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6 Wire Fraud Prevention Tips

6 Wire Fraud Prevention Tips

Wire fraud has become a daily occurrence in our industry. Realtors®, Real Estate Brokers, Buyers and Sellers are targets for wire fraud and many have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because they wired funds based on wire instructions received via email.

Common Wire Fraud Schemes

A hacker can break into a licensee’s email account to obtain information about upcoming real estate transactions. After monitoring the account to determine the likely timing of a close, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing either as the escrow agent or as the licensee. The fraudulent email may contain new wiring instructions or routing information, and request that the Buyer send funds accordingly. They could just as easily send an e-mail to the escrow agent posing as a Seller or a Real Estate Broker instructing the escrow agent to wire seller funds to different account rather than to the account provided at the signing.

Be Alert

Below are the procedures we have implemented at Ticor Title to keep our clients’ information and money safe and secure. We have also provided some tips on what a client should look for.

We encourage you to pass them along to your client so they are aware of the wire fraud scams plaguing our industry.

  1. Ticor Title will not accept disbursement instructions or changes to disbursement instructions via e-mail. Should a circumstance arise that requires disbursement instructions be sent via e-mail we will always contact the client to confirm the information received using a pre-verified phone number.
  2. If we are instructed to e-mail wire instructions to a Broker or a Buyer or Seller, they are always sent using encrypted e-mail.
  3. If your client receives wire instructions via e-mail, instruct them to ALWAYS follow up with a phone call to their escrow closer before they wire funds.
  4. Pay attention to the wording of an email requesting funds. Many fraudsters are “offshore” offenders and their sentence structure may be broken and may contain misspelled words or improper grammar.
  5. Beware of e-mail spoofing. E-mail spoofing is the forgery of an e-mail address so that the message appears to have originated from someone other than the actual source. For instance, you could receive an e-mail that you believe originated from your Escrow Closer or Broker because the e-mail address is the same as theirs. However, if you click on the e-mail address it will disclose the true e-mail address of the originator. E-mail Spoofing is a common tactic used in wire fraud campaigns and if you are not familiar with the tactic you are very likely to follow the instructions contained in the e-mail, believing they came from the proper party.
  6. Be wary of a sudden or urgent request for funds that were not anticipated or required as part of the transaction. Examples include a request for an additional earnest money deposit or extension fee that was not part of the purchase agreement.

Wire Fraud in the News

Click on the links below to view stories recently aired by KOMO 4 news on the subject of wire fraud. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you have or if you would like some additional information on the subject.

http://komonews.com/news/consumer/email-scam-targeting-real-estate-industry-gets-worse

http://komonews.com/news/consumer/real-estate-title-scams-steal-homebuyers-money-and-dash-ownership-dreams

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What is an ID Affidavit and Why is it Needed?

What is an ID Affidavit and Why is it Needed?

Understanding an ID Affidavit

What’s in a name? When a title company seeks to uncover matters affecting title to real property, the answer is, “Quite a bit.”

An ID Affidavit provides title companies with the information they need to distinguish the buyers and sellers of real property from others with similar names. After identifying the true buyers and sellers, title companies may disregard the judgments, liens or other matters on the public records under similar names.

To help you better understand this sensitive subject, below are answers to common questions relating to ID Affidavits.

What is an ID Affidavit?

A Statement of Information is a form routinely requested from the buyer, seller and borrower in a transaction where title insurance is sought. The completed form provides the title company with information needed to adequately examine documents so as to disregard matters which do not affect the property to be insured, matters which actually apply to some other person.

What Does an ID Affidavit Do?

Every day documents affecting real property – liens, court decrees, bankruptcies – are recorded. Whenever a title company uncovers a recorded document in which the name is the same or similar to that of the buyer, seller or borrower in a title transaction, the title company must ask, “Does this document affect the parties we are insuring?” Because if it does, it affects title to the property and would, therefore, be listed as an exception from coverage under the title policy.

A properly completed ID Affidavit will allow the title company to differentiate between parties with the same or similar names when searching documents recorded by name. This protects all parties involved and allows the title company to competently carry out its duties without unnecessary delay.

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Keys to a Successful Escrow Closing

Keys to a Successful Escrow Closing

Closing on a home can be an exciting and stressful process all at the same time. With so many potential speed bumps it’s important we make your closing flow as smooth as possible. At Ticor we believe one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by educating buyers and sellers as they prepare for the big day. In particular we’d like to highlight some of the simple steps a buyer/seller can take to expedite the process. We call these steps the “Keys to a Successful Closing”.

BUYERS AND SELLERS

  • Provide your escrow officer with your phone number & email.
  • Confirm with your agent that all contingencies have been satisfied.
  • Keep your agent informed of any vacation or travel plans or times you will be unavailable.
  • If you plan to have your documents reviewed by an attorney, please notify your escrow officer at least 48 hours prior to signing.

SELLERS

Gather the following and deliver to your Escrow Officer:

  • Your forwarding address.
  • Any existing payoff information.
  • Identify leased equipment.
  • Homeowner Association information.
  • Utilities (if they are to be paid out of escrow.)
  • Judgment/Liens
  • Any name changes since vesting

BUYERS

  • Notify your escrow officer the names of your lender and homeowner insurance companies.
  • Verify with your loan officer that all conditions have been met.

BEFORE YOUR SIGNING APPOINTMENT

  • Plan to sign at the escrow company one or two business days before the closing date.
  • Expect the signing to last approximately one hour if you are the buyer and 30 minutes if you are the seller
  • Have two pieces of valid ID (one being photo ID) available at your signing appointment: Driver’s License, State ID, Passport, or Green Card.
  • If funds are required to close, be prepared to bring the monies in the form of a cashier’s check or wire transfer. These funds need to be received by the Escrow office 24 hours in advance of the recording/closing date indicated on your Purchase and Sale Agreement.

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A Great Finish to Another Strong Year for Ticor Title

A Great Finish to Another Strong Year for Ticor Title

Ticor Title is a member of the FNF family of companies and the nation’s largest group of title companies and title insurance underwriters that collectively issue more title insurance policies than any other title company in the United States.

FNF Core Title Operation Performance

The fourth quarter of 2016 was a great finish to another strong year for our title insurance business, as we generated fourth quarter adjusted pre-tax title earnings of $292 million and a 15.8% adjusted pre-tax title margin. For the full-year 2016, we produced more than $8.2 billion in total revenue and a 14.7% adjusted pre-tax title margin.

Residential Real Estate Overview

Fidelity National Title Group purchase opened and closed orders increased by 7% and 12%, respectively on a daily basis in the fourth quarter. In addition, the mix of business during the fourth quarter shifted more towards purchase transactions, with purchase business accounting for 59% of open orders and 55% of closed orders.

Commercial Real Estate Overview

Our commercial operations experienced another strong quarter to end 2016. Total commercial revenue of $285 million was our second highest quarterly in company history. For fullyear 2016 total commercial revenue of approximately $973 million was just 5% behind the record setting 2015 performance.

Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

As we progress through 2017, we continue to strive to maximize earnings from our operations and remain the most profitable title insurance company in the country.

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What is Escrow? [video]

What is Escrow? [video]

Making a simple financial transaction is pretty straightforward, right?
You get the goods, he gets the money, and a receipt is your proof of ownership. But how do you make a financial transaction as large and as complicated as a home purchase or refinance?

How Escrow Works

That’s where escrow comes in. Your escrow officer is an essential partner who mediates a complicated financial transaction to make sure it’s done accurately and fairly.

Here’s how it works: When a buyer and seller come to an agreement on the terms of sale, everyone involved gives their part of the transaction to the escrow officer. Then the escrow officer ensures everyone does what they agreed to do before handing over the deed and distributing funds appropriately.

And by the time the property changes hands or the refinance is complete, all the variables are coordinated and everyone has peace of mind it was all done correctly! To learn more about escrow contact your Ticor Title representative.


Escrow Workflow

The Escrow process in 12 steps. This flowchart illustrates which items are performed by escrow and which items are performed by the Lender.
Escrow Workflow
Click here to download

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Improve the Home-Buying Experience with the House-Hunter Scorecard

Improve the Home-Buying Experience with the House-Hunter Scorecard

Ticor Title is happy to offer the House Hunter Scorecard, a simple tool designed to improve the home-buying experience.

House Hunting & Weighing the Options

Deciding on which home to purchase is a major commitment that involves evaluating location, size, price, amenities, and so many other factors. With so many characteristics to assess and compare, it helps to have a tool that can itemize factors, clarify expectations, and build confidence that the home-buyer’s ultimate home choice is the best fit for their desired lifestyle.

Track & Compare Home Preferences

After weeks of looking, it may be easy for a buyer to forget what exactly they liked about homes they’ve viewed. Over time, the details may fade or become vague. However, the House Hunter Scorecard helps to keep a record by organizing and comparing what the buyer likes best about their top two or three home choices.

The House Hunter Scorecard not only includes most of the features needed in a home, it takes into account the importance of the surrounding community and helps the buyer to visualize the lifestyle they seek.

Prioritize & Set Clear Expectations

With the House Hunter Scorecard you can set up a priority list ahead of time and a rank & order features from the most vital to insignificant. This helps to bring focus to the decision making process. Since most home purchases involve compromises on preference, the scorecard helps to weigh the options and make home comparisons easier.

The priority list can also help a Real Estate Professional get a better picture of what the buyer is looking for in a house so they can more accurately suggest houses available that best meet the requirements.
When visiting different homes, buyers can leverage this check list to make notes, see the big picture, and build confidence that their ultimate choice is the best fit for their needs and vision.

Contact your Ticor Title Sales Executive today for a House Hunter Scorecard!

House Hunter Scorecard Download

Download the House Hunter Scorecard in PDF format here.

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What Every Realtor Should Know About Owner’s Title Insurance

What Every Realtor Should Know About Owner’s Title Insurance

Make sure all of your clients are protected

You’re a real estate agent, so you know that buying a home can be overwhelming for many of your clients. Homebuyers can easily feel confused and frustrated by the mounds of paperwork they have to sign. Plus, all the fees associated with closing can sometimes be a surprise even to an experienced buyer.

Owner’s title insurance is one of those items often misunderstood by homebuyers at closing, yet its value is tremendous. As an important advisor to your clients, you are in the position to help them understand the value of owner’s title insurance and the dangers that can be incurred without it.

What is title insurance?

Owner’s title insurance is a policy that protects homebuyers’ property rights. For the same reasons that the bank requires a lender’s insurance policy, a homebuyer obtains owner’s title insurance to protect their legal claims to the property.

How title insurance protects your clients

Say, for example, your client recently purchased a new home from a builder, but the builder failed to pay the roofer. Wanting to be paid, the roofer filed a lien against the property. Without owner’s title insurance, your client would be responsible for paying this existing debt—meaning they’d be paying the roofer out of pocket instead of purchasing something nice for their new home, like new living room furniture. This is just one example of how owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers’ from various significant risks. With owner’s title insurance, your client would be protected from certain legal or financial responsibilities.

Enduring value

The good news is that owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers financially, as long as they or their heirs* own the home. For a low, one-time fee (average of 0.5% of purchase price), homebuyers can rest assured, knowing they are protected from inheriting existing debts or claims to their property.

State regulations and CFPB

Each state government regulates its own title insurance costs. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulates closing and settlement practices which can impact title insurance. Keep in mind that title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state laws and local real estate customs. The party that pays for the owner’s title insurance policy varies from state to state, and sometimes even within a state. For more information about title insurance, please contact your Ticor Title representative.

Free resources for Realtors®

Together, real estate agents, land title insurance professionals and other stakeholders involved in real estate transactions can protect homebuyers and provide them with the peace of mind they deserve during the home closing process.

For more information about title insurance, and to get free resources for real estate agents, visit www.alta.org/realtor.

*This article offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a Ticor Title representative.

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Minors in Title to Real Estate in Oregon

Minors in Title to Real Estate in Oregon

Consider a real estate purchase in which the buyers, Mom and Dad, decide to put their daughter in title with them, so daughter’s name is added on the deed. A few years later, Mom and Dad approach their credit union for a mortgage loan. They tell the loan officer that their 15 year old daughter, Susan, is in title with them. That, the loan officer says, may be a problem.

What is the down side of a minor in title?

Most of us know there may be a problem here, but what is it, exactly? Can a minor even be in title? Can a minor convey or mortgage the property? How?

Yes, a minor can be in title, and it happens. That may not be a problem, if, in the example, Mom, Dad and Susan do not want or need to sell or mortgage the property before Susan reaches the age of majority.

The problem is that until then Susan lacks the capacity to enter into binding contracts. If she signs title away when she is 15, she can disavow it when she reaches the age of majority and for some time thereafter. (As a general rule, the age of majority in Oregon is 18 or upon becoming legally married, if under 18.)

What can be done when a minor needs to sell or mortgage real property?

The only way for Susan to sell or take out a mortgage is for someone – probably Mom and Dad – to file in state court for appointment of a conservator to handle Susan’s financial affairs.

This can be expensive, time consuming and exasperating, particularly if there is a time-sensitive deadline for a real estate transaction. Unfortunately, there is no alternative. The horse is out of the barn, so to speak. The conveyance to Susan of a fractional interest cannot be undone. The bottom line is that court approval through a conservatorship will be necessary.

Are there other ways for a minor to own real estate?

There are more practical ways to address real estate ownership by a minor. One is making the minor a beneficiary of a trust. In this approach, title is conveyed to the trustee of the trust and the trustee has the authority to engage in a real estate transaction for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries, even if a beneficiary is a minor.

Another approach is putting title into a custodian for the minor, under the Oregon Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. In this approach, title is conveyed to an adult of legal age, using language such as: “John Smith, as custodian for Susan Smith, under the Oregon Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.” The Act’s predecessor law was called the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act, so you might see a reference to the earlier act in a particular deed. A deed under this approach can be used, provided it has the necessary reference to the Act and identifies the custodian and the minor.

While title is vested in a custodian, a title company does not need to call for any proof of authority. That is addressed by the Act. This approach is significantly simpler than using a conservatorship. The custodian has a fiduciary responsibility to the minor and may not dispose of or use the custodial property for personal gain. The minor’s portion of proceeds from a sale of a house by the custodian would still belong to the minor. A third party, such as a buyer or a title company, is not under a duty to investigate the custodian’s actions.

What happens when the minor reaches legal age?

Once the minor reaches an age specified in the Act (18, 21 or in some cases 25 years of age depending on circumstances), the custodian has a duty to convey the property to the minor, and the minor may then engage in a real estate transaction in his or her name. If a conservatorship is in place, court action would be necessary before the protected person could act on his or her own behalf. A lawyer should be consulted if a minor is or will be in title.

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What’s the Difference? What Happens Between Signing and Closing Escrow

What’s the Difference?  What Happens Between Signing and Closing Escrow

When people talk about a real estate purchase, they sometimes use the terms “signing” and “closing” interchangeably in reference to the event when the buyers sign documents with Escrow. However, there are several events that take place between the buyer’s signing appointment and the actual closing of the real estate transaction. Let’s take a moment and review that process.

Signing of Documents

Escrow receives instructions to prepare the settlement statement so the lender can provide the Closing Disclosure to the buyer/borrower for acceptance and signature. During the waiting period, the escrow company can prepare the necessary escrow and title transfer documents. After the required waiting period, the lender will then forward the documents for signature to the escrow company, so that the signing appointments can be scheduled.

Lender Reviews Documents & Funds the Loan

Once the loan documents have been signed, the escrow officer delivers them back to the lender either by email, fax or physical delivery for review. When the lender is satisfied that all required documents have been signed and all outstanding loan conditions have been met, the lender will notify escrow that they are ready to disburse the loan funds to escrow. Upon receipt of the wire from the lender, the escrow officer is authorized to send the transfer documents to the county for recording. The time frame for review is normally 24 to 48 hours.

Recording is Authorized

Once recording is authorized by the lender, and all funds have been received, documents are either electronically recorded or hand-carried to the county recorder’s office by the title insurance company.

The Warranty Deed is recorded first, showing the transfer of the property to the buyer, with the Deed of Trust recorded next. Recording the Deed of Trust just after the Deed insures the lender’s first lien position on the property.

Closed and Recorded

Recording numbers are the unique and specific numbers given by the county recorder’s office to a properly executed legal document thereby making it part of the public record.

In other words, when we have recording numbers, the buyer is “on record” as holding title to the property. This is the closing date and ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer. Based on the possession date in the purchase agreement, the new owner may take possession and proceeds may be disbursed to the seller.

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What to Expect at Escrow Closing – [Video]

What to Expect at Escrow Closing – [Video]

Now that you’re ready to buy or sell a home it’s time to close the deal. But what does that really mean? What happens at closing and how long does it take? Well the process varies depending on your location, but here’s a general overview of what you can expect at closing.

Escrow’s Role in a Real Estate Transaction

As your Escrow Closing Team, we will follow the terms of your Purchase and Sale Agreement, and use these instructions to complete the transfer of the property from Seller to Buyer.

We’ll ensure that any items on your title commitment have been cleared, prior to closing. We also maintain a detailed accounting of all the finances involved with the purchase of your property. Most importantly, we prepare the legal documents that transfer ownership, from Seller to Buyer.

Escrow carries out instructions per the terms of sale

It all starts when a buyer and seller agree on the terms of sale and ends four to eight weeks later at closing. In the middle, all kinds of stuff happens to make sure the terms of sale are met. It’s the kind of stuff you’re thankful someone else does while you’re getting ready to move.

Then at closing, the escrow officer confirms the terms of sale are met, makes sure the funds are distributed, the deed is recorded, and the keys are delivered. if you’re the buyer, this is when you finally get possession of your house.

Closing the sale of a home doesn’t have to be mysterious! find out more about how it works with the resources below.

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