In addition to Evans Fox LLP’s other areas of practice, we are also a title agency. Our Title Insurance group acts as agent for Stewart Title Insurance Company and offer a number of services, primary among them the issuance of title insurance policies to insure title to real estate in the State of New York.
Title insurance is effectively the examination of title backed by the resources of a title insurance underwriter. Title insurance was first authorized in the State of New York in 1909. It is a creature of statute and has evolved to this day as an important part of real estate practice throughout the United States. Most institutional mortgage lenders will not close a transaction without title to the mortgaged property being insured. Evans Fox LLP has the resources and knowledge to examine title, clear exceptions, and issue policies to assist both clients and non-clients in insuring real estate transactions.
Even though we represent a client in a real estate transaction, the client is always free to choose another title insurance company. They need not choose Evans Fox LLP as their agent, but most clients do so. We also offer title insurance services to third parties who we do not represent in transactions.
Primarily there are two types of title insurance, owner’s policies and mortgagee policies. As the name implies an owner’s policy insures the interest of a purchaser of real property. A mortgagee policy instead insures a lender against any potential defects in title. Most residential loans today are sold on the secondary market and that sale would not likely be possible without the issuance of title insurance. While the mortgagee policy is mandatory, the owner’s policy is not. However, as careful practitioners we always recommend that clients obtain an owner’s policy which insures their interest against any potential claims or irregularities. Often times, the most expensive part of such a title claim or irregularity is the legal defense cost which an owner would have to pay out of pocket without a separate policy that protects their interest. In a typical real property transaction, Evans Fox, like most firms, is not paid to examine title. Therefore, a client’s recourse in the event a title claim is to seek the protection provided by title insurance.
While it is a potential conflict of interest when Evans Fox LLP serves as title agent and as counsel for the borrower, we have not seen such a conflict arise in our practice. If and when such a conflict were to arise, we would remove ourselves from representing either party and encourage each party to obtain separate counsel. We have not found this to be an issue however, as the interest of the title insurance company and the purchaser tend to be very similar in that we are expecting the seller to provide good and marketable title to any real property being purchased.
As title insurance agents we are regulated by the State of New York Department of Financial Services (the “DFS”). The DFS requires the disclosure of fees and expenses charged by the title insurance agent which we have included on our website and can be found below. Minimum rates for title insurance are set by the New York State Department of Financial Services. The Title Insurance Rates Services Association, Inc. creates a manual that is approved by the State of New York. Evans Fox LLP always uses the lowest rates legally permissible when providing title insurance to its client and its non-client title insurance customers. The legal fees charged in representing borrowers in transactions are separate and apart from the title insurance premium. By law premiums cannot be lowered nor can attorney’s fees be reduced because of the joint representation. Such an accommodation is impermissible under the NY Insurance Law. Evans Fox will always assist our clients and title insurance customers in providing the best possible service at the best rates available.
- Commercial Mortgage and Asset Based Financing for Lenders and Borrowers
- Construction Loan Financing
- Commercial Development, Including Subdivisions, Easements, Restrictive Covenants and Zoning Matters
- Residential and Commercial Leases
- Residential and Commercial Purchases and Sales
- Residential Lending
- Property Management Agreements