Pesky Credit Card Payoffs

Credit Card Debt Consolidation

Many people have tapped into the equity of their home to consolidate debt. For years, settlement agents have closed refinance transactions which include instructions from the lender to pay off a list of credit cards. Over the years our industry has learned the pitfalls associated with making these payments but a new risk has emerged. Read on for the details.

In recent years many employers have beefed up their job application requirements in order to be eligible for hire. Job seekers are now subject to background and credit checks. Failure to manage personal finances can result in one’s inability to find a job in one’s desired field. This turned out to be the case for one borrower.

A Typical Debt Consolidation Loan

Credit Card Debt ConsolidationIn 2012 a gentlemen applied for a new loan. On his application he indicated he was applying for a debt consolidation loan as he had several credit cards with outstanding balances. The lender approved his application and opened the transaction with the local title company. Title prepared the title report and a payoff statement was ordered. The lender sent the loan documents to the closer who met with the borrower to have them executed.

At the signing the closer explained to the borrower the loan required the payment of several credit card balances. She asked him to provide the account number and payment address for each card. The borrower promised to send her the information.

Communication Breakdown

Four days later, the rescission period expired and the lender funded the loan. The closer contacted the borrower and asked him again for the payment information in order to send the payments for his credit cards. The borrower told her he would have to call her back. He did not. Eventually the closer sent the checks to the borrower to send in with his billing statements. He never did. The checks became dormant and were never cashed.

The closer never followed up. In 2013, the borrower finally called his closer back. He did not call her to provide her with the payment information. No, he was calling to complain.

The borrower decided to pursue a new career and become a police officer. He attended the police academy and successfully finished his training. Next, he had to pass a background and credit check. He authorized the police department to run these checks. He failed the credit check. The police department would not hire him because he had outstanding credit card debts; debts he thought were paid by the closer when she closed his refinance.

The customer called the closer and blamed her for his inability to be hired as a police officer. He threatened to bring legal action against the title company citing its failure to pay his debts and its interference with his ability to obtain a job. Unbelievable!

The closer reminded him she asked him for this information repeatedly. She also found it hard to believe he never received delinquent notices in the last year.

Moral of the Story

Right or wrong anyone can sue. Lawsuits cost money to defend. All of this could have been avoided if the closer had simply followed these steps:

  • Refuse to close until she had all the information necessary to fully and properly disburse her file; including the credit card account numbers and payment addresses.
  • Sent the payments to the credit card companies herself and not the borrower.
  • Monitored her dormant funds to ensure the checks were cashed.
  • Credit card payments are a nuisance, but following these steps ensures they do not continue to haunt you for years to come.

Third Quarter 2013 – A Strong Quarter with a Shift Toward Purchase

The third quarter was another strong quarter for our title insurance business. We generated a 14.2% adjusted pre-tax title margin, nearly equal to the 14.4% title margin in the third quarter of 2012, despite a 15% decline in closed orders. The expected transition from a refinance driven market to a purchase driven market accelerated in the third quarter, marked by 56% of open orders and 50% of closed orders being purchase related in the third quarter. Our commercial title insurance business revenue grew by 25% compared to the third quarter of 2012.

Click here to download a PDF copy of this report.

Funds and Proceeds – Tips for a Successful Escrow Closing

Funds and Proceeds at Escrow Closing

When working with real estate buyers and sellers, our escrow operations face challenging situations relating to funds needed to close as well as proceed distributions. Having an awareness of bank requirements in advance of your signing appointment can make the difference between closing on time or working through costly delays. Below are a few tips that can help your transaction close more smoothly.Funds and Proceeds at Escrow Closing

Buyers – Your Funds to Close

Buyers – How to prepare for your signing appointment

Talk with your bank well in advance of your closing (approximately 3 weeks before your signing appointment). Ask your banker if there are wire limitations or account restrictions. You should also find out how many days notice are required by your bank for wire transfers made from your account.

Internet banking accounts such as eTrade or ING may require that you arrange well in advance and determine requirements. Sometimes restrictions prevent same day withdrawals or wire transfers. This is something you’ll be glad that you know well in advance of your closing day.

Some local banks in the Seattle area have daily wire limits (such as $25,000). This can be difficult and costly if a buyer assumes their funds beyond the daily limit are accessible.

Sellers – Proceeds From Your Sale

Sellers – How to prepare for your signing appointment

Remember to bring your account information and your photo identification to your signing appointment. If funds are to be deposited into an investment account, be sure to bring full account information and wire instructions. Deposit slips and checks do not have full account information needed for escrow to complete a wire transfer.

A Word About Trusts and Estates

If title is held by an Estate or Trust, funds must be deposited into a bank account with the same name. In other words, proceeds from an Estate or Trust can only be deposited into a bank account established for the Estate or Trust. Funds cannot be deposited into the heirs/individuals accounts. A bank account for the Trust or Estate must be established prior to closing.

“If title is held by an Estate or Trust, funds must be deposited into a bank account with the same name”

Remember to ask your Escrow Officer here at Ticor Title Company if you have any questions. We are glad to help you well in advance of your closing date.

You’re Invited to Our Open House at Ticor Title in Seattle!

You are cordially invited to join us for appetizers and libations as we celebrate the relocation of our Seattle escrow branch.  The festivities will begin at 4:30PM October 24th.

We hope you will join us!

Ticor Title Seattle Open House


October 24
4:30 – 6:30PM


Ticor Title – Seattle Branch

1505 Westlake Avenue N
Suite 150
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 720-0114

Please RSVP

Via Phone: 206-720-0114
Or click here to RSVP online


Video Tour of Ticor Seattle

Title Reviews Get a Facelift

This month we’re rolling out an improved look and feel for our ‘Title Reviews.’ The handsome, new format provides a title review summary that is easier to read, and easy to share with your clients if you choose to. With any preliminary title ordered on your listings with Ticor, you’ll receive an email that includes a link or PDF to the new ‘at a glance’ report. Look for your Title Review within a few days of receipt of your initial title report.

Detect red flags early

Clouds on Title to a property have the potential of slowing the closing process if they are not identified and addressed early in the process. Our Title reviews will help you identify these potential red flags in order to set proper expectations with parties involved and save time in the long run.

Examples of red flags to look for

  • Seller not vested in title
  • Judgments and/or liens against seller
  • Pending law suits
  • Real estate contracts
  • Recorded housing code violations
  • Statement of Identity / I.D. Affidavit

Our specialists are part of your team

Your Ticor Property Information specialists are preparing these specifically for you for every listing transaction you place. This brings the added benefit of our team’s vast experience in virtually any item that may appear on your reports. Of course, we’re always glad to help you understand what these terms mean. And, most importantly, we’ll work closely with you, to help address and resolve these matters early in the course of the transaction.

Please take a moment to flip (scroll) through the handy new title review following your next (preliminary title) order with Ticor. If you have questions regarding your report, please contact us. We’re here to help.

Questions or comments? Please share below

What To Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

What to do if your identity is stolen

If your identity is stolen, follow these three simple steps:

  1. Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report
  2. Order your credit reports
  3. Create an Identity Theft Report

Step 1: Place Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report

What to do if your identity is stolenCall one of the nationwide credit reporting companies, and ask for a fraud alert on your credit report. The company you call must contact the other two so they can put fraud alerts on your files. An initial fraud alert is good for 90 days.

  • TransUnion: 1 800-680-7289
  • Equifax: 1 800-525-6285
  • Experian: 1 888-397-3742

Step 2: Order Credit Reports

Each company’s credit report is slightly different, so order a report from each company. Read your reports carefully to see if the information is correct. If you see mistakes or signs of fraud, contact the credit reporting company. ID theft victims get a copy of their reports for free.

Step 3: Create an Identity Theft Report

An Identity Theft Report can help you get fraudulent information removed from your credit report, stop a company from collecting debts caused by identity theft and get information about accounts a thief opened in your name.

To create an Identity Theft Report:

File a complaint with the FTC at Your completed complaint is called an FTC Affidavit. Take your FTC Affidavit to your local police station (or to the station where the theft occurred) and file a police report. Get a copy of the police report. These two documents comprise an Identity Theft Report.

Recovering from identity theft can be very time consuming. It is important to act fast completing the steps above. For more information log on to the Federal Trade Commission website at

A Surprise Wife, a Missing Seller, and an Uncooperative Beneficiary…

Common Law Marriage

RaeAnn F., an escrow officer in one of our sister branches, opened a sale transaction. The sales price was $214,500. The seller held title as a single man and the title report revealed only one lien against the property. The beneficiary listed on the lien was an individual.

Common Law MarriageRaeAnn obtained the beneficiary’s contact information from the seller and called him several times. When he finally responded he directed her to work with his protégé, Paul. RaeAnn explained what she needed in order to pay the loan off at closing; the payoff demand, original note, deed of trust and request for reconveyance. Upon receipt of the documents RaeAnn noticed a 50% interest in the note was assigned to a self–directed IRA – for benefit of Paul’s wife!

RaeAnn informed Paul she needed to speak with the custodian or trustee of the IRA. The custodian was very confused and unsure what to do, but did require an assignment to the deed of trust be signed by the original beneficiary and recorded. The escrow officer, buyer, new lender and seller all waited until this was done and an updated prelim could be issued. After several weeks RaeAnn finally obtained all the documentation she needed to pay off the loan. The whole time she received pressure from the seller to close.

An early signing raises suspicions

The seller was planning on leaving town so he made an appointment to come in and sign his closing documents early. At the signing, he and his real estate agent talked about how they were both leaving town. The seller was leaving for Las Vegas and the agent was heading to China. Something they said in their conversation made RaeAnn question the seller’s marital status. She asked him if he was married and he said no, but not with confidence. RaeAnn was suspicious, but he signed an affidavit confirming his marital status so the document was accepted.

Three days later the receptionist called RaeAnn to let her know the seller’s wife had come by to drop off a power of attorney (POA). The POA appointed the seller’s wife as his attorney–in–fact. Huh, his wife? RaeAnn sent the POA to her title officer for review and informed him the attorney–in–fact was the seller’s wife and asked him to update the title report reflecting her spousal interest. The title officer approved the POA and sent an updated title report which included two new liens.

The liens were for the benefit of the State Board of Equalization and against the seller’s wife. The amounts due were just over $62,000. RaeAnn called the seller and left a message stating she needed to discuss an interspousal deed and additional liens which would have to be paid.

Meanwhile, the buyer signed his loan documents. The seller’s business partner, Tommy, called RaeAnn back. She explained to Tommy she needed to speak with the seller directly. Tommy indicated the seller was unavailable, and asked what she needed. RaeAnn asked where he was. Tommy again avoided the question, offering to help her himself. She reiterated she needed to speak with the seller.

Tommy told her the seller’s wife has been appointed as his attorney–in–fact so RaeAnn should contact her. Knowing she needed to have the wife sign an interspousal deed, RaeAnn contacted the wife to schedule an appointment for her to come into the office. RaeAnn knew she was going to be pressured into allowing the attorney–in–fact to sign the final closing statement. She was very uncomfortable since the new liens being paid would financially benefit the wife. Additionally, she did not understand why the seller could not be contacted. All she needed was a fax number or email to send the closing statement to him. She did not need an original signature. RaeAnn contacted National Escrow Administration for a second opinion. The Corporate Escrow Administrator agreed with RaeAnn’s concerns. Armed with the backing of National Escrow Administration she confronted the wife when she came in to sign the interspousal deed.

Then RaeAnn asked her where her husband was. The wife finally admitted he was arrested and being held in a New York jail!

RaeAnn looked the wife in the eye and asked her if they were married or not – pointing out the language included in the POA which stated they had been married since 1996. The wife explained they had a civil ceremony and they never signed or filed a marriage license. At this point they assumed they were married by common law. RaeAnn explained to the wife in order to proceed she would treat them as if they were husband and wife and have the wife sign a deed conveying her spousal interest. Then RaeAnn asked her where her husband was. The wife finally admitted he was arrested and being held in a New York jail!

RaeAnn explained to the wife she needed to obtain her husband’s signature on the closing statement. The wife asked why, reiterating she was his attorney–in–fact. RaeAnn explained she was not willing to move forward without the husband’s approval of the closing statement. The wife reluctantly provided RaeAnn with the fax number for her husband’s New York attorney. RaeAnn faxed the closing statement over to the attorney along with specific instructions requiring a copy of the attorney’s business card be faxed back to her. The attorney called her and asked what she needed. RaeAnn explained she was handling the sale of a home owned by his client and she needed his signature on the closing statement since it included the payment of over $62,000 in state tax liens for the benefit of his wife. The attorney said he needed to check with the U.S. Attorney’s office to see if the sale of this home was allowed.

A search for federal liens

RaeAnn called National Escrow Administration to provide an update. The Corporate Escrow Administrator pointed out the Company needed to know if this property was subject to seizure or a RICO lien. In order to insure the new owner, the Company needed confirmation there was not a lien filed and whether one was going to be filed against the property. In the U.S., federal agency liens have priority over purchase money mortgages and are good for 20 years.

RaeAnn called the seller’s attorney back. The attorney had obtained the seller’s signature on the closing statement and explained the U.S. Assistant Attorney indicated they did not intend on seizing this property. RaeAnn asked for the U.S. Assistant Attorney’s contact information. He provided it to her along with the inmate and case numbers.

The Corporate Escrow Administrator consulted with Rod Pasion in Underwriting to ensure we were taking all measures to safely insure the buyer and new lender on this sale. Rod explained the U.S. Attorney’s office met with the title insurance industry years ago, and they agreed to promptly record their notice of seizures. Since then they have been quite diligent in timely recording their notices.

As an extra precaution the Corporate Escrow Administrator called the U.S. Assistant Attorney and confirmed they had already filed liens against the properties they intended on seizing. If a lien was not of record, it was not a property they intended to seize. RaeAnn emailed her title officer asking him to bring the title search to date to confirm there was not a seizure notice recorded against this property.

Another time crunch

There was no seizure notice, but another lien against the wife showed up; an IRS tax lien for just over $13,000. The buyer had just signed loan documents, for a second time. The lender indicated the lock on the loan would expire in two days.

RaeAnn delivered the latest update to the buyer, his real estate agent, the loan officer and the listing agent who had just returned from China. She explained it would take a few weeks to obtain a payoff statement from the IRS, assuming the deal would be dead since the buyer’s lock was expiring.

RaeAnn was wrong about the deal being dead. All the parties agreed to wait. The buyer really wanted the house and the seller needed to sell. RaeAnn ordered the payoff from the IRS and everyone waited for it to come in. The seller’s attorney was also on standby to obtain the seller’s signature on the final closing statement along with the IRS payoff.

Although this story had several twists and turns – starting with an uncooperative beneficiary, then a surprise wife and finally a missing seller – RaeAnn made very reasonable requirements in order to proceed with the closing and protect the Company.

RaeAnn received a lot of pressure from both the seller’s business partner and wife, who tried to hide where the seller was. They kept indicating the wife could sign since she was appointed as the seller’s attorney–in–fact. Since the seller told RaeAnn he was single, and even signed an Affidavit confirming this, RaeAnn wanted to be sure he was fully aware of the fact she knew he was married and would be paying off his wife’s liens with the proceeds from the sale.

Lastly, she worked with the seller’s attorney, the National Escrow Administration team and title to ensure the property was not in danger of being seized in relation to the charges the seller was facing. For her persistence and careful attention to all the issues which came up in this transaction RaeAnn has been recognized and rewarded.

Video Tour of our Seattle Escrow Branch

It’s been a couple weeks since we relocated our Seattle escrow branch. The old location on Eastlake Avenue moved to West Lake Union Center on the corner of Westlake Avenue N and 8th Avenue N. We’re settled in and still very excited about the improved space, better parking, easier access, and upscale experience for our clients.

All are welcome to pop in and check out the fantastic new office, but in the mean time we wanted to share a quick video tour and photo gallery. We’re confident that buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and lenders will appreciate the improvement.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Where to find us

Ticor Title – Seattle Branch

1505 Westlake Avenue N
Suite 150
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 720-0114

Video Tour of Ticor Seattle

Ticor Title Mid-Year Company Fact Sheet

Ticor Title Mid-Year-2013 Fact SheetTicor Title is a member of the Fidelity National Financial family of companies and part of the nation’s largest group of title companies and title insurance underwriters – Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, Chicago Title Insurance Company, Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company and Alamo Title Insurance. As a group, our underwriters issue more title insurance policies than any other title company in the United States.

Residential Purchases Shift Upward

The second quarter results continue to highlight the earnings power of our title business. With an improving residential purchase market and strong refinance order closings, we were able to generate a 16.5% pre-tax title margin, nearly equal to that of full-year 2003 when adjusted for the difference in the provision for title losses between the time periods. Our mix of business shifted toward purchase transactions during the quarter, with April at 39%, May at 40%, and June at 48% of total transactions.

Highlighting our Financial Strength

The second quarter results continue to highlight the earnings power of our title business. The LPS acquisition will create an even larger, broader, more diversified and recurring
revenue base for FNF going forward.

Questions or comments? Please share below!

Announcing the Relocation of Ticor’s Seattle Escrow Branch!

Ticor Title Seattle 1505 Westlake Ave N
Ticor Title Seattle 1505 Westlake Ave N

Ticor Title – Seattle – 1505 Westlake Ave N

We are very pleased to announce that our escrow branch in Seattle has relocated from Eastlake to Westlake Avenue North! The growth of our business in Seattle has brought with it the need for more space, easier parking, and an upscale venue to better serve our clients.

Our new South Lake Union branch is conveniently located at the intersection of Westlake Avenue North and 8th Avenue North in the lobby level of West Lake Union Center, Seattle.

We think you’ll love the validated parking, easy access from the street level, open look & feel, and of course the same friendly faces!

Where to find us

Ticor Title – Seattle Branch

1505 Westlake Avenue N
Suite 150
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 720-0114

Map & Directions

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