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Condo, Townhome, PUD, or Plat? What they are, how they’re different, and how they’re identified.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52847686@N07/5082458589/

Condo, Townome, PUD, or Plat.  How to tell the difference - http://www.flickr.com/photos/52847686@N07/5082458589/

Sometimes questions arise as to the exact nature of certain residential properties: It looks like a house but is it a condo, a townhome, built on a lot in a plat or what? Should I use a Residential Purchase & Sale Agreement or a Condominium Purchase & Sale Agreement form when I write up an offer?  No worries! Your Ticor Customer Service team is happy to help you clear up this sometimes murky issue.  Below are some tips to help you identify which type of residential parcel you’re working with.

Download

Click the image below to download a printable version of this article.
How to tell the difference between a condo, plat, townhome, or PUD

Look at how it was recorded:

In the same way that you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t simply look at a home and know whether it’s part of a condo or some other form of subdivision (a/k/a “plat”). The answer may be found with how it was first recorded.

Look for land ownership differences:

The primary difference between a condo and other forms of development is the ownership of the land.

Condo:  An owner of a condo “unit” owns their dwelling but not the land it’s built on. In fact, condo owners typically don’t even own the walls, just the surface of them. Unit owners collectively share interests in the  “common elements”.  Typical common elements include interior hallways, building exteriors, elevators, landscaping, and recreational amenities like swimming pools. Parking may be assigned to specific units, may be held as separate tax parcels, may be common elements, or may be a combination. In Washington State condominiums are created under the provisions of the Washington Condominium Act (or the earlier Horizontal Property Regimes Act).

Plat: 1.) Generic term meaning any type of recorded subdivision.  2.) Specifically a recorded division of detached, single family homes.  Homeowners in a plat own the parcel of land and the structure(s) built on it, and may or may not also have an interest in common areas.  Common areas may be owned in percentage by some or all of the homeowners, or may be held by the Homeowners Association as a separate entity.

A PUD (Planned Unit Development – not to be confused with Public Utility District) is a type of subdivision where the homeowners individually own their lots, plus jointly belong to an association which owns and maintains significant common areas like streets and sidewalks.

Look at covenants and recorded plat documents

In each case, recorded plat documents and covenants typically specify the terms of  what is owned by the individual homeowners and what are common areas.

Your Ticor Customer Service team will be happy to provide legal descriptions, property profiles, or plat documents for you.

Sample legal descriptions

  • Lot 45, Hawthorn Park, according to the plat thereof recorded under Recording Number 200208285002, in Snohomish County, Washington.
  • Unit 422, Building 1, Queen Anne High School Condominium, Survey Map and Plans recorded in Volume 211 of Condominiums, page(s) 13 through 31, inclusive; Condominium Declaration recorded under Recording Number(s) 20051115002874 and amendments thereto, in King County, Washington.
  • Lot 13 and South 2.67 feet of lot 14, Marsh Commons PUD. according to the plat thereof recorded in Volume 144 of plats, page(s) 9 through 11, in King County, Washington;

Townhouses can be any of the above!

Townhomes (common-wall or zero-lot-line homes) can be recorded as a condominium, a regular plat, or a PUD.  It is also common in urban areas to see a residential lot short platted into several separate lots with a townhouse on each lot and perhaps a shared driveway. Townhome short plats include specific language about maintenance of the shared elements.

Here are some sample legal descriptions that can give a clue about how the townhomes were recorded:

  • Unit 11704, Silvercrest Townhouses Condominiums, a Condominium according to Declaration recorded under Auditor’s No. 9105310689 and amendment thereto recorded under Auditor’s No. 9110210556, and Survey Map and Plans recorded under Auditor’s No. 9105310690, in Pierce County, Washington.
  • Lot(s) 165, Silver Firs Townhouses, according to the plat thereof recorded in Volume 59 of Plats, page(s) 109 through 114, in Snohomish County, Washington.
  • Unit Lot B, Seattle Short Subdivision No. 3006904, recorded under Recording Number 20080205900009, in King County, Washington.

Quiz:

See if you can spot which of these photos is in a Condo, Plat, or PUD? (Three question quiz inserted below shows a picture and a multiple choice answer)

Enter your name and hit the ‘start’ button to take the 3-question quiz!

The Property Tax Annual Cycle

property-tax-cycle

There are few things in life that are as certain as taxes, especially when it comes to buying, selling, and owning real estate.  In this article, we’re going to take a look at property taxes, including when they are due, when they may be paid, how they’re calculated, and what tax relief programs are available.

The Property Tax Timeline

Property taxes have a timeline that is different than most other taxes or bills that we pay. Let’s take a look at the facts:

  • Taxes are due twice a year, but towards the middle each cycle
  • First half taxes are due at the end of April and cover January through June
  • Second half taxes are due at the end of October, and cover July through December
Click  the following link to download a printable version of the Property Tax Annual Cycle Infographic.

Property tax proration

Because taxes are due toward the middle of the period they cover, a real estate seller may receive a refund or pay prorated taxes depending on the closing date.  For example, a sale that closes in March will have both parties paying prorated taxes: the seller pays for January 1st to date of closing, and the buyer pays from the closing date to June 30th. A closing that happens in May, would give the seller a refund for prorated taxes from the closing date to the end of June, since the seller would have paid in April for the entire first half of the year.

Can property taxes be paid in advance?

When are taxes due?

1st half are due the last day of April, 2nd half are due the last day of October. King County mails out a statement in the middle of February (February 14th for this year – Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Taxes for the second half of the year can be paid in advance, but the first half can’t. Washington State law (RCW 84.56.010) doesn’t allow county treasurers to collect property taxes until February 15 of the year that they are due. So the first half is typically payable any time between Feb 15th and April 30th; and the second half is typically payable any time between Feb 15th and October 31st. It is not necessary to have a tax statement to mail in with your payment. If you decide to mail in your payment without a tax statement, you must write your tax account number on the check. Mailed payments must be postmarked on or before the due date otherwise they will be considered late.

How are property taxes calculated?

How taxes are calculated

The two factors used in the calculation of taxes are the assessed value of the property and the levy rate for that area. Levy rates are represented in dollars per thousand, so to calculate the tax amount multiply the assessed value by the levy rate and divide by 1,000.

The property tax for a given parcel are based on a fairly simple calculation: multiply the total assessed or taxable value of the parcel by the levy rate for that parcel’s neighborhood. In addition there can be fees added by the county to cover specific services like noxious weed control.

Last Year’s Assessed Value x This Year’s Levy Rate = Tax Amount Due

What determines the levy rate?

The levy rates are determined by a number of factors, including the results of voter-approved levies. Property taxes usually aren’t certified until the middle of February, even though the assessments were mailed out the previous year (which often causes confusion). In other words, the assessed valuation statement you get in the 2ndhalf of this year has no effect on the taxes you are paying this year. The valuation will be used in the calculation for next year’s taxes. You won’t know the actual tax you will need to pay for 2012 until the county certifies 2012 taxes in the middle of February, even though 2012 assessed values have been available for months.

Assessed value vs. taxable value

The assessed value is typically the same as the taxable value except in cases where the taxpayer has applied for and received an exemption. For example, senior and disabled property owners may qualify for tax reductions. In some cases home improvements may qualify for a 3-year exemption for taxes on the value of the improvement. For more information on possible exemptions or tax defererals, contact the Assessor-Treasurer for the county in which the property is located.

What tax relief programs are available?

Here are some examples of programs and special classifications available that provide tax relief:

  • Open Space Classification for Agricultural land, Timberland, and Natural preserves.
  • Designated Forest Land Classification for timberland parcels 20 acres or more.
  • Historical Restoration Exemption for historical significant property undergoing restoration.
  • Improvement Exemption – Single Family Dwellings a temporary exemption of valuation of additions to single-family dwellings.
  • Destroyed Property Claim adjustment to the valuation of destroyed property. (please note this program is handled by the Admin department, for further information please contact them at 425 388-3038).
  • Property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled persons
  • Full tax deferrals for senior citizens and disabled persons.
  • Exemptions for qualifying property owned by non-profit organizations.
  • Property tax deferral for those with limited income.

Property tax resources:

King County property tax resources

King County Assessor-Treasurer hotline: (206) 296-3850
Find your tax parcel account number: King County tax parcel search
See or print a tax statement: View or print King County tax statements here.
Make online payment: Pay King County Property Taxes Online
Make checks payable to: King County Treasurer
Mailing addresses for property taxes: King County Treasury 500 Fourth Avenue, Room 600 Seattle, WA 98104

Pierce County property tax resources:

Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer hotline: (253) 798-6111
Find your tax parcel account number: Pierce County tax parcel search
See or print a tax statement: View or print Pierce County tax statements online here.
Make online payment: Pay Pierce County Property Taxes Online
Make checks payable to: Pierce County
Mailing addresses for property taxes: Pierce County Budget & Finance P.O. Box 11621 Tacoma, WA 98411-6621

Snohomish County property tax resources:

Snohomish County Assessor-Treasurer hotline: (425) 388-3433
Find your tax parcel account number: Snohomish County Tax tax parcel search
See or print a tax statement: View or Print Snohomish County tax statements online here.
Make online payment: Pay Snohomish County Property Taxes Online.
Make checks payable to: Snohomish County Treasurer
Mailing addresses for property taxes: Snohomish County Treasurer 3000 Rockefeller Ave, M/S 501 Everett, WA 98201

The Life Cycle of Bankruptcy – Chapters 7, 11, and 13

Life Cycle of Bankruptcy infographic- Chapters 7, 11, and 13

Even though bankruptcy filings are becoming more and more commonplace, the process itself is still not easily understood by most people. In general, the bankruptcy process is intended to ultimately give debtors a fresh start. But the path to that fresh start depends on many factors. In the lifecycle of bankruptcy flow chart below, you’ll see the most common paths taken for the 3 most common types of bankruptcy : chapters 7, 11, and 13.

Download a printable version of this chart.

Click the image below for a printable version of this chart.
Download Life Cycle of Bankruptcy Chart here.
Click here to view a printable version of the lifecycle of bankruptcy infographic

General Notes:

  1. Creditors or Partners can file an involuntary petition asking the court to place the Debtor in bankruptcy against his/her/its will.
  2. Any sale or financing of real property is subject to the approval of the Bankruptcy Court.
  3. Judgements and Liens remain attached to the property until specifically released by an order to sell the property free and clear of specific liens and judgements; or an order avoiding the specific lien or judgement, which could be limited to the amount of the homestead exemption and therefore still attach to the property for the amount, if any, in excess of the homestead exemption.
  4. Warning! This chart is intended as a general overview of the process.

Life Cycle of Bankruptcy infographic- Chapters 7, 11, and 13

Please share your questions or comments below!

What Happens Between Signing and Closing of Escrow…

What happens between signing and escrow closing

What happens between signing and escrow closing

Note: This Article was originally published October 25, 2011. An updated version with current information is available here: What’s the Difference Between Signing and Closing Escrow

What’s the difference 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.

Download

What happens after escrow signingDownload a printable article here: What Happens Between Signing and Closing of Escrow

Signing of Documents:

Escrow receives the loan documents (if applicable) from the Lender and prepares them for the buyer to sign along with final statements and any other required documents.  Upon receipt of the loan documents from the lender, the escrow closer prepares the HUD 1 settlement statement and all other legal documents required for the transfer of title into the buyers name.

Lender Reviews Documents & Funds the Loan:

Once the loan documents have been signed, the escrow officer delivers them back to the lender 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.

Excise Tax:

Real estate transactions in Washington State that involve conveyance of property require consideration of Excise Tax. All appropriate tax amounts must be paid before the county will allow the Deed conveying title to be recorded.

Deed of Trust:

A legal document that evidences an agreement of a borrower to transfer legal title to real property to an impartial third party, a trustee, for the benefit of a lender, as security for the borrowers debt.


Warranty Deed:

The legal document used in most states by which title to real estate is conveyed from one party to another.

Recording is Authorized:

Once recording is authorized by the lender, documents are hand carried (in most cases) 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.

Recording Numbers Received:

Recording numbers are the unique 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.

Now We Have Closed Escrow

Once the deeds have been recorded, and funds are available to the seller, we can say that we have “closed” and the new owner may take possession of the property as set forth in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

Do you have questions or thoughts about the escrow process?  Please share by leaving a comment below!

Top 8 Questions About FIRPTA

FIRPTA Frequently asked questions

FIRPTA Frequently asked questions

What is F.I.R.P.T.A.?
F.I.R.P.T.A. is an acronym for Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act.  It was established in 1980 for the purpose of withholding the estimated amount of taxes which may be due on the gain of the disposition of a U.S. Real Property Interest from foreign persons.  A U.S. real property interest includes sales of interests in parcels of real property as well as sales of shares in certain U.S. corporations which are considered U.S. real property holding corporations. Persons purchasing U.S. real property interests (transferee) from foreign personsare required to withhold 10 percent of the amount realized.

FIRPTA top questions

Click the image above to download a printable version of this article.

What is the purpose of withholding 10%?
Real estate withholding is a prepayment of anticipated tax due on the gain of the sale of a U.S. real property interest. It is not an additional tax. Any difference between the amount paid and the amount owed is refunded to the seller when a tax return is filed.

Who is responsible for finding out if the transferor is a foreign person?
It is the transferee’s/buyer’s responsibility to determine if the transferor/seller is a foreign person and subject to withholding.

Are there exceptions from FIRPTA withholding?
Yes.  Exceptions are explained on the IRS.GOV website here.

Who is responsible for withholding 10% of the amount realized?
Withholding is the responsibility of the transferee/buyer.

How and where is the F.I.R.P.T.A. withholding paid?
The buyer must complete IRS Form 8288 and Form 8288-A and remit them, along with the payment to the IRS at the address shown on Form 8288.

What is the settlement agent’s role with regards to F.I.R.P.T.A.?
The IRS Rule requires the transferee/buyer to determine if withholding applies and, if so to remit the withholding to the IRS. If the buyer has determined F.I.R.P.T.A. withholding applies, the buyer and seller may mutually instruct the settlement agent to deduct the 10%, gather the applicable forms and remit them to the IRS on their behalf.

Will a Limited Practice Officer (LPO) give legal advice with regards to F.I.R.P.T.A.?
A LPO or settlement agent is not qualified to provide legal or tax advice relating to F.I.R.P.T.A.  If you are involved in a real estate transaction with a foreign person or entitiy and require legal advice, you will need to seek council from a professional other than the settlement agent.

More information on F.I.R.P.T.A. can be found here:
Internal Revenue Service – FIRPTA Withholding
Internal Revenue Service – Exceptions from FIRPTA withholding
Internal Revenue Service – Reporting and Paying Tax on U.S. Real Property Interests
Internal Revenue Service – Withholding Certificates (reductions in 10% withholding)
Internal Revenue Service – Definitions of terms and procedures unique to FIRPTA
Internal Revenue Service – Foreign Persons Involved in U.S. Real Estate Transactions

Questions or comments?  Please let us know by sharing below!

Real Estate Legal Descriptions in Plain English

aerial-view-gig-harbor

Legal descriptions of property, those all-important components of a Purchase and Sale Agreement, fall into two basic categories: platted and unplatted properties. Of course, there are many variations in each category! For your reference, we have put together a quick reference with examples below.

Click on any link below to see examples of various types of legal descriptions & the maps that go with them.

Platted is a general term for properties where a subdivision involving an approved survey map and plans that describe each lot or unit and that are recorded with the county. Subdivisions, shortplats, and even condominiums are under this umbrella. The “description” part of the legal description is a sort of shorthand that provides location and dimensions by referring you to a specific parcel on the recorded map.

  • Subdivisions often have “Lot and Block” legal descriptions which reference one or more lot numbers, sometimes a block number, the subdivision name plus the volume and page that it was recorded under in County records. In some cases the legal description may reference a recording number rather than volume and page – this is common with newer plats in Pierce and Snohomish counties. Click here to view an example of  a Lot & Block Map.

Example of a Lot & Block Legal Description

  • Shortplats usually involve fewer lots than a full subdivision (or “long plat”). The legal for a shortplat will typically involve a lot number or letter, and the recording number. Often it will include the city or county planning department’s file number as well.  Click Here to view an example of a Shortplat Map.

Example of a Shortplat Legal Description

  • Condominium legals reference Unit number, sometimes a Building number, and the subdivision name with the volume and page that it was recorded under in County records plus the Condo Declaration Recording Number.  Click here for an example of a Condominium Map.

Example of a Condominium Legal Description

Unplatted refers to all the other lots that don’t have an approved plat recorded. (It’s never a perfect world so there may be some exceptions to this rule.) These legal descriptions are all about location and dimensions.

  • Unplatted legals typically reference the Section, Township and Range that the lot is located in, plus quarter-section and sometimes a whole series of quarter-quarter details. These numbers refer to the public land survey system that covers the whole country into square-mile Sections. They allow us to pinpoint the exact location of a lot. Click here for an example of an Unplatted Parcel Map.

Example of an Unplatted Legal Description

  • Unplatted legals may take the form of metes and bounds (distances or dimensions from point to point that literally describe the lot).  Click here for an example of an Unplatted Parcel Map as described with Metes & Bounds.
Example of a Metes & Bounds Legal Description

Example of a Metes & Bounds Legal Description

  • Finally there may be references to other features (shorelines, roads, existing plats just to name a few) that may help to identify location or dimensions.

If you have questions regarding a legal description on your purchase and sale agreement, our property information specialists are prepared to assist.

If you have questions or comments, let us know by commenting below.  Or Contact us today at 425-255-6969!

Also, please click to view our related article: What Makes a Real Estate Description “Legal”?

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

Homebuyers choose ALTA Homeowners Title Insurance Coverage
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.

Click to download a comparison of policy types

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!

6 Tips for Reading Plat Maps

how to read a plat map

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!

How do I remove someone from the title to my property?

How do i remove someone from property title
How do i remove someone from property title

How Do I Remove Someone From Title?

Situations can arise where the ownership interest in your property changes from the way it was originally acquired. Whether it is due to death, divorce, a parting of ways or the requirements of a new lender it sometimes becomes necessary to remove someone’s name from the title to a property. This is usually accomplished by the party exiting title executing a deed of conveyance in favor of the party or parties that will remain in title. Clearing the interest of deceased parties is an entirely different matter altogether and will not be addressed here.

In Case of Divorce

In cases of divorce, the best way to clearly show which party was awarded the property would be for the party not awarded it to execute a quit claim deed in favor of the party that it was awarded to. Many times the terms of the decree of dissolution and/or settlement agreement in the divorce case don’t properly identify real estate holdings and it can be difficult to determine “who got what”.

Tenants-In-Common

If title is held by two or more parties as tenants–in-common and one of them decides to sell or otherwise relinquish their interest they would execute a deed of conveyance (typically a statutory warranty deed or in some cases a quit claim deed) to the recipient(s) of their interest.

When a Party in Title Doesn’t Qualify For a Loan

Sometimes a party in title does not qualify for a loan and if the lender agrees to make the loan to the other title holder(s) a deed of conveyance (typically a quit claim deed) will be executed by the non-borrower to the borrowing party in title to the property.

Seek Legal Council

You should always consult with an attorney before signing any legal documents. You should also consult with Excise Tax Dept. personnel at the local county recorder’s office to help you determine if excise (i.e. conveyance or transfer) tax will be due when the deed is presented for recording.

What is a Closing Protection Letter in Washington State?

A closing protection letter (“CPL”) is a written indemnity agreement requested by a lending institution or bank (“lender”) and issued by the title insurance company (“underwriter”) that will issue a loan policy insuring the lender. CPLs provide specific assurances to the lender which safeguard them in the event that dishonesty, fraud, or negligence cause failure of the escrow agent to properly disburse the closing or escrow funds in a real estate transaction. A CPL also provides assurances to the lender that their written closing instructions have been complied with.

CPLs are issued in most states and some of them restrict, limit or even prohibit their use. According to Washington State law (RCW 48.05.330) CPLs may only be issued when a title insurance company or its issuing agent is handling the closing.

Occasionally a lender will request a CPL when the closing is being handled by an outside party (i.e. independent escrow company or attorney) and not the underwriter or its issuing agent. In these cases the CPL can only be issued after a sub-escrow is opened and the underwriter or its agent has been instructed to accept lender loan funds, collect title related fees and premiums, the sub-escrow fee, payoff all liens that appear in the preliminary title commitment (i.e. “title report”) and forward the balance of funds to the outside party. The CPL does not protect against acts of the outside party.

Closing protection letters are largely misunderstood and misused. A CPL is not insurance and its application is limited. However, the lender”s title insurance policy does contain provisions which, among other things, insure the lender that it has an enforceable and valid lien on the subject property. Furthermore, the escrow agent must also have errors and omission insurance which provides protection against fraudulent or dishonest acts as well as unintentional errors and omissions.

Contact

Ticor Title Washington State

1505 Westlake Ave N #150
Seattle, WA 98109
Phone: (206) 720-0114
Fax: (206) 720-0117

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