Tag: title

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!

Real Estate Taxes – 1st Half Due

In the state of Kansas, real estate taxes are paid in arrears. This means that the taxes for 2018 are not payable until the end of 2018. The county issues the tax statements in the beginning of November each year. The 1st half is due on December 20th and the 2nd half the following May.

How does this affect real estate sales?

As soon as the new tax statement is available at the county treasurer’s office in November, we obtain a copy of it. For all closings that happen between early November through the end of May, our closing agents ensure that the taxes are paid in full during closing. The only exception to this rule is when the Lender will pay the taxes directly out of the escrow account. For example, if a closing happens in February, the seller will pay the 2nd half taxes during closing, even though technically they are not due until May.

Why we do it this way:

In most counties, the new owners will not receive a 2nd half tax statement. So, it would be very easy to forget to pay the 2nd half in May. The treasurer’s office would think that the previous owners are responsible and send notices to them. However, the previous owners have already given a credit to the new owners to pay the bill (through the tax proration), so they actually aren’t responsible. As you can see, this can cause a lot of unnecessary stress on all the parties.

Things to tell buyers to reduce the stress:

  1. If there is an escrow account with the Lender, the taxes usually will be paid from it.
  2. The tax proration is a credit to the buyer for taxes that will come due in the future.
  3. We cannot be sure exactly how much the new taxes will be until the county tells us in November. But they usually are close to the amount due last year unless there was a building project.
  4. Realtors or buyers can always call our closing agents to ask questions. It doesn’t matter how many months ago the closing happened. We are happy to help you find the answers!

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.

How to Securely Share Documents to Paperless Closer

With email fraud at an all-time high, it is highly important that any information shared with your title company be transferred securely.  In addition to password protecting emailed documents, the Paperless Closer technology utilized by Tallgrass Title allows for you to securely upload documents to our system.  The process is simple, secure and live in our system as soon as the document is uploaded.  Utilizing this platform is an easy alternative to emailing documents that may possibly contain Non-public Personal Information.  We will have immediate access as soon as you complete the process below.

When you upload a document to Paperless Closer, the system automatically restricts access to it.  No one other than the admin for that Paperless Closer (the title company) can change the restrictions and allow others to access the documents.

If you have never uploaded a document to Paperless Closer before, here is how you do it.

STEP 1: Click on the Add Document Button at the bottom

STEP 2: Click on Choose File to browse and locate the document you would like to upload.

STEP 3: Make sure you name your document in the Description Box. Then hit the Save button.

STEP 4: Once you have saved the Document will appear in the Document Tab List along with any other Documents you have permission to view.

Documents will also be available to us on our system right away.

Paperless Closer requires that the user has a login ID and password.  If you do not have an account, call or email and we will set up login information for you.  Once you have access, you will need specific permission for each file you would like to view.  Finally, uploaded documents are restricted until permission for access to any document is granted.  Every layer is one more way that the client (Buyer, Seller, Realtor, Lender) is protected.

Paperless Closer functions in real time.  This means that as soon as a document is uploaded, anyone with permission can access it.

Additionally, the document can be uploaded securely to this portal from anywhere in the world.  This means that you can upload a contract without delivering to our office.  More and more, folks are uploading their new contracts and requesting our free courier to pick up an earnest money check.  In this scenario, you never have to leave your office or home!

At Tallgrass Title we take our clients’ security seriously.  If you have any questions or need some help with your Paperless Closer, we are only a phone call away!

Selling or Purchasing Property with a Trust

When buying or selling real estate involving a trust, many questions can arise. Who signs the documents on behalf of a trust?  What is needed to prove that a particular seller has the authority to sell property?  Are there additional documents that require filing with the County Register of Deeds in order to transfer real estate to and from a trust?  The purpose of this post is to help people involved in a real estate transaction to become more comfortable with these issues.

A trust is simply a contract between the creator of the trust and a person that promises to carry out the wishes of the creator.  The creator of the trust and the trusted person, “trustee”, are often the same person.  I know, it’s weird, but that is the basic arrangement.  So, basically, in a real estate transaction involving a trust, land is deeded to the trustee to hold at the direction of the written contract or “trust agreement.”  Oftentimes, people will state that property is “in a trust” or “held by a trust.”

When deeding property to a trustee, it is important for the buyer to understand how to properly title the deed.  Most often, it will read something like “John Smith, Trustee of the John Smith Revocable Living Trust date 1-1-2018.”  If you are buying real estate to be titled in the name of a trustee, you will need to provide this information to the title company.   If you are uncertain, please contact your attorney that prepared your trust document or provide a copy to the title company.  Often, the document will indicate how real estate is to be titled.

When selling real estate owned by a trust, the trust agreement must specifically give the authority of the trustee to sell or “alienate” real estate.  The title company handling the transaction will require to see this portion of the trust document or have the trustee complete a “certificate of trust” document that states that the trust grants them the authority to sell property.

Lastly, if the original trustee has passed away or resigned as trustee, the role of the trustee passes to a “successor trustee.”  Again, in order to prove that a successor trustee has authority to act on behalf of a trust, the trust agreement or some documentation of the transfer of authority will be required.

As real estate transactions involving trusts may require additional information, it is important to timely provide documentation as required by your title company.  Additionally, here at Tallgrass Title, our closing agents and title examiners are knowledgeable in how to handle transactions involving trusts.  If you have questions, feel free to contact our office.

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!