Author: Monica Fawver

Paperless Closer: Top 5 Power User Tips

Here at Tallgrass Title we work hard to make the closing process as hassle-free and convenient as possible from start to finish. One of the tools that we have been providing for years is Paperless Closer. Access this program via the “Client Login” link on our website and provides a secure portal for sharing documents. Not only do we post the commitment, contract, receipts, and closing documents to it, but realtors can use it to send documents to us.

Here are 5 tips to become a Paperless Closer Power User:

1. Use the “New Order” button on the main Lobby page to submit new orders. Fill out the basic order information, like the property owner’s name and the address. As soon as you hit the submit button, an alarm goes off on our end. You can also leave a note on the form to have our courier come pick up the earnest money from your office. As soon as the check arrives at our office we will post the receipt to paperless closer.

2. View tasks assigned to you. On your homepage, you can view any tasks we have assigned to you. The task may be a reminder to submit an invoice for an inspection, so we can pay it during closing. Usually, we use this to remind you of tasks that aren’t a standard part of every closing process. For example, if there is an additional document required like a rural water payment book, we may schedule an activity to remind you and us to make sure it gets done.

3. Use the Status dropdown tool to view closed files. We understand that realtors are audited periodically. If you forgot to get a copy of one of the documents you need, use this tool to complete your set.

4. View the name of the assigned closing agent and his/her contact info. Don’t know who to send invoices or questions to? Find the name of the closing agent and click on the E-mail link to send a direct message.

5. Use the “Closing Disclosure” button on the order page to view the document draft. Want to make sure a particular fee will appear on the Closing Disclosure? Use this button to view the current draft of the document.

Call us at (785) 456-2779 to create your account today! It takes less than 5 minutes to set up a new account and grant access to a file. Should you experience any difficulty at any time in locating your file or viewing documents, just send a quick email to order@tallgrasstitleks.com. We monitor this email address 9 hours a day and our goal is to respond to assistance requests within minutes! Most paperless closer troubleshooting issues are resolved very quickly and easily. Also, we understand that technology can be frustrating. If you would like further instruction on this program, contact our office to set up a training session at your office. It’s our job to make sure you are comfortable using this tool.

Is the Mobile Home Part of the Real Estate?

A traditional dwelling house built onto a foundation or basement is part of the real estate and will transfer over by deed. However, a manufactured, mobile, or modular home built somewhere else and moved on-site may not automatically be transferred.

So, what are the differences between Manufactured/Mobile Homes and Modular Homes?

A manufactured, or what used to be called a mobile home, has the following specifications:
1. A structure which is built to the HUD code
2. Transportable in sections
3. Dimensions of 8’W x 40’L and 320+ sq. ft. or greater
4. Built on permanent chassis
5. Designed to be a dwelling
6. Can be attached to a permanent foundation
7. Certified by its manufacturer, evidenced by labels on the home
8. Has a title and owner pays personal property taxes

A modular home has somewhat different features:
1. Built in sections in a factory
2. Pieced together at building site
3. Cannot be moved from its foundation
4. Becomes real estate once attached to the foundation

Why Should We Care?

If you are getting financing, the bank will need to know whether or not the home is attached, since it affects what type of mortgage they can offer you. If the home is part of the real estate, a mortgage will secure it. However, if the home is personal property, such as a trailer, the mortgage is on the real estate. There would be a perfected security interest on the trailer, in the same manner as on a vehicle.

How do you convert a Manufactured or Mobile Home to Real Property?

You complete an Affidavit to confirm that the home has been permanently attached. This form is also the formal application to eliminate the title. Send the filled-out form to our office along with the original title. All liens and taxes on the home must be paid in full. We will then send the documents to the appropriate offices for approval. The title is considered eliminated when the affidavit form has been recorded in the Register of Deed’s office in the county in which the manufactured or mobile home is affixed.

What if the title can’t be found?

If the owner does not have a title for the manufactured or mobile home, he or she will need to obtain the title before selling the home. An owner of a manufactured or mobile home with a model year of 1979 or older may execute certain documents to establish ownership. If the manufactured or mobile home is a model year 1980 or newer, a quiet title suit will be needed in order to obtain title.

Though the process might sound a bit complicated, it doesn’t have to stress you out. Tallgrass Title has experience with the issues surrounding these prefabricated homes. Give us a call today to get the assistance you need!

Understanding Closing Statements

A few days before your closing, you can expect to receive a document or two called a Settlement Statement and maybe even something called a Closing Disclosure. These documents can look a little intimidating, but we can give you some pointers to help you understand what is going on.

For cash transactions or transactions with in-house financing, you can expect to receive a simplified Buyer’s or Seller’s Statement. This simple statement is set up to be pretty easy to read. Here at Tallgrass Title, we give a separate sheet to the Buyer and a separate one to the Seller to protect your privacy. The fees are set out in a list as shown in the sample Seller’s Statement below:

As you can see, there are two columns showing the debits and credits with the subtotals at the bottom. The last line item is the actual proceeds amount that will be given to the Seller.

If you are purchasing a home and obtaining financing, you may get a loan that will be sold on the secondary market. If you are getting this type of financing, your Lender will give you a document called a Loan Estimate soon after you apply for the loan. Then, during the week before closing, you will receive two final settlement documents. One is called the Closing Disclosure and the other is called the ALTA Settlement Statement. The good news is that these documents will have very similar numbers; the bad news is there are a few more sheets to read through.

The Buyer’s Closing Disclosure is 5+ pages long. Here is a brief overview of what is on each page: 1. Basic details about the type of loan. 2. List of fees associated with the transaction. 3. Credits, subtotals and the grand total of funds you will need to bring to closing. 4 & 5. Further details about your loan and contact information for your Lender, Realtors, and your Title Company. The Seller’s Closing Disclosure is usually 2-3 pages long. Page 1 shows details of the transaction, subtotals and totals. Page 2 lists the fees the Seller has agreed to pay.

We prepare the ALTA Settlement Statements to go along with the Closing Disclosures. These documents are formatted differently from the simple Statements, but they still show a line-by-line breakdown of the closing fees.  Here is a sample of what part of one looks like:

As on the simple version, there is a separate line showing the amount “Due From Borrower”. This is the amount the Buyer will need to bring to closing.

The thing to remember is that you will want to review the documents as soon as possible after receiving them. Don’t wait until the closing to ask your Lender or us any questions that you may have. If you wait until closing to ask your questions it could possibly delay the closing. Please remember that we at Tallgrass Title are always happy to take the time to answer questions and explain information.

Mail-Away Closings

Are you planning to travel out of state, or even out of the country, at some point during the Christmas season? Did you know that it is still possible to complete your real estate closing from a different state? Even from a different country?

If you are selling real estate, the deed and most of your closing documents can be emailed to you well in advance of the actual closing date. You can then print them and take them to the notary of your choice. For example, here at Tallgrass Title, we closed a transaction for a person who currently lives in Japan. This person was able to bring the deed to the American Consulate to have his signature notarized. Military personnel can also get access to a notary through their base legal office.

Once the documents have been properly executed, they should be shipped back to our office using a carrier service that provides tracking information. It is recommended that the deed and other originals be returned to the closing & escrow agent as soon as possible so they can be reviewed and approved well in advance of the closing. Settlement Statements with the final costs of the transaction can be signed electronically, or if you don’t have access to email, these can be faxed or even mailed if there is enough time before closing. Or, if you have hired a realtor, you can appoint them as your Power of Attorney to sign the documents for you.

If you are purchasing real estate and not obtaining financing, the closing process can be very simple. Funds can be wired directly to our escrow account, or delivered to us as a cashier’s check. Also, the few documents that usually must be signed can be done electronically.

If you are obtaining financing, you must let your Lender and your closing agent know well in advance where you will be on the closing date. As soon as we know where you will be, we can schedule an appointment for you with a notary at another title company. If you are not able to travel to a title office, in some cases we can find a mobile notary. This person will be able to meet you at a location and time that is more convenient for you. They will help you complete and sign the documents and return them to us. In the past, we closed a transaction for a person stationed on a military base in Hawaii in this way.

We know that the Christmas season can be a busy and stressful time. Let Tallgrass Title help reduce some of that pressure by coming up with a plan for your closing that works for you.

Mobile Closings – The Answer to Busy Schedules

While it is a good idea to attend your real estate closing in person to exchange the funds and the keys to the real estate, it is not absolutely necessary to come to our office in person for a closing appointment. Though our main office is located here in Wamego, we do have a second office in Alma, and for those who live or work in Manhattan, our closing agents are equipped to meet with clients at the location of their choice to witness a signing. We also offer a courier service to pick up or deliver documents back and forth. 

If you are the Seller, we can email all the documents to you and your realtor, if you have hired one, in advance of the closing date. You will have to arrange to sign the deed and some other documents in the presence of a notary, and, once the documents are signed, the originals should be delivered to our office either by hand, sent via a certified carrier that provides tracking information, or if you are in Manhattan, call us and our courier will be there soon. We will need the original deed and any other original notarized documents returned to our office prior to the closing date, but signed documents that do not require a notary’s signature may be returned to us electronically. We will also ask how the proceeds should be sent to you. You may schedule a convenient time to drop by our office to pick up the check or the funds can be shipped or wired to you. Please note that if the funds are to be shipped or wired to you, transit fees may be charged. 

If you are the Buyer and use a local bank in the area, you will oftentimes sign all the closing paperwork at their branch. After the loan closing has happened, either you or a bank representative will drop off the signed documents and funds at our office. If it would be helpful, our courier can also go to the closing location and pick them up. You will not need to schedule an appointment with us in this instance. If you are using a lender who is not in this area, they may hire us to close the loan. If this is the case, we will set up an appointment to meet with you at one of our offices, your realtor’s office, or the alternative location of your choice. Our closing agent will work with you and your lender to complete the loan paperwork and process the closing funds.  

Contact us to discuss the personalized closing services we can perform for you!

What Happens at a Closing?

So, you are ready to sell your house: have a buyer lined up, contract signed, and are looking at a prospective closing date. Then you stop and think, “What’s next?”

If you have never purchased or sold a piece of real estate before, or a significant amount of time has passed since the last time you did, the whole closing process can seem a bit overwhelming. In the past, you could just shake hands on a deal and trust that the other party would work with you to get the deed filed, the money given to the right people, and help iron out any wrinkles that might come up later. However, times have changed, and you can’t implicitly trust that the other party will fulfill his part of the bargain or that either you or he will know exactly what needs to be done to complete the sale. What is needed is a disinterested third party to work with the Seller, Buyer, realtors, and the bank to help each party perform the tasks necessary to complete the transfer of ownership. At Wamego Title, it is our pleasure to work closely with each party to the transaction to ensure that each one knows exactly what is expected of them and when each step should be completed.

For Sellers, we draft the Deed, Settlement Statement, and any other documents needed to ensure that you are passing clear title to your Buyer. We send the documents to you well before the closing date to ensure that your questions can be answered before closing and leave plenty of time for you to meet with the notary of your choice to complete the necessary documents. If there is a mortgage on the property you are selling, we contact your mortgage holder to obtain the payoff amount and then send the payoff to them during the actual closing. A few days before closing, we will send you, and your realtor if you have hired one, the finalized Settlement Statements so you can review the costs of your transaction before you get to the closing table. At that time, our closing agents will discuss with you whether you prefer to schedule a closing appointment or if a mobile closing would work best for you. During the closing it is our responsibility to receive the secure funds from the Buyer and transfer the proceeds to you.

For Buyers, we work closely with you and your Lender, if you are obtaining financing, to ensure that you are prepared for your purchase. We create your Settlement Statements in collaboration with your Lender prior to closing, so you have time to review it and know exactly what amount of funding you will be required to bring to closing. You and your Lender will be able to decide where it would be convenient to sign your closing paperwork. If you are not using a Lender, we are able to work with you directly to decide what method of closing best fits your busy schedule.

For both Sellers and Buyers, after closing we ensure that all the documents are properly completed and recorded at the County Register of Deeds Office and send each party copies of the documents that should be kept for personal files. Our closing agents are always available to answer questions or address concerns no matter what stage of the transaction you are at!

7 Pillars of Best Practices in the Title Insurance Industry

At Tallgrass Title, we utilize “Best Practices” to ensure the safety of our customers’ private information, and to safeguard funds and title to real estate. Best Practices are the established operational procedures in a specific industry that have become the proven way to run a successful business. Tallgrass Title complies with the American Land Title Association or ALTA Best Practices. The American Land Title Association is the national organization representing title companies from the entire United States. Our insurance underwriters review our company annually to ensure we remain compliant in our day-to-day operations. The seven areas or “pillars” overseen by these standards are: Licensing, Escrow Services, protecting Personal Information, the Settlement Process, Policy Production, Insurance Coverage, and Customer Care.

Being compliant with the ALTA Best Practices means that Tallgrass Title offers an extra layer of protection and care to our clients, as well as to realtors and lenders. One of the hot button issues in this digital age is the concern about protecting personal information. There are many new regulations that have been created to ensure that our clients’ Non-public Personal Information is safeguarded. We work hard to comply with these regulations, by using electronic programs such as DocuSign® and our Paperless Closer document portal, as well as encrypting and adding passwords to emailed documents. We utilize this level of security for all transactions, whether required or not. In addition, we follow safeguarding procedures, policies, and controls for our Settlement Process, the handling of our Escrow Account, and the production process of the Title Insurance Policies we issue. We obtain and maintain the proper licenses, as well as maintain liability, fidelity insurance, and errors and omissions insurance coverage for our business and employees. Furthermore, our title insurance agents participate regularly in training sessions to stay aware of current issues and new methods of providing service by implementing and utilizing new technology. The last of the Best Practices pillars is Customer Care. We strive to offer personalized service to each one of our clients, and follow our procedures to address any possible issues.

Place an order for title insurance or call us to schedule your closing to experience Tallgrass Title’s Best Practices Standards!

What is TRID?

As someone who has been interested in buying or selling property you may have heard talk lately about new “TILA/RESPA” or “TRID” rules. So what do these acronyms mean and why are they being talked about by lenders, settlement agents, and realtors, to name a few? Will these rules affect me if I am trying to buy or sell real estate?

TILA and RESPA stand for two different government acts that directed two forms that were provided by lenders to buyers/borrowers during a real estate closing. One act was known as the Truth in Lending Act and the other was the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974. There was concern that these two forms were difficult to understand, so in 2010 President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law. This new law required that the information from the two forms be combined into a standardized Loan Estimate Form and Closing Disclosure Form. Thus, the name TRID came to be: TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure.

Lenders are now required to provide a Loan Estimate to any buyer/borrower who is seeking financing for a standard residential home purchase. The fee and term names are used on a similar Closing Disclosure form (instead of the old HUD or Settlement Statements) during closing, so the buyer/borrower should understand more easily the costs of the entire transaction. The Closing Disclosure form also has to be delivered to the buyer/borrower three business days prior to closing so they have a chance to review it and ask questions before they reach the closing table. Prior to closing, the settlement agent will also provide a Settlement Statement that will be signed during closing.

As a Seller, the new rules can affect you as well. For instance, it might take a bit more time than before in order for the bank to gain the proper approval for the loan and be ready to close it. The Seller also is provided a shorter, more compact Closing Disclosure form. Though the three-day delivery rule does not apply for seller’s documents, settlement agents will try to deliver the Closing Disclosure and Settlement Statement a few days before closing so there is time for you to review them.

In conclusion, as either party in a real estate transaction, these new rules will affect you, but if you bring your questions or concerns to Lenders, settlement agents, and realtors, they will work together to provide you with the answers and assistance you need through the entire process.