Best Practices for Real Estate Document Preparation

BEST PRACTICES FOR REAL ESTATE DOCUMENT PREPARATION

Professional Escrow Resources, LLC (the “Company”), a Certified Legal Document Preparation Company (AZCLDP #81407) is dedicated to the real estate industry. We have limited our focus to the preparation of legal documents dealing with all aspects of real property. In doing so, we have developed and implemented our “Best Practices for Real Estate Document Preparation” to safeguard chain of title, protect the parties named within a legal instrument and facilitate the proper execution, filing and recording of the documents we prepare.

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MISSION STATEMENT

Professional Escrow Resources is the real estate industry’s most trusted resource for the preparation of real estate legal documents. By simplifying the consumer’s experience and utilizing our Real Estate Document Preparation Experts’ extensive knowledge we are a resource to educate the public, promote confidence and compliment the industry, while safeguarding the chain of title and the interests of our customers.

Best Practice #1:
Obtain and maintain current certifications as required from the local governing authority to prepare legal documents.

Purpose: Maintaining mandated certification helps ensure the Company remains in good standing and is meeting the requirements of governing agency, including qualifications, continuing education, and accountability.
Procedures to meet this best practice (Arizona):

  • Obtain Legal Document Preparation Certification for the Company.
  • Obtain Certification for all Legal Document Preparers on company staff.
  • Maintain Certification through continuing education

Best Practice #2:
Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance.

Purpose: Professional liability insurance or errors and omissions insurance help ensure the financial capacity to stand behind professional services.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • Maintain professional liability insurance or errors and omissions insurance in a minimum amount of $1,000,000.00 through a reputable insurance provider.
  • The Company complies with requirements for professional liability insurance, errors and omission insurance, fidelity coverage or surety bonds, as provided by state law and agreements with Title Insurance Companies for providing Notary Services.

Best Practice #3:
Adopt and maintain written procedures relating to the preparation and delivery of documents.

Purpose: Implementing appropriate procedures help ensure that the customer’s goals and objectives are met and that the Company meets its contractual obligations.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • The Company confirms every document preparation order in writing with the Customer. This confirmation includes the type of documents requested, the spelling of all names, addresses, parcel numbers, legal descriptions and other vital information to ensure a clear, mutual understanding of the details of the document preparation request.
  • Before any services are performed, a written estimate is provided by the Company to the Customer to delineate all costs involved with the order, and to whom all monies are paid.
  • The Company advises the Customer during the initial request an estimated completion date or benchmarks for each point in a transaction and provides timely delivery of documents.

Best Practice #4:
Maintain strict control over documents recorded in the public, recording electronically wherever possible.

Purpose: Implementing procedures for review of documents prior to recording to eliminate errors, omissions and inaccuracies in the public record.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • The Company has created a Pre-Recording Check List that accompanies the documents. Names, notary acknowledgments, legal descriptions, parcel numbers and all other vital information is verified prior to submitting a document for recording.
  • Only original documents with all original signatures, including notary stamps and/or seals and original certifications are accepted for recording. No fax or scanned copies are accepted.

Best Practice #5:
Record documents electronically.

Purpose: This practice avoids delays in recording and the possibility of documents being lost, defaced or stolen and avoids the recording of fraudulent documents.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • Create an Account with governmental agencies as a “trusted source” wherever possible.
  • Establish recording partners with web based electronic recording providers to be utilized for those Counties wherein it is not practical or available to create a separate recording account.

Best Practice #6:
Certified notaries employed by the Company are certified with the National Notary Association including background checks. Customers requiring “off-site” Notaries will be directed to other certified notaries through national database.

Purpose: This practice demonstrates that Notaries of the Company have the skills, knowledge, and qualifications to competently complete signing of all types of documents, including lender documents.
Procedures to meet this best practice.

  • Require all notaries of the Company obtain certification from National Notary Association, OR
  • Conduct background checks for all notaries of the Company
  • Establish and maintain a national database for referrals to only those notaries that meet the requirements of notaries of the Company

Best Practice #7:
Maintain written fee schedules and rate manuals.

Purpose: To ensure customers are charged correctly for the services provided by the Company.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • A written fee schedule is to be maintained and available upon request
  • Periodic review of fees to best serve the customer
  • Maintain and follow a rate manual for the types of services that are not delineated on a fee schedule

Best Practice #8:
Put a System in place to deal with customer questions, concerns or complaints.

Purpose: A method for resolving customer concerns will uncover areas where improvement processes may be implemented. It will provide a process for which errors will be uncovered and timely corrections may be made.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • The Company shall empower all team members to make decisions to respond appropriately to resolve customer complaints and concerns.
  • All customer feedback to be shared with all team members.

Best Practice #9:
Adopt and maintain written privacy and information security program to protect non-public personal information as required by local, state and federal law.

Purpose: In the normal course of business the Company may become privy to certain confidential information or account numbers from the customer. Any sensitive information must be handled securely to ensure no improper disclosure of information occurs.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • Physical security of non-public personal information.
  • Restrict access to non-public personal information to authorized employees who have undergone background checks at hiring.
  • Maintain and secure access to Company information technology
  • Develop guidelines for the appropriate use of Company information technology.
  • Disposal of non-public personal information in a manner that protects against unauthorized access to or use of the information.
  • Establish a disaster management plan in the event privacy information is breached, including notification to customers and law enforcement.

Best Practice #10:
Internal Auditing of processes on a semi-annual basis.

Purpose: To ensure that all of the practices are in place and carried out within the Company.
Procedures to meet this best practice:

  • Set up procedures for internal auditing of Best Practices on a semi-annual basis.
  • Publish results of audit on Company website.

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