Title agents are the paperwork gurus and detectives of the real estate world. They research real estate records, property titles, insurance and legal documents, and other information to assist with closing on a home. While some homebuyers choose to use a lawyer for this purpose, title agents more commonly handle these duties. Title agents are required to have an extensive knowledge of title insurance laws and regulations in their state. Some states, like Texas, also require licensing. Here's how to become a title agent in the Lone Star state.
Get Your Foot in the Door
Experience is one of the key components to becoming a successful title agent, and working an entry-level job in the industry is one of the best ways to get experience. You can look for jobs with title companies or individual title agents. An entry-level position will give you a working knowledge of how the process flows. Meanwhile, you'll also learn a few things about the differences in Texas insurance law.
Acquire an Education
Most states require you to have some professional education before becoming a title agent. Business and real estate education will teach you important differences in how real estate closings work and how forms are processed. Although the state of Texas doesn't require a degree to become a title agent, a little advanced education will go a long way. Consider taking night classes with a local college, or getting a twp-year business degree. Both of these can be done while you're already working at an entry-level position in the industry.
Get a Sponsored Title Agent Application
To have your title agent license approved, have a title insurance company or agent sponsor your application. Texas requires that your application is sponsored and that you have an "abstract plant" in the county where you plan on working. Basically, the abstract plant proves you have the ability and authority to research records and write a policy. This is where working an entry-level job in the industry comes into play. If you already have connections with a title insurance company, it will be much easier to find a sponsor. If you don't have any connections, you will need to do some cold-calling to title companies.
Get a Sponsored Escrow Officer's Application, Too
You may also want to submit a sponsored application for an escrow officer's license. The same agent who sponsors your agent license may be able to sponsor this license, as well. Title agents are required to have an escrow officer working alongside them, so many title agents are more than open to sponsoring an application. This also works out for you as a fallback job opportunity.
Apply for the License
Once you've found your sponsors, you need to actually apply for licenses. The Texas Department of Insurance will supply you with a Title Agent application and an Escrow Officer application. There are several forms and documents you need to submit with each application, and each application requires a non-refundable $50 fee. You can print the forms you need right from the Texas Department of Insurance’s website.
Once your license is approved, you'll need to post bond with the Department of Insurance, which is $10,000 for a title agent and $5,000 for an escrow officer. These bonds essentially are your promise to adhere to industry standards and regulations. They guarantee to your clients that you will conduct searches, issue titles, and create documents all within Texas state guidelines. If you are ever found to be conducting business in an unlawful way, you will have to pay the amount of the bond to the Texas Department of Insurance.
Bear in mind that holding a Title Agent license is an ongoing process. Every two years, you will be required to complete a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education. This is how Title Agents keep up with changing regulations in the industry and how the state of Texas ensures its Title Agents continue to adhere to the best practices. You can also acquire professional credentialing through the Texas Land Title Association.