Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on May 22, 2023
$2,250 - $32,100
$80,000 - $625,000 p.a.
Time to build
1 – 3 months
$70,000 - $250,000 p.a.
How to Start a Title Company
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Business Name
Create a Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Licenses/Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Start Making Money!
Title Company Business FAQs
We rarely think about it, but title insurance is big business, with a US market value of $22 billion. Now might be a great time to start a title company, which helps ensure the smooth transfer of ownership of homes, property, and other assets, and get in on a fast growing market.
Of course, starting a business comes with challenges and will require preparation, hard work, and industry knowledge. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide has all the information and insight you need to develop and launch your own title company.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
Starting a title company, which handles the paperwork for funds transfers and works with title insurance underwriters to make sure everything is in legal and financial order, has pros and cons that you should consider before you decide if the business is right for you.
Flexibility – Start as a mobile title agent
Deliver Value – Provide an essential service to customers
People-Focused – Work with new people every day
Red Tape – Many documents require attention to detail
Licensing – Training and exam required
Title insurance industry trends
The pandemic forced a digital transformation of the US title insurance industry. Documents can now be notarized digitally, eliminating the need for an in-person closing. For more on digital notarization and starting your own notary, read this Step By Step article.
Funds are also being transferred electronically, eliminating the need for buyers to bring a cashier’s check to closing. Mobile title companies, meanwhile, are offering their services to mortgage brokers.
Startup costs for title companies range from $2,000 to $32,000. The lower end is the cost if you start as a mobile title agent, while the high end includes the rental and preparation of office space.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your title company. Here’s a list to get you started:
Printers and copy machines
Conference tables and chairs
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Licenses and permits
$100 - $300
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$1,000 - $3,000
Training and licensing
$300 - $500
Surety and Fidelity bonds
$400 - $1.500
Office space security deposit
$0 - $6,000
Office equipment and furniture
$0 - $20,000
$2,250 - $32,100
How much can you earn from a title company?
Before you can start making money, you need to take the training and pass the exam to become a licensed title agent. Each state has its own requirements for licensing. Typically the process takes no more than 1-2 weeks, and will cost $75 to $200.
The typical fee paid to a title company or title insurance company at closing is about $300. As a mobile agent working from home, your profit margin should be about 90%.
In your first year or two, you could do 5 closings a week, bringing in nearly $80,000 in annual revenue. This would mean over $70,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition, you’d likely rent an office and hire staff, reducing your margin to 40%. If you do 40 closings a week, your annual revenue would be almost $625,000, and you’d make a tidy profit of about $250,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a title company. Your biggest challenges will be:
Training, studying and passing licensing exam
Stiff competition from large, established title companies
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a title company, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research other title companies in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a mobile title service, or a reliable title insurance business with an appealing website.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as mortgage loan refinancing or a particular type of real estate transaction or joint venture.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You’ll need to decide if you want to offer in-person closings, mobile closings, digital closings, or all three. You’ll also need to find a reliable title insurance underwriting company to partner with. Four main companies, known as the Big Four, are the most used: Fidelity National Financial, First American Financial, Old Republic, and Stewart Information Services.
How much should you charge for closing services?
The average fee a title company receives for a closing is $300. As a mobile service working out of your home, your only costs will be for paperwork and fuel. When you open an office, you’ll have rent, overhead, and labor costs. You’ll still want to provide mobile services at this point, but you’ll be able to do in-person closings as well to increase your volume.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
As a mobile service, your target market will be mainly mortgage brokers who will engage you for refinance transactions. Once you have an office for in-person closings, your target market will expand to realtors, but you’ll still want to connect with mortgage brokers for the mobile part of your business. Both of those target markets can be found on business-related sites like LinkedIn.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “title service” or “title company”, boosts SEO
Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Clear Title Solutions” over “Commercial Title Solutions”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Make Logos, Business Cards, Social Designs and More!
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to title companies.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your title company will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship– The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)– Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a title insurance business.
You should check your state website for education and licensing requirements to become a licensed title agent. You’ll also need to check your state’s requirements for surety and fidelity bonds. The amount of the bonds that you need will vary by state.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your title company business as a sole proprietorship.
Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as snapclose, eFileCabinet, or Certifid, to manage your documents, data collection, closing process, and accounting.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
Some of your business will come from online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Call Now.” This can sharply increase purchases.
Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
In-Person Sales – Offer your services to mortgage brokers and local businesses.
Sponsor events – You can pay to be a sponsor at events that are relevant to your target market.
Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
Make a podcast – This allows you to make a personal connection with your customers.
Do a webinar – Share your expertise online with a video seminar
Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your title company meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your title company could be:
Mobile title services on your time
Touchless closings, quick and easy
Closings with an expert to explain every detail
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a title insurance business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in insurance or title underwriting for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in titles and insurance. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a title company business would include:
Title Agents – to handle closings
General Manager – scheduling, staff management
Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, call realtors
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
Title companies perform an essential service that protects homeowners and lenders. It’s a large industry in the US, and its market size has nearly doubled in the last decade alongside a real estate boom.
A bold entrepreneur can grab a share of this lucrative market and make good money. You can start small as a mobile service and eventually grow to have multiple brick-and-mortar locations. Startup costs are relatively low, and the process of becoming licensed does not take long.
Now that you have all the information you need, you’re ready to start your entrepreneurial journey to building a title empire!
Title Company Business FAQs
How much do title companies make?
Title companies collect about $300 per loan closing. So if your company does 8 closings per day 5 days a week, your annual revenue will be more than $600,000.
How do I become a licensed title agent?
Every state has its own licensing requirements. Generally, you have to complete a certain number of education hours and pass an exam. Check your state’s website for requirements.
What is title insurance?
Title insurance protects the homeowner and lender from potential defects in a title. Defects might be unsatisfied liens, legal issues, or even clerical errors.
What is the process for conducting title searches and issuing title insurance policies?
The process for conducting title searches and issuing title insurance policies involves a thorough examination of public records to determine the property’s ownership history and any potential issues. The title company resolves any problems discovered and issues title insurance policies to protect the buyer and lender from future claims or disputes.
What role does a title company play in the closing process of a real estate transaction?
A title company plays a vital role in the closing process by examining the property’s title, providing escrow services, issuing title insurance policies, and facilitating the closing meeting where documents are signed, funds are exchanged, and ownership is transferred.
How do I handle title disputes or issues that may arise during a transaction?
When a title dispute arises, a title company typically handles the situation in the following manner:
Investigation: The title company thoroughly investigates the nature of the dispute by examining the relevant title records, contracts, and other relevant documents. They may also conduct interviews with involved parties to gather additional information.
Legal Analysis: The title company consults with their in-house or external legal counsel to analyze the dispute and determine the potential legal implications. They assess the validity of the claims and review applicable laws, regulations, and contractual agreements.
Mediation and Negotiation: Depending on the circumstances, the title company may engage in mediation or negotiation with the involved parties to find a resolution. They may facilitate discussions and work towards a mutually acceptable outcome, which could involve modifying the terms of the title, reaching a settlement, or clarifying ownership rights.
Legal Defense: If the dispute escalates and legal action is initiated, the title company may provide legal defense or engage legal representation on behalf of the insured party. This can involve representing the insured party’s interests in court, presenting evidence, and arguing the case to protect the insured party’s title rights.
Financial Compensation: If the insured party experiences financial loss due to an unsuccessful defense of the title or a defect in the title, the title insurance policy may provide financial compensation to cover the damages, up to the policy’s limits and subject to its terms and conditions.