Massachusetts is notorious for having hyper-technical rules about notarization. The trouble started in 2009 with the bankruptcy case of Matthew H. Giroux. Mr. Giroux signed a mortgage in front of a notary public. He acknowledged to the notary public that he signed the mortgage voluntarily for its stated purpose. The notary public signed where he was supposed to, affixed his notarial seal, and inserted the expiration of his commission. The mortgage was then recorded in the appropriate registry of deeds. The notary public, however, forgot to insert Mr. Giroux’s name in the certificate of acknowledgement (the notary block on the mortgage); so it said: “[B]efore me personally appeared _____________ to me known to be the person (or persons) described in and who executed the foregoing instrument . . . .” The bankruptcy court didn’t like that and invalidated the mortgage.
As I type this blog post, I am sitting at my desk with a four-inch-thick binder filled with title insurance forms—form policies, form endorsements, premium rate tables, survey requirements, etc.—and it occurs to me that many people who deal with real estate loans and title insurance on a daily basis may have never read a title insurance policy.
It’s probably not necessary for a loan officer involved in a real estate transaction to read the whole title insurance policy, but it may be helpful to have a basic understanding of the benefits and limitations of a lender’s title policy as well as some of the optional endorsements. To provide a basic understanding of title insurance, this post is the first in what will be a series of articles on title insurance from a lender’s perspective.