Tag: Pottawatomie

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.

Inheriting Property (and Inheriting Liens?)

When individuals pass away, their assets are left to their heirs (next of kin) or individuals listed in a will, trust, etc.  These assets will oftentimes include real estate.  Sometimes, this real estate has liens against it.  When it does, the recipient of the property might ask: “Am I responsible for these liens or the debts of the person that passed?”  The lawyer answer is “yes and no”.

Typically, surviving individuals are not liable for sole debts of a passing individual (certain exceptions exist for a surviving spouse regarding specific expenses incurred by a passing spouse but we won’t muddy the water with this one today).  So, if your aunt passes and you are her sole surviving heir and she has insufficient assets to pay the bill, you are not responsible for it.  However, if you are her sole surviving heir and she has assets sufficient to pay the bill, then it is typically paid out of the estate and the difference is paid to you.

On the other hand, liens on real estate are different and follow the real estate. So, if an individual has borrowed money to purchase a house and the bank has taken a mortgage (lien) and the property is transferred, that mortgage follows the house.  So, if your passing aunt also left you a house with a mortgage you will own that house subject to the mortgage.  If your aunt did not also leave specific funds to satisfy the mortgage, you will either need to pay the debt associated with the mortgage or the bank will take the house from you, sell it, satisfy the debt and pay you any difference.  This process of a bank taking real estate to satisfy its debts is known as a “foreclosure.”  The process is time consuming and costly and interest will most typically continue to accrue during the interim.  These additional costs will be collected from proceeds from the sale of the house.  Conversely, you may also sell the house yourself and pay the underlying debt and most often save substantial equity in the real estate that would have been wasted in a foreclosure.

Again, an individual is not typically liable for the sole debts of a decedent (mostly, as stated above) but may choose to pay the debts of a decedent in order to protect equity in property received from a passing individual.  One of our roles at Tallgrass Title is to find and potentially clear liens on real estate being inherited.  This process can often be confusing. Our title professionals are available to answer questions during this process.  It’s our job!

The Tallgrass Title Cinnamon Roll Vision Quest

After many debates around the office about the best bakery in the area, and more specifically, the best cinnamon rolls around, we decided to conduct an experiment.  I present to you the Tallgrass Title Cinnamon Roll Vision Quest.  In providing title services across the Flint Hills region, our staff has gotten into the habit of making pit stops for cinnamon rolls (and cookies and muffins…stay tuned) in the various towns we travel to and from to conduct title searches, perform mobile notary services, or deliver commission checks.  We decided to put the debate to rest and execute a super scientific analysis.

The Contenders

Alma Bakery and Sweet Shoppe, Alma
Sugar Creek Country Store, St. Marys
Friendship House, Wamego
Bluestem Bistro, Manhattan
Tasty Pastry, Clay Center
Kawffee Pot, St. George
Radina’s, Manhattan

Our Process

After sampling each cinnamon roll, our team completed a survey evaluating the specimen in regard to the flavor and quality of icing, roll density and flavor, the element of cinnamon (or lack thereof), appearance, and one’s personal desire to buy this cinnamon roll for their friends.

Our Findings

Best in Cinnamon-tography

Whereas many of the otherwise delicious cinnamon rolls we tested lacked a strong cinnamon flavor, the rolls from St. George’s Kawffee Pot possessed a delightful amount of cinnamon goo. These rolls also had a rich and flavorful icing with elements of vanilla and almond.  These were definitely the sweetest of the contenders; if you’re looking for a rich and dessert-like treat, Kawffee Pot is the way to go!  The rolls themselves were quite fluffy, moist, and flavorful.

The Heartiest

Radina’s and Bluestem Bistro, both located in Manhattan, served up the heartiest rolls we tried – maybe meals in themselves.  Both rolls were light, airy, and very fluffy!  Both less sweet than their rivals, Radina’s quality bread delivered a cinnamon roll that felt a little more appropriate for breakfast than dessert. Bluestem Bistro’s rolls were by far the fluffiest and most moist of our contenders.

Icing on the Cake!

The Alma Bakery and Sweet Shoppe and Sugar Creek in St. Marys both had such impeccable icing, our data collection resulted in a tie.  Thick, buttery, and perhaps sour cream-y, Sugar Creek delivered an outstanding icing that complimented their perfectly sized moist, albeit a bit dense, rolls.  Alma has stood out as a fan favorite around the office, in part due to their delicate, natural flavored icing paired with light and airy rolls with a strong cinnamon flavor.  These rolls didn’t last long around the office, what did last was the team scheming up reasons to drive to Alma for more.

Best in Show

Perfect and strategically located down the street from Tallgrass Title headquarters.  Our old faithful Friendship House cinnamon rolls.  Moist, light, and hearty cinnamon rolls with a perfect ratio of rich, buttery icing. And impeccably cute.  100% of respondents said these rolls were just right on sweetness, although there was some disagreement on whether they had quite enough cinnamon.

A Nutty Honorable Mention

A visit to Clay Center brought the Tasty Pastry into the competition. However, they were fresh out of cinnamon rolls that day.  Lucky for us, a local advised we check out the Nut Rolls.  Covered in scrumptious nuts with plenty of cinnamon, icing, and still in a roll shape! These treats might qualify more as donuts but trust me, they still won us over.

 

Here at Tallgrass Title, we’re happy to help with all your title insurance needs, it’s our job!  Feel free to contact our title professionals with questions arising with a current closing or general inquiries about title and escrow services.  We’re also happy to offer our recommendations for the best local treats and eats. …we’d like to think it’s our job!

Construction Hold-Open Commitments

The 2020 residential building season is now upon us!   Building season brings construction loans and the title concerns that come with this type of financing.   There can be concerns about the duplication of title services and costs that come along with it as well as insuring that the title to the real estate does not collect liens and other title issues prior to permanent financing.   At Tallgrass Title, we are pleased to offer a “construction hold-open” type commitment to assist in the construction of residential property.

Tallgrass Title is proud to say that we can assist in this area!

Q:  How is residential construction financed?

A:  People constructing a home will typically borrow money in order to finance the construction with a “construction loan.”  A construction loan is short term financing of real estate construction.  Generally, a construction loan is followed by long term financing called an “End Loan” that is issued upon completion of improvements.

Q:  Do both loans need title insurance?

A:  Because of the nature of a construction loan, Lenders are often concerned about the length of time a commitment is valid from its issuance.  Commonly, the commitment expires before the construction can be completed and  before going to end loan. To solve this issue, lenders will pay for a full title policy on the construction loan and then again on the end-loan.  The downside is that this creates duplicated costs.

How we can help:

Tallgrass Title is the only title insurance company in the area that offers a “Construction Hold-Open Commitment.”  A Construction Hold Open Commitment provides periodic updates of the construction loan commitment every 120 days keeping the title coverage valid until the end loan is closed.  Therefore, the costs are not duplicated between the construction loan and the end loan.

How to request:

Simply order a Construction Hold-Open Commitment from Tallgrass Title and we will perform the initial search and issue a Commitment for a $200 fee.  The Construction Hold-Open Commitment is then valid for 120 days from the Commitment Date and can be renewed for an additional 120 days with an update. We will perform two updates as part of the initial fee.  We will typically send out an update reminder when the expiration date is near. However, we do not perform updates without a request from the lender. After the second update, if further updates are required there will be an additional $50 fee per update. Construction Hold-opens can remain open indefinitely with the appropriate updates.

When the construction is complete and the mortgage is ready to go to End Loan or final policy we will do a final update at no additional charge. When the Final Mortgage is ready to be filed we collect the Premium and any Endorsement fees and record the New Mortgage. Our office must record the Mortgage and any other required documents with the Register of Deeds Office to ensure that the title is free and clear of any possible new liens. When the recorded documents come back from the county and all the requirements are met we will issue the Policy.

For those of you that use our Paperless Closer system, simply note that the loan is for new construction and type into the notes that you want a Construction Hold-Open Commitment.  If you prefer to email the order, please note the request on your order form.

Please contact our office if you have any questions!  We look forward to assisting you in the 2020 building season. 

Wet-Ink or Electronic Signatures on Closing Documents

Here at Tallgrass Title we are focused on helping to make each transaction happen as smoothly as possible. One of the tools we encourage people to use is electronic signatures. Programs such as Dotloop®, DocuSign®, and many others provide a secure platform for buyers, sellers, and realtors to affix their signatures to documents quickly and efficiently.

At the beginning of a transaction, contracts, addendums, and disclosures can be signed electronically. This cuts down on the time and shoe leather it takes to obtain documents to get the process started. Most programs also have a way to send a copy of the signed documents to the title company, so you don’t have to save a copy somewhere else on your computer to pass on later.

Soon after the commitment is sent out, our closing agents generate the Buyer Preliminary Documents and the Seller Deed Packet. We send them out as soon as possible and encourage early signatures as it helps the closing process go more smoothly. Our Buyer Prelim Doc packet can be signed electronically in its entirety.  This packet includes a warning sheet about wire fraud; it is very important that it is read by the buyers at the earliest opportunity. Scammers and fraudsters try to steal earnest money deposits, not just closing funds! The fraud sheet also shows that we have partnered with a secure company called CertifID® to send and receive wire instructions. This program verifies the senders/receivers’ identities, verifies the wire instructions, and insures each wire sent using the verified instructions.

The Seller Deed Packet also includes a warning about wire fraud in case they would like to have us wire their proceeds to them at closing. This document and all other documents that do not need a notary’s signature may also be signed electronically. As a reminder: the Information Release form and the 1099 tax sheet require the seller’s social security number so please send the completed documents back to us securely. The Deed and any Affidavits will need to be signed in the presence of a notary. Your clients can either meet with a notary of their choice or they can visit our office where one of our notaries would be happy to assist. During this time of social-distancing, we do ask that you call us to let us know when they are coming.

The final documents that are needed for closing are the settlement statements and the loan paperwork if the buyers are receiving financing. For our purposes, the sellers can sign their statements electronically and don’t need to come to a closing appointment in person unless they choose to do so. As of this time, the buyers do need to sign their loan packet in person, either at their bank or in our office. Some lenders have begun to have buyers sign a portion of the documents electronically to reduce the amount of time needed to complete the closing. However, the buyers do need to sign the mortgage and a few other documents before a notary.

Please reach out to us to discuss which methods best fit your transaction. Our agents are happy to help walk you through the tasks that can be completed electronically in order to help your transaction go smoothly.

What the Heck is a “Notary” Anyway and Why Do Certain Documents Need One?

A “Notary Public” or simply “Notary” for short, is a public officer that has received legal authority to perform certain functions intended to prevent fraud and forgery.  Each state has its own set of laws that govern the duties of notaries.  Notaries in Kansas perform five basic functions:

  1. Take acknowledgments
  2. Administer oaths and affirmations
  3. Take a verification upon oath or affirmation
  4. Witness or attest a signature
  5. Certify or attest a copy

With real estate transactions, you will most likely encounter a notary for the purposes of witnessing a signature and administering an oath.  In witnessing the signing of a document, the notary will verify that you are the person you claim to be, watch you sign a document and then stamp the document with their notarial seal.  When administering an oath, the notary will have you raise a hand and swear that the information contained in the document is true and correct. Most people will encounter this scenario in their lives.

But what is the notary actually doing and why do you need them to perform these functions?

With a non-notarized signature, another individual viewing a signed document must identify, prove, or trust that the signature was actually made by the person purporting to sign.  If you consider that a deed in a real estate transaction can pass real estate worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, it is easy to see that the area could be rife with fraud.  A Kansas Notary, as stated above, is a public officer that has been vetted by the Kansas Secretary of State and deemed trustworthy to perform the duties of a notary.  A notary also must provide a “bond” insuring their duties as a notary.

In witnessing a person sign a document, the notary is creating a presumption that a person is the individual that signed the document.  In the law, a presumption means that the burden of proving a fact has shifted to the other side.  Therefore, when a signature is notarized, it is presumed, or more likely than not, that the signature is authentic.  A person challenging the authenticity of a notarized document has the burden of presenting evidence that is persuasive enough to overcome the presumption in proving that a person did not sign a document.

Additionally, in Kansas, all documents that are filed with a county’s Register of Deeds must  be notarized as required by law.  So, for most real estate transactions, this includes a deed and mortgage.  These are also the documents that are responsible for the conveyance of the interest in real estate, making it easy to understand why such a requirement exists.

In real estate transactions, affidavits (sworn statements of fact) are the most common sworn statements encountered.  Usually, these come in the form of affidavits of death, affidavits of equitable interest, or affidavits of debts and liens.  Most of the time, they are used to clarify or clear a title concern and are required by a lender or title company as part of a transaction.

As one can see, Notary Publics serve a very important role of preventing fraud and forgery in every real estate transaction. At Tallgrass Title, every one of our team members is a Notary Public and understands the importance of that role and duty that it carries. Should this post present questions regarding the role of a notary in a real estate transaction, feel free to contact our office.  We are happy to assist!

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.

Multiple Owners of Real Estate and Ownership Interests

Ownership in Property

When it comes to holding title in real estate with another person or entity, there are two highly common ways to be vested on a deed: Tenants in Common and Joint Tenants with the Rights of Survivorship.

Tenants in Common is ownership of the real estate between two individuals and entities or more.  The ownership is undivided, meaning that your ownership is of the whole tract or real estate and not a particular portion. Additionally, the ownership can be held in equal shares or unequal shares. If owned by individuals and one of those tenants dies, their interest would then pass to their heirs.  Also, as a tenant in common, you may typically freely transfer your percentage of ownership in the real estate.

The second main way of holding title to real estate with another is Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship (JTWRS).  JTWRS is mostly seen between married couples or various family members. Like tenants in common, each party shares an undivided interest in the real estate. However, that interest share is equal and upon the death of one party their share transfers automatically to the surviving owner.   You can see why this is most typical between married couples.

Interest in Property

Marital interest also comes in to play when owning real estate in Kansas. The State of Kansas is what is known as a “One to Buy, Two to Sell” state. Even if a spouse is not named on a deed or other document transferring ownership, they still have what is called a marital interest. This comes in to play when selling or mortgaging a piece of property. Even if John is the only one in title, John and his wife, Jill, must both sign any deed transferring or mortgaging the property (with one small exception that is specific and too lengthy for this discussion. However, feel free to give me a ring and I will explain).

Another way to possess interest in a property is by way of an equitable interest. This is commonly seen in installment contracts. Typically, the buyer of the real estate under contract will not receive a deed until all of the payments are made.  Therefore, an Affidavit of Equitable Interest is filed. When an Affidavit of Equitable Interest is filed with the Register of Deeds it is a declaration that another party has interest in the property creating a cloud on the title. Party A still retains ownership of the property, but Party B has declared that they have equity in the real estate.

Finally, a Transfer on Death Deed is a statement of future ownership in property. This is often used in estate planning and can simplify things for loved ones after an owner has passed away. This type of ownership does not pass an interest in the real estate until the grantor on the deed has passed.  Additionally, this deed is fully revocable until the death of the grantor.

These are just a few of the different types of joint ownership of real estate and common ownership interest scenarios that you might encounter when buying or selling property. At Tallgrass Title, it’s our job to walk through these situations with you and ensure that our clients are transferring and receiving real estate with clean title. We’re happy to answer any question you may come across about the many kinds of ownership!

What Do Lower Interest Rates Mean to a Realtor?

Those in the real estate industry are well aware of the fact that interest rates for loans have been lowered by the Federal Reserve over the last couple of months.  This reduction in turn lowers the interest rate paid by a borrower for a loan with their bank.  Lower interest rates have caused a large increase in loan “refinancing.”  Refinancing simply means replacing your existing home loan or commercial loan with a new loan at a lower interest rate to save financing costs or to increase the amount borrowed without affecting monthly payments.  For example, if a consumer borrows $200,000 at 4.0% interest with a 30-year term, their monthly payment would be $955.  That same loan at 3% interest would result in a monthly payment of $843.  The benefit is clear:  under this scenario, a consumer would be paying $100 less per month for the same borrowed amount.  Who wouldn’t want to save a $100 a month on their monthly payment?!!

So, people are refinancing their home loans and other commercial loans.  But how does that affect a Realtor?

As a buyer’s agent, you are well aware of your client’s “buying power.”  Meaning: what can your buyer afford?  At the end of the day, what your buyer can afford translates to “what payment can they afford.”  With lower interest rates, principal goes farther and a buyer can afford payments on a larger mortgage and ultimately the buying power of a buyer increases. Therefore, what houses you are showing a client could change.  Even more important is if you have a Buyer that was pre-approved several months ago and has not yet found a home to purchase, it would be wise to have the buyer update their pre-approval.

As a seller’s agent, you are often tasked with consulting with your client on how to reach a listing price for real estate.  Through comparable sales, inventory and available potential buyers, a list price is reached.  As discussed above, due to lowered interest rates, the buying power of potential purchasers has increased.  Based upon the increased buying power, there could be a larger pool of potential buyers for your list property.  Therefore, the list price may be increased if supply does not support the potentially higher demand created by the larger pool of buyers.  It’s basic economics.  However, the interest rates decrease is certainly important to evaluate when consulting on establishing new list prices.

Of course, this post is not encouraging agents to encourage buyers to purchase to the maximum amount of their financing ability or to encourage the increase on listing prices of property.  Each transaction will require the expertise and market knowledge of a Realtor to make those determinations.  Rather, this post is meant to spur the discussion of market impacts due to lower interest rates, especially in the Riley, Geary, Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee County markets.  Our team at Tallgrass Title understands the market impacts caused by interest rate changes and have recently seen a significant increase in refinance title insurance orders.  We are happy to discuss these changes and how they affect your clients.  It’s our job!

Combating Current Trends in Wire Fraud

By now most of you are probably familiar with the idea of scammers trying to steal buyers’ purchase funds. Since that amount is usually several thousands of dollars it makes sense that thieves would be interested in it. It ends up being a decent-sized reward for very little effort and risk.

Recently, we were made aware of a different twist in the wire fraud trend. Lately, title companies have started seeing scammers go after earnest money deposits. Even though the amount is relatively small, multiple thefts can add up to a nice paycheck.

How do they do it? A scammer hacks into a realtor’s or a closing agent’s email and waits. Pretty soon he (or she) starts seeing messages about a sale transaction. He emails the buyer posing as the realtor or title agent with wire instructions for their earnest deposit. The contract is signed and the buyer follows the scammer’s instructions not knowing he has been scammed. Eventually someone notices that the earnest money never was deposited, but it is usually too late to stop the funds from going to the wrong place. Unfortunately, the amount is so small that it might be virtually untraceable as well.

Here are a couple of ways to help reduce the risk of it happening to your clients:

Educate your clients! As soon as a potential client contacts you, begin arming them with the tools they can use to protect themselves. Sure, you don’t want to freak anybody out, but go ahead and warn them about the potential risk and what you will do to help keep them safe. Have them read and sign wire fraud information sheets as they sign their initial offer. Explain to them that you will NEVER, EVER email them about wire information. Go ahead and give your clients the confirmed contact information of the title company they will be using so they can confirm any wire information being sent to them.

Make sure your email is secure. Do not use a free email service. No matter how annoying it is to do it, change your password often! Send all documents relating to a transaction securely. If you think about it, a contract has names, money amounts, closing date, and contact info for some of the parties. It’s a goldmine of information for any scammer who may have managed to hack into your email. So send those documents through secure portals to keep everybody safe.

Help keep funds secure. Encourage your clients to use the secure programs offered by title companies, including CertifID for wire instructions and Earnnest for digital funds transfers.

The bottom line is we must respect every transfer of funds and work to protect those funds. If we don’t try to do anything about wire fraud, or think that it only happens to someone else, we are letting criminals have their way. A small action on our part could spike a scammers gun.