Wire fraud is on the rise everywhere and the Federal Reserve is being asked to take a more proactive role in preventing it, especially as it relates to real estate transactions. Two key points are:
1. All parties involved in the real estate transaction need to help educate customers on the dangers of wire fraud and on the ways to protect data and funds. For example, by encouraging consumers to call their known reputable source at a verified number to verify instructions before transmitting funds.
2. Financial institutions on the receiving end should match not only the account number but also the payee’s name when there is a wire transfer. Oftentimes fraudulent wire instructions will say the transfer is to be sent to the attorney’s trust account, for example, but instead it goes to the criminal’s personal account as beneficiary.
If you intend to wire funds to us and suspect anything may be wrong with the instructions, please phone us to verify. If we have sent you instructions and you suddenly receive an email asking you to wire to a different account, phone us to verify. We have only (1) IOLTA account, so we will never change our instructions and ask you to wire to a different account.
Clients have begun to inquire about transferring firearms in their estate planning. Unique rules and procedures apply to certain firearms – such as NFA firearms, even in estate planning. Limited liability companies (LLC’s) were once the preferred method, but LLC’s require annual maintenance fees to the state and even separate tax returns. Now, “gun trusts” that are prepared as part of an estate plan can be used to pass on the trust creator’s firearms after their death. Prepared separate from a conventional revocable trust, a gun trust may provide access to more people than the original owner, may provide for changes in the law over time, and may require trustees that are more likely to be knowledgeable of firearms and the legal requirements that surround them. A gun trust will not pass on other assets, only the guns, and a separate conventional trust is still needed for other assets. Using a gun trust can provide for the legal, safe transfer of NFA firearms and even keep those weapons in trust for several generations.
Written by J. Kirk Trombley, Esq.
1. An offer is accepted by the seller and a contract is signed by both parties, marking the effective date of the contract.
2. At the same time , a deposit is paid to an attorney, broker or escrow agent. The deposit does not become the property of the seller until the closing takes place.
3. The buyer reviews and signs off on any disclosures. These disclosures vary based on property type, but often include things like known flaws with the property, prior improvements or repairs, radon gas and lead paint disclosures.
4. The buyer may elect to perform inspections of the property as agreed upon in the contract and these inspections must be completed by a certain date, which is usually within 10-15 days. Based on the outcome of inspections, buyers have a certain number of days to provide the seller with a report revealing any defects and the buyer may elect to ask the seller for repair work, closing cost credits or a reduction in the sale price due to flaws that were uncovered.
For those borrowing to purchase a home, the mortgage process can be the most stressful part of the transaction. It’s best to start as early as possible and be ready to produce lots of documentation.
The detailed steps that make up closing are:
1. A title search is performed to determine if there are any liens or assessments on the title. Provided that the title is clear, the closing proceeds as planned.
2. A buyer’s attorney or title company begins preparing the paperwork to convey title to the property and schedule the date for closing.
3. A final cash figure for what a buyer needs to bring to the closing in the form of a cashier’s check is calculated. This is based not only on a mortgagees closing costs, but also the proration of property taxes and utilities..
4. A final walk through may be performed the day of or before closing to verify the property is in the same condition it was in when the process began.
5. At the closing table the buyer and seller sign all closing documents. At the conclusion of the closing the representative from the title company or your attorney will record the deed and any other documents with the appropriate registry of deeds.
After all of the documents have been signed and payments exchanged, buyers generally take possession of the keys unless a separate agreement has been reached to allow the seller stay in the property for a period after closing.
An important thing to consider if you are paying off a home equity line of credit, also referred to as a HELOC. These are usually open ended loans that allow you to borrow on them for a designated period of time. Therefore, if you pay off the balance, the mortgage that is the security interest for repayment may not get discharged. When paying the loan in full, you must request in writing to have the loan marked paid in full and discharged.
Just as soon as one type of wire scam is uncovered it seems like a new one pops up. One of the latest versions involves the perpetrator sending the funding lender wiring instructions to a legitimate account belonging to an innocent, unknowing title company. In verifying the account number, the lender will see that the funds are being wired to a legitimate title entity.
Once the wire has gone through, the scammer contacts the unknowing title company and states that the funds were sent in error. The scammer gives the title company instructions for sending the funds back, but those instructions are fraudulent and the funds will be sent to the scammer. The title company then confirms that it was not entitled to the funds and sends them back using the account information that it has received from the scammer.
The lesson to be learned here is that if you receive wired funds in error, the wire should be rejected. In doing so, the funds will automatically go back to the original sender.
Everyone needs to be vigilant in dealing with wire transfers, verifying information by directly contacting the other parties through secure channels and being skeptical when instructions are changed at the last minute or appear out of the ordinary.
In a money wiring scam, a dishonest person lies and tricks you into wiring money to them.
The scammer might say:you won a prize, or inherited money, but you have to pay fees first;
- you won the lottery, but you have to pay some taxes first;
- a friend or family member is in trouble and needs you to send money;
- you need to pay for something you just bought online before they send it;
- you got a check for too much money and you need to send back the extra.
These are all tricks. If you wire money, the scammer will keep it and you will not get your money back.
Wiring money is like sending cash. If someone you do not know asks you to wire money it is probably a scam. Scammers are clever and they try to make things look real. They are good at fooling people and they also want to rush you. They want your money before you have time to think, but before you do anything, stop and check.
If you have already wired money to someone who contacted you…that money is probably gone. Remember, if you gave money to a scammer once, you will probably be targeted again . The best thing you can do to help yourself and others is to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.
New Hampshire has two types of tenancy, Tenants in Common and Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS). This has been the law in New Hampshire since November 13, 1959.
Every conveyance of real estate to two or more persons creates a tenancy in common pursuant to New Hampshire RSA 477:18. That means, that if the person preparing your deed fails to state the type of tenancy, you will automatically become tenants in common. When one person dies their half of the property will pass to their estate according to the probate process.
If you want to have your property pass to the surviving person that must be specifically stated. Your deed must state after your names “as joint tenants with rights of survivorship”. The property automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant without the need of filing probate. You simply record the death certificate and in future deeds reference the death and state that you are the surviving joint tenant.
The failure to state tenancy, or stating it incorrectly, happens quite often, especially when the deed has been prepared by an out of state attorney who may not be familiar with our laws. Different states have different types of tenancy laws. We sometimes see a husband and wife owning property and thinking they owned it as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. One spouse dies and it is not until the other gets ready to sell the property that this is discovered. It can create quite a mess, take a while to clear up and ultimately delay the closing.
So use this information to take a look at your deed and be sure that you own your property the way you wanted. If you don’t, you can have a Quitclaim Deed prepared and record it to establish the proper tenancy that you want. Please give us a call at 603-836-5309 if we can assist you in this process.
A Buyer normally pays for the following:
Recording the new deed
Their share of the tax stamps. Tax stamps in New Hampshire are 1.5% of the purchase price and are split equally between the buyer and seller
The title examination and closing
The owner’s and lender’s title insurance policy
All costs associated with getting a new loan
A Seller normally pays for the following
Their share of the tax stamps
Any commission to the realtor for the sale of the property
To prepare the Purchase and Sales Agreement when no realtor is involved
Recording any lien release documents pertaining to their loan
For the preparation of the new deed conveying the property
Both parties share in the proration of the real estate taxes and there may be other miscellaneous costs associated with the sale. Give us a call at 603-836-5309, if we can help with the sale or purchase of your home!
The title company makes sure that the title to a property is legitimate, so that a buyer is assured that once he buys property he is the rightful owner. To ensure that the title is valid a title search will be done. This is a thorough examination of property records to make sure that the person or company claiming to own the property does, in fact, legally own the property and that no one else could claim full or partial ownership of the property.
During the title search, the title company also looks for any outstanding mortgages, liens, attachments, judgments or unpaid taxes associated with the property. They also look for any restrictions, easements, leases or other issues that may impact ownership. Before a title company issues title insurance, it will prepare a title commitment for the Lender, which is a summary of what it found during the title search.
Closing on your home soon…here is how changes aimed at helping you could end up hindering you. Your real estate Agent plays a large role in getting the deal to Settlement. One of the big challenges that real estate agents have now encountered has to do with the new consumer privacy rules.
Agents are used to being provided with copies of the settlement documents. The agent was then able to explain the documents to their clients and help check the numbers to ensure everything was correct prior to the closing. Under the new TRID rules, agents may now be on the outside looking in. Sometimes the agent is not able to see the disclosures until they are sitting with their clients at the settlement table.
As of now, some lenders and title companies lack clarity about what they are allowed to share with whom. That leaves it up to the consumers to be proactive about sharing the document with their agent. If the consumers fail to do so, it means the agent cannot catch mistakes early on that could end up delaying the settlement.
The roll-out of TRID was a big deal for the industry and the changes have not been without frustration. There has been a lot of discussion about whether the changes are a real value to the consumer and whether lenders may have to increase fees to account for the added time and manpower now needed to process loans. While it’s nice that the consumer can now get their costs and fees well in advance of closing, the new rules are adding time and some anxiety to the closing process.