Start a title company by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your title company. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a title company?
Opening a title company primarily involves the cost of licenses and certifications you’ll need to operate as a title agent. Make sure you’re familiar with all the legal ramifications for operating a title company in your state, and consider hiring a lawyer to help ease the paperwork burdens.
You also will need to form a limited liability company (LLC) and register your company. Other essential start-up costs include licensing exams, board certifications, securing company bonding, and renting an office space. Once licensed, bonded, and insured, you may start operating.
What are the ongoing expenses for a title company?
Title companies typically have low overhead costs and expenses. Office supplies and employee salaries represent the majority of the ongoing expenses along with utilities and mortgage or rent.
Who is the target market?
Title companies typically target homeowners and real estate agents in and around their local area.
How does a title company make money?
Title companies collect fees for the work they perform in the sale, acquisition, and transfer of homes and properties. Sometimes, those fees represent a percentage of a property’s overall value while title companies also may set standard fees for their services.
How much can you charge customers?
Title company fees will fluctuate, depending on the state in which they operate. But, around $300 is the average cost for their services.
How much profit can a title company make?
Title company agents often average around $50,000 to $65,000 annually with some companies capable of generating revenue in the six-figure range.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Some title companies provide additional services, such as land, home, and building inspections. Others also enable clients to hire them to sort out deeds and ownership disputes.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your title company is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Read our Best Banks for Small Business guide to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Recommended: BlueVine is an online bank with free business checking and no hidden fees. Great for businesses who do not often deal with cash.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a Title Company. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a title company
The marketing and promotion of a title company can prove tricky. While a market does exist for your services, those services aren’t something the general public considers on a daily basis. Advertising in real estate publications can provide one avenue for greater notoriety. A personal business webpage with extensive information about your company also can increase your likelihood of attracting new clients. Overall, most clients will come to you organically. That makes customer retention very important for this type of business.
How to keep customers coming back
Most customers will come to you as part of the deal in buying or selling a property — or on the recommendation from an existing client. Therefore, it’s critical to provide a professional service with a personal touch to set your business apart from the competition. Additionally, make sure your paperwork and operational standards are top notch with no mistakes. Then, remember to recognize your existing clients and treat them as more than just a customer.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Title Company In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Because of the legal nature and proceedings involved in operating a title company, many owners come from legal backgrounds. Prior experience in real estate, banking, and finance also can prove beneficial when starting a title company.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a title company?
Title companies process home or building sales and acquisitions regularly. From researching land and buildings to performing title searches, following up with inspections, managing escrow accounts, and meeting with clients, a title company owner can have quite a busy schedule throughout the day. Clients also employ title companies to help them prepare a property for sale, usually by advising on potential upgrades and safety concerns.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful title company?
Because title companies handle property and home sales, their owners must be experts in the field’s current laws and legal proceedings. Having a background in law or an extensive knowledge of the rules and regulations of title procedures is critical.
A strong attention to detail and thoroughness in your paperwork also is necessary to avoid costly missteps in the title process.
Successful owners of this type of business also have excellent communication and client relationship management skills. You’ll need the ability to keep lots of pertinent information in focus and feel comfortable explaining the title process to clients in different methods, depending on their personalities and abilities.
What is the growth potential for a title company?
Title companies are popular because of their operational requirements (e.g., licensing and board certification) as well as their potential for above-average earnings. Check to ensure your market isn’t flooded with existing title companies or target a specific clientele you want to serve. If you’re eager to work, you should be able to find clients because titles constantly change ownership. You’ll just need to make sure you can drum up some initial clients to get you started.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a title company?
Title companies are numerous, so you should have some clients lined up before you set up shop. At the very least, make sure your area is experiencing relative growth and home turnover.
Consider operating with an existing company to help you build your clientele and experience. A real estate or land development company may be eager to have a title company exclusive to its business as well.
How and when to build a team
A title company can usually operate with just a few people. If your business grows into a high-volume title office, you’ll want to hire a larger team. Otherwise, you and few other employees can handle much of the daily activities for this business.