Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

N.M. title insurance still priced the old way.(Business)

Byline: Winthrop Quigley Journal Staff Writer

* State regulators and insurance agents agree only that it is expensive

State regulators hope that one day they can agree with title insurance agents and underwriters to replace state-imposed pricing with free-market competition.

But not today.

Regulators and agents can't even agree on how New Mexico's rates, set annually after days of contentious hearings, compare to states where the market sets prices.

Title insurance is critical to every real estate transaction. Once a property changes hands, a long-lost heir with a claim to it might suddenly show up demanding the home. More often, an unpaid creditor will slap a lien on the property to satisfy a debt.

Title insurance pays the cost of fighting those claims, then compensates lenders and purchasers when those claimants prevail.

More important, by thoroughly researching the history of the property before the title is issued, a good title company can keep problems from arising in the first place. …

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