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.
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.
In New Hampshire, the Department of Revenue Administration is responsible for equalizing the value of property in each municipality. Equalization is used to accurately apportion county and school district taxes among the cities and towns and to distribute state revenues to the cities and towns.
To equalize property values, the Department of Revenue Administration annually conducts a sales/assessment ratio study for each municipality. The information provided on the PA-34 form is needed to assist the Department in determining whether a particular sale involved is an “arms-length transaction” and should be included in our equalization sales/assessment study.
Under Homestead Exemption laws any property designated as a homestead is exempt from execution and sale by creditors for the payment of debts. The protected amount differs in each state, but in New Hampshire every person is entitled to $120,000 of his or her homestead to be exempt from the rights of creditors.
There are exceptions to the above and the following debts have precedence over the rights of homestead:
• The collection of taxes;
• The enforcement of liens of persons having done work for the construction, repair or improvement of the homestead;
• In the enforcement of mortgages on the property;
• In the enforcement of liens filed by homeowner or condominium associations for unpaid assessments.
No deed can convey or encumber the homestead right, except for a mortgage made at the time of purchase to secure payment of the money used to purchase the home, unless it is executed by the owner and spouse, if any. This is why, when a new mortgage is taken out or the property is conveyed, the husband and wife must both sign to release rights of homestead.
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.
In an update year, assessments as of April 1st should be fairly representative of market value. Because sales are based on emotional likes and dislikes of buyers, there is no one right number, but rather a range of numbers depending on the negations and motivations of the buyers and seller involved in a transaction. The industry standard indicates that plus or minus 10% is reasonable because an opinion of value is subjective and will vary by this amount.
When there is a decline in the real estate market, taxpayers may see that their assessment is higher than what they could expect to sell their property for (market value). That does not invalidate the towns assessment of your property when they account for the local assessment to sales ratio because every year the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) calculates an equalization ratio. This ratio represents the difference between the assessment and the market transactions (sales). Here is an example:
In the town where you live in New Hampshire, the DRA published the an equalization ratio of 1.15% as of 4/1/2017. The assessment on your home is currently $300,000. Homes similar to yours are currently selling for $250,000. You may think that you are being over assessed, but this is where the equalization ratio comes into play.
To determine the market value of your home you would take the assessment of $300,000 and divide it by the ratio of 1.15% which gives you an indicated market value of $260,870. Although this number may be higher than the $250,000 sale price, it is considered fair and equitable so long as it falls within the 10% allowance.
So long as all properties are being assesses similarly, the assessments, even if they are higher than current market value are fair and equitable because everyone is being treated the same. The real estate market is constantly fluctuating which makes comparisons of assessment and sales very difficult. The Form PA-34 that you complete at closing is one of the tools that the DRA uses in determining the equalization ratio.
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!
A title company makes sure that the title to a piece of real estate is legitimate and then issues title insurance for that property. Title insurance protects the lender and/or owner against lawsuits or claims against the property that result from a dispute over the title.
A title company will maintain an escrow account that contains the funds needed to close on the home and will conduct the closing. At the closing the settlement agent from the title company will bring all the necessary documentation, explain it to the parties, collect closing costs and distribute monies. Finally, the title company will ensure that the new deed and other and other documents are filed with the appropriate registry of deeds.
Research done by Fannie Me shows that although home prices continue to rise, many homeowners and borrowers alike continue to underestimate the amount of equity they have in their homes. According to a recent Redfin report, misinformed homeowners and borrowers may be less likely to refinance their mortgages, apply for home equity loans, or even buy new homes because of this.