ALTA Responds to New York Times Editorial

May 12, 2015

ALTA submitted a letter to the The New York Times Editorial Board on May 12 in response to an editorial column that failed to properly inform its readers about the benefits and cost of title insurance.

"As we begin a very busy home shopping season, homebuyers deserve factual information about title insurance. For more than a century, title insurance has provided homebuyers with confidence in the ownership of their property," said Michelle Korsmo, ALTA's chief executive officer.

"Unlike other insurance policies, title insurance is a one-time fee paid at closing. It helps protect a homeowner’s financial investment in their property should a claim arise in the future. A claim could stem from things such as fraud, identity theft, property-line disputes and unpaid taxes. Without an owner’s title insurance policy, the out-of-pocket legal costs for a homeowner to resolve a title claim could be in the tens of thousands of dollars," Korsmo continued.

An owner’s title insurance policy for a home New York home purchased for $500,000 is around $2,000. Over the average duration of home ownership, that spreads out to about $154 annually or about $13 per month. Nationally, the cost of title insurance has actually decreased 6.2% since 2003, according to analysis of publicly available title insurance premium data.

"A homebuyer wants to know that when they receive the keys to their home they are doing so without existing debts or legal problems. Before a consumer purchases a home, title professionals and real estate attorneys search the public records for any problems with the home’s title and chain of ownership," Korsmo said.

This process includes searching for any delinquent taxes, undisclosed liens (such as unpaid contractors or utility bills), prior legal judgments (such as child support liens) or issues arising from forgery or fraud. The title search process leads title agents to collect $4.8 billion in back income taxes and recover $325 million in unpaid child support annually.

There are many factors to consider when selecting a title insurance company, such as local expertise, service standards, market conduct and commitment to the community. Buyers should shop around and ask questions to make sure they are comfortable with their title company. Visit to learn more about title insurance and the closing process.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or

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