We've said it before, and we want to make it absolutely clear because we continue to get questions about title insurance premiums. Title insurance premiums are NOT created equal.
While you no doubt have heard that title insurance underwriters are legally required to file their rates with the local insurance commission, underwriters do not file identical rate schedules.
It is true that title companies who are agents of the same underwriter must charge the same title insurance premium. But sometimes title companies become agents of multiple underwriters, using one title insurance underwriter for one jurisdiction and a second underwriter in another jurisdiction, etc.
Federal Title is a prime example of this. We use different underwriters depending on the jurisdiction, allowing us to pass extended savings on to our homebuyers.
We receive calls fairly regularly from confused agents, lenders and consumers who are wondering why our Quick Quote reflects a title insurance premium on a Maryland property that is hundreds of dollars less than the other quotes. It's not because our quote is incorrect, it's because our underwriter charges a lower premium.
That title insurance premiums are created equal is a common misconception we wish to clarify for our agents and lenders as well as consumers, because we believe they are our best ally when it comes to looking out for the best interest of our homebuyers.
Here is a look at what's happening in real estate in and around the District of Columbia.
What you should know before buying a newly constructed home
Plan the details of your new home’s infrastructure and finishes, allocate your budget for the features and amenities that will make it uniquely yours, and monitor its construction with a builder who stands behind their work. -Washington Post
Title insurance: A friend in deed
After a house goes into contract, a title company searches public records, typically going back a number of years, to look for any problems with the home’s title. More than a third of all title searches reveal a problem, according to the American Land Title Association (ALTA). -Wall Street Journal
The studio stigma
Those who live in studios are staying in them longer and learning to make their peace with it and those newly entering the market, regardless of their age and status, are becoming more open to the idea of living in a studio. -New York Observer
10 best DC suburbs for young professionals
So, you're in your 20s and have a great job. The next question is: Where do you want to live? If big-city life isn't for you, there are plenty of suburban offerings surrounding the District. -Washington Business Journal
The essential guide to being an amateur landord in DC
We recommend consulting directly with DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) if you’re confused or unsure whether your unit needs a particular certification. -Urban Turf
Here's a look at what's happening in real estate in and around the District of Columbia.
The Union Market housing boom is about to explode
In May, the neighborhood’s first mixed residential/retail space will break ground. If all goes well, eight more development projects will follow. -Washingtonian
Massive Tyson's project rebranded, final development plans filed
One of the few massive Tysons overhauls remaining in the Fairfax County pipeline has a new name and a clear vision for the initial phases of development. -Washington Business Journal
67-unit condo project on site of Logan Circle car wash will deliver in 2016
The development will consist of studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms. There will be five inclusionary zoning units, as well as 27 parking spaces and 26 bicycle spots. -Urban Turf
Concerns rising over new affordable housing law
The Disposition of District Land for Affordable Housing Amendment Act (DDLAH) requires residential buildings built on land formally owned by the District to allocate 30 percent of their units to affordable housing. -Curbed DC
Wary homeowners offered new ways to finance their next move
Now, rising home values are drawing homeowners back into the market, but many remain hesitant. They worry about not being able to find another home in their price range — especially if buying a new one is contingent on selling the one they have.-Washington Post
Racing to buy homes sight unseen
With the low-hanging fruit from the housing bust mostly picked, Wall Street-backed buyers of real estate are increasingly turning to quantitative data analysis as a way of accelerating their search for a dwindling supply of available homes that can be transformed into rental properties. -Wall Street Journal
The Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Program recently published county "limits" to be used for VA Loans effective January 1, 2014.
Please note, these limits do not reflect a maximum amount that an eligible veteran is permitted to borrow, but rather, reflects the VA’s maximum guaranty amount for a particular county.
The maximum VA guaranty amount for loans over $144,000 is twenty-five (25%) percent of the 2014 VA limit. For example, an eligible veteran may borrow up to $692,500 to purchase a property in Washington, DC (2014 VA limit), with the VA guaranteeing twenty-five percent (25%) of the loan amount, or approximately $173,125.00. These amounts have decreased dramatically in most area of the DC Metro Area compared to the 2013 VA limits.
The limits listed below are for some counties in Maryland and Virginia, as well as for the District of Columbia. To get a complete list of the county limits for 2014, please click here. [Please note, if your county is not listed on the county limits chart on the VA website, the 2014 limit is $417,000.]
|State ||County ||2014 VA Limit |
|DC ||District of Columbia ||$692,500 |
|MD ||Anne Arundel ||$500,000 |
|MD ||Frederick ||$692,500 |
|MD ||Howard ||$500,000 |
|MD ||Montgomery ||$692,500 |
|MD ||Prince George's ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Alexandria ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Arlington ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Fairfax ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Falls Church ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Fauquier ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Loudoun ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Manassas ||$692,500 |
|VA ||Prince William ||$692,500 |
If you're buying a condo, Federal Title needs to make sure condo fees are collected and paid current by the seller at closing.
This is because a new owner is personally liable for a prior owner's unpaid fees, and unpaid fees can even be a lien against the property. Condo associations in DC, Maryland, Virginia and Florida have the right to foreclose against these liens.
In Florida the practice is for the title company to obtain what is referred to as an "estoppel" certificate from the condo association prior to closing, setting forth all moneys owed by the unit owner. Any person (other than the owner) who relies on the certificate is protected by Florida law.
Did you know that in DC, unpaid condo fees are automatically a lien against the property? The condo association does not even have to file a lien in the property records.
In Maryland, Virginia, and Florida, a lien does need to be filed in order for it to become an encumbrance against the property.
From the new owner's perspective, whether or not there is a lien, if any amounts were owed at closing, the new owner would be responsible for those amounts, along with the prior owner. If there were a lien, the new owner would have to take title to the property subject to the lien, which lien would not be considered a commonly accepted restriction on title under the GCAAR Regional Sales Contract.
From the lender's perspective, a lender requires us to issue title insurance insuring that its loan is in first position. If there were a condo lien or there were amounts owed that created the risk of a lien, we could not be sure that the loan would be in first position, and we therefore could not insure the title.