buy – these aspects of the homebuying process are far more glamorous, and self-explanatory, than the wonky legal aspect involved in issuing your title insurance policy.

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To assemble a winning homebuying team, look at the stats. Weigh services offered by agents, lenders and title companies against cost, and stretch your dollar further.

If you're serious about buying a house or condo, you've hopefully heard of a thing called "closing costs." These expenses are tacked onto the sales price of the home. Time was when you could lump your closing costs into your home loan, but nowadays a stricter mortgage industry holds borrowers on the hook for those costs. 

Break your closing costs down into three categories: policy premium, government transfer taxes and service provider fees (paid to the real estate agent, lender and title company, who packages the deal). Expect charges in the first two categories to be the same across the board.You can (and should) shop real estate service providers as you assemble your homebuying team.

Most homebuyers do some bit of research when selecting their agent and lender. They talk to friends and family, they jump online to read reviews and compare rates. But that's only two-thirds of the puzzle.A huge savings many homebuyers overlook is in selecting a title company. Take the time to get a quote from a handful of local settlement agents, and compare the bottom line closing costs. Ask if their company is affiliated with any other company, such as a real estate agency or bank.

It is widely known that independent settlement companies tend to charge lower settlement fees than title companies that participate in what our industry calls an affiliated business arrangement.

The right homebuying team includes the right title company, something to keep in mind while your hunting agents, lenders and houses.

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