When forming your investment team, probably one of the first positions you’ll think about filling is a good real estate agent. After all, you’re investing in real estate so shouldn’t the very first phone call you make to a potential partner be an agent? Sure, why not? Even if the agent isn’t your first contact Investing in real estateit will probably be the second.

General contractor who can help estimate repair costs and finish a rehab on time, every time? Again, if not the first reach-out, it’s probably the second. But there is one vendor in that space that few think about. And even after starting a real estate investment career, it’s almost an afterthought. But successful real estate investors will tell you otherwise—a title insurance agent.

Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects the transfer of the property from previous claims or fraud. When a bank makes a loan on the property and places a lien, there needs to be assurance there are no previous claims on the property that could bump the mortgage lender out of first lien position. That assurance comes in the form of a title insurance policy. But that’s not why a title agent is so important to you. It’s important to you well before you even make an offer.

Say you find a potential property and the numbers look promising. Instead of writing up an offer you first contact your title insurance company and ask for a preliminary title report. Some title agencies even offer a program allowing you to research title on your own online. A title report will show who currently has liens against the property. Are the property taxes delinquent? If so, there’s a lien that must be paid. Income tax liens? Child support payments? A foreclosure filed? Notice of default? Mortgage balances? They’re all on the title report and will have a definite impact on your bottom line. So much so that you may decide to let someone else go through the motions only to see the deal fall through.

Yes, you need an agent and yes you need a contractor but if you’re going to get serious about Real Estate Investing, you’ll find a title agent to be one of your top contacts. In some parts of the country a real estate attorney will fill that bill for you and in others it’s a direct agent of the company.  Title insurance might sound boring, but a clouded title is anything but.