WHO ATTENDS THE CLOSING?

At a “purchase settlement,” typically the sellers, purchasers, and their real estate professionals will attend the closing, which will be conducted by one of our competent and experienced attorneys or settlement officers. At a refinance settlement usually only the borrowers and our attorney or settlement officer are present.

WHEN CAN I FIND OUT HOW MUCH MONEY I NEED TO BRING?

Because we rely on third parties such as lenders to provide us with instructions, information, and figures for your settlement, we often cannot furnish to you the exact amount you need to bring to closing until the day before, or, sometimes, even the day of settlement. However, you should be able to rely on your lender’s or your realtor’s good faith estimate for the approximate amount of money you need to bring with you. If you happen to bring too much money to settlement, we refund back to you any excess amount upon completion of the closing. Obtaining your insurance early will assist the lender in determining escrows which can speed up the ability to provide an accurate settlement figure.

IN THE PROPERTY, WOULDN’T AN ABSTRACT SHOW PROPERTY LIMITATIONS AND RESTRICTIONS?

An abstract is a history of the property title as revealed by the public records. Abstracts may contain errors and do not disclose “hidden
hazards” that can threaten your property title if you do not have a title insurance policy.

HOW DOES TITLE INSURANCE PROTECT MY INVESTMENT IF A CLAIM SHOULD ARISE?

If a claim is made against your property, title insurance will, in accordance with the terms of your policy, assure you of a legal defense and pay all court costs and related fees. Also, if the claim proves valid, you will be reimbursed for your actual loss up to the face amount of the policy.

THE OWNER OF THE PROPERTY HAS A DEED. ISN’T THAT PROOF OF OWNERSHIP?

Not necessarily. A deed is just a document by which the right of ownership in land is transferred, whatever that right may be. It’s not proof of ownership, and it doesn’t do away with rights others may have in the property. In addition, a deed won’t show you liens or claims that may be outstanding against the title.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING TO SETTLEMENT?

The Patriot Act requires that we collect a photocopy of your valid government issued picture I.D. such as a Driver’s License, Passport, Military I.D. Additionally, if you are bringing money to the settlement these funds will need to be “certified funds.” Certified funds can come in the form of a cashier’s check, teller’s check, Money order, or certified personal check.  Cash is only acceptable in small amounts.

Please call our office in advance if you intend to bring cash to the settlement. Your lender will require that the purchaser bring proof of Homeowner’s insurance.

Your lender may also require a current Wood Desrtoyiing Insect or Termite. You may also be required to bring additional documents which our office will inform you of in advance.

HOW LONG CAN I EXPECT MY CLOSING WILL TAKE?

While the time of a settlement can vary greatly, typically a refinance will take about 30 minutes and a purchase will take about 45 minutes.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CANNOT ATTEND THE CLOSING?

In certain circumstances, a “power-of-attorney” can be prepared for you. A “power-of-attorney” is a legal instrument which allows another to sign legal documents on your behalf. Please give us a call to discuss this if you will not be able to attend.

WHAT IS A LENDER’S POLICY?

A lender’s policy, also known as a loan policy or a mortgage policy, protects the lender against loss due to unknown title defects. It also protects the lender’s interest from certain matters which may exist, but may not be known at the time of the sale. This policy only protects the lender’s interest. It does not protect the purchaser. That is why a real estate purchaser needs an owner’s policy.

WHAT IS AN OWNER’S POLICY?

An owner’s policy protects you, the purchaser, against a loss that may occur from a fault in the ownership or interest you have in the property. You should protect the equity in your new home with a title policy.

WHAT DOES TITLE INSURANCE PROTECT FROM?
  • Undisclosed heirs
  • Forged deeds, mortgages, wills, releases and other documents
  • False impersonation of the true land owner
  • Deeds by minors
  • Documents executed by a revoked or expired Power of Attorney
  • False affidavits of death or heirship
  • Probate matters
  • Fraud
  • Deeds and wills by persons of unsound mind
  • Conveyances by undisclosed divorced spouses
  • Rights of divorced parties
  • Deeds by persons falsely representing their marital status
  • Adverse possession
  • Defective acknowledgments due to improper or expired notarization
  • Forfeitures of real property due to criminal acts
  • Mistakes and omissions resulting in improper abstracting
  • Errors in tax records
WHAT IS NOT COVERED BY TITLE INSURANCE?

Title insurance provides valuable protection for property buyers. Like all forms of insurance, however, it does not cover every conceivable problem and it is important to understand its limitations. Title insurance is based on examination of the county real estate records, and generally will not cover problems arising from facts outside of the recorded chain of title. One common problem not covered by title insurance is boundary line issues, which would be revealed by a survey of the property (for example, it turns out that your fence is actually two feet onto your neighbor’s property). Unrecorded mechanics’ liens and unpaid public utility bills are other examples. The title insurance policy will describe many of the situations it does not cover; these same limitations will generally be found in an attorney’s title examination. A qualified real property attorney can assist in helping a buyer understand the limits of a title policy and can take care of issues not covered by the policy.

MUST I BUY TITLE INSURANCE WHEN CLOSING A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION?

There is no requirement to buy title insurance; but, realistically, most mortgage companies, banks and credit unions will require title insurance to protect ther interest in the property. However, it is recommended that you do purchase title insurance unless you have fully investigated the condition of title and are willing to accept the property with the liens and restrictions shown.

DO I NEED A LAWYER TO CLOSE A REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION?

While simple real estate transactions may be handled without a lawyer, you may want your own attorney to clarify any terms that are unclear to you in any documents you are being asked to sign.  You may also need sophisticated tax or real estate advice for more complex real estate transactions.

CAN I “SHOP AROUND” TO FIND A BETTER DEAL ON MY TITLE INSURANCE?

Not really. Title insurance rates in Louisiana are regulated by the state’s insurance commission and will not vary from one title company to another. However, slight variations in a title insurance quote can occur if a lower degree of coverage is offered. Premium amounts are based upon the purchase price and loan amount of the mortgage.

WHAT IS A SETTLEMENT STATEMENT? WHAT IS SHOWN ON IT?

A HUD-1 Settlement Statement is a government-regulated form provided by the title company (closing agent) that itemizes all fees and charges for the buyer and seller and gives full disclosure of all monies involved in a real estate transaction. Some of these fees and charges might include: contract purchase price, agent commissions, lender fees for the loan, insurance, title company charges, abstract of title, property taxes, surveys, and recordation fees. The settlement statement outlines your debits and credits and provides each party with a “bottom line” figure. For a more detailed description of the HUD-1 Settlement Statement see this link.

WHAT IS A HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION? WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET IT?

A properly filed Homestead Exemption reduces the amount of money homeowners must pay for their annual property taxes. The homestead exemption of each Parish varies, but filing for one can save hundreds of dollars. Property owners are allowed only one homestead exemption – for their primary residence. Homestead Exemptions on investment property are not allowed. To file for the homestead exemption, bring a copy of the recorded Act of Sale where you acquired your home to your Tax Assessor’s Office. Filing for the exemption is done in person the first time. Either you or your spouse can do it – it is not necessary for both of you to be there. Each year thereafter, a postcard is mailed to your home for renewal.

AT WHAT POINT SHOULD I CONTACT TRIEU TITLE TO HANDLE MY CLOSING?

If purchasing, you should contact Trieu Title as soon as you have a signed contract. By contacting us as early as possible, you allow us adequate time to obtain a title abstract on the property being purchased and clear any outstanding “clouds” on title prior to your contracted settlement date. Additionally, we can better coordinate the settlement with all parties involved including the sellers, purchasers, real estate professionals, and lenders. If refinancing, you should contact us after you submit your loan application. Do not wait for final loan approval, as the time between your loan approval and settlement is often only a few days. By scheduling with us early, you allow us time to obtain the title abstract and clear any issues with your title, obtain payoffs from your current lender, and coordinate closing with your new lender.