Sunday, August 30, 2009

Have You Read any Good Title Reports Lately?

How long have you been selling real estate? Long enough to know that sales that appear simple are sometimes the most time-consuming, more difficult transactions to close?

Sometimes the sellers know there's a problem, and you begin helping them solve it from the time you take the listing. (If you're especially good at it, you should advertise the fact, by the way.) Other times, you find problems that the sellers didn't know existed.

I ran into my first such problem way back in the dark ages when I first began selling real estate. I had listed a small, remote parcel - way back in the forest at the end of a narrow, rutted, dusty road. It took half a day just to go there to show it. So, I was overjoyed when a buyer came along. It meant no more trips up there!

I wasn't overjoyed for long.

The sellers had purchased the property on a land contract from a corporation that had logged hundreds of acres and then split it up. They bought it on time, and when they made the last payment, they received the deed in the mail. And they put it in a file, or a drawer, or possibly between the pages of a book somewhere. No matter - they didn't have it any more. And they hadn't taken it to the Courthouse to be recorded.

At first I thought this wouldn't be a problem. I'd simply call the Corporate Headquarters, they'd look it up and issue a new deed and we'd be done. But, that thought didn't last long. The corporation was dissolved.

After many conferences with a most helpful title officer, I was able to learn the names of the former officers of the corporation. And through research, I was able to locate two of them. Thankfully, two signatures were all the title company required.

Our attorney prepared a quit claim deed, I mailed it to the first gentleman, and we waited. I called him a week or so later and he assured me that when he had time he'd go get it signed and notarized and would then forward it on to the other man. All told, it took about 6 weeks to get that document back and recorded so we could close.

Remember this was a small, remote, and cheap parcel. By the time I deducted gasoline I think I might have made minimum wage on that transaction. If not, I came close.

The last time was tougher than the first. This time it was a major bank who was involved - a major bank who had sold out to a different major bank.

Usually you can count on a mortgage lender to do their paperwork, but perhaps because of the sale, this one didn't. My clients had refinanced a loan about 3 years earlier and the lien from the original loan had never been removed.

It took even longer to close that time, because finding the person who could sign off and proving to them that the loan had been paid was a major undertaking. I must have enlisted the aid of at least ten different people along the way. Thank goodness there are some people who will go out of their way to help.

Read your title report right away. If you're lucky, any problems you find can be solved in time for your scheduled closing.

Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter and former real estate broker who specializes in writing for real estate and related industries.

Her e-book, Getting Clients, is a resource for beginning real estate agents as well as seasoned agents who want to know how to make more money in less time. Read all about it at

Marte offers a weekly ezine for real estate professionals and others with an interest in marketing themselves or their property. Subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to and you'll immediately receive a copy of her real estate ad writing report.

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