Buying Real Estate: Title Insurance

When purchasing a home, obtaining clear title (or ownership) is your ultimate goal. Clear title ensures there are no delinquent taxes, unpaid liens, undisclosed heirs, unknown property line conflicts, or surprise easements on your new property.

To ensure you’re getting clear title from the seller, you attorney will conduct a title examination by searching public records back a number of years (sometimes decades). Almost one-third of all title examinations find an unusual title problem according to the American Land Title Association. Some issues can be resolved easily, but some require the seller to contact past owners (or their attorneys) before they can be addressed.

If you’re getting a loan for your home, the lender will require you to get a “lender’s title insurance” policy. This type of title insurance policy, however, only protects the lender and not the owner, and the policy coverage decreases over time as the loan is paid off.

In contrast, an “owner’s title insurance” policy is the best way to protect your interest as the new owner of your home. This type of title insurance policy, which is paid for with a one-time fee at the purchase, covers you and your heirs for as long as you own the property. It will also pay potential legal fees for defending and settling claims related to your ownership.

Rates for title insurance policies are based on the purchase price for the property but are regulated in all states, so prices are usually similar among reputable insurers. A typical lender’s title insurance policy will cost $2.75 per $1,000 (or $618.75 for a $225,000 loan), and an owner’s title insurance policy will add another $2.225 per $1,000 (or $556.25 for a $250,000 purchase price) if purchased at the same time.

As a full service law firm with a focus on real estate transactions, Gove Law Office is a title insurance agent for a number of reliable title insurance companies. Call or email us today to discuss your options.

Michael S. Gove, Esq. is the founding partner of Gove Law Office, LLC, a general practice law firm with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, MA. The firm handles a wide variety of legal needs, including all residential and commercial real estate transactions and leasing. For more information, please contact the office by calling 413-583-5196 or emailing mgove@govelawoffice.com.

Radon Mitigation

This is the third and final post in a guest series about radon gas in the home by Rick Galarneau, owner of MassRADON. Be sure to read Part 1, Radon Gas and How It Gets Into Your Home, and Part 2, Testing for Radon in Your Home.

Radon mitigation is the process of removing radon gas from the home to a level that is considered safe.

Removing airborne radon usually begins by first sealing entry points for radon. This is accomplished by caulking any cracks and holes in the basement floor and sealing sumps. Crawl spaces with open earth floors should be sealed in a thick plastic sheet. Depending on the initial test results, these steps can often reduce radon levels on their own.

If a mitigation system is still needed after the above steps are completed, then one or two (rarely more) 4″ holes are drilled in the concrete floor. The “plug” of concrete is removed and then some of the underlying material — dirt, sand, gravel, stones, etc. — is removed to create a pit. PVC piping is inserted into the hole and sealed. The pipe is directed to the exterior of the house or into an attached garage, where a radon suction fan is attached. The exhaust side of the fan is also piped, and it’s directed to a point above the roofline of the home. Radon gas must be discharged above the roof so that it can be carried away by the wind.

This is a standard mitigation system and costs typically fall in the $1,100 to $1,500 price range, depending on the extent of work and amount of materials needed. These systems work well in most houses, but not all. Very old homes and homes with dirt floor basements may require other work or a fresh air ventilation system to dilute the radon to a safe level. There are many variables that will determine how well a system will work and what type of system may be needed in a given home. A site visit should be completed before a quote is offered.

Radon in your well water is removed in a different way. This type of mitigation requires a system that strips radon from well water by aeration. A unit is installed that takes well water from your storage tank in the basement and directs it in the radon system. Thousands of air bubbles are introduced into the water, which strips the radon gas molecules and vents them to a point above the roofline. These systems are usually about 98% effective in their reduction capabilities and cost around $4,500. Again, a site visit is required to determine several things, including the size and material of the water main coming from the well tank and a viable route for the vent pipe, and to ensure that the electrical system is capable of accepting an additional circuit.

Allow plenty of time for the radon mitigation process to be completed, especially when you are selling your home. Mitigation is generally a fairly quick process, and most systems can be installed in a few hours, but occasionally repeat visits may be required to install additional suction pits or make other modifications to the system in order to obtain acceptable results. This may require testing in between the visits to determine the effectiveness of the modifications. Allowing plenty of time for the mitigation process will help you reach acceptable reading levels without interfering with your closing date.

Rick Galarneau has been the owner-operator of Aaron Associates, MassRADON, for the last 14 years.  He is a member of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists and the National Radon Proficiency Program. He is a National Environmental Health Association Certified radon mitigator and has successfully mitigated over 1,000 homes in Western Massachusetts.

Gove Law Office, LLC is a general practice law firm with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, MA. The firm handles  a wide variety of legal needs, including residential real estate matters. For more information, please contact Attorney Michael Gove at mgove@govelawoffice.com.