Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Title Tips: Taking a Listing

While a title or settlement company's primary role in the real estate transaction is to conduct the physical settlement, much goes into the documentation leading up to the closing. Below is a list of items a listing agent should keep in mind when taking a listing to ensure that the title company has the proper information and can prepare correct and accurate closing documents -- thus ensuring a smooth closing:

Tips for Taking a Listing
  1. Before meeting with the clients, check the State Department of Assessments and Taxation website (or equivalent source in your state) to see who is listed as the current owner. In Maryland, the SDAT site is Are the parties signing your listing agreement the same as those listed as the current owner?
  2. Ask the sellers if they have a copy of the Deed. Is the property fee simple or is it leasehold? If the property does have a ground rent, is the ground rent owner known?
  3. Are any of the sellers deceased? If so, a copy of the death certificate will need to be provided to the title company. If necessary, has an estate been opened, a personal representative appointed?
  4. Is the property owned by a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a trust? Does the person signing your listing agreement have the authority as recited in the operating agreement for the LLC or under the trust agreement?
  5. Is a Power of Attorney going to be used in the transaction? The sellers must be made aware that the Original Power of Attorney must be recorded in the land records, so they will have to give it to the settlement agent at closing.
  6. Are the sellers divorced? The title company will need to see a copy of the separation agreement to comply with the division of proceeds as recited in the agreement.
  7. Are the sellers residents of the state in which the property sits?
  8. Are the sellers U.S. citizens or permanent residents?
  9. Are the sellers 60 days or more in default on any mortgage that they have on the property?
While this is not an all-inclusive list, it should provide a listing agent with some insight into what a title company requires to get to that all important closing date!