Title Agent

Written by: Will Bond

Are you curious about what it takes to become a Title Agent? This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about this profession — from understanding the role and its responsibilities to the steps you’ll need to take to get licensed.

Whether you’re just considering this career path or are already on your way to obtaining your license, this article will provide you with a clear and detailed overview of what lies ahead.

What Is a Title Agent

Put simply, the term “title agent” is used to refer to any licensed individual who’s responsible for issuing title insurance policies. These are policies designed to protect both lenders and owners from the potential financial loss of lawsuits associated with “bad titles” in the context of a property sale.

Obtaining a title is an essential part of buying a home as it confirms in law that the seller has transferred the property’s ownership rights to the buyer. However, there are a number of different legal or financial problems with a title that can make it “bad” and cause sizeable, unforeseen expenses, including:

  • Outstanding liens
  • Problems with seller’s legal claim to the property
  • Conflicting wills and undisclosed heirs
  • Outstanding, unpaid property taxes (known as “back taxes”)
  • Incorrectly executed paperwork
  • Fraud and forgery
  • Mortgages that haven’t been officially discharged (known as “unreleased mortgages”)

The policies issued by title insurance agents provide protection to policyholders from any claims arising from most common title defects, including those outlined above and many more.

What Does a Title Agent Do

As part of providing this type of insurance, it’s the responsibility of title agents to examine the public records of a client’s property and find out if there are any issues associated with its title — which is typically done at the same time as a real estate sale is closed.

They’ll also be required to examine the property’s legal documents (e.g., deeds, mortgages, and wills) to verify the chain of ownership and find out if there are any potential problems.

After this research is done, title agents will normally summarize their findings in a report and offer coverage that will pay for any discovered title defects to be resolved before the sale of a property — which is usually included as part of the closing costs of a sale.

In this way, title agents play an essential role in ensuring the smooth and secure transfer of property ownership between buyers and sellers.

How to Become a Title Agent

If you’re keen to pursue a career as a title agent, obtaining a license in the state where you intend to practice will be essential.

Although the specific requirements can differ by state, the general steps that we’ve detailed below will outline the typical process for becoming a licensed title insurance agent.

Step 1: Meet Your State’s Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for a title agent license, most states will require you to satisfy certain specific prerequisites before you can apply.

In particular, this will typically include being:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • A resident of the state you plan to operate in
  • A high school graduate (or a GED holder)
  • A US citizen or legal alien with a work authorization

Be aware that these requirements are not exhaustive, and you’ll need to refer to your state’s regulations as it’s common for jurisdictions to impose their own additional prerequisites. For example, Florida requires all title agent applicants not hold a resident license in another state.

Step 2: Complete Title Agent Prelicensing Education

After confirming that you’re eligible to apply for a title agent license, the next step you’ll want to take is completing a title agent pre-licensing course.

In most states, taking one of these courses is mandatory in order to qualify as a title agent. Many even impose a minimum hour requirement that courses meet to be considered acceptable — such as in New York (20 hours) and Indiana (10 hours).

However, in a small minority of states (such as Alaska, Washington DC, and Delaware) it’s not mandatory to complete this course — though we still recommend doing so regardless.

This is because these courses will provide you with the foundational understanding needed to succeed in both your state’s title agent licensing exam and to get your career off to a good start.

Step 3: Pass Your State’s Title Agent Exam

After successfully completing your title agent pre-licensing education course, you’ll usually be required to take — and pass — the title agent examination in your state.

This will usually be between 1 hour and 1 hour and 30 minutes in length, with between 50 and 75 questions to answer — which makes it a little smaller than most state insurance line examinations.

In most states this examination will test you on the following topics:

  • Title insurance indemnity contracts
  • Title searches
  • Examination of titles
  • Closing procedures
  • Escrow handling

However, for a full list of the exact topics to expect in your state’s title agent examination, you’ll need to refer to the content outline of the exam provider in your jurisdiction (e.g., Pearson VUE, PSI, or Prometric).

To pass this exam, candidates are typically required to score around 70%, though the exact percentage can vary depending on the scoring system your state has adopted.

Just make sure to continue with your application quickly after you pass your title agent exam, as in many states these passing scores will only be valid for a limited time period (e.g., six months). If you wait any longer than this, the score will become invalid and you’ll need to sit the test again.

Note: In some states you may be exempt from this examination requirement if you meet certain conditions. For example, licensed attorneys in New York don’t need to take a title agent course or exam as long as they’re in good standing with the New York State Office of Court Administration.

Step 4: Satisfy Any Final Licensing Requirements

The final step before filing your application to become a title insurance agent involves meeting any additional state-specific licensing requirements.

Typically, this will involve undergoing a state and federal background check, which requires you to submit a complete set of fingerprints to your state’s Department of Insurance (often through third-party providers such as IdentoGO or Fieldprint).

Once the results have been processed, the fingerprinting service will send a detailed report to your state’s Department of Insurance. Based on the discoveries of this report, the Department will then make a determination regarding your eligibility for licensure.

Note: Keep in mind that it’s common for states to impose their own additional licensing requirements on top of this, such as in New York, where candidates must pass the exam within two years of submitting their licensing application.

Step 5: Submit Your Application

Once you’ve completed all the necessary steps, you’ll be ready to apply for your title insurance agent license. This application is usually submitted online through platforms like the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) or Sircon, with fees ranging from $50 to $100 depending on your state.

After submitting your application, you can expect to hear back with an answer from your state’s Department of Insurance within a few weeks to a few months. If everything is in order, you should be sent a license number and National Producer Number (NPN) to the email address on your application.

Keep in mind that in some states, such as Florida and New York, the application submission may occur earlier in the process — however, this only applies in a handful of states.

Note: The estimated processing times can vary beyond the ranges outlined above depending on whether your state’s Department of Insurance is going through a particularly busy period or if there are issues with your application.

Title Agent FAQ

What is a title company agency?

A title agency is a business that provides services related to the transfer of property ownership. This includes conducting title searches, issuing a title insurance policy, and facilitating the closing process. The title insurance agency ensures that the title to the property is clear and that any potential issues or claims against the property are resolved, protecting both the buyer and the lender from future disputes.

What is the role of a title agent?

A title agent plays a crucial role in real estate closings by ensuring the property’s legal ownership is clear and free of any issues in order to protect persons with a financial interest (i.e., the lender and buyer). They will work alongside a real estate agent and a closing agent (who manages the closing documents) to make a property’s sale go smoothly.

How much does a title agent get paid?

On average, title agents in the United States can expect to earn between $34,000 and $64,000 annually — with the median lying at around $47,000 per annum. Naturally, however, this is just an estimation, and it can vary widely depending on your location, experience, and the size of the agency you work for. Check out our Title Agent guide for more information.

Why is title insurance important?

Title insurance protects property buyers and mortgage lenders from potential financial losses in a real estate transaction due to title defects (e.g., liens, encumbrances, or legal disputes over property ownership not discovered in the initial title search). To be able to offer this insurance coverage for real estate transactions, title agents must go through a rigorous licensure process.

Ready for more?

Start Studying

Learn More