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04 Feb 23 124 0 0

Mass. homebuyers pay hidden fees to lawyers for title insurance, with no state oversight

Cool Story - Mass. homebuyers pay hidden fees to lawyers for title insurance, with no state oversight

Ott's experience is typical throughout Massachusetts, where title insurance is a significant source of income for attorneys and insurance providers. It's a murky industry with the least amount of oversight in the country. And WBUR discovered that title insurers in this state pay hefty, covert commissions to lawyers, with uninformed homebuyers footing the tab. The haste of the greatest financial transaction most people undertake obscures the expenses.

According to Ott, your real estate lawyer receives the vast majority of the premium you pay. However, homebuyers have no means of knowing this, and attorneys are not required to inform them.

The purpose of engaging a real estate lawyer, according to 35-year-old Ott, is to ensure that they are advocating for you and your best interests.

That's from a legal standpoint, but hopefully, also from a financial one, he added.

According to the most recent statistics provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Massachusetts homeowners spent close to $403 million on title insurance in 2020. Title insurers made $26 billion in revenue last year across the nation.

Very little of the money is ever paid out in claims to cover court cases involving title disputes.

Ott, an insurance actuary by trade, became aware of this and went back to the attorneys who had handled his closing to inquire about the costs associated with the title insurance.

He learned via email that they had made roughly $3,800 of the $4,800 he and his partner had invested.

Along with the $200 for the title search, $575 for title settlement, and $850 for personal representation, the lawyer also charged for that.

Ott ultimately felt misled about the overall expenses charged by his lawyer and her recommendation to get supplementary insurance. He declared, "On the surface, they are double-dipping or triple-dipping."

Old Republic National Title Insurance is that insurance provider; it is a Tampa-based division of Chicago-based Old Republic International Corp. Ott's $1.2 million condo's closing papers list Selami's name next to the insurer's. Ott, however, claimed he was unaware that this meant her business would receive a portion of the title payments.

Hidden commissions

A home buyer's choice of title insurance is nearly entirely influenced by the attorney. Consumers don't typically look for this product when purchasing. In exchange for their recommendations over which insurance provider to choose for the bank's and the buyer's policies, attorneys are paid by the insurer.

Critics claim that title insurance is wildly costly nationwide. The hidden commission arrangement for attorneys and, in some states, title agents, according to Bruce Marks, chief executive of Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, a nonprofit organization with offices in Boston that assists people with low and moderate incomes in obtaining mortgages, is a significant driver of costs.

Marks remarked, "They get so much of what I term a kickback." It's a price if you will. However, I think it's a kickback.

New homeowners are frequently informed by attorneys that they are not obligated to purchase a second insurance policy for themselves, although they strongly advise doing so. A home in the Boston area costs, on average, $710,000, and few people have the guts to disregard legal counsel.

"You already have that house on your wish list. Therefore, you will sign whatever is presented to you, regardless of what it is,” Marks said. It's the government's and the regulators' duty to press much more to bring those prices down. Not just in Massachusetts is it a swindle. The hoax is widespread.

The above article is selected by CoolDeeds.org. The information and the assets belong to their respective owners (original link).


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