Author: Karissa Hubley

Real Estate Property Taxes are Due Soon – Don’t Forget!

It’s property tax season! In Kansas, property taxes are due in arrears and paid twice a year. Taxes for the first half of the year are due December 20th of the current year; the second half of the year is due on May 10th of the following year. This means that unpaid taxes for the current year are considered delinquent as early as December 21st.

In order to avoid delinquency, we recommend paying before December 20th, otherwise you could encounter long lines or delays in processing your payment.  With varying restrictions due to Covid-19, be sure to contact your county treasurer in advance to see if an appointment is required to pay your bill or be sure to mail in your payment early enough to ensure it is postmarked prior to the due date.

Selling your real estate?

If your real estate is currently under contract, you may have very specific questions. Like, what if I am selling my real estate and the closing date is near the tax due date? How does our title company handle taxes? Do we pay them ourselves? Do we pay them at closing?

First, take a deep breathe. Then call your closing agent and ask them how they would prefer to handle the taxes.

If the closing date is prior to the due date your closing agent may prefer that you wait and pay the taxes through closing. If they are due after closing, they may encourage payment prior to closing to prevent late fees and penalties. Either way, if a payment is made your closing agent will need proof of payment in order to remove the payment from the settlement statement. Otherwise funds will be held in escrow and paid to the county by December 20th or refunded to the Seller upon proof of payment prior to December 20th.

How do I get proof of payment?

When paying taxes in the county office, the treasurer will provide you with a receipt for your payment. Hand deliver or email a copy to your closing agent and they will take care of the rest. If you mail in your payment, your closing agent can call the county and request the receipt.

If taxes are paid at closing, do I have to take the check to the county treasurer myself?

Nope, the title company will send a courier to the county and take care of getting them paid, you will not need to worry about the taxes getting paid we will take care of everything.

If you are unsure of next steps please feel free to reach out to our office. We can walk you through the process to make your closing as smooth and stress free as possible.

Electronic Signatures – are they secure?

In our current moment of social distancing and increased dependence on technology, many will question what is better:  wet ink signatures or electronic signatures. Some may debate that putting a pen to paper and scrawling their signature is a fool proof and tamper proof way to sign a legal document. You may be surprised to hear that electronic signatures through a program designed for just that, signing electronically, are more secure and oftentimes a better way to put your official seal on a document.

How can that be?

You receive an email asking for a signature on a document. You click accept, click to sign, select your signature, then complete the process. How in the world could that be more secure than a wet ink signature?

The programs designed for electronic signings are designed to pull multiple factors of authentication to prove that you are in fact the signer of the document. The records are retained and track the history of actions taken with the document, for example, who opened, viewed, signed and the location each action took place. When the document is completed a certificate of completion is attached to the document showing that all have signed with a time stamp, IP address and any other pertinent information to identify the signer. A digital seal is also attached to that document.

Signing in person is secure as well, however there are not multiple factors of authentication to prove that the signer did sign the document. There is no electronic witness proving the identity, location, or other identifiers provided by e-signing programs, that the signature was put on the paper by the authentic signer.

Both are secure, accepted ways of signing documents in the real estate world. For those who are less electronically inclined, wet ink signatures may be the way to go. For the more tech savvy folks among us, you may prefer clicking a button or using your smart phone to sign documents on the go. Whether you prepare in-person or electronic signings, we are here to help you through the process with helpful tools and friendly staff available to answer questions.

What’s the Timeline for Closing Your Deal?

Here at Tallgrass Title, once we receive the signed contract in our office, the clock starts ticking on our countdown to get everything out in a timely manner.  Our goal is to be efficient, friendly, and fast in all aspects of what we do, but, sometimes the fast part does not always happen as fast as we would like. We get asked often what the time frame is to close a transaction.  In most instances, we are able to say that we can have it done within 30 days. There are situations where that is not possible and there are situations we can close in as little as a few days. The following is a rough timeline of the steps we take to get transactions closed in order to give you an idea of the potential timeline for your unique closing.

Commitment

Within 24 – 48 hours of receiving a signed contract we try to have to commitment issued to all parties. This can take longer depending on whether additional research is needed to clear the title. Generally, this means tracking down additional documents to trace the chain of title or add exceptions.

Preliminary Documents

Once the commitment is sent out, the file is assigned a Closing Agent. Your Closing Agent will put together two preliminary packets: a Deed Packet and Buyer Documents. These packets will then be sent to the clients’ respective realtors or directly to the clients (if unrepresented) to get reviewed and signed prior to closing. Getting the preliminary packets signed and returned well in advance can help make the process smoother as we sometimes experience delays in the process of getting payoff instructions from lien holders.

Invoices and Payoffs

Once both of the preliminary packets have been sent out, the Closing Agent begins working on the preliminary settlement statements. With a cash transaction this can mean closing as soon as the deed packet and buyer docs have been returned, we receive any invoices and payoffs we need to obtain, and the buyer and seller are both ready to close. For a transaction that is being financed the process is a little longer. The lender has to disclose fees three days prior to closing, we need have underwriter approval or a “clear to close” status, and the bank has to have the property appraisal back.

Closing

Once we have everything in our office we need and the lender, if there is one, has received approval to close as well –what’s next? We will set up a time for closing either at the bank or in our office.

Cash Sale Closing

Buyers and Sellers may sign all their final documents electronically and certified funds can either be wired or dropped off at one of our offices.  After disbursement and recording the deed, the transaction is complete!

Financed Closing

When there is a mortgage involved, we ask you block off about an hour for closing as there are several documents to work through and sign. Once signing is complete, we will send the loan packet to the lender for funding authorization. Once we have authorization and all funds, we will disburse, record the deed and mortgage, and the transaction is complete.

We strive to make the closing process as smooth and easy (and quick) as we can.  Hopefully this gives you better picture of the timing of your unique transactions. We are here to facilitate everything and take the pressure off you and your clients. Please feel free to give us a call with any questions you have.

Different Types of Deeds and Interest

Quite frequently we are asked what deed is appropriate to transfer real estate in particular situations. The truth is there is not one deed for all transactions. There are different scenarios that require different verbiage to complete the transfer of real estate. Below is a brief explanation of what the different deed and interest types are and when they would be used in a real estate transaction.

Deeds

General Warranty Deed – A General Warranty Deed transfers real estate from one party to another.  Most importantly, the grantor is “warranting” that they own the real estate and guaranteeing that the grantee is receiving title to the real estate. It is the most commonly used deed and affords a grantee the grantor’s warranty of ownership..

Trustee’s Deed – A Trustee of a Trust in accordance with the Trust Agreement would sign a Trustee’s Deed to transfer real estate.  Again, most often Trustee’s deeds will appear as a warranty deed.

Administrator’s Deed – If the title holder passes away intestate (without a will) and the real estate is part of a court action, the Administrator may sign an Administrator’s Deed with permission from the court to transfer real estate.

Executor’s Deed – If the title holder passes away testate (with a will) and the real estate is part of a court action, the Executor may sign an Executor’s Deed to act in accordance with the Will of the decedent to transfer real estate.

Sheriff’s Deed – If the real estate being transferred was sold at a sheriff’s sale as part of a foreclosure or other civil procedure, a Sheriff will give a purchaser a Sheriff’s deed.  Such a deed will contain the specifics of how the sheriff gained the authority to make such a deed. 

Quitclaim Deed – A Quitclaim Deed is used when a party may have an interest that needs to be transferred to another party. The Grantor of the Quitclaim Deed is not Warranting that they have an interest, instead they are relinquishing any interest they may have.

Interest

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship – When two parties own real estate together, if one were to pass away all their interest would transfer to the other party by filing a Death Certificate, Affidavit of Death, or filing the Will with the court.  Real Estate held between spouses is generally held as Joint Tenacy with Right of Survivorship.

Tenants in Common – When two parties own real estate together, if one were to pass away their interest would transfer to their heirs at law or by a will or other estate planning device.  This type of interest is common when two or more parties who are not married to each other own real estate together.

Life Estate – This is when a party retains an interest in the real estate for the duration of their life. They have the all the rights of use they would if they held title but only for the duration of their life. The real estate may be transferred to another party by the party holding the life estate but the tenancy terminates upon death of the original life estate holder.

Our team is knowledgeable and passionate about title insurance related inquiries. If you still have questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We are here to help.

FAQ: Kansas State Property Taxes

With tax deadlines right around the corner we get asked a lot of questions about property taxes before, during and even after closing. Part of our job during the closing process is to make sure you and your clients understand what is on the settlement statement before signing. The following are the most frequently asked questions we hear regarding real estate taxes:

Q – When are real estate taxes in Kansas due?

A – Taxes are paid in December and May.

Example: Annual taxes are due in December of every year but the second half of the payment may be deferred until May of the following year.  Therefore, most real estate taxes are paid in two installments in December and May.  For example, the first half of 2019 taxes were due on December 20, 2019 and the second half will be due on May 10, 2020. 

Q – When will I receive my tax statement?

A – Tax statements are sent out by your county treasurer’s office on or after November 1st but no later than December 15th each year. You can also look them up online at the county treasurer’s website..

Q – I paid this year’s taxes, why is it showing up on my settlement statement that I have to pay it again?

A – Taxes for the year 2019 are due in December of 2019 and May of 2020. We make sure that all of 2019 taxes are paid at the time of closing and if they are not, we put the payment on the settlement statement to pay them current.  The other real estate tax payment appearing on a settlement statement  is a tax proration. If a closing happened in April of 2020 and all of 2019 taxes are paid in full the sellers will give the buyers a credit for the time the Sellers owned the real estate from January 1st to the date of closing. Then, when 2020 taxes are assessed and become due in December 2020, the Buyer is responsible for paying the 2020 taxes in full.

Q – I closed in October, why did I receive a tax statement, shouldn’t this go to the new owners?

A – Yes, however when closing happens so close to issuing statements, the county offices do not always have time to get addresses and ownership updated in their system before statements are issued and sent out. If you paid your taxes through closing you will not have to pay them again.

If you have other questions regarding property taxes we are here to help answer them. Our team at Tallgrass Title is very knowledgeable and eager to assist.

How to Securely Share Documents to Paperless Closer

With email fraud at an all-time high, it is highly important that any information shared with your title company be transferred securely.  In addition to password protecting emailed documents, the Paperless Closer technology utilized by Tallgrass Title allows for you to securely upload documents to our system.  The process is simple, secure and live in our system as soon as the document is uploaded.  Utilizing this platform is an easy alternative to emailing documents that may possibly contain Non-public Personal Information.  We will have immediate access as soon as you complete the process below.

When you upload a document to Paperless Closer, the system automatically restricts access to it.  No one other than the admin for that Paperless Closer (the title company) can change the restrictions and allow others to access the documents.

If you have never uploaded a document to Paperless Closer before, here is how you do it.

STEP 1: Click on the Add Document Button at the bottom

STEP 2: Click on Choose File to browse and locate the document you would like to upload.

STEP 3: Make sure you name your document in the Description Box. Then hit the Save button.

STEP 4: Once you have saved the Document will appear in the Document Tab List along with any other Documents you have permission to view.

Documents will also be available to us on our system right away.

Paperless Closer requires that the user has a login ID and password.  If you do not have an account, call or email and we will set up login information for you.  Once you have access, you will need specific permission for each file you would like to view.  Finally, uploaded documents are restricted until permission for access to any document is granted.  Every layer is one more way that the client (Buyer, Seller, Realtor, Lender) is protected.

Paperless Closer functions in real time.  This means that as soon as a document is uploaded, anyone with permission can access it.

Additionally, the document can be uploaded securely to this portal from anywhere in the world.  This means that you can upload a contract without delivering to our office.  More and more, folks are uploading their new contracts and requesting our free courier to pick up an earnest money check.  In this scenario, you never have to leave your office or home!

At Tallgrass Title we take our clients’ security seriously.  If you have any questions or need some help with your Paperless Closer, we are only a phone call away!

Early Work = Smooth Closings

In the early stages of the closing process your closing agent will put together what we call a Deed Packet for the Seller to sign. The deed packet consists of many of the documents we need to close your real estate transaction. Not all deed packets are the same.

However, all deed packets will consist of at least a Deed, an Affidavit as to Debt, Liens and Indemnity, and a Seller 1099 Information Sheet used for taxes at the end of the year. Additional documents as needed will often appear. If there is a current mortgage, your closing agent will ask for an information release. This is so our office can receive a current payoff on any existing mortgage. There may also be other affidavits to clear exceptions from the final policy. If you are working with a realtor, there will be documents authorizing Tallgrass Title to pay the realtors at closing or to give your realtor permission to sign documents on your behalf. New to our deed packet is a Proceed Instruction Sheet that instructs us how to deliver the proceeds due from your sale.

As a Buyer, you may receive inspection invoices or invoices related to work performed on your new home. It is equally important for our office to receive invoices as soon as they are available. Your closing agent needs these invoices to ensure that all the work done on the real estate is paid in full and there are no outstanding liens attached to your real estate.

Returning the signed deed packet and forwarding invoices as early as possible helps make the closing process go smoothly. Your closing agent will then have time to prepare for the closing and to get ahead of any issues that may arise.

Tallgrass Title is here to help in any way we can to stream-line the closing process for you. We offer courier and notary services to our clients and are available for any questions you may have about the closing process. If for any reason you or your realtor are unable to come to our office to deliver a deed packet we are more than happy to come to you. That’s our job!

Understanding Your Policy

Following the closing of your transaction, you will receive a “title insurance policy.” This document looks a lot like the “commitment” you received prior to closing your transaction. As you remember from the previous post, the commitment legally binds the title company to issue a title insurance policy if the requirements of the commitment are met. Now that the transaction is complete, and the requirements of the commitment are met, as a buyer, you will receive an “owners title insurance policy.”
Like the commitment, the first few pages of your title policy will include a policy jacket full of standard information and a privacy policy that is not transaction specific. I have omitted these pages from this post to focus our attention on the information about your real estate. The diagram below points out the highlights of your title policy.
Once you receive a title policy, put it in a safe place. It is what insures the fact that you own your real estate.
Again, here at Tallgrass Title, we love to answer questions about title insurance. Feel free to call or email anytime. That’s what we do!

 

Reading Your Title Insurance Commitment

A commitment for title insurance is a report your title company prepares containing information about your current or prospective real estate. If the requirements of the commitment are met, we are bound by law to issue you a “title insurance policy.” The policy is ultimately what insures your ownership in the real estate. However, the commitment is the document you will receive prior to closing. After entering into a contract, you will receive a commitment from your title company. This is your opportunity to understand whether there are any defects in the title or whether there are certain liens or easements that will prevent you from purchasing the real estate.

The first few pages of your title commitment will include a commitment jacket full of standard information and a privacy policy that is not transaction specific. I have omitted these pages from this post to focus our attention on the information about your real estate. The below diagram points out the highlights of your commitment.

Even with this diagram, understanding a title commitment can be confusing. If at any time you have questions regarding your title commitment or any phase of the transaction, please feel free to contact our office. We are here to help and answer any questions you have. That’s our job!