5 must-knows about title insurance

Myriad issues can complicate legal ownership of a property

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Surely, many a first-time homebuyer who has waded through the closing process has come across the line-item charge for something called "title insurance" and has been simultaneously puzzled at just what it is he's buying and annoyed by its several-hundred-dollars cost. Homebuyers tend to be only vaguely familiar with title insurance, agrees Jeremy Yohe, director of communication for the American Land Title Association, a trade group for title companies in Washington, D.C. "After all, people don't buy it too often -- typically, how many times do you buy a home in your life?" he said. The product, at its most basic, insures that the person or entity selling a property really owns it and that others don't have a legal interest in it or that other legal circumstances don't cloud the seller's right to convey its ownership.  It's been in the headlines recently in yet another round of anxiety over the foreclosure mess: Legal observers are concerned that some...