For Buyers

For Buyers

Welcome to the Bitterroot Valley! If you’re new to the area, you’re making a choice that many dream about but few achieve. Ravalli County towns consistently rank in the top small towns in America for livability and beauty. If you’re an established "Bitterrooter," then you already get it! Thanks for allowing us to assist you again, neighbor! Either way, First Montana Title is committed to helping make your purchase simple, accurate, and secure.

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About First Montana Title Co.

Established nearly a century ago, First Montana Title Co. is the Bitterroot Valley’s original title abstract company; it continues today as Western Montana’s most trusted real estate settlement and title insurance agency. Having been operated by the current owners as a Montana-raised, family-owned business for more than 30 years, we understand the culture, values, and intricacies of land and title in the Bitterroot and value each of our customers as a friend and neighbor.

As the only fully functional title research plant for consumers, lenders, attorneys, government agencies, developers, and real estate professionals in Ravalli County, we provide world-class title search and opinion, along with settlement services and insurance policy options from top-tier national underwriters, for transactions of all sizes and complexities.

The Purchase Process

We always start by recommending that you work with a professional real estate agent or broker. Property transactions in Montana can be somewhat more complicated than in other areas. Valuation, availability, water rights, access, and many other challenges await a new buyer and can dramatically slow the purchase process if not handled and addressed correctly. Ravalli County has many capable professionals who can represent your interests in this unique market. Contact us if you need a referral to some of the best.

STEP 1: Identify Your Property

Once you’ve identified your property and decided to buy, you may decide you need a Lender. If financing is a necessity, we’d encourage you to visit one of the local banks in the valley. Again, national lenders sometimes struggle with the unique process and timing of property transactions in Montana. Our local banks and mortgage companies understand exactly how to facilitate a quick and competitive loan for specific Bitterroot Valley purposes.

Now that you’re pre-approved, it’s time to make your offer. Your agent will use an approved Montana Purchase Agreement and, once accepted, will provide it to the title company to open escrow. In Montana, the Seller usually chooses the First Montana Title Co. since they generally pay for your title insurance policy as part of their closing fees. However, they will usually open escrow wherever you feel comfortable. Please feel free to ask your agent to recommend First Montana Title Co. as the escrow company.

You will deposit your Earnest Money with us when we receive the agreement or with your agent to be held in a Trust Account until closing. Please make sure that your agent fills out the agreement completely and provides us with your correct address and the spelling of how you’d like the title to vest. Please contact us directly if you have any questions concerning tenancy, trusts, corporations, or any other issues relating to taking title to your new property.

STEP 2: Preliminary Title Search

The next step is for us to complete a Preliminary Title search. First Montana Title Co. has the only fully functional physical title plant in western Montana. Other title companies complete their research using online portals and processes that can sometimes be inaccurate or incomplete in rural areas like Ravalli County. Our plant is used by county and state governments, local attorneys, lenders, and real estate agents to ensure historical accuracy, research unique issues, and gain access to our highly experienced staff (who average more than 25 years in the title research business!).

Once the search is complete (normally within five business days), you and your agent will be provided with a Commitment of Title Insurance. This is our assessment of your title and a statement that it will be free and clear of all liens, encumbrances, easements, and title issues except those listed in the commitment. This is your opportunity to review and ask questions about anything relating to your future property. When your questions have been answered, and you’ve approved the commitment, your agent and lender will work together to Set a Closing Date with our office.

STEP 3: Pre-Closing Contact

As your closing date approaches, we will be providing you with transaction updates and a final Closing Statement that details your fees and the amount due to close. It is difficult to have accurate figures much earlier than about three days prior to the close, but we may be able to provide an estimated statement earlier with the understanding that it will adjust as necessary. If you’re working with a lender, they will provide these documents to both of us for review and inclusion in the closing. Any funds necessary to close must be delivered via wire transfer or cashier’s check at or prior to closing.

STEP 4: Day Of Closing and Signing

On the day of closing, you’ll come to our offices at 250 W. Main Street in downtown Hamilton to sign, or you’ll return your document package if you’re signing out of state. Your closing will generally last about 45 minutes, and you’ll leave with completed copies of all related documents. The transfer of any keys, openers, locks, vehicle titles, or other personal property will be completed by your agent during or after the closing appointment. Among the documents you will complete is our Escrow Agreement, an example of which is provided here for your review.

Immediately following the signing by both parties and approval of documents by the lender, we will record the deed and loan documents with the county clerk and recorder. At that moment, the property will be officially yours. The original deed will be returned to you directly from that office in about three weeks. You will also receive a final Title Insurance Policy from us in about 30 days.

Congratulations! Welcome to the Bitterroot Valley!

First Montana Title Co. does extensive and exhaustive research concerning the history of both your property and previous owners. Many buyers mistakenly believe that because they know and trust the seller, their property is in a subdivision, has been sold many times, or has been previously insured, title insurance isn’t important or necessary.

In fact, the likelihood of an outstanding lien or title defect rises every time a property sells. Additionally, all title policies expire with the sale of a property. So, any previous coverage is out of effect when you take ownership.

Western Montana has its own unique personality and history. Real estate is at the very core of culture in the Bitterroot, and understanding the local environment, historical actions, and political and economic trends is an absolute necessity for a quick and accurate transaction.