Title Agent, Closing Agent, Settlement Agent, Escrow Agent; What’s in a Name?

I get called lots of names, most of them are even complimentary!  But what is the difference between a Settlement Agent and a Closing Agent? What distinguishes a Title Agent from an Escrow Agent or Officer?  Honestly, there is only a little difference between these names, and when you are a Real Estate Attorney, like me, they actually all apply. 

In some parts of the country the names have very distinct differences; such as California and New York and their neighboring states.  But in Tennessee we are a bit more laid-back and “friendly-like”, and we don’t put much weight on the use of one name over another.  But if you want to be technical: an “escrow agent or officer” is a fiduciary who holds legal documents and funds for the benefit of others until all agreed conditions have been met.  A “title agent” is technically a licensed insurance agent who issues title insurance to purchasers and lenders. A “closing agent” is technically the person who sits down with the buyer or seller or borrower (or all three) and goes over the documents with them and answers their questions.  A “settlement agent” is technically the one who handles the accounting of the transaction and makes sure all the money is collected, verified, and disbursed in accordance with the terms of the contract and loan documents. 

There are offices around middle Tennessee which only do one or several of the above.  But I am a real estate professional and a licensed attorney; I literally do all of the above, frequently!  And I honestly don’t care which one you call me, just call me!, to handle your real estate transaction.  I thank you in advance; Jack McCann.

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