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.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use A Quitclaim Deed To Transfer Title

Photo Credit: Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

Let’s take a moment to address the differences between a Quitclaim Deed and a (Special) Warranty Deed. There are several points to consider when choosing the correct deed to use for a title transfer. When you look at the differences between the deeds and scenarios for which each is best suited, you might reconsider using that Quitclaim Deed to transfer title.

Quitclaim Deeds: Why They Stink.

A Quitclaim Deed (often mistakenly referred to as a “quick claim” deed) is a popular instrument for title transfers. However, when choosing a deed its popularity should not be a determining factor! Many different deeds will convey title to real property, each will be useful for different situations. One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a Quitclaim Deed is that it doesn’t even say whether or not the person conveying title owns the property! The grantor offers no “guarantees” as to their ownership interest in the property or the condition of the title, which brings us to reason number 3…

Reason Number 3:  NO GUARANTEES.

Although a quitclaim deed does convey title, doesn’t make any other guarantees, warranties or assurances. Basically a quitclaim deed says this:

“I don’t promise that this property has a clean title, or even that I own it at all! Whatever interest I may have in the property I’m giving to you. If you find out later you don’t have a marketable title, you can’t sue me! I didn’t promise you anything! Bwahahahaha!!!”

Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic… but you get the point! Many bloggers and “experts” (sometimes even real estate attorneys or a divorce court) might advise you to use a quitclaim deed. Lots of people have used them to transfer property into or out of a trusts, limited liability companies, between husbands, wives and family members “because you don’t necessarily need such strong guarantees in that situation”. Well that may be true, but it’s certainly not the only thing to think about.

Reason Number 2:  THE “SUBJECT TO” SUBJECT.

You might think that a you have to use a quitclaim deed because the property isn’t “free and clear” from liensNot so! This is probably one of the more common misconceptions we’ve heard regarding quitclaim deeds (and Warranty Deeds). The argument goes something like this:

“Well I can’t use a Grant Deed, Warranty Deed or a Special Warranty Deed because those documents say the property is free from liens… I have a mortgage on the property so I have to use a quitclaim deed!”

Well, that’s almost true. Warranty Deeds and Special Warranty Deeds do contain verbiage that makes some sort of guarantee as to the condition of the titleWhat they actually say, however, is that all existing claims have been disclosed. Warranty Deeds do not say the property is “free and clear”.  You see, each deed has a section that contains “subject to” verbiage. In the “subject to” section of the deed, certain elements are called out as being part of the transfer. A typical example of “subject to” language is as follows:

“SUBJECT TO: Current taxes and other assessments, reservations in patents and all easements, rights of way, encumbrances, liens, covenants, conditions, restrictions, obligations, and liabilities as may appear of record.”

This is significant because any liens that are recorded in the public record are “part of the package”. The grantee has no legal recourse to go back to the grantor because of a lien on the property he didn’t know about, so long as it was properly recorded (and therefore disclosed). When you purchase a title insurance policy, the title company will do a title search and list everything they find on the “Schedule B” section of the title commitment.

Reason Number 1:  TITLE COMPANIES HATE ‘EM.

Many title examiners will not accept a prior conveyance made by quitclaim without additional documentation signed by grantor. Remember, a quitclaim doesn’t guarantee anything! So when a title officer sees a quitclaim deed in the chain of title, they may question whether or not the grantor in the quitclaim deed had something to hide. Imagine how difficult it would be to track down an ex-spouse or trustee of a trust (who’s probably out of the country or deceased) so they can sign off on this property, again… just clear up the chain of title because the title officer doesn’t like the quitclaim deed. Now this is holding up the escrow! People want to move in and unpack! People want their money! If you don’t have anything to hide, why not use a stronger document? Here’s a good one that you can use in almost every state: The Special Warranty Deed.

Want to know when quitclaim deeds are supposed to be used? Check out this article!

Who are we?

docprepper logoA community of Real Estate Experts, here to guide you through the process of Legal Document Preparation.

 

Who actually prepares my documents?

Docprepper.com and Professional Escrow Resources

Who actually prepares your docs?

When you get Legal Documents prepared from docprepper.com, we do all the work. You’re not just “buying forms” you end up having to complete yourself… you’re getting everything done for you. We work with Professional Escrow Resources, LLC, Certified Legal Document Preparers (Arizona Supreme Court, Board of Legal Document Preparers, Certificate #81407).

Aaron Scott, Operations Manager for PER, has this to say about our partnership:

 

Aaron Scott of Professional Escrow Resources

Aaron Scott, Professional Escrow Resources

There is no such thing as the “Typical” customer for us.  Every customer has their own set of individual needs, and usually a few minutes on the phone is all it takes to answer any questions they may have. There’s over 50 years of combined experience in my office. That advantage, combined with docprepper.com‘s streamlined ordering, processing and recording systems gives the customer exactly what they need. We can have them recorded within hours.  The truth is, nobody else can do this. Together, we’ve forged an amazing resource for the consumer.”

 

Shari Nestor, President of PER (CLDP #81309), has been preparing legal documents for over 30 years! She pretty much sums it up:

[Photo of Shari Nestor]

Shari Nestor, President of PER

At PER, we do things right! That may sound simple, but I can’t stress the importance of that fact. As an Expert Witness in the field of Title and Escrow, I am often asked to submit my opinion to the court about how things are supposed to be done in real estate transactions.  It’s amazing how sometimes little things can make such a huge difference when you’re dealing with legal documents. These are pieces of paper we use to deal with our homes, our children’s homes, our investments… our livelihood! I’ve been doing this my whole life. It’s not just my job, it’s my passion.

If you have any questions about Real Estate Document Preparation, just let us know!