Author: Jacob Pugh

HELOCs and Second Mortgages

When most consumers purchase a home, they obtain conventional financing for the purchase.  This often takes the form of a 30-year, fixed rate loan.  In order to secure the loan made to you, the bank files a mortgage with the register of deeds.  This document tells the world that the bank has a first-place lien against the house and if any other creditors file a lien, that lien will be inferior to the first-place loan.  Now, let’s say that the same homeowner would like to make improvements to their home, add a pool or build a garage and would like to borrow additional money to do so.  The homeowner may also want to borrow funds for reasons unrelated to the home such as consolidation of credit card debt, assisting a child with college tuition or a business venture.

So, rather than to refinance the entire home loan and file a new mortgage, etc, to account for the increase in the loan, a bank will often file a second mortgage.  This can also take the form of a home equity line of credit type mortgage (HELOC) which is also usually a second mortgage as well.  The difference is typically the bank will automatically release a second mortgage upon payoff.  With a HELOC, the bank will keep the mortgage filed and the note open to allow a consumer to re-advance funds as needed.  Only upon request of the homeowner will the bank release the mortgage upon payoff.  This saves the costs and expense of making a new loan every time a homeowner wants to borrow funds.

HELOC’s and second mortgages can be obtained with the bank that made the first purchase loan or with a different institution as selected by the homeowner. The bank handling the loan will usually order title insurance to insure that the mortgage is secured against all liens, besides the first place mortgage.  If a consumer with a second place mortgage or HELOC later decides to sell the real estate, the title company simply pays off the second mortgage the same as it pays the first at closing.  The only additional step is to request additional payoff information.  Of course, there are many different types of second mortgages and HELOC’s.  it is a good idea to discuss options with a finance professional.

Here at Tallgrass Title, we deal with second mortgages and HELOCs on a daily basis.  Should you have any questions during your purchase, sale or refinance, feel free to contact our title professionals.  We are here to help, its our job!

You’re Invited

Hello Manhattan! Please join us at the grand opening of the Manhattan office of Tallgrass Title. We are having a reception at our location in the Hartford Building on April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. and we’d like for you to attend.

Local group, Solar’s Jazz Quartet will be delivering musical treats for your ears.  Amazing food will be provided by Blacksheep Catering and Jake will being offering specialty cocktails.

We’ve heard from many of our customers they’d like for us to open an office in Manhattan, and as your newest neighbors, we want to hear how we can best serve you. We are excited to see you at our event so that we may learn more about your needs as a real estate professional.

The event will be held at our new office located in the Hartford Building located at 210 N. 4th.

Come out and eat, drink and say hello!

New Year, No More Mortgage Registration Tax!

In Kansas in years past, mortgage registration tax was charged by the State of Kansas for the filing of a mortgage at the county register of deed’s office. This tax was based upon the size of the mortgage and had to be paid at the time of filing the mortgage.  In the last year of its existence, a residential mortgage in the amount of $100,000 would result in a tax in the amount of $50.00.  As you can see, this amount can quickly multiply on larger mortgages.  Additionally, a filing fee based upon the number of pages to be filed was charged along with the mortgage registration tax.  A standard, thirty-year mortgage typically results in a filing fee of anywhere from $100.00 to $350.00.  These fees will typically show up as financing charges or “closing costs” on a settlement statement.  In my experience, most individuals were not aware of the fees until they reviewed their closing statements.  It was usually a shock for buyers to learn that they had to pay a couple hundred dollars simply to file a document at the register of deeds.

A few years ago, several homeowner, realtor and homebuilding groups lobbied State Legislators for the repeal of the mortgage registration tax. Their efforts were successful, and the tax was phased out over a few years until now.  Beginning on January 1, 2019, mortgage registration tax is no longer charged in Kansas.  This means immediate savings for homebuyers and homeowners that are refinancing their existing loans.  Additionally, the filing fees charged at the register of deeds will not increase in 2019.  Again, this is helpful to the Kansas home buyer and homeowner.  Should you have any questions regarding the repeal of the mortgage registration tax or the current filing fees, feel free to contact Tallgrass Title.

Easement Basics

Easements to real estate are simply an interest in some other person’s land for the limited purpose identified in the easement. In plain language, it is the right of another person to use your land for some limited purpose.  Easements can be exclusive; meaning that the use is restricted to a certain person or persons.  Easements can also be limited to a certain amount of time or can be perpetual and “run with the land.” As there are countless different variations of easements, it is impossible to explain all the law surrounding easements.  The purpose of this post is to point out two of the most common types of easements and give a brief overview of common issues.

Some of the most common forms of easements are travel easements and utility easements. A travel easement is the right for another individual to cross real estate not owned by them.  Usually this is for the purpose of accessing their own real estate.  Commonly, a travel easement (otherwise known as “ingress-egress” easement) is granted to a homeowner who owns real estate that is only accessible by crossing another person’s land.  With agricultural real estate, a travel easement is typically given to a farmer so that they may access their field or pasture as there is no direct access from a road.  Most of these types of travel easements are perpetual or “run with the land.”  This means that if the owner of the easement sells their real estate that is accessed by the easement, the new owner will have the right to continue to use the easement.  When representing buyers of real estate, if there is not apparent direct access from a government roadway, it is wise to inquire as to whether there is a travel easement and whether it transfers to your buyers.  Nobody wants to purchase real estate only to find out they cannot access it!

The other major type of easement is a utility easement. Based upon reading the first portion of this post, it should come as no surprise that a utility easement is simply the right to cross another person’s real estate with utilities.  These types of easements range from a small water line running to a house all the way to high voltage transmission lines.  The most important thing to take into consideration with utility easements is whether the easement will affect the planned use of a potential buyer.  Utility easements commonly do not allow a person to build any structure over or under an easement.  For example, if a Buyer had plans to build a garage, the location of an easement could affect these plans.

An easy way to determine whether there are easements on real estate being purchased or sold is to review the title commitment. This report should list all easements that are affecting the real estate being transferred.  The easements will be listed under the “exceptions” section or following the legal description.  Often the commitment will only list the existence of the easement and not specify the details.  At Tallgrass Title, we happily supply the underlying document listed in our commitments upon request.  That’s our job!

Probate Information for the Real Estate Agent

A common cause for the sale of real estate is when an individual passes away. As a listing agent preparing to list and market the real estate, it is important to answer a few questions regarding the status of the real estate.  You do not want to sign a contract with a buyer, only to find out that the seller does not have the ability to sell the real estate.  Similarly, when representing buyers, it is important to determine whether the seller has the ability to sell the real estate or if there will be a delay in transferring title.  The purpose of this post is in no way meant to be a guide for decedent’s estates.  Instead, the purpose is to identify a few of the common pitfalls and items that routinely delay closings.

When a person passes away owning real estate in Kansas, that real estate will pass to the people identified by the decedent (a person that has died) in some written document. If no such document exists, the real estate will pass to the “heirs” of the decedent as directed by Kansas law.  The three methods of passing real estate by written document are:

  1. Transfer on Death Deed or Joint Tenancy Deed
  2. Trust
  3. Will

A Transfer on death deed or joint tenancy deed will automatically transfer the ownership of real estate to the person or persons identified in the deed. The filing of a death certificate at the register of deeds is all that is required to finalize the transfer.  As a real estate agent, take a look at the deed or ask your title company to take a look to verify that the seller has the authority to transfer title.

The second method is through a trust. Typically, but not always, the trustee of the trust will have the authority to sell and transfer real estate.  However, there are innumerable varieties of trusts with varying powers being granted the trustee.  Therefore, it is wise to verify that the trust document grants authority to sell real estate to the trustee.  Additionally, it is important to make sure that there are not special requirements in the trust document that must take place before a sale is allowed.  For example “I grant the trustee the right to sell real estate….so long as my son does not want to purchase the real estate at the appraised value.”  This example illustrates a potential issue that could delay a sale.

Lastly, if the decedent had a will or passed away without a will, a probate proceeding will be needed prior to a sale. Simply put, probate is the court process of transferring assets of a decedent to those entitled to the assets.  The most important thing to remember with a probate proceeding is that it is not a quick process.  It usually takes at least sixty days from the first court document filed until authority is granted by a judge for the sale of real estate. Based upon the buyer, this may be an unacceptable amount of time to wait.  If you are unsure of where the probate process is, simply contact the attorney representing the estate and ask.

Decedents estates can be overwhelming and often times complicated. At Tallgrass Title, our attorneys have years of experience transferring real estate following death.  We are happy to answer questions pertaining to your transaction.  It’s our job!

Flint Hills Area Builders Fall Parade of Homes

At Tallgrass Title, we believe in the strength and growth of our area. Several major additions, both private and public, have been added to the job market regionally.  Additionally, the quality of life in the Flint Hills region continues to improve.  This, in turn, has made the Flint Hills region a wonderful place to live and raise a family.  These factors have caused rapid growth in the region.  A major contributor in assisting with that growth is the Flint Hills Area Builders Association (FABA).  Tallgrass Title is a proud member and supporter of FABA.  We feel that FABA best represents the builder and associated supporting businesses and their needs in the region.

This weekend is the Flint Hills Area Builders Fall Parade of Homes. Tallgrass Title is a proud Grand Marshall sponsor of the Parade of Homes and has been so for several years.  We feel that this is a wonderful opportunity for potential buyers to see the quality homes built by FABA members.  It is also a chance for consumers to view the latest designs and products used in the area.  We encourage any interested folks to take advantage of the tour this weekend and join the parade!  The tour is free and guide books are located at each of the Grand Marshall sponsors, online or at each of the homes on the tour.  We hope to see you on the parade!

A Beginner’s Introduction to Real Estate Auctions

Oftentimes, real estate will be offered for sale by using the auction process. An auction is the process by which the public has an opportunity to offer (“bid”) money for property and the property is then sold to the highest bidder. However, the auction process can be confusing to understand or a bit intimidating. This post is by no means an exhaustive explanation or definitive guide to real estate auctions. Instead, I hope to provide some basic information and point out some potential sticking points that could cause issues in the auction process.

In this area of the state, auctions are most often used to sell agricultural real estate, estate property, distressed property, investment real estate or the liquidation of assets belonging to a business or individual for one reason or another.

The basic premise for an auction is the same: An auctioneer will begin by stating the rules for the auction. He or she will also indicate the terms that a successful bidder will be agreeing to in a contract to be signed following the end of the auction. Typically, the auctioneer will indicate whether the auction is an “absolute” auction or whether there is a “reserve.” However, the auctioneer will rarely indicate what the reserve amount is. If no statement is made about whether the auction is with or without reserve, consider there to be a reserve. Lastly, most auctions are tape recorded or video recorded in order to verify what was said and who bid the highest amount.

Following the statement of rules and terms, the auctioneer will call for bids. This is the portion of the auction that you are probably familiar with from television or the internet. The auctioneer is not in fact offering the real estate for a set amount but instead inviting people to offer a bid. The auctioneer is usually stating something along the lines of “I have been offered $1.00, who will offer me $2.00?” The rest of the words are typically just filler words that do not mean anything. Some auctioneers will chant the call quicker and others slower. Additionally, the filler words will change between various auctioneers. However, the most important part of the calling of the bids is understanding how much the current bid is. If you get confused, just ask the auctioneer, he will tell you.

At the close of the bids, the auctioneer will usually count down “going once, going twice, sold” or some other statement that the bid will close soon. Following the close of bids, a written contract will be signed by the seller and buyer with the actual closing happening sometime in the future.

A couple of quick pointers to remember:

  1. Make sure you have money to support your bid or have your financing approved prior to the auction. Auctions are not contingent on financing. By signing the contract, you are promising to pay the amount bid.
  2. Auctions typically require you to make all inspections prior to the date of the auction. The real estate is almost always sold “As-Is.” This means that you are buying the property in its present condition.

Auctions can be intimidating for the untrained buyer or seller. Therefore, if you are concerned, employ a real estate agent or attorney that understands the process to assist you. Also, attend an auction and plan on not bidding. They are generally open to the public and can be interesting to observe. Lastly, here at Tallgrass Title, we routinely assist sellers and buyers on both sides of auctions. We are here to answer questions or direct you to somebody that can assist you. It’s our job!

Fraud & Hacking Update

With wire fraud and email hacking on the rise, we must all become more diligent in protecting our clients’ information. Here at Tallgrass Title, we take multiple steps to ensure that our clients’ information is protected.  One aspect of protecting our clients’ information is educating prospective buyers, sellers and real estate professionals about the dangers of wire fraud and email hacking.  With this purpose in mind we have created two informational fliers to educate all parties in a transaction. They are for use by real estate agents, banks and other real estate professionals.

We recommend that you provide these fliers to every new client that you represent.  You will also notice that this information will accompany every deed packet sent out by Tallgrass Title to Sellers in a transaction.  Protecting against wire fraud and email hacking requires all parties to a transaction to stay diligent throughout the process.  Should you have questions regarding potential wire fraud, email hacking or anything else that “just doesn’t feel right,” please feel free to contact our office and discuss the issue with our trained closing agents.  It is better to be safe than sorry!

 

Escrowing Insurance Premiums and Taxes

When folks purchase residential real estate and require financing, most likely an “escrow account” will be established during the loan process for the payment of insurance and taxes. This is different than “putting a contract into escrow.”  “Putting a contract into escrow” means that the contract signed by the buyer and seller has been delivered to a title company to begin working towards a transaction.  An “escrow account” established for the payment of insurance and taxes basically means that you will make a monthly mortgage payment to your bank and a portion of that payment will be set aside to pay your homeowners insurance and real estate taxes automatically.  This is done for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, lending regulations require a bank to establish an escrow account with most residential real estate loans.  Secondly, because the home is the bank’s security for the repayment of the loan, it wants to make sure that its security is protected.  Therefore, the bank wants to make sure the home is insured against loss and they also do not want the home taken away for the failure to pay the real estate taxes.

During the loan process, you will be informed of how much the monthly insurance and taxes escrow will be. Also, because your transaction will most likely not happen on the 31st of December, some proration of taxes will be required.  Proration means that the seller will be responsible for the taxes while he/she owns the home and you will pay the taxes when you own the home.  However, taxes are only payable at the end of the year.  Therefore, the seller gives a portion of the taxes to the buyer and the buyer pays all the taxes at the end of the year.

Also, the bank will collect additional funds to be placed into the escrow funds at the time of closing your loan. Those beginning funds will be added with the monthly payments to pay the insurance and taxes when they come due.  The bank handling the escrow account will receive the yearly bill for insurance and taxes and pay them when each comes due.  You will still receive a statement from the County Treasurer and your insurance provider, but this is simply for your information.  Additionally, you are always welcome to choose or change your homeowner’s coverage and insurance company.

Upon selling your house, you may have funds left in the escrow account that will not be needed to pay any future insurance or taxes. These funds will be returned to you following the sale of your real estate.  It is important to work with the escrow service to make sure they are mailed to your new address.  Questions about escrow accounts, homeowner’s insurance coverage and real estate taxes during the loan process are quite common and can seem complicated.  If you have questions, speak with your banker or our closing agents here at Tallgrass Title.  We are happy to explain the process.  It’s our job!

Inspections in a Residential Home Purchase

Imagine you are considering purchasing a new home. You may not be the most construction-oriented person or know exactly what to look for when purchasing a home.  Additionally, your financing may require that you have a home inspected prior to being qualified for funding.  Lastly, you may just feel more comfortable having experts look at your potential purchase and point out potential problems before they become, well, your problems.  After all, for most Americans the family home is the single largest investment they will make during their lives.  The purpose of this post is to describe the inspection process and the common and important issues that often arise.

Prior to purchasing real estate, most buyers (the smart ones at least) will take a look at the real estate. Either they have the knowledge to identify defects in the improvements to the real estate or they hire a person to assist them.  Another option is to inspect the real estate after a contract has been signed by the Seller and Buyer.  It is important to note that if this is the intent of the parties, the contract must specifically give the Buyer the option to inspect the property and to request repairs of unacceptable conditions if they are found.

Prior to entering into the contract or after entering into the contract (whichever the case may be) and during the “inspection period”, inspections are made. At this point, a home inspector is hired and gains access to the home in order to perform the task.  The inspector will look at a multitude of items to gather information regarding the condition of the home.  This information will be compiled in a report that is provided to the buyer.  The report will identify items of various concern and make recommendations for repair, when needed.  Major items to be inspected consist of the foundation, walls, roof, mechanical systems, plumbing, electrical and the layout of the site.

Additionally, if a loan is being procured, a termite inspection will most likely be required. This is typically performed by a different company than the home inspection.  A pest control technician will inspect the house for termite damage and active colonies and make recommendation for treatment, if needed.

Another inspection common to this region is radon testing.   Radon gas is an odorless and harmful gas that seeps into homes and can cause health problems from prolonged exposure.  For more information regarding radon issues when buying and selling your home, please refer to this link: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/hmbuygud.pdf

After the inspections are made, a buyer should review the reports and determine whether there are issues of concern to the buyer. For example, if the roof requires replacement, is this in the buyer’s budget?  Is it an unacceptable condition to the seller that will require replacement before moving into the home?  Will the seller either replace the roof or pay a portion of the repair?  Will your bank still finance the transaction if the roof is not replaced?  Again, your real estate agent can assist you in navigating these concerns.

There are many licensed home inspectors, pest control technicians and radon testing and mitigating outfits in the Tallgrass Title service region. If you are unsure which inspector to hire, it is recommended to work with your realtor or banker to identify an inspector to assist you in your transaction.  In any event, buyers should always educate themselves about the home they are purchasing and protect what may be their largest investment.