Tag: Commitment

Thank you Manhattan!

Last week we officially opened a Manhattan, Kansas office.  This move follows requests from real estate professionals to locate an office to better serve their regional needs.  You asked, we listened!  Our Manhattan office (TGT MHK) is located at 210 N. 4th, Suite A in the Hartford Building.  We are fully staffed Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00pm and are open over the noon hour.  A drop box is located on the front of the building for after hours drop-offs.  Both the Wamego and Manhattan offices are equipped to deal with closings, escrow deliveries, deed packet deliveries and notary services.  Additionally, TGT MHK will continue to offer free courier service in the Manhattan area as well as mobile closings.  We are here to serve your needs!

At Tallgrass Title, we love feedback about how we may better serve your needs.  Feel free to speak with any of our title experts about your needs as a real estate professional.

Internet Safety Tips

In this technological age, it seems like everything is at your fingertips. Have business to conduct?  Pull out your smart phone and get it done.  Have a report that is due while you are out of town and do not have all of the information you need?  Find an internet café or public wifi, pull out your laptop computer and get to work.  With the help of Wikipedia, Google, and any number of search sites, all of the information you need is at your fingertips.  Great, right?  It can be, but while it is easier for people to access information, it is also easier for hackers and scammers to access people’s personal information like social security numbers, bank accounts, and other personal information.  Once they have that information, Tada!  You now have six new credit cards, your debit card has been used to buy a new car half-way across the world, and you managed to get a speeding ticket in some hole-in-the-wall town three states over!  Your identity was stolen!  Scary, right? How can you protect yourself and your clients from this type of threat?  Here are some tips for practicing public (and personal) internet safety:

  1. Never log into your email using public wifi. Get yourself a mifi device. A mifi device is a personal wifi that uses cellular broadband to make a wifi connection. Not super convenient, or free, but using a mifi device is much more secure. You can password protect it and it pulls from a private source. You can also typically use your smartphone as a personal hotspot.
  2. Change your passwords frequently. If a hacker gains access to your password, they may try to access your system or account more than once over a period of time. Changing your password reduces the risk that they will have frequent access. It also keeps things like a keystroke logger, which is surveillance technology used to record keystrokes, from obtaining your password through repeated logins.
  3. Never email any documents that have your client’s personal information. If you do email any documents that have that type of information, make sure it is password protected and encrypted.
  4. Stop and read an email before opening any attachments or following any links. If you do not have your email set up to preview a message before opening, modify your settings to allow it. A lot of attachments and links in fake emails from scammers and hackers have viruses and other little nasty surprises that can corrupt your system or open a backdoor for someone to get to the rest of your information.
  5. Do not use a free email service for your business email. Yes, they are convenient, and better yet, free. However, they have the barest minimum of security when it comes to allowing junk through.

Computers can be a convenient tool that can make our lives easier in many ways.  By following these 5 rules, they can continue to be the tools that they are intended to be. Here at Tallgrass Title we are committed to protecting all of our associates and clients. Let us know how we can help you protect yourself and your clients from scammers and hackers.

Tips for Recording and Filing Documents

We realize that many of you will probably not have to take a document to the county Register of Deeds Office. However, it is still helpful to know a little bit about the requirements. It makes filling out and completing the deed packet and other documents necessary for closing much easier.

Tip 1:

This first thing to keep in mind is: Only documents with original signatures can be recorded. As of 2019, the Register of Deeds will not accept documents that have been signed electronically. What that means, is that each deed, mortgage, and affidavit must be signed in person in front of a notary. The original documents must be sent back to the title company for closing. (Remember, if you can’t drop it off to us, we will come to you!)

Tip 2:

Don’t change the formatting of a deed or other notarized document. Let’s face it, technology is complicated. Your computer or printer might try to change the margins, font, font size, or spacing. Why is that a big deal?

It is the duty of the Register of Deeds to keep the real estate records legible and clear. In order to do this, there are strict guidelines to help make that happen. One of the rules is the size of the font. If the wording is too small, the documents can’t be scanned correctly into the archives. There are also rules in place about document margins. There needs to be plenty of space at the top for the filing information, as well as enough space on the sides so no information will be cut off. If your printer likes to cut off the top or bottom of a legal-sized document, you run the risk of losing important information. For example, part of a legal description or a signature line could be left out.

Also, it is very important to print the documents single-sided, not double-sided.

Tip 3:

When will the recorded original deed be given back to the buyers after closing? This is a question we get asked on a regular basis. The answer? Usually within 30-60 days following a closing, we send out the recorded original documents with the Title Insurance Policy. Unfortunately, we cannot just pull out a magic number that fits all cases. This is because we have to wait until the commitment requirements have been met. For example, some banks take a bit more time than others to file mortgage releases. Rest assured though, that we will work to send out the policy and documents just as soon as we possibly can.

Here at Tallgrass Title it is our goal to help you successfully complete your real estate transaction as smoothly as possible. Reach out to us to let us know how we can help you make it happen!

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!

Judgments That Appear on the Commitment – and what to do about them

Our job as a title insurance provider is to insure the parties are passing clear title to the real estate. We perform an in-depth search of the real estate to prove that. We also perform a judgment search on both sellers and buyers. We check for court cases filed against each party and any liens that have been filed against the real estate. If we find any open matters that need to be resolved, we add requirements to the commitment. Once the required documents are provided to us, we can clear the lien from the real estate.

Child Support

If a divorce has been filed by one (or more) of the parties, there may be a court order for child support or spousal maintenance. The title insurance commitment will list a requirement for proof that the payments are current.

Tax Liens

In some cases, the real estate taxes may be delinquent. When this happens, the delinquent taxes must be paid off during closing. The seller can certainly pay the taxes before closing, but we are usually asked to pay them off out of the seller’s proceeds. We obtain a payoff statement from the county treasurer’s office and add the total payoff amount to the settlement statement. If the seller chooses to pay the back taxes early, we will update the commitment as soon as we receive proof of payment.

Mechanics Liens

Contractors who do certain types of repairs or improvements have a period of time to file a lien. For example, if a homeowner doesn’t pay a bill for their driveway being paved, the buyers could be stuck with paying it. The unpaid contractor has up to a few months to file a lien at the county. This is why we have each seller sign the Affidavit of Debts and Liens. By doing so, they are swearing that there are no other outstanding debts that could attach to the real estate.

Civil Matters

If there has been a civil case filed against one of the parties, we have one of our attorneys review the documents to be sure it will not attach to the real estate. We may require additional documents or a payoff in order to release the suit.

Here at Tallgrass Title we understand that each real estate transaction has unique twists. Feel free to call or email if you have any questions about your transactions. As always, we are here to help!

Title Insurance 101 – Refresher Course

Most of you have probably been in the real estate world long enough to know what title insurance is. However, we thought it would be helpful to provide a “refresher” course to help answer your client’s questions.

Let’s face it, most people closing on real estate don’t read through the details of all of their closing documents. However, there are people who look at the settlement statement and want to know what they are paying for. Also, suppose you have clients who are keeping a close eye on finances. If they want to save some money, they might ask if title insurance is necessary. Here are some pointers to help out your clients, or those professionals who are still new to the real estate world.

“Title Insurance protects property rights.”

This is the simplest definition of title insurance. A title insurance policy insures that the property owner actually has full title to the real estate. When a real estate legal description or address is brought to us, we start an extensive search. Our search follows the “chain of title”, the deeds that show how the real estate changed hands over the years. Any mortgages filed against that real estate must have been properly released. Not only do we look at the records for that tract of real estate, but we also look for judgments against the buyers and sellers. We look for any law suits or claims that could potentially attach to the real estate as liens.

Title Insurance brings peace of mind.

The title commitment is our promise to issue a title insurance policy once the requirements have been met. The title insurance policy is issued after closing, once the deed and mortgage have been filed, and the liens properly released. Once the new property owners receive their policy, they can be assured that they truly own their real estate. If a claim is made by someone challenging their ownership, they have the policy to back them up.

Here at Tallgrass Title we work hard to provide the information and assistance everyone needs for a smooth closing. Feel free to contact one of our agents today to help get your real estate questions answered.

Construction Loans – Mainly for Lenders

As a Lender, do you have clients who want to build a new house on their lot? Here at Tallgrass Title, we offer a construction hold-open, also known as a construction commitment or policy. We get questions about this product quite often, so we thought we could help clear up some of the confusion surrounding this topic.

How it works:
You, as the lender, contact us, the title company, to request the title work. An email sent to order@tallgrasstitleks.com is sufficient, or you can fill in the online order form on our website. We complete the title search and send the commitment to you. The commitment will contain a specific set of construction language and the date of the first search. Here is an example of what that commitment language might look like:

The title search must be updated every 120 days. This is because title insurance commitments have expiration dates. Here at Tallgrass Title, we keep an eye on the expiration dates and remind you when it is time to request an update. You can just send us a quick email to “officially” request the update. We keep the message in our file for our underwriters to see. Our initial construction loan fee covers the cost of the initial search, plus two update searches.

When construction is complete, the loan can be closed. At that time, the lender can determine if the initial mortgage will stay in place or if a new mortgage will be filed. The cost of the final policy is charged at the final loan closing as soon as the title company has been notified of the final mortgage amount. The lender’s policy is generated and sent to the lender after the final loan closing has happened.

FAQ’s:

• The property owners want to remodel, will a construction loan work?
– At this time, the title construction commitment is only for new construction, not for a remodel of an existing structure. If the house is already standing, the construction commitment is not something we can offer you. It has to be a new structure, or a brand-new wing added on to an existing structure. You may need to consider a 2nd mortgage, HELOC or some other financing product.

• The construction is going over-budget. How does that affect the construction commitment?
– We are very flexible when it comes to the projected loan amount. If the amount needs to be increased, we can certainly do that once you send us the request.

• Our clients haven’t yet purchased the lot they want to build on. Do they have to purchase the lot, then get a construction loan?
– We can work with lenders on the lot purchase and construction hold-open as parts of the same transaction. We can issue the owner’s policy soon after the initial sale closing and issue the lender’s policy later, once the construction is complete.

• The sale transaction closed, when will we get the lender’s policy?
– As mentioned above, we cannot issue the lender’s policy until the final mortgage has closed and has been filed. As soon as construction is complete and the mortgage finalized we can go ahead and issue the lender’s policy.

Here at Tallgrass Title, we work to make the deal go as smoothly as possible. Give us a call today and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have about construction title policies!

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!