It’s a tale as old as real estate: When options for home buying decrease, people are more inclined to take their chances with “clouded” properties—those with both known and unknown liens on the title. Low inventory creates bigger opportunities for properties that would normally go unnoticed. Here’s what we’re seeing these days and what you need to be aware of to ensure a timely and smooth settlement. Each of these situations has its own pitfalls and challenges, with both obvious and hidden obstacles to clear. If it’s not done correctly, you can expect settlement to be delayed or stopped in its tracks, ultimately leaving the buyer unprotected. That’s why it’s so important to use a trusted and ethical title company such as Trident Land Transfer.
With nearly one half of all marriages in the United States ending in divorce, it’s inevitable this will come up in one of your listings. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when taking on a divorce listing.
- Did both parties agree to sell? Who is named on the title?
- Make sure you know who all of your sellers are. It’s possible that one party to the transaction is trying to sell without the other’s knowledge. Reach out to your Trident representative to pull a copy of the last deed to find out specifically who owns the property and how their name(s) should appear on the Agreement of Sale.
- How did the seller(s) hold the title?
- How the sellers held title when they bought the property—or, more importantly, on the last deed that was recorded—will play a role in determining how proceeds will be distributed.
- Is the divorce finalized?
- Marriage rights end with divorce, so if the divorce is finalized prior to settlement, certain liens that wouldn’t typically apply under the sanctity of marriage could come into play. In some cases, these liens can be hefty and could cause a sale to fall apart.
- Furthermore, if parties aren’t in agreement as to who gets what, settlement may be delayed until an agreement is reached.
- Is there a Property Settlement agreement?
- For a title company, this is like the syllabus for the divorce. It tells us exactly who gets what in terms of proceeds from a sale. If there is one, it must be produced and followed precisely.
Trident can help you navigate all of these hurdles as they arise. Contact your Trident representative to learn more about what to expect and what questions to ask before you take the listing.
People are living longer. They are also staying in their homes longer and passing them on to relatives more often. It’s imperative that you know who the estate representative is and to confirm that your seller is legally permitted to sell on behalf of the estate.
- Is the person signing the legal seller?
- First, it’s important to make sure the person who owned the property is, in fact, deceased. The seller should be able to provide proof of death first and foremost.
- The person signing the Agreement of Sale should be able to prove that they are the executor for the estate, either through a Letter of Testamentary (also known as a Short Certificate) or with a copy of the will.
- Is there a will and was it probated?
- Without a will, there is still a way, but it gets more complicated. Someone has to petition the courts to be granted rights as Administrator, and this can take some time.
- Was Inheritance tax already paid?
- If it wasn’t, that’s okay—but you should expect an escrow to be held at closing. The escrow amount depends on factors such as the sales price, whether a payment was already made, and the seller’s relationship to the deceased.
Let Trident help with your homework before you sign the listing contract. We can guide you through what to ask for and what to consider, and get you the answers you need to feel confident to take on the listing and make it to settlement in one piece.
These properties can involve many scenarios that take time and a lot of effort to clear for settlement. They might include vacant homes, often with squatters; missing water meters or other important housing amenities; various liens and multiple mortgages. Distressed properties can leave all parties overly stressed and not confident in their transaction.
- Are you aware of the seller’s financial situation?
- Before you take on a listing, be sure that the sellers can actually afford to sell their property and won’t be short on funds to close.
Trident can help take a deeper dive into the property and what liens are against it. Reach out to your Trident representative for a Mortgage and Judgement search, and they will review the results with you. We can also give you a closing cost estimate, so you can be confident that taking the listing is the right decision.
Endless scenarios can come into play in today’s more challenging market. Don’t face them alone! Let Trident take away those sleepless nights, so you can avoid unnecessary headaches. We will work with you to help clear these title issues before buyers are introduced to the property.