Ticor Everett Grand Opening – September 18

Ticor Title Everett

Ticor Title Everett

Ticor Title Everett – Open House

You are cordially invited to join us for appetizers and drinks as we celebrate the opening of our Snohomish County Everett branch.  The festivities will begin at 4:00PM September 18th.

We hope you will join us!

When

September 18, 2014
4:00PM – 7:00PM

Where

Ticor Title Company
Shohomish County Everett Branch
2825 Colby Ave
Suite 300
Everett, WA 98201

Please RSVP

Via Phone: (425) 586-6964

Contact & Customer Service

Phone: (425) 586-6964

Customer Service: cs.wa@ticortitle.com

Location & Directions

Announcing the Relocation of Ticor’s Kent Branch

Ticor Title Kent, WA

Ticor Title Kent, WA

We are very pleased to announce that our escrow branch in Kent has relocated to a more convenient and central location! The growth of our business in Kent has brought with it the need for a fresh space, a more central location, and an upscale look & feel to better serve our clients.

You’ll find our Kent branch located at the intersection of SE 208th St and 108th Ave SE.

We think you’ll love the ample parking, easy access from the street level, upscale look & feel, and of course the same friendly faces! Please stop by and see us soon.

Where to find us

Ticor Title – Kent Branch

10840 SE 208th St
Kent, WA 98031
Phone: (253) 631-3990
Fax: (253) 631-3991

Map & Directions

NEW! Buyer & Seller Resources for Smoother Transactions

Buyer-Seller-Guide-1New Buyer/Seller Guides

Check out the freshly updated Buyer and Seller resource library on myTicor.com! The new guides and booklets are free to download and can improve the client experience with every real estate transaction.

Read more...

Educating & Communicating for Greater Success!

buyer-seller-resourcesClear communication, knowledge, and mutual understanding can make all the difference in a real estate transaction. Read more

Will the Real Seller Please Stand Up?

The real estate agent opened escrow with KimberLee C., an experienced escrow officer at our sister branch in Salem, Ore. About a week and a half before closing, the agent came in to the office and explained the seller was not really the true seller, but instead his boss was the actual owner.

p1878M-5444-RT8The boss had transferred properties to various people as he was going through a nasty divorce. KimberLee became suspicious right then and started asking questions in order to sell — did the seller have a valid, unexpired ID? Where will the funds go at closing?

Over the next week or so, the agent in an attempt to ensure the closing would happen, sent KimberLee an expired driver’s license, one that had been taken away from the seller by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The agent also sent a Mexican Matricula Consular identification card, which she told him was not an acceptable form of identification. The pictures between the two identification cards did not match up (probably because they were taken years apart).

The agent gave KimberLee various scenarios such as, “Would we take a Washington driver’s license,” and what other type of identification would be acceptable. KimberLee thought the agent was being very naïve (not devious) and just trying to help his client.

Something wasn’t right

Being on high alert by all this, the seller, his boss and the agent came in for the scheduled signing appointment. When KimberLee went to show them to a closing room, she was pretty sure there would be an issue — just by the signer’s body language.

KimberLee requested the signer’s driver’s license and headed to the copy machine and the Fraud Fighter™ black light purchased from UVeritech. She felt the card was an obvious fake.

Someone had taken the picture from the Mexican Matricula Consular identification card, and cut and pasted it to the new driver’s license. The feel of it was off and putting it under the black light confirmed KimberLee’s suspicions. “Oregon” is supposed to be diagonally repeated on front of license and is also visible under UV light. There was nothing visible under the black light.

KimberLee did not stop there! She called the Department of Motor Vehicles and they confirmed the identification number did not match up with the name. She asked them if we should keep the license and they said for her to call the police.

Step away from the transaction

She contacted her manager, Ted U., and he advised her not to call the police but instead give the license back to the seller and send them on their way as quickly as possible, to remove the potentially violent customer from our office and our employees from harm’s way.

KimberLee did have some alternatives. She could have used a credible witness acknowledgement for the seller. However, the definition of credible witness in her notary handbook reads as follows, “A believable witness worthy of confidence who personally knows the signer of a document.”

KimberLee felt that no one involved in the sale of the property was being completely honest and elected to resign as escrow holder rather than jeopardize the company by insuring a deed that might have been forged.

Luckily for KimberLee this is the first time anything of this nature has happened in her 36 year career. For her diligent effort to prevent a possible forgery, KimberLee has been rewarded and recieved a letter of recognition.

Keen Title Examiner Discovers Forgery

The vesting on the open order sheet did not match the vested owner of record. That is not an unusual discovery in the title industry, but this time it triggered the title examiner to dig deeper and to uncover a forgery!

forged signatureOne of our sister branches in Denver opened a sale transaction in the amount of $450,000 and ordered the title report/commitment. The title examiner, Venita O., noticed the open order sheet reflected the property owner as an Estate of a named individual. The most current deed, however, reflected the owner as an LLC.

There was no death certificate of public record for the decedent, so Venita was unable to determine if he died prior to the deed to the LLC. She looked at previous deeds of trust in the chain of title to compare the decedent’s signature to the signature on the deed to the LLC. The signatures were not the same at all. Read more

The Story of the Stolen Lot

Vacant Lot Aerial Photo

Vacant land or homes are easy targets for criminals. Vacant homes are often vandalized. In some cases squatters move in and refuse to leave, even though they do not pay rent. Vacant lots are used as dumping grounds for trash and debris. Some more brazen thieves are bold enough to even try to steal the property all together. Read on to find out how one such thief was caught!Vacant Lot Aerial Photo

Escrow Process

Click here to download the Escrow Process flow chart.

Judgements to be cleared

Tracy F., escrow officer with one of our sister branches in New Mexico, opened an order for the sale of a vacant lot. The buyer was a real estate agent and she was one of Tracy’s best customers. The sellers were husband and wife. The sales price was $180,000. The order was processed and title began preparing the title report.

When title ran the General Index search in the sellers’ names they discovered several judgments which would have to be investigated to determine whether they belonged to the seller, specifically the wife.

Tracy called and reached the husband, she explained there were some judgments which needed to be cleared up and she needed his wife’s social security number. The husband stated they were her debts. Tracy asked for the wife’s social security number again so she could work on obtaining payoff statements from the creditors.

Seller gets squeamish

The husband started back pedaling. Now he said the debts were not his wife’s and started asking questions about who the creditors were. He clearly did not want to provide his wife’s social security number to Tracy.

Tracy asked him if he knew his wife’s social security number and he replied no. She asked him to have his wife call her. He responded she did not speak English. She asked him what language his wife did speak. He stated she spoke Spanish.

Tracy explained her assistant speaks Spanish, she gave the husband her name and phone number, and asked him to have his wife call her assistant. The wife never called.

The buyer was anxious to close. The property was free and clear, and the only items which needed to be cleared up were the judgments title found in the General Index search. The seller was unresponsive.

A closer look raises more red flags

It was at this point Tracy decided to look closer at the file. Tracy worked with her title department to find a recorded document with the sellers’ signatures on it. Since they owned the property free and clear, they had to go back in the chain of title where they found a real estate contract the vendee defaulted on.

“He misspelled the city in his mailing address. He claimed to live in Lompoc, New Mexico but he spelled the city Lompac…”

Tracy compared the signatures on the recorded document to the signatures on the purchase contract. They were not even close. Next, she noticed the seller made a few mistakes on the purchase contract. He misspelled the city in his mailing address. He claimed to live in Lompoc, New Mexico but he spelled the city Lompac. He also wrote in the wrong zip code. Tracy thought it was odd he made so many mistakes on his address.

Tracy shared her concerns with her colleagues. One of them decided to Google™ the names of the sellers. It is a good thing she did. The search revealed the wife had passed away on April 2, 2014. Her obituary said she fought a long battle with cancer and was in hospice during her last days. Interesting, since she supposedly signed the purchase contract just a few days earlier on March 28, 2014. The obituary also stated the wife was fluent in Japanese, not Spanish as her husband stated.

Step away from the transaction

Tracy resigned from the transaction and refunded the earnest money to the buyer. The phone number for the man impersonating the seller is now disconnected. He has vanished into thin air. The listing agents cannot locate him either. They have cancelled their listing agreement too.

The buyer managed to track down the real owner of the property. She called the real owner and asked him if he entered into a purchase contract with her to sell his lot. He said no. He asked her what the sales price was and she told him it was $180,000. He laughed and said if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The lot is worth much more than $180,000.

MORAL OF THE STORY

Time and time again escrow officers, closers and settlement agents stop a fraudulent transaction by trusting their escrow gut. Tracy slowed down, looked over her file with a more careful eye and was able to stop this fraudulent sale from going through. She probably deepened her professional relationship with her customer as well. Tracy is being rewarded for her hard work.

Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Event June 5th – Federal Way Ticor Title

Ticor Title Federal Way Grand Opening

Please Join Us!

Please join the Chamber of Commerce, local dignitaries, and members of the public for a midday celebration as Ticor Title is officially welcomed into the Federal Way community.   We look forward to celebrating our newest location with you.

Event Details

June 5th
Guests Welcome 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony 11:30 AM

Contact Information

33400 9th Ave S., Suite 102
Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: 253-765-7255
Team Email: FederalWayDocs@TicorTitle.com

Our Team

Angela Kosoff
LPO, Branch Manager

Tawni Braden
Sales Executive

Where to find us

All Cash Transaction Down to the Wire…

All Cash Offer New Home Purchase

Ensuring we have unconditionally collected funds prior to disbursing on a real estate transaction is one of the most basic duties of the settlement agent. Wired funds are the best way to accomplish this. Funds sent via wire transfer are already collected by the bank; once the funds are credited to the trust account, they are immediately available for withdrawal.

Cashier’s checks take at least 24 hours, and often longer, before they are unconditionally credited and we have received more than our share of fraudulent ones. In a perfect world, wires would be all we would accept for closing funds.

This story emphasizes the importance of ensuring buyer’s closing funds are unconditionally collected.

An All Cash Offer

All Cash Offer New Home PurchaseIn 2013, one of our sister branches in Dallas was in the process of handling the closing of a $450,000 sale transaction. The sale was a spec home built by a builder, who was a regular customer. The buyer made an all cash offer and the seller quickly accepted. The transaction was scheduled to close two weeks later.

On October 31, 2013 the buyer came in to sign his closing documents. He brought his wife with him, although he was purchasing the property sole and separate. The signing went quickly. The buyer was only there for about 10 minutes.

In that short amount of time the buyer and his wife complained about how they had been living in a hotel, and kept asking when they could obtain the keys for their new home. They indicated they had already bought new furniture and could not wait to move in.

Funds Not Received

Escrow officer Andrea V. was handling the signing. The buyer assured her he wired in his closing funds. Andrea explained the bank had not yet received it and the seller would not release the keys until the funds were received and credited to our account. The buyer and his wife left.

All afternoon, the next day and even the day after that, the buyer and his real estate agent blew up the phone lines calling Chicago Title and the builder demanding the release of the keys.

Over and over again Andrea and her escrow assistant, DeAnna, verified the wire had still not arrived. The buyer provided a federal reference number in his attempt to prove the wire had been sent.

DeAnna contacted the Operational Accounting Center (OAC) with the number. The OAC contacted our trust bank, referencing the number provided by the buyer in an attempt to track down the buyer’s closing funds.

Our bank had no record of a wire request from the buyer. In fact, our bank discovered the federal reference number provided by the buyer was not valid at all!

Where Did The Money Go?

Andrea decided to confirm the wire instructions the buyer used. She discovered the builder gave the buyer outdated instructions for an old account which was now closed. The buyer was furious and demanded the builder release the keys to him. He wanted possession of the house immediately. He threatened to terminate the purchase contract. Then he said something no one believed.

The buyer claimed the bank told him his money was gone. He claimed the old account number was already assigned to someone new, the funds were transferred into their account and now they belonged to the new account holder.

The buyer claimed his bank told him it was no different than depositing cash into someone’s account and although the wire came through in the name of our company, they simply credited the funds to the account number and he was out of luck. He even went so far as to state his bank gave him the new account holder’s name and contact information so he could track them down.

The buyer tried to convince the builder this was their fault and claimed his bank representative said the recipient of his closing funds had no legal obligation to return the wire. He called Andrea and asked her if she would accept a cashier’s check. He purported he had a meeting set up with the account holder and would be getting his money back and wanted to remit his closing funds via cashier’s check instead of wiring them again. Andrea explained Company policy is only to accept wired funds but she would check with her manager and get back to him.

“She opened her browser to Google™ and entered the buyer’s name and immediately found a match – his mug shot!”

None of this made sense to Andrea. Her escrow instincts were telling her something was not right. She decided to do some research. She opened her browser to Google™ and entered the buyer’s name and immediately found a match – his mug shot!

According to the results of her search he had been charged with property theft. Andrea was smart. She did not share this information with the seller or real estate agents, but she did stick to her guns and told the buyer she would only be able to close upon the receipt of wired funds. A cashier’s check would not be acceptable.

Contract Terminated

The buyer claimed he wired his closing funds, again. The buyer and buyer’s real estate agent called many times a day for weeks to confirm receipt of the wire. The buyer demanded the seller release the keys to the house – threatening to cancel.

No one budged until over a month later, the first part of December. The builder sent the buyer a termination of contract. The buyer still did not give up. The buyer called the builder very upset. He could not believe they were terminating the agreement. He claimed his delay was over the recent death of his father.

The buyer explained he was going to open a new account at the same bank where our trust account is held. Once his new account was opened he would instruct the bank to do an internal transfer and deposit his closing funds into our bank account. Next he sent this receipt which was his way of trying to prove he opened the account with them:

The funny thing is: our account was never credited with the closing funds. The buyer and his real estate agent continued to call the builder and Andrea demanding the keys. He claimed the manager at Bank of Texas was going to call to confirm the transfer of funds.

Andrea gave him the name and phone number of her county manager, John T. She explained to the buyer the bank manager needed to speak with him directly. That was on December 3, 2013. She never heard from him again.

The builder and Andrea were baffled. What made him finally give up? What was he up to? Was he just trying to obtain possession of the house so he could squat there?

The builder contacted their attorney. Turns out in the state of Texas it could take up to six months to get a squatter out of your property. Once successful, who knows what condition the property would be left in? He could have taken the appliances, fixtures and anything not nailed down.

In the end Andrea and DeAnna did not back down from their operation’s policy to accept only wired funds. For their efforts they were recognized and rewarded.

Questions or comments? Please share below!

Why We Don’t Handle Holding Escrows…

Holding Escrows

Holding EscrowsA holding escrow does not involve the transfer or encumbrance of real estate. A holding escrow is a two party agreement to hold funds pending the outcome of conditions. We are licensed title insurance providers. We operate with the understanding of our regulators and our insurance carriers that escrow transactions are handled in connection with the issuance of a final policy of title insurance. There are certain departments within the Company that ARE licensed and authorized to handle holding escrows, such as construction disbursements. This story is not about one of those departments.

Holding Escrow

A holding escrow is a two party agreement to hold funds pending the outcome of conditions.

Typically a holding escrow will involve one individual or entity raising capital from multiple investors for an eventual purchase, not necessarily real estate related. Sometimes an entity raising the capital wants an escrow/title company with a reputable name (in order to lend legitimacy to their scheme and to give the investors a level of comfort) to hold the investor’s funds until all the capital is raised. Some escrow officers have learned this the hard way. Here are three examples:

Example #1 – Out of Touch

We have a file with $171,128.96 in it from the year 2000. The escrow officer opened the file as a holding escrow only. The agreement was between the City and the Department of Fish and Game. The purpose was for the City to find a place to relocate the burrowing owls on a parcel of land they wanted to develop.

The expiration date of the holding agreement was 2002, however, the land is still not developed and the owls have not been relocated. The City and Department of Fish and Game have not been in contact with our offices in the last ten years. How do we resolve this monetary issue?

Example #2 – Jilted Investors

Investors loan a junior lienholder money to purchase a first deed of trust now in default in order to save their lienholder’s interest from being foreclosed out. The investors deposit their funds into escrow. Once enough funds are accumulated to buy the loan, the existing note holder endorses their note and assigns their deed of trust to the second lienholder.

The second lienholder does not require title insurance, since they are already a lienholder in jeopardy. The second lienholder does not further assign their interest to their investors. What happens next?

The owner of the property does not suddenly start making payments on the first and second loans; instead they default and the property is subsequently lost to foreclosure. The beneficiary of the first and second lien is now the owner of the subject property. They fix up the property and sell for a profit and fail to pay off the investors who once invested money in the buy–out of the note and deed of trust.

The investors are out hundreds of thousands of dollars and want the title company – not our Company – (who failed to record assignments of the deed of trust into their names) to reimburse their money.

Example #3 – Movie Drama

A movie producer approaches an escrow company to handle a holding escrow to fund the production of a movie. According to the holding agreement deposited into escrow, the funds will be wire transferred from investors until the minimum budget for the film is met.

The film production commences. Several large deposits are received and the escrow holder starts to receive bills for movie production, before all the capital is raised to meet the minimum budget. The producer instructs the escrow officer to pay the production costs to three different entities. She promptly complies.

Subsequently, the funds are stolen by the “movie producer” who established fake entities to receive the wire transfers for escrow. The investors are wondering why the funds were released without all the capital first being raised in accordance with the written agreement. They are looking for the escrow holder for full reimbursement of their investment.

These are just a few of many examples of why we do not handle holding escrows that do not involve the issuance of a title insurance product.

Ticor Title Federal Way Escrow – Video Tour

Ticor Title & Escrow - Federal Way, WA

Ticor Title & Escrow - Federal Way, WAIn February, we announced the opening of our new Ticor Title escrow location in Federal Way, WA  located on 9th Avenue S., one block north of 336th St. This escrow office offers street-level access, ample parking, and close proximity to major real estate offices in the Federal Way area.

All are welcome to pop in and check out the fantastic new office, but in the mean time please take a moment to view the quick video tour and photo gallery below. We’re confident that buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and lenders will appreciate the convenient and upscale location.

A better closing experience

From open to close, our team is dedicated to creating a superior client experience by providing clear communication, personalized service, and consistency with every escrow transaction.

Direct your next transaction to Ticor Title and let our resources, services, and team of specialists make your closing a success!

We look forward to serving you in Federal Way!

Where to find us

Ticor Title – Federal Way Branch

33400 9th Ave S.
Suite 102
Federal Way, WA 98003
Phone: 253-765-7255

Video Tour of Ticor Title Federal Way