Why Do I Need Title Insurance?

Title insurance protects against problems affecting the title to a home, which is likely a families most valuable asset. Homebuyers are protected from ownership issues by purchasing an Owner’s Policy of title insurance (for a full list of policies and comparisons- click here), which ensures that the title to their property is clear of liens or encumbrances, such as unpaid mortgages, property taxes or child support liens, to name just a few.

The American Land Title Association created this short video to explain the importance of title insurance.

https://youtu.be/t36BZG1VXRg

Changes Coming August 1st 2015!

You may have heard about the Final Integrated Mortgage Disclosures Rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was tasked with combining the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) disclosures. Below is a short video describing some of the impact these changes will have on your real estate transactions beginning August 1st 2015.

Email Encryption Guide

The FTC’s Safeguards Rule, enacted under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, requires financial institutions to implement reasonable policies and procedures to ensure the security and confidentiality of sensitive non-public customer information (NPI). In addition we must encrypt certain documents containing NPI in accordance with CFPB compliance requirements and ALTA Best Practices requirements.

When you receive an encrypted email, you will need to create an account in order to open the email. No matter which email you use; be it web based like Gmail/Yahoo or POP3 like Outlook, the procedure for setting up the account is the same once you have received the initial email. (For this example I set
up a sample Gmail account to show the steps). You will initially receive 2 emails, the notification to create an account and a notification of the encrypted message.If you have not registered yet, you will be prompted to create an account and choose a password with McAfee. A guide to assist you is posted below.
(Email Encryption Guide and FAQ)

What Every Realtor Should Know About Title Insurance

Make sure your clients are protected!

The process of buying a home is complicated. Consumers can become confused and frustrated with the mounds of paperwork and documents to sign. Fees show up at closing that can sometimes surprise the buyer.

Title insurance is one of those charges little understood by homebuyers, who often see it as just another fee they have to pay to buy a home. As an important advisor to your clients, you can help them understand the value that title insurance provides, and the dangers that can be incurred without it.

Title insurance protects against problems affecting the title to a home, which is likely your client’s most valuable asset. Homebuyers are protected from ownership issues by purchasing an Owner’s Policy of title insurance (for a full list of policies and comparisons- click here), which ensures that the title to their property is clear of liens or encumbrances, such as unpaid mortgages, property taxes or child support liens, to name a few. Additionally, title professionals will look for anything that could limit the use of the property such as utility easements. When a title professional finds an issue, they work to resolve it– typically without you even knowing about it.

The majority of the one-time fee paid for an Owner’s Policy covers the cost for professionals with local expertise to discover, identify and repair issues caused by title issues that occurred in the past. Because of these preventive measures, title insurance is fundamentally different from other forms of insurance, which charge annual premiums to provide insurance protection for future events. This also means that title insurance has lower loss rates than other forms of insurance. In title insurance, a claim is serious, and a loss means your client’s homeownership is threatened. Low loss rates are good for consumers. The curative work performed by title agents (to contact your TSA title department click here) minimizes the fear, disruption and distress that title claims have on homeowners. An Owner’s Policy provides protection for as long as they or their heirs own the property. Having an Owner’s Policy means that the cost of defense and legal fees are paid by the title insurer for the homeowner.

Here’s an example of how an Owner’s Policy can protect a homeowner. Say your client recently purchased a new home from a builder. Unfortunately, the builder failed to pay the roofer. Wanting to be paid, the roofer filed a lien against the property. Without a title search alerting your client to this lien, and an Owner’s Policy protecting them, your client would become responsible for paying this debt—meaning they’d be paying the roofer instead of purchasing new living room furniture.

When purchasing real estate, consumers are free to select their own title professional or company. You can also make a recommendation or encourage consumers to ask friends and neighbors if they were happy with the title company they worked with and get a referral. Also suggest to your clients that they utilize a company that is part of its state’s title association or the American Land Title Association. If they are members, they are likely keeping abreast of state and federal trends and requirements.

Title insurance rates are regulated by state insurance departments. In addition, title insurance companies are regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Keep in mind that title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state laws and local real estate customs. Who pays for the Owner’s Policy varies from state to state and sometimes even within a state.

Together, Realtors, land title insurance professionals and other stakeholders involved in the real estate transaction can protect consumers and provide them with a better experience to the real estate closing process.

For more information about title insurance your clients can go to our website at www.titlesecurity.com or www.homeclosing101.org.

The Cost of Title Insurance IS Worth the Investment!

The Cost of Title Insurance IS Worth the Investment ~ Food for Thought

Fewer claims do not equate with a policy’s value

Whenever there’s an article in the news about title insurance, all too frequently there is criticism about the cost. This perception occurs because there are fewer claims with title insurance compared to other forms of insurance. The higher percentage of claims an insurance company pays should not be equated with the value and cost of the policy. This is especially true with title insurance.

Most types of insurance cover incidents that may occur in the future, which is the case with health, life, auto and homeowner’s insurance. The cost of these policies is based on the insurers’ estimation of how much they will likely pay out in claims over a given period, plus administrative costs and a reasonable profit. The volume of claims is typically high with these types of insurance.
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Title insurance, on the other hand, is based on loss prevention, which means that a much larger percentage of the premium dollar is spent preventing title problems from occurring. These upfront costs cover searching, identifying and eliminating risks that could result in a future claim.

A typical title search involves searching the public records, including visits to the offices of recorders or registers of deeds, clerks of courts and other officials, and the company’s own title plant. Title professionals look for such things as second or third mortgages, judgments, liens, street and sewer system assessments, special taxes and levies, and numerous other matters. No other line of insurance does this level of due diligence before issuing a policy.

Over the long term, title insurers pay fewer claims than other insurers, but their operating expenses are much higher because of these upfront costs. To compare, operating expenses for property and casualty companies, which issue auto and homeowners insurance, is less than 30 percent of revenues. The expense ratio for title insurers averages 90 percent.

Another reason some mistakenly believe that title insurance costs are high is because they don’t fully understand its value. Title insurance protects the single largest financial investment most people make. One out of every four residential real estate transactions has an issue with the title, which is usually resolved by title professionals before the buyer closes.

When there is a claim, it is often due to a title defect that was undetected during the title search. The most common problems resulting in title claims are the result of fraud and forgery. And, when there is a loss, it is usually significant—sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance, which can be obtained in addition to a Loan Policy, remains in effect for as long as the policyholder (or their heirs) owns the property that is insured. A claim could actually be filed 50 or 100 years after the policy was issued. And, an Owner’s Policy covers legal expenses involved in defending the title on behalf of the homeowner.

The cost for title insurance is a one-time fee, as opposed to other lines of insurance that charge a monthly, quarterly or annual premium over the life of the policy. When you consider the size of the asset being protected, title insurance is probably the best value among the majority of costs associated with closing on a new home.

The American Land Title Association helps educate consumers about title insurance so that they can better understand their choices and make informed decisions. Homebuyers, regulators and legislators are encouraged to check out the website, www.homeclosing101.org, to learn more about title insurance and the closing process.

Escrow Tip: Transaction Dates and Terms

When it comes to dates and terms of an escrow transaction, it is common to misunderstand the terms used when discussing the steps in an escrow. The escrow closing occurs between the time a seller accepts the purchase agreement and the buyer gets the keys to the new home. Such terms as the date of signing, funding, closing of escrow, recording, and disbursement are often used throughout the process of an escrow transaction. Below are the terms and their intended meanings.

Signing is the date all parties sign all of the documents. Generally, the Sellers and Buyers sign at different times, so more than one signing date may apply.

Funding is the date the lender sends loan proceeds to escrow or when the Buyers deliver good funds if they are paying cash for the transaction.

Closing of escrow (often abbreviated as COE) is the date agreed to in the written contract between the Seller and Buyer or any extension or amendments made thereafter.

Recording is the date a transaction is recorded with the county to transfer the real property from the Sellers to the Buyers. The deed is recorded along with any deed of trust or lien placed on the property, for the benefit of the lender which has loaned money to the Buyer for the purchase of the property.

Disbursement of funds occurs once all necessary documents have been recorded.

Many times several of the dates occur in quick succession of each other. If the Buyers are being financed by a lender, escrow will receive the loan documents, arrange for the parties to come in and sign all closing and loan documents, submit the signed documents to the lender for approval, receive the funds, obtain funding approval from the lender to record, and disburse the funds to the Seller and any other parties to be paid. The ultimate goal is for the closing to occur within the time period set and agreed to by the contract entered into by the Buyer and Seller. Contact your Escrow Officer at Title Security Agency for assistance in determining the process for your particular transaction. You can find a list and their contact information by clicking the following link: Escrow Directory

Escrow Tip: Opening Escrow – Upfront Information

Good customer service is the lifeblood of our industry. Good customer service is reflected in the number of repeat customers a company has. The essence of all good customer service is to form relationships with customers and to be effective in communicating and receiving information to and from everyone involved. Here at Title Security Agency we strive to have great relationships with our customers, both new and repeating!

We have found that we are able to offer exceptional customer service more readily if we have as much information about the customer up front upon opening of a transaction. The more information we get up front, all the better! In our business we are often dealing with people and entities, some of whom may have the same last names. Having our customers supply us with the full legal name and marital status of the parties is very helpful. When dealing with a seller that is an entity, the full legal name of the entity along with the type of entity and where it may be filed or incorporated is a great deal of help. When researching a property our company uses the parties information to conduct the most thorough search and to both eliminate and incorporate requirements in our title commitments. The more information we have relative to the entities or persons, the greater accuracy there will be in the title commitments that are issued and the subsequent documents that all parties prepare for the closing of the transaction.

Including the email addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers for all parties to the transaction affords everyone involved in the transaction the benefit of prompt communication. Prompt communication during a real estate transaction is essential, one can never have too many means by which to reach the parties.

Any time you execute a contract check it over and see if your contract contains:

  1. Full names of parties/entities – including marital status or entity information;
  2. Email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses of all parties to the contract;
  3. Legible information – whenever possible please print or if available use a computer and type in all information.

Press Release: Title Security Agency forms Joint Venture with First American Title

From the desk of Vivian Boggie, Executive Vice President & COO:

I am excited to announce today that Title Security Agency has agreed to form a joint venture with First American Title Company, with the transaction expecting to close by May 1, 2014. Title Security Agency’s wholly owned subsidiary, Landmark Title Assurance Agency – Tucson Division, will also become part of the joint venture.

The new company will be called Title Security Agency, LLC, and we will now be part of one locally owned and managed company that will serve customers participating in all types of residential and commercial real estate transactions in Tucson, Green Valley and Casa Grande. The new company will offer you a stronger leadership team, 170 talented employees, 20 office locations, greater financial strength, and more advanced tools and technologies.

I will serve as President and CEO of Title Security Agency. You can expect business to continue as usual, with even more benefits that we can now offer you, our valued customer. Our team and I look forward to working with you for many years to come.

Bruce Jacobs will serve as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Title Security Agency, LLC

If you have any questions about our new company, please let me know.

Vivian Boggie
Executive Vice President & COO
Office: (520) 885-1600
Direct: (520) 618-7412
Fax: (520) 258-7640

Escrow Tip: International Funds

International Funds

When dealing with an international customer, they should consult with their Title Security Agency escrow officer as to the acceptance of funds via personal check or outgoing wire procedures due to our NEW company policy.

Incoming wires are always accepted, this NEW Title Security Agency policy is only involving outgoing wires, and incoming personal checks, cashier’s checks & money orders – that are subject to clearing by the international bank and can take up to 8 weeks for clearing

Escrow Tip: Why does my refinance need Title Insurance

Why does my refinance need Title Insurance?

When you refinance, you still keep your Owner’s Policy from your purchase, but Lenders will require a new title search and Loan Policy to protect their lien holder position in the property.

Even if your home was recently purchased, there are still issues that could arise with the title due to mechanics liens, unpaid judgments, or tax liens. Perhaps easements have recently been created. All of these items may affect the use of the property, or otherwise “encumber” the title.

Whether you are purchasing a new or existing home, or refinancing, title insurance provides an underwriting service to mortgage lenders to ensure the borrower has clear ownership rights to the property, free and clear of any other claims to ownership. Strong underwriting protects consumers, and title insurance fulfills a key part of this due diligence.

Title Security Agency of Arizona is here to assist you and your lender whenever title insurance is needed.

Escrow Tip: What information is found in the Title Commitment?

What information is found in the Title Commitment?

Upon opening escrow and the completion of the title search, you will receive a Commitment for Title Insurance, and copies of those matters as disclosed in Schedule B Section 2-Exceptions
(NOTE: If you do not receive these documents with the Commitment for Title Insurance, request them from your Escrow Officer).

The Commitment for Title Insurance has three schedules: Schedule A and Schedule B Section 1-Requirements and Schedule B Section 2-Exceptions. Below is a brief description of some of the matters reflected in the referenced schedules.

Schedule A

  • Effective Date of Commitment. (The date through which the records of the County Recorder have been searched.)
  • Proposed Owners Policy to be issued, the amount of coverage (sales price) and the proposed insured (Buyer).
  •  Proposed Loan Policy (if applicable) to be issued, the amount of coverage (loan amount) and the proposed insured (Lender).
  •  Type of Interest to be insured in subject property (In most cases this will be Fee).
  •  Legal Description of the property to be insured.

 

Schedule B Section 1-Requirements

  •  Payment of delinquent real and personal property taxes, if any.
  •  Payment of Homeowners Association transfer fees and charges.
  •  Payoff and recordation of a release of any loans, judgments and/or liens affecting title to the subject property.
  •  Recordation of a release of any previously paid liens that have not yet been released of record.
  •  Recordation of corrective documents as may be determined through the examination of the title.
  •  Request for authority documents of a legal entity that may be involved in the transaction (i.e corporate resolution, LLC operating agreement, trust agreement).
  •  Recordation of document(s) transferring title to buyer. (Deed)
  •  Recordation of lenders security document. (Deed of Trust)

Schedule B Section 2-Exceptions
The matters reflected in this section affect the title to the real property. You will take title “Subject To”  these matters of record (i.e. easements, right of ways, covenants, conditions and restrictions, homeowners association, taxing districts, well agreements, road maintenance agreements).

You should review these documents with your real estate agent and/or legal advisor.

Escrow Tip: The Plat Map

THE PLAT MAP
Viewing the Subdivision Plat Map for the subject purchase property is essential due diligence for every buyer and their agent. Information found on a plat map cover sheet and final plat can include:

· Lot Dimensions

· Private and public utility easements

· “No access” easements

· Setbacks

· Designated water provider

· Zoning

· Private and public streets

· Recorder’s sequence #’s for additional research documents like CC&Rs and permits

Many of the Title Commitment “Schedule B” items (the items the buyer is taking “Subject to”) may be found in the Dedication, the General Notes, and the Keynotes/Legend) sections of the subdivision Plat Map.

The plat map is included with the Title Commitment, and copies can also be obtained from our Property Research Department.

Escrow Tip: HUD Homes

All Contracts ratified on or after 11/17/2013 will be subject to the “Buyer Select” closing agent program. The Buyer will now get to choose their own Title Company. HUD will no longer pay for the escrow fee, which now will be a Buyer expense. This is stated from BLB Resources “Buyer Select Closing Agent Addendum”. Item #5 of the HUD 9548/ Sales Contract form, has HUD either providing seller credits for financing and closing costs, or in some cases they do not pay anything, except recordation of the Deed.

As part of the contract process, HUD will have your Escrow Officer sign a “HUD-Closing Instructions and Certification” and sign and initial their “Attention Escrow” documents. These forms require a State License number and HUD ID # (or Title ID #). Contact your Title Security Agency Escrow Officer and they can provide you with both. A complete list of our Escrow Officers can be found here.

Escrow Tip – Home Warranties

Please make sure lines 258-264 of the Purchase Contract are filled out as specifically as possible.

Example: Suppose the contract is silent on Line 262, and Line 263 just has a dollar amount of $600.00 to be paid by the seller. Does this mean the buyer’s agent can tack on as many extras as it would take to reach $600.00?

The words “at a cost not to exceed” mean that the seller has agreed to pay for the stated coverage only. If there is no optional coverage on the contract, then the seller has agreed to pay for a standard warranty policy and nothing more.

Do note – your Escrow Officer cannot order the home warranty for the transaction.

Escrow Tip: What is the time table for Payoff of Seller’s Loan?

Remember that Seller’s loan is not paid off the same day as their signing. As a rule of thumb your Escrow Officer will collect 5 extra days of interest, to account for the time between signing and the payoff, which occurs after the buyer’s lender funds. After the buyer’s lender funds, we can record. It is after recordation that we can send the seller’s payoff. If extra interest has been collected that is not needed for the payoff, it will be refunded by the seller’s lender thru the refund of their impound account.

An Example:
Seller signs on Monday November 4th and interest is collected thru Friday the 8th. Buyer’s loan funds on afternoon of Thursday 7th and the transaction records on Thursday at 4pm, which is past the wire cutoff time of 2pm. Seller’s payoff wire would go Friday Nov 8th.

For FHA loans the interest is collected for each month up front and is not calculated in days.
Keep that in mind, if the calendar month advances between seller’s signing and recordation.

Some of our emails to you are now encrypted – why?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) continues to put policies in place that follow their ongoing efforts for consumer protection. In response to these efforts, ALTA (American Land Title Association) has implemented some Best Practices for all title and escrow companies. One of these Best Practices is around how title and escrow companies handle Non Public Information (NPI).

NPI includes any information we hold in our systems and/or files that is non-public – specifically in our industry, that would be a social security number or personal tax ID numbers. ALTA now recommended that all companies that handle NPI information in files take every precaution to protect this information against security risks.

In response Title Security Agency has implemented a procedure and now all emails that contain NPI information will be encrypted. We are utilizing an encryption program by McAfee to secure these emails.

If we send you an email that may contain NPI, you will receive an email in your regular inbox. The subject line will state “secure web mail: outbound email encryption”. And it will show the email address of the Title Security employee who sent you the email. You will then be asked to click on a link to “access your secure web mail account”. Click on that link, and it will step you through how to set up your McAfee account. Once you have completed this set up process, you will be able to access the email by entering a password you have set up and can also respond to the email, if necessary.

I know that this may take a bit of time to get used to, but it is a system that is being put into place for an important reason – to protect you and your client’s personal information. With the increased cyber-fraud and identity theft in today’s world, we need to take every precaution to protect our consumers.

Please contact us with any questions you have about our new email encryption.

Escrow Tip – IRS Form 1099-S

When is a 1099-S issued in the sale of Real Property?

For sales or 1031 exchanges of certain real estate, the Escrow Officer is legally required to report the proceeds to the IRS using form 1099-S.

Some sales of principal residences are exempt from 1099-S reporting; in these cases an “IRS Form 1099-S Certification Exemption Form” is signed by the seller under penalty of perjury. Not all principal residences are exempt.

Some sellers exempt from 1099-S reporting are Corporations, Governmental Units and builders.

What Is Escrow?

As a buyer or seller, you want to be certain all conditions of your sale have been met before property and money changes hands. The technical definition of an escrow is, “A transaction where one party engages in the sale, transfer or lease of real or personal property with another person who delivers a written instrument, money or other items of value to a neutral third person, called an escrow agent or escrow holder.” The third person holds the money or items for disbursement upon the happening of a specified event or the performance of a specified condition.

Simply stated, the escrow holder impartially carries out the written instructions given by the principals. This includes receiving funds and documents necessary to comply with those instructions, completing or obtaining required forms and handling final delivery of all items to the proper parties upon successful completion of the escrow.

The escrow holder must be provided with the necessary information to close the transaction. This may include loan documents, tax statements, fire and other insurance policies, terms of sale and any financing obtained by buyer, and requests for various services to be paid out of the escrow funds.

If the transaction is dependent on arranging new financing, it is the buyer’s responsibility to make the necessary arrangements. Documentation of the new loan agreement must be in the hands of the escrow holder before the transfer of property can take place. When all instructions in the escrow have been carried out, the closing can take place. At this time, signatures are obtained by all parties, all outstanding funds are collected and fees such as title insurance premiums, real estate commissions, termite inspection charges, etc, are paid. Title to the property is then transferred under the terms of the escrow instructions and the appropriate title insurance policies are issued.