Happy New Year to all our Friends and Partners
A Preview of the (New) Roaring Twenties
That roar you hear is the sound of change in the real estate market…
How real estate transactions are conducted is changing rapidly. Long time participants, such as appraisers and surveyors, are slowly being pushed out of the process as lenders reduce requirements for their services. Online brokerages, instant offers, and ibuyer programs are growing rapidly and taking a larger percentage of the market each month. As new technologies continue to emerge, such as remote online notarization, those individuals and companies which adapt will continue to grow and be most capable to meet the evolving needs of clients. Two Rivers Title (TRT) remains committed to providing the service and attention you need in this changing landscape.
Below is a summary of the most substantive changes in our policies that we have instituted to protect you and the consumer from cyber crime and fraud. After you have read through the policy revisions, please call me or your TRT liaison and we will be happy to meet with you to discuss how the implementation of these policy changes will fortify our mutual goal of helping your client get to the closing table. We will also be contacting you to schedule a visit to your office to demonstrate our platform that allows you to retrieve documents, see the status of your files, and upload/download information safely and securely.
New Policy Changes
We have been listening to the concerns of attorneys, lenders, and realtors involved in our real estate closings and have acted on these insights to facilitate a better closing experience. These changes will improve the overall process, flow and consistency, prevent unnecessary closing delays or rescheduled closings and, of utmost importance, protect and increase the financial safety and information of our clients.
1. Closing Funds should be provided 24-48 hours prior to the date of closing whether by wire or cashier’s check
Over the past few months, financial institutions have placed mandatory holds on deposited checks, including cashier/bank checks which can take days to clear. Wires are also getting slower as banks contact settlement agents to verbally verify wire instructions. We received wires in under an hour from the time the consumer initiated the transfer. Now, delays can last all day, or even until the following day! To avoid these types of delays we have adopted new protocols to assist you and your client.
First, wire instructions will be available through a secure login on our website. You and your client will be provided with credentials once an order is placed. For law firms, one designated username and password will suffice to access all their firms’ files.
Second, our settlement team will advise the consumer of the estimated closing funds they need to bring to the closing at least 48 hours prior to the day of closing. Any excess money will be refunded at the closing table. Any shortfall, up to $2500, can be paid by personal check at the time of closing.
It is critically important to prevent wire fraud and protect you and your clients against misdirection of their funds, thus it will be necessary for us to contact the consumer at the beginning of the transaction and just prior to closing. We will advise them of our role in the closing, discuss our wire process and authentication procedures so that they can be assured they will be submitting funds to the correct party at the time of closing.
2. Bulk Sales Escrows
The issue of whether a transaction is subject to Bulk Sales reporting requirements has no bearing on insurability of title, however, we are mindful of the risk a Buyer assumes when this issue is overlooked. We will continue to assist you in identifying the issue and submit the application to the State, if requested. However, since this is an issue which does not create a lien on the real estate, we cannot require any escrow be held, only advise you of the issue. We will rely upon the instructions of the parties to determine who will hold any escrow. The escrow agent can be TRT, the buyer(s)’ attorney, the seller(s)’ attorney or a third party such as an accountant chosen by the parties.
We will continue to help identify when a FIRPTA payment is potentially needed. Ultimately, it will be up to the consumer, together with their attorney and/or accountant, to determine the amount of any payment or escrow. Two Rivers Title Company will not complete or submit any forms or transmit any payments to the IRS. The Buyer must designate their own agent, attorney or accountant, to do so. Our underwriters do not authorize their agents to provide “tax advice.”
4. C/O’s, CCA’s and Certificates of Smoke Detector Compliance, Transfer Certificates, etc. must be provided prior to the day of closing
Certain municipalities will hold Buyers, Sellers, their attorneys and the settlement agent for failure to comply with their requirements regarding municipal approvals and issuance of certificates of occupancy. Therefore, we will continue to require the appropriate certificate to be produced no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to any closing.
Under certain circumstances, an exception may be requested and if deemed necessary and appropriate, it should be approved by one of our attorneys on staff, Matthew Cohen, Stephanie Benedetto, Rick Pepsny, or Isidore Teitelbaum. We will require an Indemnification and Hold Harmless Agreement signed by all parties and executed no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to closing.
5. Original Seller’s Conveyance Documents are to be received to TRT no later than 48 hours prior to day of closing
Upon receipt of the original documents, we will immediately scan and email copies to the Buyer’s attorney for their reference, review and file. Since TRT is ultimately responsible for approval, receipt and recording of Seller’s conveyance documents, it is in the interest of all party’s that these documents are delivered directly to our office at least 48 hours prior to closing to avoid any delays due to lost or misplaced documents.
In Other News
CE and CLE Programs being offered
Two Rivers Title is directly licensed to offer CLE and CE programs to the real estate and insurance communities, including law firms and real estate brokerages. For your convenience, we will provide training programs at your offices, taught by our staff. Please call us if you are interested in scheduling a course in your office.
We are proud to announce our new underwriter, Chicago Title (part of the Fidelity family of companies). TRT is now backed by three of the four largest title underwriters in the country, First American, Old Republic and Chicago Title.
New Members of Our Team
We have recently welcomed several new colleagues as well as some returning members to the TRT family. Isidore Teitelbaum, Esq., Senior Title Counsel and William Dowd IV, Senior Examiner joined us at the end of 2018, bringing their extensive experience with commercial and government projects to our company. Cindy Zalesky and Cindy Moccaro, both with decades of law firm experience, have joined our settlement department as Senior Paralegals. Julie Long has rejoined our title department assisting with endorsements and commitments. She brings a wealth of knowledge from her years of experience in roles at a law firm and title agency.
In addition, we have created a new Clearance Department, staffed with industry veterans that also have years of law firm and title agency experience. This department includes Tara Spirito, Stephanie Palladino, Clarisse Taber and Kimberly Kandels. Rebecca Cassano brings her strong accounting background to our Finance Department. Finally, Jo-Ann Penachio-Perillo has rejoined, and Suzanne Newell has joined our Title Department’s Order Entry team. We are very grateful to have each of these individuals on our team.
In closing, thank you for choosing Two Rivers Title Company as your Closing Partner. We strive to earn your business every day and remain focused on providing you the best service possible. As always, please feel free to call me directly with any questions or concerns.
Matthew A. Cohen, Esq. / CEO Two Rivers Title Company, LLC