Home > RESPA > Study: D.C. Metro homebuyers save big by shopping for title services

Study: D.C. Metro homebuyers save big by shopping for title services

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.

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

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.

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.

Below 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:

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


Company Name / Website Total Title Charges Seller Fees 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] NA
Settlement Pros $3,580.00 [PDF] $438.50 [PDF] NR
Stewart Title $3,925.00 [PDF] not published NR
Pinnacle Title $4,084.99 [PDF] not published NA
National Settlement Services $4,089.99 [PDF] not published NA
District Title $4,090.00 [PDF] not published A+
Paragon Title $4,125.00 [PDF] $454.50 [PDF] B
Mid-Atlantic $4,130.00 [PDF] not published NA
Capitol Title $4,135.00 [PDF] not published A+
KVS Law Group $4,139.99 [PDF] $520.00 [PDF] NA
RGS Title $4,185.00 [PDF] $641.00 [PDF] NA
Express Title $4,339.99 [PDF] not published (A) A+
Avenue Settlements $4,370.00 [PDF] $468.75 [PDF] NA

(A) = Accredited | NR = Not rated | NA = Not listed

MARYLAND


Company Name / Website Total Title Charges Seller Fees 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] NA
Settlement Pros $2,755.00 [PDF] $410.00 [PDF] NR
Stewart Title $2,787.50 [PDF] not published NR
Paragon Title $2,870.00 [PDF] $454.50 [PDF] B
Olde Key Title $2,943.00 [PDF] $433.00 [PDF] NA
Mid-Atlantic $2,948.00 [PDF] not published NR
Capitol Title $3,045.00 [PDF] not published A+
Pinnacle Title $3,045.00 [PDF] not published NR
RGS Title $3,045.00 [PDF] $530.00 [PDF] NR
National Settlement Services $3,050.00 [PDF] not published NR
KVS Law Group $3,100.00 [PDF] $520.00 [PDF] NA
Village Settlements $3,149.00 [PDF] not published NR
Express Title $3,175.00 [PDF] not published (A) A+
Avenue Settlements $3,235.00 [PDF] $538.75 [PDF] NA

(A) = Accredited | NR = Not rated | NA = Not listed

VIRGINIA


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

(A) = Accredited | NR = Not rated | NA = Not listed

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