When Should (and Shouldn’t) You Get a Boundary Survey for Your Georgia Home Purchase

Boundary Survey? What’s that? Is it important? And should you bother with getting one? Frank B. Pallotta Law has the answers to your questions!

Among the dozens of things to consider when you’re making your Georgia residential real estate investment is whether or not you need a new boundary survey. 

What is a Boundary Survey?

Simply put a boundary survey is a geographic look on your property. A boundary plat typically only shows the boundaries of the property before things are added. A plat is useful, but maybe not so much for you as the homeowner. A boundary survey will show not only the boundaries of your property, but also the buildings such as your home, improvements (driveways, fences, pools, etc.) that have been made, any easements to consider for things like drainage and natural waterways.

Compared to a lot of the fees that come up when buying your home the cost on this is relatively small, but is it really necessary?

Reasons to Get a Boundary Survey

If the person who is selling you the home doesn’t have a recent boundary survey, you may be required to have one done before your mortgage lender will sign off on the mortgage.

Other reasons to consider getting a boundary survey:

  • You want to install a fence or alter an already-in-place fence. Most fences aren’t directly on the property line, so having a boundary survey done on your new residence can help clarify where the limits are and help you plan accordingly.
  • You want to make additions to the property. Other than fences, things like sheds, barns, garages, driveways, etc.
    • These could come up because a boundary survey could be the only way to check on easements, zoning, and making sure that your improvements are within the limits of your property and get your building permit.
  • A boundary survey may be required to satisfy a will and prevent issues with the title as you go into the purchase.
  • If the previous owners have installed a new building or made any significant improvements.
  • Knowing what you’re buying, especially when you’re buying your home, is very important.

Reasons Not to Get a Boundary Survey

It may not be necessary. A boundary survey in Georgia has no set expiration date. For all the reasons to get one, there are a few very good reasons to not bother getting one.

  • A lot of the time, the seller will have a boundary survey done before the house is sold. A realtor can also reasonably ask the current homeowners to have it done before the house is actually sold to you.
  • A boundary survey has been done recently to reflect the improvements done on the house and is still an accurate representation of the property.

Have More Questions?

Frank B. Pallotta Law would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding boundary surveys and more! Give us a call today and let our expert team guide you.

Understanding OWNER’S Title Insurance in Georgia

What is Owner’s Title Insurance? Why isn’t it covered in homeowners insurance? 

When you’re going through the process of buying a house, the list of closing costs can be overwhelming. As a licensed Georgia real estate attorney, we come across questions about these costs all the time. Questions that come up the most tend to be questions about Title Insurance. 

What is Owner’s Title Insurance? 

Owner’s Title Insurance is insurance that protects you, the homeowner, from issues that could pop up and compromise the title of the property. It protects you in case the person who sold you the home had back taxes owed, or there’s a conflict in the Will. Owner’s Title Insurance protects you against financial losses in these cases. 

Owner’s Title Insurance vs. Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowner’s insurance protects you financially in case something physical happens to the home. For example floods, tornados, hurricanes, trees falling on the roof. Those are the sort of things typically covered by your Homeowner’s insurance. Owner’s Title Insurance covers you against financial damages in case there is an issue with the title of your home. 

Is Owner’s Title Insurance Required? 

Technically, no. In Georgia, Owner’s Title Insurance is not a requirement in order to get your mortgage. It’s still strongly recommended. 

How do I find Owner’s Title Insurance? 

One of the many services we provide at Frank B. Pallotta Law is Title Examination and Title Insurance. Because Owner’s Title Insurance is optional, be sure to take a look around and pick a plan that works within your budget and what kind of coverage you’re looking for. 

How much does Owner’s Title Insurance Cost? 

When you’re buying a house in Georgia, Owner’s Title Insurance can cost from as low as $400 to as high as over $1000. A title insurance premium rate calculator is available here or a quote can be obtained by calling our office at 770-924-1400.

What will my Owner’s Title Insurance cover? 

There are a wide variety of things that can come up and end up costing you money after you’ve purchased a home. When you’re reviewing your policy, these are the things you’ll want to make are on it: 

  • A previous mortgage on the home that was not satisfied or settled. 
  • Unprocessed or dissatisfied foreclosures and bankruptcies. 
  • Property taxes or inheritances taxes that were not paid
  • Liens against the home from previously unpaid contractors, real estate taxes, or utility companies. 
  • Ownership issues, either from conflicting wills, missing heirs, or divorce issues 

Owner’s title insurance can cover all of these situations, typically up to the amount you paid for your home plus the legal fees associated with resolving them. 

Ideally none of these things will come up and you will have a properly Clean Title. But life is messy, and that’s why insurance exists. 

What do I do if I have any more questions?

Give us a call! At Frank B. Pallotta Law we have 20 years of experience helping our clients in Georgia navigate the real estate closing process. Reach out to us with your questions. We’re here to help. 

Understanding LENDER Title Insurance in Georgia

Whether you go on your own or with the help of a real estate agent, buying a house brings with it the list of “dreaded” closing costs. Buying a house is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, investment you’ll make in your lifetime. By the time you’re looking at the closing costs, it can feel overwhelming. 

Here at Frank B. Pallotta Law, we get a lot of questions about the closing costs. Some come up more often than others, especially about Lender’s Title Insurance. 

Lender’s Title Insurance

There are two types of title insurances that will show up as you close on your new home: Lender’s and Owner’s title insurance. Lender’s title insurance is an insurance fee you pay on behalf of your mortgage lender. It protects their interests in the event that an issue arises with the Title of your new home. 

Who does Lender’s Title Insurance cover?

Lender’s title insurance covers your mortgage holder; not you, the owner. It serves to protect the mortgage holder from any financial damages that could occur from a “cloudy” or “dirty” title being sold to you. 

If the Title on the home is not clear, it can cause quite a few problems in the purchasing process. And, for the most part, resolving the title issues will fall on the seller and should be sorted out before you get to the closing portion. The insurance is just in case something goes wrong…

Common problems include: 

  • Conflicting wills, missing heirs
  • Separations and divorces that complicate ownership of the home
  • Liens/Levies from taxes, unpaid utilities, etc.
  • Poor surveying of the property lines

All of these problems would ideally be resolved before ownership of the home is transferred to you, or at least before you get a mortgage on that Title. 

What Title Insurance is for the Owner? 

Title insurance for the owner is called Owner’s Title Insurance. It’s an entirely separate type of insurance and will be a different item on the closing list. Unlike Lender’s title insurance, Owner’s is technically optional, but still highly recommended to have.

What happens if you don’t get Lender’s Title Insurance? 

Most often trying to avoid getting lender’s title insurance will simply result in your mortgage being denied, cancelled, or rejected outright. 

How do I get Lender’s Title Insurance?

Usually your mortgage holder will have a preferred insurance provider. One of the many services we provide at Frank B. Pallotta Law is Title Examination and Title Insurance. How much lender’s title insurance will cost will vary depending on the policy your mortgage lender is requiring and the value of the home. A title insurance premium rate calculator is available here or a quote can be obtained by calling our office at 770-924-1400.

What if I have any more questions?

Give us a call! Frank B. Pallotta Law is a licensed Real Estate Lawyer in Cherokee County, Georgia with 20 years of experience helping our clients navigate the closing process. Reach out to us with your questions. We’re here to help!

Real Estate Terms Explained: Title Insurance

If you’re a first-time buyer, you’re probably faced with a lot of unfamiliar terms as you complete the closing process. But don’t worry! We’re going to use the power of the blog to explain (most of) them to you. 

Today’s lesson: Title Insurance

What the heck is title insurance? 

Technically there are two answers to this question, because there are two types of title insurance: the lender’s insurance and the owner’s insurance. Both policies protect against future financial losses. To put it simply, if your home purchase falls through after closing, these insurance policies can save you and your lender from being financially responsible for a property home that you didn’t actually purchase. Most lenders will require this insurance, and you’ll find it included with the rest of your closing costs. Owner’s insurance is optional, but highly recommended. Both policies are a one-time fee that you pay at closing.   

Why would my purchase fall through after closing?

It’s an unlikely scenario, but it is possible. When you purchase a property, a title researcher will check the ownership history to make sure you have what is known as a “clean title.” This means that there are no pre-existing issues that could prevent the title from becoming legally yours. 

A pre-existing issue could be that a previous owner failed to disclose a creditor’s lien on the house, or the property is caught up in an inheritance dispute, or there are uncollected taxes on the property. In most instances these issues are the result of a minor error and can be cleared up quickly, but there are cases where the title issues take months or even years to resolve. And if you find yourself in one of those situations, you’ll be facing a mountain of legal fees and the potential that you’ll lose the property (and the money you invested) before you even unpack. 

Alright, I hear you. How do I get title insurance? 

Typically your agent or closing attorney will start the process for you. You’ll be charged a one-time fee (the exact cost will vary depending on a variety of factors), and even though you only pay for it once, the coverage will insurance your financial transaction as long as you own the property. Please note: this is NOT homeowners insurance — that’s a completely different type of policy and coverage. If you’re not sure how to find the right title insurance, talk to your closing agent or attorney. We live for this stuff. 

Title insurance may seem like yet another unexpected cost, but trust us, it’s worth it. If you still need convincing, give us a call! We’re here to help you every step of the way.