Tag: real estate

But really, have you met RON?

Ever since the State of Kansas passed and implemented permanent RON legislation, we’ve been hard at work to get RON off the ground and running.

We’re thrilled to introduce you to our friend RON.

Who/what is RON?

RON stands for Remote Online Notarization. This is the process of a signer appearing before a notary public (with RON designation) via a recorded audio-visual call. The documents are signed and notarized electronically, and the signer must complete KBA (knowledge-based authentication) identity verification prior to signing.

The implementation of KBA identity verification makes completing a signing and notarization with RON technology even more secure than in-person.

Why does RON matter?

Over the past few years we have come to understand the need to be flexible and introduce remote solutions. Beyond quarantine and illness, we’re living in an increasingly digital world. If you can order your groceries from your couch, why not buy or sell your house? Both are inevitably quicker and contact free.

The significance of RON goes beyond a matter of convenience. Sellers often move before the sale and buyers aren’t always available to close. Our Kansas RON notaries can complete a notarization with a signer anywhere in the United States. Over the past month, we’ve completed deed packets with sellers in Colorado, Iowa, Texas, and right here in the Flint Hills.  These signings took no more than 15 or 20 minutes, proving to be quicker and more cost effective than overnighting documents back and forth to out of state parties.

How does it work?

Tallgrass Title has partnered with the RON platform Pavaso in order to complete seamless notarizations. Like many other RON platforms, Pavaso boasts KBA identity tools and an environment to perform audio-visual sessions, that are recorded and stored for 10 years (should there ever be any question about a particular signing or document).

Pavaso also allows for your Tallgrass Title closers to act as the notary during these RON sessions, whereas many RON vendors require that you use their contracted notaries. We understand that relationships make up 90% of the work that we do – if you and your client utilize RON through Tallgrass Title, you and your clients will be meeting with your beloved Tallgrass Title closers.

If we decide that RON will be right for your next transaction, we will send the signer and any requested observers links to sign up for Pavaso in advance of the scheduled “closing” time. During this time, the signer will have access to review the documents they will be signing in advance. We feel that this gives the client opportunity to prepare questions for the closing agent and avoid the “rush” feeling that often accompanies in-person signings.

When will this be available?

It’s available now! We have been using RON to complete deed packets for several months now and have found this to be an excellent resource for sellers. We hope to utilize RON for loan packets in the future, but approval will always be up to the individual lender’s discretion. If your lending institution is interested in or already using RON, let’s talk!

That’s a wrap!

If your team would benefit from more information about this awesome resource, we’d love to sit down and provide you with more information and/or a demo! Please keep this awesome resource in mind for your next transaction. And as always, let us know how we can best serve you and your clients – it’s what we’re here for!

Closings with Karissa: Settlement Statements

As we prepare to close a transaction, we create settlement statements, which are documents demonstrating all debits and credits associated with the transaction. The American Land Title Association (ALTA) has provided a standard template for these forms, so they are recognizable and readable, no matter which title company you close your next transaction with. Whether the transaction is cash or financed, our office will provide ALTA Settlement Statements to both the Buyer and Seller. The Buyer and Seller statements are unique to their respective side of the closing and can only be shared with the other party if we have express permission in writing.

Sellers

When reviewing the Seller Settlement Statement you will find the sales price, any applicable credits the Seller gave to the Buyer in the contract, a tax proration (either a credit or debit depending on the time of year and if Seller paid them prior to closing or not), title expenses that consist of closing fees and title insurance premiums owed to the title company, any commissions due to realtors, payoffs of current liens, and any invoices or repairs that the Seller has agreed to pay for.

Buyers

When reviewing the Buyer Settlement Statement you will find the sales price, any applicable loan amounts, any applicable Seller credits the Seller agreed to within the contract, a tax proration (either a credit or debit depending on the time of year and if Seller paid them prior to closing or not), loan closing charges determined by the lender, impounds for the Buyers new escrow account collected at closing by the lender, title expenses that consist of closing fees and title insurance premiums owed to the title company, recording fees to file the deed and mortgage of public record with the county register of deeds office, and fees for any inspections or additional work the Buyer has requested prior to closing.

Buyer Settlement Statements may also be referred to as Buyer Settlement Statements.

Bottom Line

Both the Buyer and Sellers statements will include an amount that is either due from or due to that party.  If an amount is due from, this represents the amount due to the title company to close the transaction. If an amount is due to, then you should expect a proceeds check following closing!

This Buyer/Borrower settlement statement reflects the amount the due from the borrower in order to finalize the transaction.
This Seller settlement statement reflects the proceeds the seller will receive after all seller costs are paid.

Signing

As part of “closing” Buyers and Sellers need to review and sign their respective ALTA settlement statements in order to acknowledge their acceptance of the breakdown of debits, credits, and bottom line.

Sellers are more than welcome to sign in our office, with their realtor, on their own or electronically.

Buyers of cash purchases can do the same as above but in the case of a loan will need to sign with the title company, lender or mobile notary.

Questions?

If you have questions about you or your client’s ALTA Settlement Statement, give us a call! We are here to help make this a positive experience.

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: 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!

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.

Earnnest: the future of real estate transactions

Last March we introduced our partnership with Earnnest, a tool that allows for the fully digital transfer of funds (much like PayPal or Venmo) but made for real estate transactions! That means it was designed with safety and security in mind.

Earnnest provides a way for the digital transfer of client earnest money into the title company of your choice’s escrow account, verifies “good funds,” and distributes documentation of the payment and deposit to all parties.

How does it work?

The title company or the buyer’s agent can complete a request for earnest funds through the Earnnest app.  We are happy to complete this request on behalf of the realtor – just ask us!  In order to, we will need your buyer’s email, phone number, the property address, and the dollar amount. Your client will then receive a text and an email that “Tallgrass Title” is requesting funds.

     

Utilizing electronic methods of contract signing and delivery along with Earnnest allows your client’s new home to go under contract in minutes with zero travel and zero wire fees. The only cost associated with Earnnest is a $15 processing fee paid by clients when they complete the request.  With wire fees approaching $30 or $40, this saves you time and your client money.

What makes it secure?

Earnnest is partnered with the payment processor Dwolla, which sets up a secure connection between all parties with multiple levels of encryption. Earnnest uses Plaid to connect the buyer to their bank to complete the earnest money request and neither party obtains or stores your client’s bank account credentials or financial information.

It’s quick!

Once the buyer completes the request for earnest funds, all parties – the escrow company, the realtors involved, and the buyers – receive an email receipt verifying “Proof of Payment.” This tells us that the earnest money has been withdrawn from the buyers account, is verified as good funds, and is on its way!  Within 3 days, all parties will receive another receipt called “Proof of Deposit” – this tells us that the funds are officially in the hands of Tallgrass Title.  Contrary to how quick handing over a check seems, it isn’t always so fast.  Personal checks can take up to 10 days to clear the bank. Earnnest is the cleanest and quickest way to ensure the secure delivery of earnest money.

While entirely coincidental, adding Earnnest to our toolkit when we did was a gamechanger! Many of our everyday business practices have changed and we will continue to adapt as we move out of the Covid-era.  Adopting cutting edge tools for secure and paperless transactions will continue to be our standard.  We’re happy to utilize PaperlessCloser, CertifID, Dotloop, HelloSign, Earnnest, and another nifty product we’ll share with you in a couple of weeks that is going to make mobile transaction information and document access a reality.

Earnnest has even more to offer than we can cover here, if your curiosity is brimming, give us a call! Or you can check out Earnnest here! And if your client wants to complete their earnest deposit through Earnnest, we’d be happy to place the request for you or show you how!