Washington Buyer and Seller Guide for Title and Escrow

TRUST DEEDS: These are common. Escrow will order a demand from the lender(s) which will allow the title company to pay off the existing loan(s) using the proceeds from the new buyer’s loan (or proceeds if all cash). RED FLAG: Watch out for old trust deeds from a previous owner (or sometimes the current owner if he has refinanced). If you find a trust deed listed that has already been paid, or that looks like it was taken out by a previous owner, call your title officer immediately. He will research the trust deed, and take the necessary steps to either remove it from the public record (by working with escrow to get release documents) or by acquiring an “indemnity” from the title company who paid off the old loan. Old trust deeds with private party beneficiaries (an individual acting as lender, such as an old seller carry-back) are difficult to get removed, especially if several years have gone by since the loan has been paid off. A bond will sometimes be necessary in order to clear title of an old trust deed. These bonds must be covering twice the face value of the deed of trust, and will cost upwards from 1% of the bond amount (usually around 2 or 3 percent, more for higher risk bonds), depending on how much supporting documentation is provided to the bonding company. Note: If you have a client/buyer who is getting financing from the seller, or any individual, advise them to contact you or their title officer when the loan is being paid off. The release documents are much easier to get now rather than in a few years when the lender may no longer be around. ENCROACHMENTS: Sometimes a structure (commonly a fence or driveway) encroaches upon a property. This usually means that a client will have to take the property subject to the encroachment. Contact your title officer if you see encroachment language in your prelim. RED FLAG: The lender will usually not want to lend on a property where encroachments exist. In some circumstances, an endorsement to the lender’s policy (usually with an extra charge) can allow the lender to close. These are determined on a case-by-case basis. Again, contact your title officer. NOTICE OF VIOLATION: These will sometimes be recorded by the fire department, the health department or the local zoning enforcement division in situations where the property violates a local statute. RED FLAG: These are always a red flag. The lender will not accept these conditions. The violation will have to be eliminated and the local enforcement agency will have to issue a release before closing. Escrow (or the seller or the seller’s representative) will usually have to deal directly with the appropriate agency to resolve these types of issues. COURT ORDERS/JUDGMENTS: These are not a standard item. The most common type to show on a title commitment is support judgments. These are issued by the courts when child/spousal support is owed by the party named. (See “Statement of Information”) RED FLAG: Any order/judgment is a red flag. Support judgments can take up to six weeks to get a demand and release from the creditor (usually the district attorney’s office). If you see an order or judgment, contact escrow immediately to verify that the demand has been ordered. BANKRUPTCY: While not unusual, bankruptcies are not standard. RED FLAG: All open bankruptcies require the debtor to get permission from the court to sell or encumber an asset (the home) or to take on new debt. Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies against the seller are the most common found in a sale situation. A letter from the bankruptcy trustee will be required to close escrow. The trustee will sometimes require that a payment be made to the court at close. We sometimes find a Chapter 13 against a buyer, which will also require a letter from the trustee allowing the debtor to take on more debt. An open Chapter 7 against the buyer is rare, and the buyer probably cannot get a loan as long as he is in a Chapter 7. (See “Statement of Information”). NOTE: Chapter 7 is a complete washout of dischargeable debt, Chapter 13 is a reorganization of debt and Chapter 11 is a reorganization of debt for a company or corporation. NOTICE OF PENDING ACTION: This is also known as a “lis pendens.” RED FLAG: This is a big red flag. This means that someone has a lawsuit pending that may affect the title to the property. These are often found in acrimonious divorce situations. A demand (the aggressing party usually wants money before releasing) and withdrawal (a “withdrawal of lis pendens” is a legal document that must be recorded to release the lis pendens) will be required before closing. 28 © Ticor Title Company RED FLAGS IN THE ESCROW / TITLE PROCESS