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Title Endorsements: Understanding Your Options | Patten Title
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June 18th, 2020

Title Endorsements: Understanding Your Options

When the average person hears “endorsement,” we immediately think of someone throwing their wholehearted support behind a person, product, service, or company. But when it comes to the title industry, the word has a much different meaning. A title endorsement is designed to amend your title insurance to the specific needs of the home you’re buying.

In this article, we will explain the following:

  • The definition of a title endorsement
  • The names and applications of frequent endorsements
  • Costs for the service
  • Whether or not you need them for your home

It’s essential you understand the basics of this potentially confusing topic so you can make the right decision for your real estate purchase.

What is a Title Endorsement?

A title endorsement is a tool employed as a supplement or add-on to the base-level title insurance you’re buying for your home. Think of it as a tour rider for a traveling musician — it takes the basic provisions and modifies them to meet your specific situation. Since some endorsements can increase coverage while others decrease it, how you choose to amend your title insurance really comes down to the details of the property you’re purchasing, 

Additional points of information about this legal device include:

  • The American Land Title Association defines and regulates them at the national level.
  • Each state can adjust the national policies slightly to account for regional issues. 
  • Each state sets the price for every endorsement, and it can’t be changed by individual lenders or title companies.

Simply put, title endorsements are designed to provide extra protection on top of the fairly comprehensive nature of most title insurance policies. In that sense, it’s property-specific insurance for your insurance.

What are the Most Common Title Insurance Endorsements?

Since title endorsements are more prevalent than most people realize, it makes sense that certain endorsements are used more frequently than others. These include:

  • ALTA 3 – Zoning: coverage for any amendments made to local zoning laws for unimproved land, completed structures, and land under development 
  • ALTA 8 – Environmental Protection: insurance for damages caused if a lien has been placed upon the property for specific environmental reasons and that lien wasn’t detected by an earlier title defect search
  • ALTA 9 – Restrictions, Encroachments, Minerals: a broad endorsement blanketing anything that could occur from future improvements, changes, or mineral rights claims on a property
  • ALTA 17 – Access and Entry: protection against damages that could be caused when an undeveloped piece of land doesn’t have any public access points

As you can tell, these are highly nuanced and specific legal protections, so it’s important you discuss them with your title company and your attorney before choosing to add them to your title insurance. In fact, Patten Title Company has created a handy title endorsements chart to help you learn about what we offer.

Will I Be Charged a Title Endorsement Fee?

As we mentioned before, there are fees associated with each title endorsement you attach to your title insurance. Typically ranging from $25 to $100 per endorsement, these prices are set by the governmental agency in charge of title insurance for the state where you’re buying your house. For example, this means you don’t have to shop for Texas title companies to see which one has the best rates. However, it does mean you need to ask specific questions about the costs and specific endorsement needs of your property.

Do I Need to Purchase Title Endorsements?

The answer to this question depends explicitly upon the type of land and/or home you’re purchasing. There’s a reason that ALTA’s title endorsements include condos, apartments, undeveloped land, residential properties, commercial properties, manufactured homes, and more. There’s even one that can help you if the eaves of your garage creep across your property line and you might need to move that building later if a future tenant complains about it.

That’s why it’s essential you work with a knowledgeable title company that truly puts customers first. Since we don’t have to compete on price, we instead compete on our ability to help people understand all of the dense and confounding details about the real estate industry. This allows you as the buyer to determine who’s right for you on your terms so you can feel comfortable spending lots of money on a home or property.

Hence, we encourage you to be upfront and direct with your title company about title insurance endorsements. You might not know about them, but the people helping you buy a home definitely should — and they should certainly be able to explain the relevant ones to you in everyday terms you can understand.