For most people, buying or selling a home is the largest financial endeavor they will ever undertake. For this reason, you will need to secure the professional services of a title company to efficiently and accurately handle this complex transaction.
The title company will perform what is called an "abstract of title", which means searching the real estate records in the county where that piece of property is located. The abstract will determine the legal owner of the property; reveal any mortgages, liens, judgments, or unpaid taxes that will have to be satisfied before the property is conveyed; and detail any existing easements, restrictions, or leases that affect the property.
Upon the completion of the abstract, the title company will issue a "title opinion letter", or if a title insurance policy is to be issued on the property, the company will prepare a "commitment of title insurance" to the lender and/or to the prospective buyer. This title opinion letter and the title insurance commitment will set forth all things that need to be completed and any problems that need to be corrected before the purchaser can receive "good title". At this point the title insurance company will complete all the necessary documents and will undertake to correct any problems found in their search. Once issues have been corrected and matters completed, the parties are now ready for the final stage and exchange of paperwork called the "closing".
At closing, the buyer/seller and lender will come together to make an exchange of documents, which will complete the real estate transaction. This process involves preparing a closing statement or what is known in the industry as a Closing Disclosure (CD). The closing statement will include the mortgage lender's charges, charges for preparing documents, the title company's fees, recording costs, and the amount of the payoffs to release any existing mortgages, pro-ration of city and county taxes, real estate commission fees, survey fees, and any other cost associated with the purchase or refinance of the real estate property.
During the closing process, the title company will collect the purchase money funds from the buyer and lender as well as the settle costs from each party involved. The title company then uses these funds to pay all of the expenses of the transaction; pays off any existing mortgages, and pays the seller the net proceeds of the sale. All of this is done in accordance with the Closing Disclosure.