Title insurance: Transforming realty landscape

As Indian real estate takes a stride towards transparency and continues to attract global investments; the adoption of title insurance emerges as a pivotal step in safeguarding interests of stakeholders including homebuyers as well as institutional investors. Its usage is also witnessing gradual rise across key property markets in India. However, certain challenges including limited awareness and a fragmented regulatory landscape continue to hinder the widespread adoption.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a specialised form of indemnity insurance designed to protect real estate owners and lenders against financial losses stemming from defects in the title or ownership of a property. These defects could include undisclosed liens, encumbrances, errors in public records, or even fraudulent claims on the property’s ownership.

How does it work?

When a property is purchased, a title insurance policy is typically obtained. The title insurance company conducts a thorough title search to identify any existing issues with the property’s title. If the title is deemed clear, the insurance policy is issued, and the insurer provides coverage against any future claims or defects that may arise. If a covered issue emerges after the purchase, the insurance company will compensate the policyholder for their losses, including legal expenses incurred in defending the title.

Current Status in India

Title insurance in India is gradually gaining recognition but remains relatively underutilised compared to more mature markets. Some insurance companies offer title insurance policies, primarily aimed at mitigating risks associated with property transactions. However, its usage and acceptance are not widespread, partly due to limited awareness and regulatory constraints.

Global experience and benchmarks

In countries like the US, title insurance is an integral part of realty transactions, providing comprehensive coverage and assurance to property owners and lenders. The market is well-established, with clear regulatory frameworks and practices.

Benefits and key challenges

The benefits of title insurance are manifold including providing assurance to property owners and lenders, facilitating smoother transactions, and protection against financial losses arising from title defects. However, challenges such as limited awareness, a fragmented regulatory landscape, and reluctance among stakeholders to adopt new practices hinder its widespread adoption.

Impact on homebuyers and mortgage market

Homebuyers benefit from title insurance by obtaining protection against unforeseen title issues, ensuring clear ownership of their property. The mortgage market stands to gain as lenders are reassured of the security of their investments, leading to potentially lower interest rates and greater access to financing. Investors benefit from reduced risk exposure.

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Harry Byrne

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