Where to turn about a problem with house title

MAILBAG

November 23, 2003

Sharon Himes purchased a home in the Brooklyn section of Baltimore in October last year.

A local title company handled the closing. The title company wrote to Ms. Himes a few weeks later, advising that there was a shortage in transfer taxes and that she needed to pay an additional $220.50 "to complete the transactions" and record the property deed.

After two more requests, Ms. Himes sent $220.50 to the title company in February.

Ms. Himes checked with city officials in April and was told the property was not titled in her name. She made a series of contacts to the Better Business Bureau and other agencies without much luck. She eventually solved the problem by calling her title insurance company, which helped address the issue quickly.

Title agents and title insurers are licensed and regulated by the Maryland Insurance Administration.

The title insurance company that handled Ms. Himes' settlement is an agent of the firm that issued the title insurance. That title insurance company could be liable if its agent has failed to record the deed.

Those with similar problems should send a complaint letter, with copies of their settlement statement and correspondence, to the Maryland Insurance Administration at 525 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21202. They also should send copies of their letter and documentation to the title company that handled the closing and to the firm that issues the title insurance

Homebuyers who purchase owners' title insurance are guaranteed that they have good title to the property, free of liens and assessments created before the date of purchase.

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