By Shamethia Webb
I'm a 21 year old college student who's been stuck between a crowded dorm room and my parent's lumpy couch for the last couple of years as I scrape through college. I'm one year away from graduating but the future is clear: I'll be paying off student loans until I'm forty, and I'll probably be renting homes, not buying them for the next ten years or so. I'm not being pessimistic. Just realistic. What I want to know is this: Why should young people of my situation (i.e., the struggling college student) care about title insurance when it seems like a concern relegated to someone older, or at least more financially secure than we are? I know that title insurance is important. That's obvious enough. I’ve seen that one infomercial where the guy loses his home. It was sad. I changed the channel. My older friends (the more mature ones who have begun to pay bills and plan for their future) have been putting little bugs of information about title insurance into my ear lately. I’ve tried to ignore them, but they’re very persistent. They can’t understand my nonchalance about something so important as title insurance. They can’t fathom why I am so disaffected, so unconcerned. I tell them that it’s not because I’m not concerned about title insurance. It’s just that title insurance doesn’t concern me. I don’t own my bathroom, let alone my own home, and I wouldn’t buy car insurance if I didn’t own a car, so why should I care about title insurance when I don’t own a home? Why should I give one big flipping flop about title insurance? Is title insurance, or the lack of it, important to us down-trodden college students, frustrated Gen Yers, and hopelessly bohemian-minded youth at this time? Will it ever be?
This is what I know about title insurance. And don’t worry. This is going to be a very short paragraph. Everything I learned about title insurance I gleaned from one of the title insurance websites my mature friends so graciously emailed me. The one I actually looked at happened to be Meridian Abstract and Title Insurance. They deserve a little credit for my new found knowledge. This is what I learned from a ten minute browse on the site. Title insurance is pretty much the insurance that protects a homeowner from defects in their house titles; it protects them from any mistakes that have been made in the legal documents pertaining to their home and it protects them from any potential liens or claims that could be placed against their property. What makes title insurance so important is that it protects homeowners against forged deeds or wills and it protects them from the big F-word: Fraud. And we all know that fraud and identity theft is the crime of choice these days, so title insurance is no longer just a recommendation from a home seller. It’s necessary component to purchasing a home. The question is, is it necessary to me?
This morning I crawled off of my couch, hit the floor and lay there staring blankly at the ceiling. The thought reverberating through my head at the time? I really should get a lower couch so that my fall to the floor would be less painful. It’s sad. I’m a 21 year old college student sleeping on a couch built for a ten year old. I have to sidestep three pre-pubescent teenagers to get to the bathroom in the morning, and my daily conversation revolves around MTV and Spongebob Squarepants. I enjoy the absorbent, porous yellow fellow, but I come to a very serious conclusion as I lie prone on my hardwood floor counting the stains on my ceiling: I need my own place. Fast. But after consulting my Tootsie Roll bank and counting out the whole 32 cents and fluff, I realize that getting a place of my own isn’t going to be that easy. My checking account is gruesomely low, my savings account doesn’t look much better, and the nest egg my parents put away for me cracked years ago under much stress and fatigue. It’s obvious: I am confined to the lumpy couch. My sister will recount the exploits of the Real World cast members to me over the breakfast table. It’s unavoidable.
My older friends coo and ahh and tell me to search for reasonably priced homes. Take out another loan one says. Did he forget that I already have seven school loans? He smiles. He’s so smart. It’s a risk but you’ll own a home he says. Sure I will. Until they repossess. He frowns and I consider removing him from my email contacts. My girl friend, the newly married one, suggests that I borrow money from my parents. She’s excited because her new husband came with a house. It’s so unfair. I look at the ten carat on her outstretched finger and answer her blithely. Sure I’ll borrow money from my parents. Maybe I can get them to give me back the money they borrowed from me last week. Her eyes roll. Another friend to delete from my email. I make a mental note and consider my options. These people don’t understand. I’m a college student. Going to college is like being propelled back to infancy. The constant dependence on parents, the late night wailing as you remember that you have an exam in the morning—it’s all keeping me from owning a house. It’s keeping me from knowing or caring about title insurance.
Perhaps I’m over-exaggerating. Title insurance isn’t out of my league. Owning property isn’t out of my range. I’m a college student who’s buying an education that I will probably use one day. The world, and all the available real estate in the world, is mine for the taking. That caffeine high lasted for about five seconds. Back to reality. Title insurance is out of my league. And for now I will only visit the available real estate in the world, not own it. I’m not a pessimist, just a realist. And I really think that title insurance isn’t very significant to me rightnow. It can’t be.
My big conclusion then? Well, title insurance is vital to anyone interested in purchasing a home. All you newlyweds, oldlyweds, and recent lotto winners who are just scrambling to find a nice place to rest your head for forty odd years, title insurance is definitely for you. Get a title search, title protection, all that good stuff that’s necessary for purchasing a home. Everyone else who are like me—the downtrodden, penniless, and couch bound—don’t fret. Soon enough our student loans will be paid off, creditors will stop harassing us, and our Tootsie Roll banks and savings accounts will expand. Title insurance may not seem that important to us right now, but hopefully one day it will be. Until then? Enjoy the couch and be prepared to listen to copious amounts of MTV news.