A title search is usually done near the end of the transaction after most of the main contingencies are over. A closing attorney usually doesn't want spend the hard cost for doing a title search until they know that the transaction is very likely to close.
Usually the title work doesn't pull up anything unusual but when it does, it can take some time to clear it up. This creates a lot of unnecessary stress.
As an example, I recently had a seller who years ago took out a mortgage with her mother as the mortgagee. A few years ago when her mother died, the mother left a will forgiving her the mortgage. She now owned it free and clear. But for some reason the probate attorney failed to file a satisfaction of the mortgage at the courthouse. To clear this up she had to get the case opened up in probate court to obtain a final order by a judge to clear the title. It took three weeks and it got cleared only 23 hours before our closing.
I had another situation when representing a buyer. The seller had bought the home a few years earlier as a short sale. For some reason, the satisfaction of three mortgages were never filed with the court. In this case, two of the lenders had been acquired by another lender. The closing attorney had to find authorized directors of the non existent company in order for them to sign off on things that had happened a few years earlier.
My buyer eventually bailed and the title issues weren't cleared up for another 6 months.
My new approach with listings is to get my closing attorney to do a title search before we list the home. There's always a chance that the home will never sell and he would be out the cost of the title search but he makes up for it by me making sure that he is the closing attorney on the contract.
If I can show the buyer that the title is clear, it is one less thing that a buyer needs to stress about and therefore they should be fine with the seller picking the closing attorney.
I like to be proactive about things so there aren't any unnecessary surprises.