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What are Title Fees?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2016
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Title fees generally refer to certain types of closing costs on real estate transactions. It also refers to costs imposed to register and record certain types of personal property. In real estate transactions, title fees typically cover the costs of a title search, recording ownership of property and mortgages, and transfer costs. For personal property, government agencies commonly issue titles as evidence of ownership for automobiles, motorcycles, boats, mobile homes, and trailers. The agencies impose registration and title fees on such property.

In real estate transactions, a buyer and seller typically enter a contract for the sale of property such as a home, a parcel of land, or both. The seller must prove that he or she is the legal owner of the property and that it is marketable. Of course, a prudent buyer verifies that a seller has clear title to the property. The buyer and seller ordinarily use a lawyer, a title company, and/or an escrow company to help them with the closing process. Certain closing costs are title fees, which typically include a title search, recording property, and transferring ownership of the property.  

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Some regions include the costs of a title search in the government land records as part of title fees. A title search shows the current owner and past owners of a piece of real estate. It also discloses liens or other encumbrances on the property that may prevent the sale. Depending upon the jurisdiction, courts, recorders of deeds, or tax assessors record encumbrances on real property. Lawyers, title companies, or specially trained persons usually conduct title searches at these locations to ensure a complete file.

Depending on the customs or practices of a jurisdiction, the seller generally pays title fees that cover the transfer of a deed to a buyer. The buyer pays the government office to record the deed under the buyer's name. Government offices assess the title fees, which a title company or escrow company pay on behalf of the buyer and seller. Fees vary depending on the region. 

For personal property, many jurisdictions impose registration and title fees on certain items such as cars, trucks, and mobile homes. Laws typically require a person to register and title property within a set time after the date of purchase, which is usually 30 days.  Failure to register within the set time results in late fees. Title fees and registration fees are separate charges. A government agency usually assesses titles fees on an owner once, and assesses registration fees on an annual basis for as long as a person maintains ownership of the property.

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