Starting the process
An "escrow" or "sales" contract (agreement to close) starts the process by opening a title order. Then the file gets processed. This is when tax information, loan payoffs, survey if necessary, homeowner/maintenance fees, inspections/reports, and hazard and other insurances as well as legal papers are ordered and title commitments/preliminary reports are reviewed and sent out.
Title search and examination
This is a search made of the public records. Records searched include deeds, mortgages, paving assessment, liens, wills, divorce settlements and other documents affecting title to the property. Title examination is the examination of the documents found during the title search that affect the title to the property. This is when verification of the legal owner is made and the debts owed against the property are determined.
Document preparation and/or request to produce
Review lender instructions/requirements, review instructions from other parties to transaction, review legal and loan documents, assemble charges, and prepare closing statements and set closing.
Settlement/closing the transaction
Escrow/settlement officer oversees closing of transaction. Seller signs deed, buyer signs new mortgage, old loan is paid off, new mortgage is signed. Seller, real estate professionals, attorneys and other parties to the transaction are paid. Documents are recorded in the county in which the property is located.
After the signing has been completed, the title agent will forward payment to any prior lender, pay all parties who performed services in connection with you closing, and pay out any net funds to the seller before recording the documents with the county. This all happens without any needed involvement from the buyer of seller.