Tag: selling

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!

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.

Tallgrass Title partners with Earnnest!!

In efforts to further assist our buyers, sellers, and realtors, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Earnnest to bring an additional option to your tool kit.

What is Earnnest?

Earnnest is a web app that allows for the electronic and instantaneous transfer of buyer’s earnest money into our Tallgrass Title trust account.  This service eliminates the requirement of delivering a physical check to our office or paying costly wire fees.

Functioning much like Venmo, PayPal, or Cash App, Earnnest is a perfect tool for transactions with out of town buyers, buyers unable to leave work, or for Millennials without check books!

How does it work?

  • The real estate agent or the title company (that’s us) sends a request to the buyer for the value of the earnest money
  • The Buyer gets a text or e-mail notification
  • The Buyer verifies their identity and makes the payment
  • The title company and escrow holder receives the payment instantaneously!
  • Tallgrass Title generates an electronic earnest money receipt for the realtor file.

With the technology of Earnnest in conjunction with electronic signature apps, the contract signing and escrow set up can be fully digital! No one needs to leave their office or their couch.

At Tallgrass Title, our mission is to make your transaction as smooth and easy as possible.  Earnnest is another step we have taken to continue that mission.  We would love to demonstrate further how this new tool works for you! Please give us a call for details or simply request to get started with Earnnest for your next escrow!

Website Security Added at Tallgrass Title

In the digital age that we live, everything is online.  You can shop online, meet people online, even work online.  The internet has made everything from checking the time for a movie to buying groceries faster and more convenient.  However, while it is super convenient, it comes with its own risks.  Cyber crime is at a record high.  We all know how to use the internet, however, not everyone knows how to keep themselves and their information safe online.  At Tallgrass Title, we recognize the need for people to protect themselves and are constantly looking for new ways to protect our clients.  We blog, teach classes, and review online security with our clients.  However, there is always room for improvement, and we are always looking for more ways to be more secure.  We found one.  Our website document sharing portal is now secured with SSL Certificates.  These are Secure Sockets Layer protocol certificates, or SSL Certs.  Secure Sockets Layer is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server and a client.  Without the SSL, anything you send out of your computer is in plain text, something that is more easily read.  However, with SSL, instead of sending out plain text, an algorithm is used to determine the secret code in which the email will be sent.  So, to put it simply, we have made communication with our office encrypted.  Technology is constantly growing and evolving, as are the risks that come with using it.  We tell our clients and patrons different ways to be safe online, but now we can say: We are extra safe for you!

MHK Office

 

As most of you know, we recently opened an office in MHK. We had the opportunity to talk a little about our new adventure! Check out the video below!

 

 

HELOCs and Second Mortgages

When most consumers purchase a home, they obtain conventional financing for the purchase.  This often takes the form of a 30-year, fixed rate loan.  In order to secure the loan made to you, the bank files a mortgage with the register of deeds.  This document tells the world that the bank has a first-place lien against the house and if any other creditors file a lien, that lien will be inferior to the first-place loan.  Now, let’s say that the same homeowner would like to make improvements to their home, add a pool or build a garage and would like to borrow additional money to do so.  The homeowner may also want to borrow funds for reasons unrelated to the home such as consolidation of credit card debt, assisting a child with college tuition or a business venture.

So, rather than to refinance the entire home loan and file a new mortgage, etc, to account for the increase in the loan, a bank will often file a second mortgage.  This can also take the form of a home equity line of credit type mortgage (HELOC) which is also usually a second mortgage as well.  The difference is typically the bank will automatically release a second mortgage upon payoff.  With a HELOC, the bank will keep the mortgage filed and the note open to allow a consumer to re-advance funds as needed.  Only upon request of the homeowner will the bank release the mortgage upon payoff.  This saves the costs and expense of making a new loan every time a homeowner wants to borrow funds.

HELOC’s and second mortgages can be obtained with the bank that made the first purchase loan or with a different institution as selected by the homeowner. The bank handling the loan will usually order title insurance to insure that the mortgage is secured against all liens, besides the first place mortgage.  If a consumer with a second place mortgage or HELOC later decides to sell the real estate, the title company simply pays off the second mortgage the same as it pays the first at closing.  The only additional step is to request additional payoff information.  Of course, there are many different types of second mortgages and HELOC’s.  it is a good idea to discuss options with a finance professional.

Here at Tallgrass Title, we deal with second mortgages and HELOCs on a daily basis.  Should you have any questions during your purchase, sale or refinance, feel free to contact our title professionals.  We are here to help, its our job!

You’re Invited

Hello Manhattan! Please join us at the grand opening of the Manhattan office of Tallgrass Title. We are having a reception at our location in the Hartford Building on April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. and we’d like for you to attend.

Local group, Solar’s Jazz Quartet will be delivering musical treats for your ears.  Amazing food will be provided by Blacksheep Catering and Jake will being offering specialty cocktails.

We’ve heard from many of our customers they’d like for us to open an office in Manhattan, and as your newest neighbors, we want to hear how we can best serve you. We are excited to see you at our event so that we may learn more about your needs as a real estate professional.

The event will be held at our new office located in the Hartford Building located at 210 N. 4th.

Come out and eat, drink and say hello!

The Secret is Out!

Please save the date! Tallgrass Title is opening a new office in Manhattan, and we’re hosting a bash at the Hartford Building on April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. that we’d like for you to attend.

At Tallgrass Title we know how to throw a great party, so expect more than a typical grand opening. We are excited to meet you and learn more about your needs as a real estate professional.

We’ve heard from many of our customers they’d like for us to open an office in Manhattan, and as your newest neighbors, we want to hear how we can best serve you. In the coming days, look for updates and an invite containing details regarding food, cocktails and music.

The event will be held at our new office located in the Hartford Building located at 210 N. 4th.

We cannot wait to see you there!

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.