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The Basics Of Downpayments And Title Insurance

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to dc@curbed.com.

How much of a down payment will I need to put down?
It all depends on your credit score, but an absolute minimum is 10% (unless you have an FHA loan which is more like 3-6%). If you put down less than 20% you will have to purchase title private mortgage insurance.

What the heck is title insurance? Why is everyone obsessed with who owns the title to the house. Don’t the people selling it own it?
Probably, yes, the people selling the house own it. But there have been all sorts of problems going back far into the history of house ownership where someone has come along and said they also own part of the house. Say you buy a house from someone who has financial difficulties and someone has placed a lien on the house (but you don't know this). Years later they can come after you and say that you don't own the house because there had been a lien placed on it. If you have title insurance you are protected from something like this.

UPDATE: Oh, dear. We created a bit of controversy with the sentence about title insurance. The realtor we reached out to mentioned it rather quickly so we've reached back out to him to try to get some clarification. In the meantime keep sending your comments to ourtipline.