1. Recently, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) advised realtors they should obtain a title commitment as soon as a listing is taken. Can a title company provide a free title commitment to realtors?
Yes, according to the rule, title companies can choose to provide free title commitments. They can also choose to charge for them. In addition, title companies can choose to charge or not charge a cancellation fee for title commitments. See WAC 284-29A-055 (leg.wa.gov) for details.
2. Can a title company provide “home books” or other relocation packets to realtors that contain information about a specific real property parcel as well as general information about the area where the real property is located, for example, schools, parks, services, restaurants, etc.?
Yes, but only when the title company charges and collects the cost of producing the home book or other information. Also, the home book or other information cannot contain any information or material that is primarily for the use of the realtor (open house sign-in sheet, etc.). Even if information contained in a home book is readily available at no cost to the title company, the home book itself is not “free,” as title insurance personnel incur time and expense to collect and distribute the information. See WAC 284-29-210 (leg.wa.gov).
3. Is it legal for a title company to provide a producer information on deed position and encumbrances for a parcel of property that is going up for foreclosure auction?
It's legal only if the title company charges and receives payment for the information. See WAC 284-29-210(5) (leg.wa.gov) for details. However, if in providing this information, the title insurance company provides any assurances as to the information's accuracy, then the title company could be issuing a title insurance policy. This would then require the title company to submit the appropriate rate-and-form filing to the Producer Licensing and Oversight office.
4. The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) recently changed its requirements directing realtors to attach an “accurate and correct” or “Exhibit A” legal description to their MLS listing. As a result, realtors are requesting that title companies conduct additional research beyond just giving a copy of the last deed of record to comply with this new requirement. Is a title company allowed to provide an “accurate and correct” or “Exhibit A” legal description to realtors?
No. A title company cannot give anything of value to a producer of title business, such as a realtor, except as permitted by rules adopted by the insurance commissioner. A title company cannot give anything of value to a producer unless it’s clearly and specifically permitted by the rules. The rules only permit title companies to give a copy of the last deed appearing of record. Therefore, since the providing of an “accurate and correct” or “Exhibit A” legal description is not clearly and specifically permitted in any of the rules, it is prohibited. See RCW 48.29.210(2), WAC 284-29-210, and WAC 284-29-260 (leg.wa.gov).