Title insurance: Protecting yourself when purchasing a new home

by Multi-Prêts Mortgages

What you’ll learn

  • Defining title insurance
  • Why it is relatively unknown in Quebec
  • Is it worth it?

What is title insurance?

In a real estate context, a title refers to the document certifying that the owner of a property (house, land, building) is truly its legal owner.

Purchasing title insurance guarantees the status of the title at the moment the policy comes into effect. In some cases, the lender can require the client to purchase one from one of the four companies who sell them in Quebec.

It adds to the notary’s work, in the sense that it provides protection against irregularities and fraud related to the title deed that the legal expert cannot always guarantee.

Few irregularities examples

  • An individual claims to have a right to the property.
  • Encroachments: for example, your fence encroaches on the neighbour’s yard.
  • An element of the property is in breach of municipal regulations.
  • Most lenders require a title insurance if a property’s water supply comes from a well and a test showed contamination (even if the problem has been fixed).
  • Title deed fraud: this can occur when a criminal usurps an owner’s identity or falsifies documents. For example, a criminal could take out a mortgage and run off with the money without leaving a trace.

The insurer does not correct the irregularity, but indemnifies the insured according to the amount of the coverage.

While we’re on the subject of unfortunate surprises, check out our article on unforeseen mortgage expenses.

Things that are not covered by title insurance

  • Hidden defects
  • Pyrite
  • Environmental problems
  • Irregularities which occurred after the policy came into effect.

It is not to be confused with CMHC insurance, which insures the mortgage loan.  

Although it is common in the US and elsewhere in Canada, title insurance remains relatively unknown in Quebec. It is estimated that approximately 15% of real estate transactions in the province are covered by it, whereas in Ontario, it far exceeds 75%.

This does not mean that Quebec buyers are careless. Unlike our southern neighbours, the healthy condition and reliability of our province’s land holding system, as well as the thorough work of our notaries considerably minimize the risks involved in a real estate transaction.

Regardless of favourable circumstances in Quebec, the relatively low cost of this insurance can add to your peace of mind. To find out more about purchasing a property, check out our article “Buying a property: follow the guide!”

Key takeaways

  • Purchasing title insurance guarantees the status of the title at the moment the policy comes into effect.
  • The insurer does not correct the irregularity, but indemnifies the insured according to the amount of the coverage.
  • Unlike our southern neighbours, the healthy condition and reliability of our province’s land holding system, as well as the thorough work of our notaries, considerably minimizes the risks involved in a real estate transaction. 
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