Product Spotlight – Ticor Pocket Profile App

Ticor Pocket Profile App ScreenshotWith Ticor Title’s Pocket Profile application, real estate professionals can get immediate property information on their iPhone or iPad. By entering a property address, owners’ name, assessor’s parcel number (APN) or search nearby properties, Ticor Title’s Pocket Profile can provide real time access to valuable property information.

There are two steps to getting started:
Install the app on your phone
Call this number and ask for a Ticor Representative to activate your account: (425)-255-7575

Get Ticor Pocket Profile for your Smartphone today!

Ticor Pocket Profile for iPhone

Ticor Pocket Profile for Android

Ticor Pocket Profile for Blackberry


What is a Plat? And what should I know as a home buyer?

What is a plat?

A plat is another name for a subdivision. For example, Fircrest is a well known city of about 6,000 near Tacoma. Residents know that Fircrest is not just one neighborhood, but a combination of many unique, smaller communities. And usually, these neighborhoods are named from a subdivision, or plat, that defines the land within a specific area. So, Fircrest residents may think of their particular neighborhood as Fir Tree Park, Linden Manor, Regents Park, or Monterey Park. Each of these ‘neighborhoods’ started as a ‘plat’ or ‘subdivision.’

Seeing a copy of the plat is important because it provides information that may not be recorded anywhere else. Often ‘the plat’ provides specific locations of lots and other features in a visual way on the survey map. Seeing an easement drawn on a map is easier for most of us to understand than reading the legal description would be. Also, a plat creates simple and logical legal descriptions for lots which are far less prone to error or misinterpretation than are metes and bounds legals.

Plat Map Markers

Click to Download the Interactive Plat Map

5 benefits or restrictions you may see on the face of the plat (download interactive map):

  1. Utility easements: can be for power, water, sewer, phones, cable
  2. Access easements
  3. Greenbelts, Native Growth Protection Easement/Area (NGPE/NGPA) open space
  4. Recreation areas: some plats contain features like playgrounds or bridle trails
  5. Monuments and dimensions for measuring and identifying lot boundaries

The notes section or the map may contain valuable information about:

  • Who is responsible for maintenance of common areas
  • Who can use specific tracts and for what purpose
  • Which tracts will remain as greenbelts and which are designated for future development

Do you have questions about a particular plat? Need some help, understanding some of the important items on a plat? Ticor Property Information Specialists are at your service!

Click here to download the interactive plat map.

Ticor Email for Property Info: cs.wa@ticortitle.com
Ticor Seattle / Renton: 206-720-6969 / 425-255-6969
Ticor Bellevue: 425-467-0377
Ticor Puyallup / Pierce County: 253-383-0055
Ticor International: 425-204-5113

Note: Some charges may apply, in accordance with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Guidelines, but profile, map and deed are always free.

*Correction 4-26-2011 – Fircrest is a city near Tacoma, not a neighborhood in Tacoma.

Why do I need escrow? The escrow process in plain english.

When purchasing your first home, the escrow process can be a little confusing. Buyers and sellers may find themselves asking, “What is escrow and why is it needed?”

With that in mind we’ve formulated a brief synopsis of the escrow process in plain english.

An Unbiased Third Party

When buying or selling real estate, escrow is often opened for protection and ease. The escrow agent is setup as a disinterested third party and performs mulitple tasks, as directed, by the parties involved in the transaction. Some of these items include, holding of legal documents, disbursement of funds on the buyer or sellers behalf and distribution of funds in accordance with the instructions set forth by the buyer and seller. Both the buyer and the seller rely on the escrow holder to fulfill the intention of their instructions with consistency and in good faith.

The convenience provided by the escrow holder is realized by buyer and seller due to the fact that both parties can move forward independently, but in parallel to close the transaction. The idea is such that either party can submit inspections, loan commitments, funds, deeds and other items pertinent to the transaction’s closing. When all insructions are in order and consistent, escrow facilitates a seamless closing.

Summary: The Purpose of Escrow

The process of escrow was established to facilitate the purchase and sale of real estate. Here’s a brief outline of the escrow holder’s duties in a transaction:

• Act as the impartial “stakeholder,” or depository of documents and funds
• Process and coordinate the flow of documents and funds
• Keep all parties informed of progress regarding the transaction
• Respond to lender requirements
• Secure title insurance policy
• Obtain approval of reports and documents from the parties as required
• Proration and adjustment of insurance, taxes, rents, etc.
• Record the deed and loan documents
• Maintain security and accountability of monies owed and owing

Do you have questions or comments regarding the escrow process? Please share below.

A Policy by any Other Name – ALTA Homeowner’s Policy Demystified

Homebuyers choose ALTA Homeowners Title Insurance Coverage

What are the differences between Title Insurance Policies?

What kind of title insurance policy should the real estate buyer get? Does it make a difference? Is there a cost difference?

There are different types of title insurance policies with different coverages. In the past, standard or extended policies were the norm, but the Homeowner’s Policy (“ALTA Homeowner’s Policy for One-to-Four Family Residence”) has become the new standard for residential transactions. This expanded coverage policy is the default policy called for in Paragraph “e” of the NWMLS Residential Purchase and Sale Agreement. It is the best choice in most residential transactions involving platted lots with an existing home. But it’s not available for all transactions, including waterfront homes, large acreage, or if the buyer is a corporation.

The Homeowner’s Policy Benefits

The Homeowner’s policy offers significant benefits in three respects: First, affirmative coverages are built right into to the policy for such things as off-record survey related matters, the existence or impact of easements, boundaries and encroachments. And it includes significant areas not previously covered by title insurance, such as certain zoning problems (including relating to building permits) and platting irregularities. Second, the policy is written in “plain language.” It has never been easier to interpret the title policy’s “fine print”.   And finally, for the first time some limited coverages are available for future events historically excluded from policies – including, for example, you discover the former owner didn’t get a building permit for the out building that the County has now red tagged.

Deductibles

There may be a trade-off though because some covered matters have deductibles – either a stated percentage or a dollar amount, whichever is less. It is important for the Realtor® to remember that the benefit would be valuable only if (1) a defect was not subject to a deductible, or (2) if the cost of taking care of it exceeded the deductible. In other words, if the loss is lower than the deductible, no payment would be made under the policy even if the claim would otherwise be covered. If it exceeds the dollar limit only the amount between the deductible and that limit would be covered.

For example, assume the owner has to spend $2000 to remove and rebuild a wall and fence because they encroach onto the neighbor’s land. While it’s covered by the policy there is a $2500 deductible. So, none of the cost is reimbursable. Now, if the cost was $5000, then reimbursement would be available for $2500 – the first $2500 is the owner’s responsibility because of the deductible, and the coverage caps out at $5000.

In the example above, the extended coverage policy would have been an appropriate option – it costs more initially, but there are no deductibles in the event of a covered claim. Ultimately, a buyer who has questions about the different types of policies can contact a Ticor Title representative or if they are concerned about which policy would be best suited to a transaction should seek legal advice.

The Home Buyer Has A Choice

Even though the Homeowner’s policy is an excellent choice the Realtor® should always make sure that the buyer and seller understand that there are options to choose from.   If another form is desired by the buyer it must be addressed in the purchase and sale agreement, and then it must be confirmed that the title commitment actually reflects the correct policy.

Do you have questions or comments about the ALTA Homeowner’s policy?

Please share by commenting below!

Receive Recorders office holiday schedule via text

We’re launching a new service that will remind you via text message when the King County, Pierce County and Snohomish County Recorders’ Offices are closed for holidays!

Just text the word ‘RECORDER’ to the number 47170.

Recorders office holiday schedule King Pierce Snohomish County

Download The Recorders Office Schedule

The King Pierce and Snohomish county recorders’ offices will be closed for a total of nine holidays in 2011. And we all know that when the recorders offices are closed, it can affect the closing of our real estate transactions. So for your convenience we’ve put together an at-a-glance calendar that clearly shows the holiday schedule. That nice looking calendar can be downloaded by clicking the image to the right.

But wouldn’t it be better if you could just simply be reminded a few days in advance of when the Recorders’ offices will be closed for holidays? How about a text message reminder right to your phone?

Here’s how it works.

If you would like to receive a text message that reminds you of the recorders’ office holiday schedule, just text the word ‘RECORDER‘ to the number 47170. You’ll recieve a welcome message once you subscribe. Then three days prior to every Recorders office holiday closure date, you’ll get a short text message reminding you of the day and date of the closure.

Try it today! Text the word ‘RECORDER‘ to the number 47170

Or simply click on the button below to subscribe right now…

recorder,47170
These are the dates that the recorders offices are closed during 2011

Monday, January 17
Monday, February 21
Monday, May 30
Monday, July 4
Monday, September 5
Friday, November 11
Thurs – Friday, November 24-25
Monday, December 26

Enjoy!
Matt Sweet
Ticor Title

Order Customer Service and Title & Escrow Via Text / SMS Messaging!

We are very excited to announce that you can now order title and escrow & real estate property information via text / SMS messaging!  Our Client Services / Property Research team across the King, Pierce, Snohomish area is fully equipped to receive property information requests and title & escrow orders from you via text if that’s the way you prefer to communicate!

Simply text your property info requests and title and escrow orders to:

425-298-7575

Why are we offering ‘order by SMS text messaging’?

woman ordering title and escrow via text sms messaging

Text Ticor Customer Service at 425-298-7575

Have you noticed the people around you texting a lot more lately?  Have you noticed yourself texting more and more?  Or more importantly, have you noticed that your clients prefer to communicate with you via text…. According to CTIA, Americans sent 173.2 Billion text messages during the month of June 2010.  That’s an increase from 7.2 Billion text messages sent during the month of June 2005 (CTIA is the International Association for the Wireless Teslecommunications Industry).

And that’s just texting… Smartphones in general are on a rapid rise.  A Nielsen study predicts that by the end of 2011 smart phones will hold the majority of the mobile phone market.  Another study showed that banking via mobile devices has grown 129% in the US over the last two years.

So logically with information and services becoming more mobile every day, this leads us to a few important questions:  What if you could send a text to order property research or title and escrow for your real estate listing?  What if all you needed was a single phone number for communicating with your favorite Title and Escrow company?  What if the Puget Sound’s most seasoned property information specialists were a text away?

So give it a try today!  If you have a service request or would like to open title on a property, hit us with a text at 425-298-7575 right now!

And remember that Title Insurance orders placed electronically will receive a 5% discount (click here for discount details).

6 Tips for Reading Plat Maps

how to read a plat map

Each day, most real estate professionals access ‘Plat Maps.’ The need for these maps varies for each property, and each circumstance.  In Ticor’s effort to make things easy for clients, we thought you could use some ‘Pointers’ about working with Plat Maps!

6 Tips for Reading Plat Maps:

1.  Access –  Access is simply how someone can physically reach the property.  We have a sample for you here, where you can see that ‘Access’ is shown on map, by

A. city or county road,
B. private driveway (flagpole lot),
C. shared driveway with common ownership,
D. shared driveway with easement, and
E. private road.

Click the map to view an explanation of types of access

2. Views – Ticor usually provides a ‘Close –up’ view of the lot, along with a larger view.  Viewing the larger view will help you identify important points, such as where your lot is located, in relation to a major thoroughfare, or greenbelt.

3.  Dimensions – These are usually given for the lot as shown, but there can be variances.  But, what if no Dimensions are showing?

Places to check further for ‘Dimensions,’ are always available thru Ticor Property Info.  For example, Ticor Property Info Specialists can give you a copy of the ‘Face of the Plat’ if available; or can provide approximate dimensions with a map measuring tool.

4.   Unplatted, or Platted Property – Platted Property is created by the developer recording a plat. Unplatted parcels are not  in a recorded subdivision. Platted  land often has “lot and block” legal descriptions, and unplatted usually has “metes and bounds” legals. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule! For platted parcels, we can look at the face of the plat for a wealth of information about the lot and its surroundings. We’ll address this in depth soon, here at TicorBlog.com.

5.  Location of Lot – As it relates to a block, always useful to know. We’ll address this more in a future article.  In the meantime, it is always wise to check where your subject property ‘sits’ on a block, based on what you’ve seen, vs. what is showing on your Plat Map. Are these different? If so, it’s time to ask for some help from Ticor!  You can also compare the lot size to the acreage or lot square feet given on the property profile.

6. Troubleshooting Plat Maps – Don’t assume boundary lines, based on what is showing on a Plat Map. While Plat Maps can give a good idea as do the location of these lines, the only definitive way to know exact boundary lines is thru a survey.

One last note:  Remember, King County’s Plat Maps display information a bit differently than Snohomish or Pierce County.

Our Property Information Specialists are at your service!

Ticor Email for Property Info:   cs.wa@ticortitle.com

Ticor Seattle / Renton:
Ticor Bellevue:
Ticor Puyallup / Pierce County:
Ticor International:
206-720-6969 / 425-255-6969
425-467-0377
253-383-0055
425-204-5113
Note: Some charges may apply, in accordance with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Guidelines, but profile, map and deed are always free

Do you have questions, comments, or tips that you would like to share regarding plat maps? Please share your thoughts, questions, or comments below!

4 Hot Tips for Working with Escrow on an REO Closing

Real Estate Owned transactions are much more common now than in recent years. And if you’re a Real Estate agent in the Seattle area, chances are you’ve been doing your homework on how to make these types of transactions flow better for everyone involved. Our escrow team has put together a few tips that will help:

The Seller requires the Buyer’s name(s) to appear on the purchase and sale EXACTLY how the vesting will be displayed on the ensuing Deed.
If there is a discrepancy between the two, the Seller will require an addendum to rectify this discrepancy. This can save a ton of time in the beginning portion of the REO Process and help eliminate future delays in closing.

Always review the Seller’s “Counter Addendum” to avoid surprises.
Escrow reviews the Counter Addendum for instructions regarding the closing. Some things we normally see addressed are: Closing extension fees, max seller paid closing costs, excise tax, actual closing dates, “property as is” clause, utilities ‘not’ paid through closing, etc.

4 tips for REO Escrow Closing

Click the image above to download 4 hot tips for REO closings.

Remind your Buyers that their Lender’s delivery of Loan Documents is the beginning of the final stage of closing.
This means Escrow absolutely needs the Loan Documents to generate a HUD for the Buyer’s Lender to approve. Consequently Escrow cannot send a HUD for the Sellers approval until the Buyer’s Lender is satisfied with the Buyer’s portion of the HUD. This is different than your standard transaction where your seller can sign ahead of time.

Depending on the Seller and their processing time frames; reviewing, signing and returning the Seller Approved/Signed HUD can take anywhere between 24-72 hours.
What this means is the Buyer’s Lender cannot fund the transaction until they have a Seller Approved HUD, even if Escrow has signed and submitted the Buyers funding package to the funding department. This is a commonly misunderstood portion of the process and can help set Buyer expectations in the final days of closing. It is best to plan for the full 72 hours anticipating any last minute delays from the seller.

How about you? Do you have questions or feedback regarding the REO closing process? Please leave a comment below!

Deeds Indeed

Deeds Indeed

Signing the deed

Consider this… A bank is selling REO property, but will convey by “special” warranty deed, rather than the statutory warranty deed we usually see. Isn’t it still a warranty deed? Will the purchaser accept this? And, isn’t a statutory warranty deed required?

Types of Property Deeds

There are several types of deeds. A warranty” deed warrants title for all matters, no matter what they are or when they were created prior to the date of sale. It binds the seller for the benefit of the buyer and all heirs and assigns of both. Express warranties aren’t shown in the deed because Washington’s statutes say what they are – hence a “statutory” warranty deed includes them without recitals in the deed. (The warranties are set out in RCW 64.04.030.)

A quitclaim deed means that no covenants of warranty are included at all. The buyer gets only whatever interest the seller has, good, bad or ugly (and may even be nothing). It is often used to clear a cloud on the title. (These deeds are provided for by RCW 64.04.050.)

A bargain and sale” deed falls somewhere in the middle. It also has statutory definitions, and means the seller is limiting covenants of good title to only matters created during the time that the seller was in title or as specified in the deed. (The specifics are in RCW 64.04.040.)

The ability to further limit warranties gives rise to the special” warranty deed. It’s not a statutory form, but simply means the grantor is expressly stating in the deed what the limited warranties, if any, are.

Warranties may be unacceptable to a seller who shouldn’t have to assume that type of liability. Thus, a special warranty deed is used in fiduciary situations, including (in addition to the sale of REO property) a personal representative in a probate, a deed of trust trustee, and a trustee of a trust – all parties who aren’t responsible for matters arising before coming into title or who don’t have any active ownership of the land.

Warranties are valuable to a buyer because if there are problems or defects in the title, it is important to be able to sue the seller, even when the buyer has title insurance. That’s also why title companies like a warranty deed, because they have subrogation rights under the policy, meaning it can step into the shoes of the insured and sue the seller under the deed warranties. The buyer’s title policy still provides the same coverage no matter which type of deed is used.

Only the parties’ respective attorneys can offer advice in this area. The seller and purchaser need to agree on the form of deed. They each have valid legal reasons for their requirements. While it is unlikely that any REO seller will be willing to offer a statutory warranty deed, the form of deed ultimately comes from negotiation.

Do you have a question or comment about deeds?  Please leave a comment below!

Sustainable Development Clock Hour Class – March 24

Regional population growth is changing the Northwest!

Would you like to Gain an understanding of the patterns and demographics of our growing region and see the interrelationships of sustainable communities, smart growth and natural habitat conservation?

sustainability clock hour class seattle

Click the image to download the flyer

Come to this 3-hour class to familiarize yourself with the lingo of sustainability and develop your skills in conveying your knowledge to your clients.

Green site development is here to stay; it is rapidly growing and with more regulations coming that will make understanding these practices necessary to your business.

When:
March 24th 2011 10-1PM
3 clock hours $35
Instructor: Patty Moriarty

Where:
Sterling Savings Bank Home Loan Division(Validated Parking!)
Metropolitan Park East Tower
1730 Minor Avenue, Suite 1100
Seattle, WA 98101

Register Today  – Call or Email:

Patty Moriarty 206.898.0356
patty@nativegrowth.com

More information at NativeGrowth.com