An empirical evaluation on how regulatory and market factors affect title insurance charges
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The objective of this dissertation is to evaluate how regulatory and market factors affect title insurance charges in different states. As substantial components of home purchase closing costs, title insurance charges have been controversial for decades, and both practitioners and analysts have pointed out apparent variations in title insurance charges among states. Although existing studies have suggested a set of regulatory and market factors as explanations for these among-state variations, empirical evaluations are limited. To fill in this gap, this dissertation empirically assesses whether these factors influence title insurance charges. The research outcomes of these dissertation indicate that after taking into account market factors such as services included in title insurance charges, title-related losses, property values, state populations, home sale volumes, housing prices, and income levels, regulation styles can still partially explain the title insurance charge variations in different states. In particular, states with promulgation regulation can have a higher average title insurance charge than states allowing free competition. This dissertation also tests whether regulation affects title insurance charges by influencing competition in the market and whether regulators' characteristics are related to the effect of regulation on charges. The test results imply that appointed commissioners can be associated with a higher average title insurance charge than elected commissioners. This dissertation provides insights into the title insurance regulatory reform in different states. More broadly, one methodology (multiple model for change) used in this dissertation simultaneously assesses regulation's over-time and state-by-state effects on title insurance charges, which contributes to the development of regulation evaluation methods. The outcomes of this dissertation can also provide empirical evidence to the theoretical debate of regulation versus competition.