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The buying and selling of land is a complex process that normally involves a series of procedures and the assistance of service specialists skilled in implementing these procedures. This article, that in substance comprised the Seegers lectures for 1988, considers the land transfer process by focusing on the principal service specialists who operate the process and who in large measure are responsible for how well it functions. The principal service specialists in the land transfer field are real estate brokers, lawyers, title companies, and lenders.

As is true of many social processes, the transfer of land interests cannot be fully understood without an understanding of the service specialists who make the process work. Service specialists carry out the process, are crucial to how it is shaped, and are the focus of legal controls over the process. Structural and operational changes in service specialists, whether the result of market forces or government regulation, can have major consequences for those the process is designed to serve—mostly buyers and sellers of land in the case of land transfers. Changes in land transfer servicers can also have repercussions on the entire economy due to the massive size of the American land market and its extension into every local community.

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