Sunday, April 15, 2007

Are All Title Policy's The Same?

I was asked to do a post explaining what an "Eagle Policy" Covers and what the difference is between the ALTA Residential and CLTA Standard Policies. Letting your buyers know what they are getting when it comes to title insurance coverage is important. You may not realize, but title companies do issue different types of policies. This may seem like major boring stuff, but your insured clients will thank you for being informed and for helping them make the right choice when it comes to selecting a title insurance policy.

To see the differences between the three, click here for a comparison.

Here is what's exciting about the Eagle Policy....


Several important new risks are now covered on a post-policy basis. This means that some defects in title that did not exist at the time the insured purchased the property, but are now asserted by others, are covered.

These post-policy covered risks involve cases in which someone other than the homeowner claims to own an interest in the title; or has rights affecting the title arising out of leases, contracts or options; or claims to have rights affecting the title arising out of forgery or impersonation; or has an easement on the land; or has a right to limit the insured's use of the land; or in which the title is defective.

The following are several examples of this post-policy protection:


The homeowner is covered when someone forges the insured's signature to a deed or mortgage in an effort to sell or impose a lien or restriction on their home.


This coverage protects the homeowner if, after his or her purchase, someone else builds a structure (excluding boundary walls and fences) which encroaches on the homeowner's land.


Coverage is provided when the homeowner's title is clouded because someone recorded in the land records a document containing the legal description of the homeowner's land, whether by mistake or in a specific effort to cause the insured harm, and the homeowner is prevented from completing a loan or sale transaction on their home.


Coverage is extended to a homeowner when someone claims to have the insured's title arising out of someone else's continued use and occupancy.


The homeowner is covered in the event another party claims to have the right to use a part of the insured's land as an easement because of continuous use over time.

Previously, these types of risks were only covered if they existed on the policy date, although our original EAGLE Policy included coverage on a post-policy basis for forgery and encroachments onto the land.

Other exciting coverages include ...


The new EAGLE Policy expands access coverage to include, for the first time, actual vehicular and pedestrian access to and from the land, based upon a legal right.
The access coverage traditionally provided by title insurance was tied to a legal right of access and did not include actual access. The new EAGLE Policy affords the type of access protection most needed by homeowners.


Coverage is extended to a homeowner who is forced to remove or correct existing structures that were built without a building permit or that violate an existing zoning law or zoning regulation. The zoning coverage even extends to boundary walls and fences!

The original EAGLE Policy coverage in this area was tied to forced removal, not forced remediation. Because we have found it far more likely that a homeowner would be forced to correct a building permit or zoning violation than to actually remove the structure, the coverage has been expanded in the new EAGLE Policy to specifically include forced remediation. The homeowner is covered for losses up to $25,000 (after a small deductible) for building permit violations and forced remediation of zoning violations, and up to the full Policy Amount for forced removal of structures due to zoning violations.


The homeowner is covered where subdivision laws have been violated prior to the homeowner's purchase and, as a result, the homeowner is unable to obtain a building permit, is forced to correct or remove the violation, or is unable to complete a sale or loan transaction. The new EAGLE Policy continues to provide homeowners up to $10,000 (after a small deductible) for protection against risk - a benefit which homeowners who obtained our original EAGLE Policy have found most valuable.


The homeowner is covered if he or she is forced to remove a boundary wall or fence because it encroaches onto a neighbor's land, onto an easement or over a building set-back line.

Previous policies excluded boundary walls and fences from this type of coverage. We have found that the encroachment of boundary walls and fences onto neighboring land is far more likely to occur than the encroachment of other structures and, therefore, have determined to provide the homeowner protection of up to $5,000 (after a small deductible) for these types of encroachments.


Coverage is provided for violations of restrictive covenants occurring before the homeowner acquired the land, if the homeowner is forced to correct or remove the violation or if the homeowner's title is lost or taken because of the violation. Examples of such violations would include the following, if not permitted by the applicable restrictions: (1) additional buildings; (2) types of roof material; (3) color of home; (4) number of stories; and (5) types of fencing. While these coverages have been available by endorsement for some time, they were never provided automatically until our original EAGLE Policy. The new EAGLE Policy expands the coverage in this area from that provided in the original EAGLE Policy by eliminating the deductible that applied to a portion of this coverage.

How To Order An Eagle Policy

Call your local title company

The EAGLE Policy. . .peace of mind for homeowners and the professionals who serve them.

Q & A - What Is Title Insurance

Why do I need Title Insurance Coverage?

Q: What is title insurance?

A: An insurance policy--protecting against loss should the condition of title to land be other than as insured.

Q: Why do I need title insurance?

A: When you buy a home, or any property for that matter, you expect to enjoy certain benefits from ownership. For example, you expect to be able to occupy and use the property as you wish, to be free from debts or obligations not created or agreed to by you, and to be able to freely sell or pledge your property as security for a loan. Title insurance is designed to cover these rights you bargain for.

Q: What if I have a problem? Do I have to lose my property to make a claim?

A: Not at all. At the mere hint of a claim adverse to your title, you should contact your title insurer or the agent who issued your policy. Title insurance includes coverage for legal expenses which may be necessary to investigate, litigate or settle an adverse claim.

Q: What does this cost?

A: The cost varies, depending mainly on the value of your property. The important thing to remember is that you only pay once, then the coverage continues in effect for so long as you have an interest in covered property. If you should die, the coverage automatically continues for the benefit of your heirs. If you sell your property, giving warranties of title to your buyer, your coverage continues. Likewise, if a buyer gives you a mortgage to finance a purchase of covered property from you, your coverage continues to protect your security interest in the property.

Q: If my lender gets title insurance for its mortgage, why do I need a separate policy for myself?

A: The lender's policy covers only the amount of its loan, which is usually not the full property value. In the event of an adverse claim, the lender would ordinarily not be concerned unless its loan became non-performing and the claim threatened the lender's ability to foreclose and recover its principal and interest. And, in the event of a claim there is no provision for payment of legal expenses for an uninsured party. When a loan policy is being issued, the small additional expense of an owner's policy is a bargain.

Q: Can you be a little more specific about the types of claims, or risks, covered by title insurance?

A: Sure. First understand there are basically three different levels of coverage: Standard coverage, extended coverage, and our most comprehensive "EAGLE Policy" coverage.

Standard coverage handles such risks as:

  • Forgery and impersonation;
  • Lack of competency, capacity or legal authority of a party;
  • Deed not joined in by a necessary party (co-owner, heir, spouse, corporate officer, or business partner);
  • Undisclosed (but recorded) prior mortgage or lien;
  • Undisclosed (but recorded) easement or use restriction;
  • Erroneous or inadequate legal descriptions;
  • Lack of a right of access; and
  • Deed not properly recorded.

An extended coverage policy may be requested to protect against such additional defects as:

  • Off-record matters, such as claims for adverse possession or prescriptive easement;
  • Deed to land with buildings encroaching on land of another;
  • Incorrect survey;
  • Silent (off-record) liens (such as mechanics' or estate tax liens); and
  • Pre-existing violations of subdivision laws, zoning ordinances or CC&R's.

Subject to availability in your locale, First American's EAGLE Policy covers all of the risks listed above, plus:

  • Post-policy forgery;
  • Forced removal of improvements due to lack of building permit (subject to deductible);
  • Post-policy construction of improvements by a neighbor onto insured land; and
  • Location and dimensions of insured land (survey not required).

Contact your local title rep. or me if you have questions you need answered. Brad Andersohn

Taking Title? - Don't Advise, Be Wise!

Taking Title? - Don't Advise, Be wise! When a buyer purchases property in California, often times they will ask us, or you, "How should we take title?" We cannot advise the buyers, we can only suggest they speak to their CPA or attorney etc.

Now, there is a tool that helps one understand the ways in which they can take title and the different methods of holding title on real property. We provide this to our realtors and our buyers.

There is an explanation of the different ways to hold title and the benefits or explanations of each.

Don't wait till the last minute to discuss this with your buyers. They may need time to review the information and then talk to their accountant to find out what's best for them. When we're funding tomorrow and recording the next day, this is not the time for your clients to be concerned with "how to hold title". You are welcome to review this tool and maybe it will help your buyers. This is only in regards to California Real Estate.

Generate Buyers - Tax Time April 15th

Generate More Buyers - Tax Time April 15th
The best time of year to generate more buyers is tax time. In my opinion, converting renters into homeowners is the way to do just that. We all know that there is no real benefit to renting unless we absolutely have to. There are so many first time buyer loan programs, 3 percent down loans, 100% financing, Interest only and that's just to name a few I have seen and had the priveledge to close. Most people who rent may not know that the rent amount they are paying, could be equity in their own home. I have a great tool that will help you explain to your renting friends and clients the value of owning their own home based on their monthly rent payments.

Many have been able to use this tool to successfully convert renters to buyers. Tax time is perfect because renters realize they don't get any credits or tax breaks as a tenant. They have no interest to write off, no benefits of homeownership, and they are just paying off the mortgage for the landlord, will eventually own the home. Renters/Tenants are always subject to a 30 day notice to move. That can be a rude awakening.
Tis the season to help the renters in your area understand the benefits of homeownership, the creative financing that is available, and why they should use you to find them their dream home, (and us to close the escrow :-)). Use the link above to generate more buyers and educate tenants in your area. Lend a helping hand to the renters in your area! They could use your help into homeownership!

Electronic Signatures and Real Estate

I often wonder where technology is going to take the real estate transaction. Is buying Real Estate online really the way of the future? Will Online transaction management systems like AgentFirst, Sureclose, Settlementroom, or REBT's RELAY be the way we do business in the days ahead?

Now there is electronic signatures. Sending your clients contracts via email,
(in a pdf format), that they can sign online, from any computer, anywhere
in the world. WOW!

The question is, where does it go from here? What will happen to the notary? We can never replace the handshake and a smile, but will technology take us to a place where we are doing purchases and sales of real property mostly online? I'd love to hear the thoughts of those who have been facing these technology challenges as well as those who are working so diligently to create them.

It's always been interesting to me, all the new technology that has worked it's way into our industry. I remember when property was looked up on micro-fiche, and Realtors had MLS Books. No pagers, no faxes, no cell phones, no websites, no email, and no worries. Now look at our industry, can you imagine the future 10 years from now?

I am a certified trainer of e-signatures and do endorse this product. E-sign is a trademark of and electronic signatures. It is also built into, Winforms and Zipforms, your online contract library.

Agent Assist - Realtor Software

Sometime around 1998, I went to a Business Planning seminar for Realtors in San Francisco. The guest speaker and presenter was Mike Ferry. Agents spent alot of money to come see how to create an effective business plan and set their goals to be successful in Real Estate. Over 350 agents attended this Goal Planning seminar. Many bought books, videos, tapes, visual aids, cassettes and other stuff to help them with their Real Estate Business.

While at this seminar, I had what I call a BFO! (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) I realized that every agent in that room and every agent here online all have one thing in common! We ALL NEED TO MAKE MONEY! Some a little more, some a little less, so I started developing my own software application that would help Brokers and Agents determine their goals based on specific desired incomes. I know that we all want to make a million dollars, but this program is designed to help you make what you need to survive, and then some. It's called Agent Assist.

It started as a planner, then I added income and expense tracking. It grew to include sellers and buyers net sheets, progress analysis, title and escrow fees, mortgage calculator, renters chart and more. Now it has resource tracking, transaction tracking, charts and production graphs and alot of tools to assist agents with their business. Hence, the programs name Agent Assist. I am now up to version 5.0.

This program has become what it is today primarily because I have listened to my clients and their needs. It has a great, non-threatening look and feel driven by a basic flat file menu system. Agent Assist 5.0 is The Premier Real Estate Program Designed and created to assist you with many important segments of your Business. This is possibly one of the most practical applications and easiest to use programs in the Real Estate Industry.

I want you to check out the program and let me know what you think? I will provide it to you as a complimentary gift just for reading this post and in exchange, I just want you to post your comments and feedback.

The software was written in excel so you will need to have Microsoft Excel installed on your PC. (Works on the Mac if you can run windows). If you search, just type Agent Assist 5.0 and you'll find it. You can also get it from my website, Best of all, it's FREE! No gimics, no expirations, no ploys or spoofs. This is just my way of giving back to my industry, my customers, and my community.

If you are interested in a copy, post your comment and info. If you already have a copy, please post your thoughts and comments. Lastly, after trying the application, if there is something you would like to see me add or take away, please let me know. I appreciate your comments and help. Whether you are brand new in the business, or have 20 years experience, I know you'll love this program.

Save $$$ On Your Property Taxes

Claim your homeowner's exemption. What is the homeowners' exemption? Property taxes are based on the assessed value of your home, which is determined by the County Assessor's Office. In this post, I am referring to Solano County in California.

If the home is your primary residence and you are not receiving another property tax exemption of greater value, you may qualify for a homeowners exemption which will reduce the tax you pay. Once granted, the exemption continues from year to year.

To obtain the full exemption
you must make a timely filing (usually by February 15) of a simple form with the County Assessor. A partial (80%) exemption may be granted for homeowners who file a late affidavit and claim for exemption with the assessor between February 16th and December 10th. To find out more information, contact:

Solano County Assessors Office at (707) 784-6210. Or write:
Assessor Recorder
675 Texas Street. Suite 2700
Fairfield, CA 94533-6338
Hours: Mon - Fri, 8:00am - 4:00pm