Frequently Asked Questions

Learn all about real estate settlements and why 1st Advantage is your best option.

1st Advantage Settlement Services is here to answer your questions about real estate closings.

Real Estate Settlement Questions

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I just signed a contract to purchase real estate, what are my the next steps?

Congratulations on your purchase! You’ve taken a big first step, but many other things need to be done before the purchase is complete.  Here’s a timetable:

  • Confirm the closing date
  • Select a settlement firm
  • Oversee completion of inspection and repair requests
  • Apply for a mortgage
  • Arrange for an appraisal 
  • Arrange for homeowner’s insurance and owner’s title insurance
  • Receive loan approval
  • Conduct a final walkthrough
  • Close the transaction
How long does it take from the time a purchase contract is signed until the final settlement?

Depending on the complexity of the transaction, it typically takes between 15 and 45 days to complete the settlement process.  Cash purchases tend to take less time than transactions involving a mortgage. 1st Advantage is available to handle rush transactions when necessary.

On the day of the closing, how long does the process typically take?

Most closings take around 60 minutes, depending on the number of questions or concerns raised by the parties.  The closing for a cash purchase or a refinance will typically be much shorter.

What is involved with the settlement process?

Once you have provided your sales contract to the settlement agent, the first step is to perform a title search, which is a must before a property changes hands.  The title search involves research to determine if there are any liens, mortgages, or other issues that might impact the transaction.  Then, information must be gathered  for mortgage and lien payoffs, taxes, and HOA fees.  Once this has been determined, a settlement statement and closing disclosure will be prepared, and this outlines all fees and costs for the buyer and seller.

Is a closing the same as a settlement?

Closing and settlement are interchangeable terms, and both refer to the final step of transferring a property from the seller to the buyer.

What is a settlement services company?

A settlement services firm handles all of the arrangements necessary to transfer a property from a buyer to a seller.  They also provide similar services when an existing owner refinances a mortgage, obtains a home equity loan, or establishes a home equity line of credit. 

Is an attorney required to handle a real estate settlement in Pennsylvania?

Unlike some states, Pennsylvania does not require that an attorney be involved in real estate settlements.  Even though it is not required, there are some situations where the services of an attorney would be beneficial.  At 1st Advantage, our team includes an attorney who can step in when needed.

I'm ready to get started, so what do I do next?

We’d love to connect with you and it’s easy to reach us.  You can use the contact form at the bottom of this page, call us at 717-591-7755 or send us an email.

Title Insurance Questions

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What is a title report?

A title report is a document that outlines the legal status of a property based on research of real estate records.  The report includes any outstanding mortgages, liens, or other items that might impact the transactions.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance protects against financial losses associated with claims against a real estate title.  A lender’s policy protects the funds that are borrowed to purchase the real estate, and an owner’s policy protects the owner’s equity.

Why is title insurance important?

The purchase of real estate is different than most purchases. Once you purchase a property, you become responsible for any valid claims made against it, even if those claims were the result of the actions of a previous owner.  In other words, they become your problem, and title insurance protects you against those claims.

What is the difference between lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance?

As you might guess, the lender’s title insurance is primarily in place to protect the lender.  The owner’s policy protects the owner if there are claims against the title that predated the purchase date.

If nothing unusual if found in the title search, do I still need title insurance?

While a thorough title search will typically uncover anything that might impact the transaction, occasionally there are issues that the search does not reveal.  Common examples are back taxes, liens, conflicting wills, and falsified documents. When you obtain an owner’s policy, you will be covered for as long as you or your heirs own the property. 

What does title insurance protect you against?

Title insurance protects you against claims against your property, typically related to the previous ownership, including:

  • Fraud
  • Forged deeds, releases, or wills
  • Misinterpretation of wills
  • Deeds by minors
  • Deeds by persons of unsound mind
  • Deeds by someone who claimed to be single but was married
  • Claims of ownership from previously unknown heirs
  • Liens from lawsuits or unpaid contractors
  • Unpaid taxes
  • Unrecorded easements
How much does title insurance cost?

The cost for title insurance varies depending on the value of the property.  Contact us for a quote.

Do I have to pay for title insurance every month?

Title insurance is a one-time payment made at settlement and covers you as long as you or your heirs own the property.

Can I shop for my own title insurance?

In Pennsylvania, the buyer/borrower may purchase their title insurance from the insurer of their choice.

Connect With Us

If you would like details about our real estate settlement services, please complete this form or call us at 717-591-7755.

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