Becoming a title closing agent doesn’t take years of study. You can become one with just a high school diploma or GED, one or more study courses and a state license to get your qualifications, including earning a closing agent license.
Title agents can work for title companies or own their own businesses, working from their homes. They are third-party, independent professionals who provide the correct documents for the buyer and the seller.
Depending on the state, only certain types of professionals can execute closings, explains RETipster.com. Understanding what title agents do and what the process is for becoming one will help you decide if this is a good career choice for you.
Know the Different Titles
Depending on what services they perform and the state they work in, professionals who help finalize or prepare the final steps of real estate property sales transactions include title officers, title examiners, closing agents and escrow agents, also known as settlement agents. Some title companies prefer that their closing agents are certified escrow agents. In some states, only attorneys can close real estate transactions. In others, escrow officers can, while in others, title companies can.
The term title closing agent typically refers to the person who is involved with validating and transferring a title, rather than the sale funds. Escrow officers often handle closings. At some companies, you might handle more than one function as a title agent. Because you are dealing with real estate titles (vs. car or other titles), you might be called a land title agent or professional.
Title Agent Description
A title agent is research-focused and prepares documents for closings. At some companies, title officers do the upfront research work, while title examiners support title officers by validating documents. Title agents perform research on a property before the sale is finalized to make sure the person selling legally owns the property and that there are no taxes owed, liens against the property or easements attached to it that would negate or complicate the sale.
Once a title closing agent has verified that the transfer is legal, she fills out the paperwork, has both parties sign the papers and then files them with the correct agency.
Title Agent Education Requirements
The process for becoming a title closing agent varies from state to state, so your first step in becoming one will be to learn the requirements in your state. In some states, you might need to become a licensed escrow officer (who also helps with title insurance after a closing).
Start by looking for your state’s trade association for title agents or escrow agents. Look for state directories on the websites of the American Land Title Association and the American Escrow Association. Once you are familiar with the requirements for becoming an agent in your state, look for training courses that prepare you to take your state's certification exam.
Many candidates take basic real estate courses at their local community college prior to earning title closing agent certification, or take online courses through national or state title associations. Taking these courses will help you learn how real estate transactions take place, what different documents are required, how they’re prepared, how to perform title searches, what must be done to legally execute documents and how to file them once they are approved and signed.
If possible, find work or get an internship at a title closing office or other business that handles closings. Getting on-the-job experience from someone who is performing the job will give you tips and insights you might not get from taking an online or in-person study course. If you go this route, you might be able to prepare for your state exam without having to take classes.
Title Agent Skills
You’ll need to be able to use computers to conduct research on properties. This means using government databases to search for documents, transactions and sales. You should be comfortable working with people because you’ll be working with government agents, real estate agents, attorneys and home buyers and sellers. You should be organized and have good attention to detail.
Title Agent Salary
The pay for title agents varies considerably from company to company, for independents vs. employees and from state to state. Some employees earn salaries, while contractors might be paid a flat fee per closing. Visit job search websites that provide local and state salary averages to find out what title closing agents currently make in your area.
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.