Tag: closing

Marital Status and Holding Title

When it comes to selling your property, getting that contract signed and sent to your local title company is the first step to a smooth closing. To ensure the process goes as effortlessly as possible, there are few additional things to keep in mind when you put your John Hancock on that very important sheet of paper.

Marital Status

We often see this left off the initial contract, but it is very significant, especially for the seller. The popular maxim- “what’s yours is mine, what’s mine is yours”- is a good way of understanding why indicating marital status is so important. The State of Kansas recognizes that spouses have rights to real estate through what is termed marital interest. Even if you bought a property in your name individually, your spouse has an interest in that property and must participate in the future sale.  Therefore, we require disclosure of both parties’ marital status.  This allows us to ensure any married persons’ spouses are involved in order to pass clear title.

Taking Title

There are two common ways of taking title when buying real estate and it’s crucial that your contract indicates how you intend to hold title.

Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship

The most well-known way of taking title is by Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, also known as JTWROS. This means that the two (or more) people buying a property will have full ownership interest upon the death of any others who are on the deed.  There are no restrictions on who can take title in this manner: it could be you and your spouse as a married couple, or it could be you and your three siblings. The surviving title holder(s) automatically receives the interest of the other title holder upon their death.

Tenants in Common

The second common way of holding title is as Tenants in Common.  Whoever receives interest in this manner retains their rights to the property for their heirs or whoever they choose to pass it to. For example, Bob and Joe, identical twin brothers, buy a few hundred acres of land with the intention of starting up a cattle ranch, taking title as Tenants in Common. Rather quickly, Bob discovers he is much better suited for his old Title examiner job in the city and wants out. Joe loves it, however, and refuses. Bob decides to sell his portion of interest anyways. He cannot transfer Joe’s rights, only his own, so whoever he sells to, will only have a 50% interest in that property. The interest in the land is split, and will continue this way, unless one of the interest holders deeds his interest to the other, or both of them to a common third party.

To wrap up

An important conclusion from this is that your marital status does not determine the way in which you take title. Therefore, we require both pieces of information on the contract. In Kansas, if the deed does not specify how title is to be held, it is automatically considered tenants in common.  It is important to clarify the way you desire to take title as married couples generally opt to take title as JTWROS to ensure that their spouse receives their interest in full at one’s passing.  Similarly, if marital status is not stated on the deed, it leaves the door open to issues down the road, such as claims of interest from a past untitled spouse.  Keeping these things in mind will be helpful when you are buying or selling real estate.

If you or your clients have questions about marital status or vesting on a current or upcoming transaction, please give us a call! It’s our job to help.

Legals with Lippman: Government Lots

Imagine this: you’re reviewing an informational or a commitment from the title company and you notice the legal description contains a tract in a government lot. What does this mean? Is this a concern for my transaction? This is one instance in which the word “government” is nothing to worry about!  Legals with Lippman is back to discuss government lots and what they mean to you or your client.

Government lot is a term used within the Public Land Survey System a.k.a PLSS. We briefly talked about PLSS in our first Legals with Lippman. PLSS dates back to 1785 in the United States and is the system that breaks real estate into Section-Township-Range (STR).

  Fun fact: Not all states adopted the PLSS, most notably the Thirteen Colonies.

So, what is it?

A government lot is an irregular portion of a Section as formed by a meandering body of water, impassable object, or another boundary (state, reservation, grant, etc). These “lots” are used in Sections with an irregular shape or acreage (containing less than or more than the 640 acres seen in a standard Section). While called lots, these are not the type of lot that you would see in a platted subdivision. These lots are surveyed by the government (see example from Township 10, Range 8 below) and unlike a platted lot, do not have the zoning regulations, setback lines, or restrictions that are sometimes seen on plats.

In Riley County, for example, we see government lots formed by the Big Blue River and by Fort Riley. More specifically, if we examine a survey of the government lots in Township 10, Range 8, we see how Sections 5, 4, 9, and 8 are encompassed by the Big Blue River, making them slightly irregular.


On modern versions of an STR map you can see how these Sections have some variation in size; this is another indication of the presence of government lots.

From Riley County GIS

In an STR legal description you will see these irregular portions referenced as either a ‘government lot’ or a ‘lot.’ This is an example of a tract from Section 5, Township 10 South, Range 8 East, which is located near the Big Blue River. Another county might refer to these tracts as “government lots 9 and 10.”

So, what does this mean for my property? Owning part of a government lot is no different from owning land with any other STR legal description. There are no special restrictions or government regulations. A government lot is simply a way to make abnormal shapes and acreages fit into a standard section in the PLSS. If you see a government lot listed in your legal description, there is nothing to worry about!

We love helping and we love legal descriptions; if you have a question about your or your client’s legal description, give us a call!

Closings with Karissa: Property Taxes

Closings with Karissa is back with a few helpful reminders on property taxes and second half payments.

It’s that time of year again.

Real estate taxes are due to the county treasurer. Do you pay them before closing? Will the Title Company pay them before closing? What if the seller’s lender pays them before closing and the Title Company collects for them too? These are some of many questions that might swirl around homeowners’ heads right before closing.

First & Second Half

Taxes are available for payment in November of the current year with due dates of December 20th of the current year and the following May 10th. Taxes can paid in full in December or paid half and half in December and May. They first half is considered delinquent on December 21st and will start accruing late fees and penalties on that date. The second half is considered late on May 11th and will start accruing late fees and penalties on that date. If your closing is taking place after one of those dates and you do not have taxes set up in escrow, it is advisable for payments to be made prior to closing to avoid extra charges.

Taxes & Your Closing

Taxes are considered a lien on real estate. They are always there (unless the landowner is tax exempt) and will be in first lien position to all other liens – including mortgages. This means that taxes will always be paid out first in the event of a court action and your closing agent will make sure that tax payments are up to date.  If current taxes are not yet paid, they will apply that payment to your settlement statement to be paid at closing, including any applicable fees.

If closing takes place in October or November, it is likely that the seller rather than the buyer will receive the annual tax statement.  This is because the county treasurer’s office may not have new owner information updated prior to mailing out November tax statements.  If this happens the taxes are still the responsibility of the party that agreed to pay the year’s taxes as part of the real estate contract.

Things to remember:

  • Taxes are due December 20th and May 10th
  • The Title Company will pay off taxes based on the terms of the contract
  • The Title Company will never keep funds collected for taxes already paid, they will always refund payments rejected by the treasurer for previous payment.

If you have more questions about taxes, please reach out to your closing agent and they will walk you through taxes and prorations. It is our job and our pleasure at Tallgrass Title!

Closings with Karissa: Contract Best Practices

The heart of any real estate transaction is the contract. It is the meat and potatoes.  Everything that the realtors, lenders and title company need to know to close a deal is in the contract and any amendments or addendums that follow.

Therefore, it is important to have everything that the parties desire within the transaction clearly outlined in the contract . This might include a seller credit or home warranty, Or if certain appliances are to stay or go with the seller. All these things must be included in the contract to set a standard of expectation. It also prevents incidences of: “Well that was my washer and dryer” and the seller running off with appliances the buyer is expecting. Or even worse: “That other lot was supposed to be included.” If it wasn’t on the contract, it won’t get conveyed.

 

Here are some helpful tips to make sure there are little to no issues when writing your real estate contract:

Identify the Real Estate

Know what you are selling. Even if all you have is an aerial from Google Maps with a hand drawn outline of what is intended to be sold and an address. Send that to your title company and ask for a preliminary report. In their search process, they will the correct legal description to include on your contract, preventing issues later with lots or tracts being omitted or included by mistake.

Identify the Parties

A preliminary report will include how the real estate is currently vested. So, if John and Jane Smith want to sell their house, the preliminary report will note that the property is actually owned by John A. Smith and Janice Smith (their legal names) or Jane Smith’s Trust.

The Buyer in the transaction will direct how they want to take title to the real estate on the contract.  The buyer might prefer to take title with first, middle and last names or just first and last.  Or they may request to take title via a trust or a company.  This should all be included on the initial contract or a follow up Addendum.

Set a Purchase Price and Terms

Agree on a purchase price. Once the purchase price is decided, set the terms. Who will pay closing costs to the title company, title insurance and any? Will there be a Home Warranty and who will pay that and how much? Is the Seller willing to offer a seller credit to help with the buyers closing costs? What stays and what doesn’t stay with the property? Never assume that appliances stay, even if it seems logical.

Pick a date to close

Closing dates can be very flexible and easily changed with addendums so long as all parties agree to it. Often contracts will state “on or before” and that just means that at any time before the stated close date in the contract the transaction can be closed if all parties agree. In the current market, unless it is a cash deal, give yourself, your client, and lender time and set closing out 30 to 45 days. Best practice is to avoid closing on the very first or last day of the month as these are the busiest days for closings, and it may be difficult to get the time you want unless you schedule early.

Ask questions

If something doesn’t seem right to you, ask questions! For Buyers purchasing or sellers selling a home this is a huge change and can be very tense. We understand the stress of each transaction and are here to help and answer any questions. Even if they seem trivial, we are happy to assist and walk you through the process, it’s our job!

 

 

 

Reverse Mortgages and You!

What is a reverse mortgage?

Can I sell property with a reverse mortgage? Should my grandma get a reverse mortgage?

With a conventional mortgage, a person borrows money from a bank and the bank files a mortgage on the person’s real estate.  If the individual fails to pay back the loan to the bank, the bank uses its mortgage to sell the real estate.  Simple enough. Most residential real estate transactions involve the buyer obtaining financing from a bank to purchase the real estate.  The bank in turn files a mortgage during the process.  The funds are distributed in a lump sum to the sellers.  In a reverse mortgage scenario, funds are distributed slowly, over time to the party owning the real estate.  The lending bank files a mortgage just like a traditional purchase money transaction.

Wait.  Why would the bank make payments over a period of time to the consumer and not the other way around?

Commonly, elderly individuals that own their home and do not currently owe money against it utilize reverse mortgages.  For example, if an elderly person owns their home free and clear of liens but is on a limited income, it can be difficult to pay for day-to-day expenses of living.  At the same time, that person may have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity in their home.  House rich and cash poor.  A bank would likely not make a conventional loan to the individual because they have no source of income for repayment.  The only option for this person may be to sell their home to realize the equity.

However, a reverse mortgage will loan the individual money, typically in the form of a monthly payment, and secure the loan with a mortgage on the house.  This allows the person to realize their equity while remaining in their home. When the borrower passes away or moves out of the house, the mortgage company is either paid in full from the sale of the home or forecloses the property to sell and satisfy the debt.

Sounds decent, what’s the catch?

There are a few catches.

Unscrupulous Marketing

Many reverse mortgage companies use unsavory marketing tactics to target elderly folks.  Oftentimes folks entering into reverse mortgages do not actually require the payment to live have been convinced otherwise.

Excessive Cost

Interest rates with reverse mortgages tend to be much higher than conventional loans and reverse mortgages can carry multitudes of hidden costs to the borrower.  The interest also compounds over the life of the loan as opposed to a conventional loan, rendering reverse mortgages much more expensive.  Even worse, many reverse mortgages will only provide monthly payments for a set amount of time. So, an elderly person living off reverse mortgage payments could still be forced to sell their home and then have no money left to live.

Fine Print

Lastly, reverse mortgages are difficult to understand.  The documents are cumbersome for even a trained real estate or lending professional.  These loans can be quite one-sided in favor of the lending institution, yet many consumers enter into these types of loans without fully understanding the fine print.

Can I sell a house with a reverse mortgage?

Sure, probably, maybe, perhaps. 

Just like a conventional mortgage, if the underlying debt is paid, the mortgage will be released and the property may be sold free and clear of any liens.  Problems arise when the debt owed against the real estate outweighs the value of the home.  This is often the case with property subject to a reverse mortgage.  It is possible that the bank could agree to a “short sale,” where the bank will agree to accept less than the amount of the debt.  However, this process is typically quite cumbersome and can take several months to complete.   Additionally, there are no guarantees the bank will agree to a short sale. Several months of negotiations could result in the property not being sold.  Further, additional costs and interest continues to accrue while attempting to obtain a short sale arrangement.

Long story short, yes, a person may sell a house with a reverse mortgage.  However, best practice would be to contact the bank and request a “payoff” prior to entering into a contract for sale.  The payoff is the amount that the bank will accept for release of its lien.  If the payoff is greater than the sales price, this may be an issue that could delay the transaction.

As stated above, reverse mortgages can be quite challenging to navigate in a transaction.  That’s why Tallgrass Title has real estate professionals and attorneys on staff to assist in navigating these issues.  Give us a call, it’s our job!

What’s new at Tallgrass Title in 2022?

We hope that you had a wonderful Christmas season and we wish you good luck in the coming year. The past two years have been incredibly eventful at Tallgrass Title and we are grateful to every buyer, seller, realtor, lender, and vendor we’ve have the opportunity to work with during such unprecedented times. We’ve seen many businesses bloom as the region responds to growth and an everchanging market. It has been so good to do business with you.  We want to make note of a couple of changes you might notice around Tallgrass in the New Year.

RON is coming to Tallgrass

RON Swanson? Weasley? Not quite! Remote Online Notarization.  Kansas passed legislation last spring that allows Kansas Notaries to complete notarizations through remote audio-visual conferences, beginning in January 2022.  With this capability, we will be able to conduct a deed packet signing or close a loan with your client over a video call. We will be able to close your deals anywhere in the state of Kansas!  Look for an announcement about this service in the coming weeks. This is a service we cannot wait to provide!

New Rates & Fees

Tallgrass takes pride in providing top-notch customer service and the best value for title insurance premiums and closing costs. In order to maintain our high level of customer service, we have made a small adjustment to our premiums for the new year.  To compliment our rate adjustment, we have opted to give back to the consumer by including complimentary endorsements in the cost of our loan policy on simultaneous issue packages.  While growth requires adjustments, we believe we will remain the most competitive option for the services we provide in our tri-county service area.

Again, it is a true delight to serve you and your clients.  We look forward to seeing much more of each other in 2022!

Early Deed Packets = Smooth Closings!

We have a saying in our office: “early deed packets means smooth closings!” But why would a few signed documents mean closing would run smoother? The more information we receive ahead of closing allows our closing team to gather any additional information we may need well in advance.  An early and complete deed packet allows us to balance with your client’s lender and get final numbers out for buyers in cash transactions. That way, when the day of closing comes around finalizing the transaction is a smooth process, leaving more time for celebration and little to no concern about whether things will fall into place.

Deed Packets contain several documents that consolidate much of the information we will need prior to closing.  This includes a form that allows us to contact the Seller’s current mortgage holder to obtain a payoff. This is especially important right now with many mortgage companies experiencing staffing shortages with extended processing times.  Oftentimes, it can take up to 20 days to get payoffs returned to us.

Early deed packets also allow us to deliver early settlement statements to you and your clients.  This gives plenty time for review and provides a clear picture of what the closing day will look like on the financial end of the transaction.

Additionally, some expenses will not be clear to us until we have the deed packet returned, including information about Homeowners Associations.  Having information about a property’s HOA membership in advance allows us to ensure that prorations are applied appropriately at closing.

This early document package also contains important information about email fraud and wire fraud. We want to help protect your client’s money just as much as you do.  This information is available to all of our clients in order to inform them of the dangers of spam emails and the possibility of fraudsters intercepting wires. Likewise, we include information about how we protect our clients from theft with CertifID.  We use CertifID to send or verify wiring instructions prior to the day of closing.

We understand sometimes coordinating a deed packet signing can be an issue as schedules vary.  Your clients are more than welcome to come to either of our offices Monday through Friday during business hours and we would be happy to walk through the deed packet with them. Alternatively, we offer free courier service and would be happy to meet your clients at a convenient location in Manhattan, Wamego, Alma, and Westmoreland.

Should you have any questions about the contents of a deed packet, feel free to contact one of our real estate professionals to assist you through the process.  It’s our pleasure to assist you!

Five Common Misconceptions about Title Insurance

When it comes to purchasing a new home, you are making a long-term commitment with your money and your time. One oversight when purchasing is the consideration of the history of the home.  I do not mean the structural integrity of the home rather, the history of the legal title to the home. We are talking about the history of ownership of the land and the structure located on it. Title Insurance is a way of giving you peace of mind that you have full ownership of what you have just purchased, and that no monetary claims will arise from an individual or a business entity in the future. If that were to ever be the case, Tallgrass Title would have your back!

When it comes to Title Insurance, there are some pretty common misconceptions that might deter a buyer away from deeming it necessary. We want to help you navigate some of those misconceptions in order to make sure you are aware and get the coverage that you need.

If the Lender orders Title Insurance, the Buyer does not need to.

In most real estate transactions, the Lender involved will require Title Insurance. As discussed, Title Insurance protects from future claims of lack of ownership, liens, undisclosed heirship issues, ordinances, lack of right of access, etc. However, the insurance that the Lender requires only protects the Lender, not you as a Buyer.  Two separate insurance policies exist that Title Companies offer: a Lender’s Policy and an Owner’s Policy. Often, a Lender will require the Buyer to purchase an Owner’s Policy.  Most title companies offer a significant discount the the issue of simultaneous Lender’s and Owner’s Policies.

If I have Homeowner’s Insurance, then I do not need Title Insurance.

As previously mentioned, Homeowner’s Insurance only protects your home from damage caused by hail, fire and wind. Title Insurance protects your ownership and against aforementioned claims.

I have built a brand new home; therefore, I do not have to worry about ownership issues.

Although it is true that you are the very first owner of a home, the land that your home sits on has long been in existence and has had many previous owners. Title Insurance not only protects your house, but it also protects the land that your home is settled on!

Title Insurance is transferable from one owner to another.

While the idea that one owner can transfer Insurance to another does seem plausible, Title Insurance only covers specific owners of the specific property for their specific transaction for the duration of ownership. This coverage will end upon the transfer of the real estate, so each new owner needs to make sure they are protected.

Title Insurance is expensive.

When considering the amount of money being invested in your home, an Owner’s Title Insurance policy has very minimal cost, and unlike a Homeowner’s Insurance policy, Title Insurance is a one-time payment that protects you the entire duration of your ownership. Further, Kansas has some of the lowest title insurance rates in the nation.

Not only does Title Insurance protect you, but your Title Company will also be there to help you navigate through the milieu of Real Estate and give you the assurance you need while owning your home!  We are also here to answer your specific questions regarding what is covered.  This can at times seem daunting, but our trained professionals are here to assist in these regards.  That’s our job!

 

What Day of the Week is the Best Day to Schedule Your Closing?

In today’s market with interest rates so low everyone is looking to buy. Why is it important to pick the right closing day? What are the best and worst days to close? For most clients, the bottom line is “When will my proceeds check be ready?” or “When may I move into my new house?”

Any day is the best day to close!  You are purchasing a home and are anxious to move in or are ready to close on the sale of your home and eager to use the proceeds for another transaction.  However, based upon the hectic housing market and record transactions taking place, certain days may just not be as convenient for all parties as others.

We will start with the best days to sign. From a title and lender standpoint the best days are Tuesday through Thursday with the exception of the 1st, 15th, or last day of the month. No one really wants to leave work early, come in late or take a day off in the middle of the week to go sign a bunch of papers, right? But those are the least busy days for a title office or lender which for the client means more flexibility on scheduling the appointment, more time available to go over specific questions about the transaction, and a more relaxed atmosphere.

So why are certain days less ideal than others? The short answer is that Fridays just seem to be a popular day for closings. We are also seeing an increased volume of closings on Mondays as well as the 1st, 15th, and last day of the month. While closing can still take place those days, scheduling will not be as flexible, and the appointment may be restricted to a certain time frame due to the high volume of other transactions.

Another consideration to make is that picking a Friday to close could actually result in further delaying your transaction if something doesn’t go as planned or a funding number is not received by the close of business. If a Friday closing has to be delayed for whatever reason, the earliest it can occur would be the following Monday or even Tuesday if the issue that caused the delay cannot be corrected in enough time for a Monday closing. If Friday is your only option for closing, consider closing in the morning to ensure funding can take place before the end of the business day.

So when will the checks be ready? Most lenders have requirements to be met before authorizing the title company to fund each transaction. This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. Rest assured that as soon as funding is authorized, we will issue checks and notify all parties.

For updates on your transaction, we offer Ready2Close. This portal allows clients to track the progress of their closing with a milestone tracker. Clients can also securely transmit and receive documents, e-sign certain documents, and access contact information for those involved with their transaction.

Happy Closing Day!

Are you Ready2Close?

We are happy to introduce the newest member of the Tallgrass Title closing toolkit: Ready2Close! Ready2Close is a plug-in to our title software that will work alongside PaperlessCloser and allows buyers or sellers to follow along with the progress of their transaction, from start to finish!
We will continue to use PaperlessCloser as the primary platform for realtors, lenders, attorneys, and admins to stay engaged with the transaction while Ready2Close will function as an additional piece that is both mobile and consumer friendly.

What does it do?

At your request, we will invite your buyer or seller to Ready2Close. Once in, they will see a photo from Google Maps of the property associated with the transaction. Users will also find a Milestone tracker showing the progress of their transaction. Just like ordering a pizza! 😉

Once the user clicks View Details, they will be directed to the other components of Ready2Close. Within Ready2Close, they can do the following:

  • Upload documents to be shared with Tallgrass Title, through a secure platform
  • Access details about their transaction including closing location, date, and time and contact information for their realtor, lender, and closing agent
  • Securely locate wiring instructions
  • Review and e-sign documents

Mobile Access

Ready2Close provides your buyer or seller with the ability to view transaction documents, e-sign, and obtain other details necessary for closing from their mobile device. While designed with the consumer in mind, realtors and other agents associated with the transaction can view all of their current files from one log-in and access requested documents in a mobile-friendly environment.

Security

Users must be invited by Tallgrass Title to create a Ready2Close account and to obtain access to a file.  Much like PaperlessCloser, we will identify which parties will be able to access specific information and will continue to protect your client’s non-public personal information. Your personal and your clients’ log-ins for Ready2Close will be protected by two-factor authentication.

What about PaperlessCloser?

Think of Ready2Close as buyer or seller’s PaperlessCloser. PC isn’t going anywhere, and we hope to harness both of these tools in sync to create ease and transparency in your transactions. If you’d like to give Ready2Close a shot on your next transaction, let us know and we’d be happy to invite both you and your client; you may find that you’d prefer to continue using PaperlessCloser exclusively or you might find you enjoy the mobile access and simplicity of Ready2Close. Or any combination of options. 😊

For Sale By Owner

If you’re a seller or buyer representing yourself, Ready2Close is the best way to stay in sync with the title company and up to date on all stages of your transaction. Give us a call and ask to be invited to Ready2Close on your transaction!

The team at Tallgrass Title is looking forward to providing a more transparent closing experience for the customer and we believe that Ready2Close is the next right step for making that happen.  Notifications will be sent whenever there is a status change to the file and clients have the option to opt out at any time.

If electronic document sharing and signing does not appeal to a party involved in your transaction, we are happy to continue to offer our free courier and mobile notary services. We will continue to do whatever we can to cater transactions to the unique needs of all parties involved.