World Wide Land Transfer has a Pennsylvania office and has been issuing PA Title Insurance through its PA Title Company since 2004. Something most people do not realize is that the first title insurance company, the Law Property Assurance and Trust Society, was actually formed in Pennsylvania in 1853. So we are proud to be a staple in the state that our industry first got its start in. PA Title Insurance has many intricacies that differ from the rest of the country. In fact due to the complexity of the PA Title Insurance practice many companies specialize in only certain townships or counties of our commonwealth. With 67 counties encompassing 1,454 townships and all of them having different lien customs, tax collectors and certifications, PA title insurance can get quite complex for those that do not know where to turn. Below is a list of the common nuances that are involved in underwriting PA title insurance.
None required. The PA Title company may prepare all documents to be insured. However, only attorneys may explain the ins and outs of particular PA title insurance settlement documents.
Yes, 3.1 of the Pennsylvania Title Insurance Rate Manual provides that a minimum charge of $100.00 must be made for cancellation.
Certificate of Release (of Mortgage)
If anyone other than the lender (such as a title agent, settlement agent, underwriter or attorney) has the authority to release the security instrument, please describe.
Pursuant to the “Mortgage Satisfaction Act” (Act 197 of 2002 – effective 2/7/03) Settlement Officer who is a licensed title agent, employee of an underwriter or Pennsylvania licensed attorney who conducted closing or directly supervised closing through which Mortgage was paid off may satisfy.
Special Warranty Deeds are customary. Quit Claim Deeds are generally not insurable, hence an owner via a quit claim deed may have difficult obtaining PA Title Insurance. Underwriters often suggest that a “Warrantless, Conveyance Deed” be used versus Quit Claim Deed.
Joinder of Spouses
PA is an equitable distribution state which gives marital rights in property to non-title spouses in the event of a pending divorce. Non-titled spouses are required to join in the execution of a Deed or Mortgage if there is a pending divorce. Basically, if a home is being sold and the buyer is seeking PA Title Insurance, the PA title company will require a non-titled spouse to sign off of the deed if there is a pending divorce. In fact the conservative more diligent approach when issuing PA Title Insurance is to have the non-titled spouse sign off the deed whenever a primary residence is being sold.
Who pays for the purchase of PA title insurance, transfer tax, etc.
Policies must be signed by a licensed, bonded PA title insurance agent or an officer of the underwriter.
Real Estate Taxes
1- Tax Year – Local: Calendar; County: Calendar; School: Fiscal (July 1 through June 30) except for school districts of the first class, which are calendar year. However, the major issue is that with over 1,400 different tax collectors at the district level it gets very complicated to get tax certifications in certain areas of Pennsylvania.
2-Due Dates – County and Local taxes or Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton City taxes–By April 31 of the taxing year; October 31 of the taxing year for School Districts other than Philadelphia, after which time the taxes are considered delinquent and an automatic lien dating as the first day of the taxing year. Philadelphia property taxes are due February 28th for discount period.
3- Lien Date: If not paid, taxes become a lien against the property as of the first day of the taxing year.
4- Lien Duration: Once filed, the lien endures until paid or 20 years from the date of filing the claim, if not revived within that time for an additional 20 year period.
Search and Examination Fees
PA title insurance by law is considered all-inclusive state. However, Section 2.3 of the Pennsylvania Title Insurance Rate Manual allows a separate search and/or examination fee “in specially difficult title matters”. Those matters would include “multiple chains of title, land under water, coal, oil, gas or mineral searches, railroad property searches, land in beds of streets, rights-of-way, driveways, foreclosures, tax sales, proceedings under federal bankruptcy or state insolvency related statutes, or … other unusual difficulties or unusual expenditures”.
No state law imposes a minimum period nor does the state have any marketable title acts, however, the standard search period for a purchase transaction where there is no back title evidence is 60 years.
Security Instruments (Deed of Trust vs. Mortgage)
In Pennsylvania a security instrument is called a “Mortgage”.
Title Insurance Policy Used
PA Title Insurance policies are a modified version of the 2006 ALTA policies; PA has omitted survey coverage from the policy and requires such coverage to be purchased by endorsement.
PA Title Insurance Form and Filing Regulations
All forms, and all rates, up to 30 million dollars are handled through the PA Title Insurance Rating Bureau of Pennsylvania.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania always charges a state Transfer Tax which is set at 1% of the sales price. In addition, there is a Local Transfer Tax which varies from 1% to 4% of the sales price based upon the location. For instance Philadelphia is 4% while certain towns have transfer tax up to 3%. When in doubt be sure to use our smart gfe title insurance rate calculator.
Usury coverage is not available while issuing PA Title Insurance.
There are no witness requirements for either deeds or mortgages in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.