Brand Studio
sponsored by:
Atlantis Organization

When “Clear to Close” Isn’t Enough: The DNA of a Title Insurance Policy 

Marie Rizk, Co-Founder and Executive Director at ANS Title
Marie Rizk, Co-Founder and Executive Director at ANS Title

Having the right title insurance can be the difference between keeping, litigating, or losing a piece of property. While often overlooked, this key piece of the purchase process protects buyers from fraud and legal challenges that can tie up property in court for years. But not all title insurance policies are created equal, and some buyers discover that their policies are barely worth the paper on which they’re printed after it’s too late. TRD sat down with Marie Rizk, Co-Founder and Executive Director at ANS Title, to learn how her firm keeps heads cool and focused during high-pressure transactions in order to make sure their clients’ title insurance policies are rock-solid. In addition to her daily career leading ANS’s title insurance practice, Rizk is the energy and soul behind the recently-launched Distinguished League of Women in Real Estate, which is devoted to creating a platform that celebrates women who have made a name for themselves in the traditionally male-dominated industry as well as providing mentorship and guidance to newcomers. 

Avoiding the Gray Areas

In the title business, clearing a title faster or easier isn’t necessarily better, and trying to find a gray area to save some time or money can result in disaster. It’s important to work with a title company that will scrutinize the transaction and come up with a paper-heavy file that protects the buyer, even if it takes a little longer upfront. ANS Title makes sure to clear up any outstanding issues with a title before its clients sit down at the closing table, giving them peace of mind that any potential problems have already been addressed. By doing this, ANS Title gives their clients the ability to fight any challenges that might come up during the transaction with facts instead of theoretical claims.

“At ANS Title, we keep ALL our papers Kosher!” emphasizes Rizk. In her experience, buyers, attorneys, and brokers are laser-focused on pushing through the file to get the deal done as quickly as possible, and it’s the job of the title agent to keep calm. “If you have someone who is cutting corners or is not taking the appropriate steps to clear the file the right way or is making exceptions, you might find yourself in a situation where your policy is void and without substance,” explains Rizk. “You end up with an expensive paperweight.”

As documented within the title insurance binder, title insurance doesn’t cover claims of fraud, theft, defalcation, or malicious activities. This means that doing it right the first time is crucial. Rizk told us about a file that ANS Title wouldn’t close because they couldn’t prove that the previous homeowner had passed away fast enough to meet the parties needs for a closing date. Another title company took on the file and closed by providing a photograph of a tombstone instead of a death certificate, opening the buyer up to any number of potential issues down the line, not the least of which being that the photographed tombstone does not belong to the purported previous homeowner.

“You could call that a business decision, is it though…?” asks Rizk. “Imagine buying that property then finding out that the person isn’t deceased and your title policy is worthless. It’s better to have a full file of documentation to make your policy valid than just getting to a transaction closing that leaves the buyer or the bank with the baggage of a bad title.”

In another case, an owner passed away, and his was the only name on the property deed. He was married once, got divorced, married a second time and was legally separated and not divorced, but then lived with another woman for 20 years. He also had nine children. Who is entitled to that property?

For many companies, doing the hard work of spending upwards of 80 hours meticulously unwinding a chain of title spanning multiple generations and marriages simply isn’t worth it. So they take the easy way out, issuing a quick “clear to close” lacking oversight. What separates ANS Title from the crowd is their dedication to building trust with their customers across multiple cases and their value for their brand. 

“This is a relationship business,” explains Rizk. “Every entity, regardless of size or transactional volume that is bringing the file, is important to us.  We are heavily vested in the growth of our clients. Their success is in our DNA”.  

A family business

ANS Title founders and brothers Radni and Raymond Y. Davoodi met Rizk when they were operating a title agency prior to ANS Title and she was working for a real estate lawyer, and they hit it off immediately. The brothers brought Rizk on as a receptionist in 2001, and she came with them when they founded The Atlantis Organization in 2004, becoming a pillar in all of their future businesses and real estate activities.  

“I moved up the ladder from reception, learning every aspect of title when it was just the three of us,” recalls Rizk, who is now not only Executive Director of ANS Title but is also a partner in The Atlantis Organization of Companies.

Rizk has been instrumental in building ANS Title into a nationally recognized brand and the industry leader it is today. The SSAE 16 SOC1 Type II and SOC2 Type I certified agency stays ahead of local and federal government requirements at all times, and has created a corporate culture that fosters its employees’ creativity and problem-solving skills. One of the biggest testaments to Atlantis’s unusual commitment to its employees is that, over its 20 years of existence, it has had no turnover. Everyone who has come in as an employee has stayed. 

“If you’re happy and you love what you’re doing, then you never ‘work’ a day in your life” says Rizk. “Everyone in our office truly gives with their heart. It’s truly an example of ‘teamwork making the dream work.’”

Empowering Women

Atlantis is supporting Rizk in her most recent endeavor, the launch of the Distinguished League of Women in Real Estate (DLOWRE). The real estate industry of 20 years ago was very male-dominated, and Rizk has worked tirelessly to bring more women into the real estate world. Today, the majority of ANSTitle employees are women, to the point that the founding brothers are often referred to by Rizk and her fellow employees as “The Guys.” 

Rizk launched DLOWRE as a networking platform to offer support, resources and education to other women in the industry. “I wouldn’t be here without my girls,” says Rizk. “We did it as a team. It wasn’t about the financials, it was always about the goal line. “‘The Guys’ stood behind us without any limitations. Our success is their success, and vice versa”. 

DLOWRE is just one expression of Rizk’s dedication to community service. She is also the Chairman and board member of Share4Kids, a not for profit charitable organization started by the company’s founders and executive team. Its mission is to host fundraising events to support children’s care, including cancer research and other illnesses. Beneficiaries of Share4Kids charitable contributions include Sunrise Day Camp, Friendship Circle, St. Mary’s Hospital, Friends of Karen and Jewish Children’s Museum.

It’s been 24 years since the Davoodi brothers and Rizk’s began their collaboration, and the trio has spent the last two plus decades building not only a successful title agency but an organization that’s dedicated to creating a stronger, more balanced real estate industry for the future. 
If you’re in the market for title insurance or want to learn more about DLOWRE, reach out to Rizk via email or phone at 917.754.2492.