TUTEN TITLE & ESCROW, LLC. is a Lafayette-based, full-service real estate closing company committed to providing a thorough, timely and enjoyable closing process. We offer closing, escrow and title insurance services for residential and commercial purchases and refinances as well as title curative work necessary to close a transaction. We pride ourselves on friendly customer service and ensuring that your closing is a memorable one.
The below will further explain some key terms and concepts related to the closing process. If you need further explanation of the below, please do not hesitate to contact us.
“Closing” means the process of executing legally binding documents in a transaction involving property, including the transfer of title or the collection and disbursement of funds in connection therewith.
Closing is the final step in a real estate transaction. On the closing date, the parties consummate the purchase contract, and ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer.
What Do We Do?
What we do can be divided into three categories: prior to closing, during closing, and after closing.
“Prior To” closing
A file gets opened at our office when we receive a “Title Request.” Ultimately, the choice of which Lafayette attorney will handle the transaction rests with the buyer or refinancer. Some buyers or refinancers, however, rely on the advice of their realtor or lender to help select the attorney.
Once we receive the Title Request, our staff makes contact with all buyers and sellers to obtain additional information necessary to research the history of title to the property and prepare closing documents.
Part of what we do as closing attorneys involves examining the public records regarding the property to be purchased or refinanced to determine if the property is “merchantable” or “insurable.” Our examination is intended to report all material objections to the title. Some examples of what our examination is designed to uncover include: deeds, wills and trusts that contain improper wording or incorrect names; incorrect notary acknowledgments; pending legal action against the property that could affect a purchaser or refinancer; servitudes along the property that allow construction of a road or utility line; outstanding mortgages and judgments; and/or liens against the property because the seller has not paid his/her taxes, among other items.
Once we determine that title is “merchantable” or “insurable”, we are ready to move forward to closing and our staff contacts all parties to schedule the closing date and time.
In the days leading up to the closing, we will prepare the Settlement Statement/HUD-1 that will be used at closing. This document outlines all the “numbers” relative to the transaction: i.e. purchase price, closing costs to be paid by buyer, realtor commissions, lender’s fees, buyer’s loan amount, settlement charges to seller, seller’s mortgage payoff, pro-rated taxes, the amount of money buyer needs to bring to closing, the amount of money seller will receive at closing, etc. If a lender is involved, the lender will provide us with much of the information necessary to complete the Settlement Statement/HUD-1. If a lender is not involved, the contract signed by and between the parties will provide us with the information necessary to complete the Settlement Statement/HUD-1.
Once a Settlement Statement/HUD-1 is complete, it will be provided by our office to all parties for review. At Tuten Title, we strive to provide completed Settlement Statement/HUD-1’s for review at least 24 to 48 hours prior to closing. However, there are some transactions where circumstances beyond our control prevent this from occurring. In these situations, we strive to provide a competed Settlement Statement/HUD-1 for everyone’s review as soon as practically possible.
During the actual closing of the transaction, one of the attorneys will be present to explain all closing documents and notarize all signatures.
Historically, many closing attorneys have taken the “sign here” approach to closings. With this approach, these closing attorneys simply slide documents across the table to the buyer or seller and ask the buyer or seller to “sign here.” There is very little explanation of the document being signed and very little discussion among the people in the room.
At Tuten Title, we take a different approach. We feel the closing day should be the happiest and most memorable day of the entire closing transaction. All parties have worked very hard over the past several weeks (and sometimes months) to get to the closing table. Closing day should be a day of “rest” where buyers get the keys to their dream home and sellers are able to move on to the next phase of their life.
In our closings, we make every effort to create a fun and friendly atmosphere. Questions, laughter and friendly banter are welcomed and encouraged. We briefly explain each document being signed and answer any questions asked. Our “purchase” transactions usually take about 45 minutes to complete and our “refinance” transactions usually take about 30 minutes to complete, but if a buyer or refinancer needs additional time to examine or discuss the documents, we will happily accommodate.
Once all documents are signed, buyers and sellers are provided digital or hard copies of signed documents and are encouraged to contact us with any questions and/or needs in the future.
Once the closing is complete, we ensure the necessary documents are recorded with the appropriate clerk of court (these documents are usually the cash sale and mortgage); forward to any lienholders funds collected at closing as shown on the Settlement Statement/HUD-1 (this usually includes paying off the seller’s mortgage company); make digital or hard copies of documents for the lender (if a lender is involved in the transaction) and/or other interested parties; and ensure that all known liens against the property are cleared from the mortgage records.
If any party to the transaction has a question following the closing, they are encouraged to contact our office for immediate assistance!
“Escrow” is the act or process of providing closing and settlement services pursuant to an escrow agreement by the title insurer or title insurance producer.
In today’s terms, escrow generally refers to an account held by a third-party (i.e. Tuten Title & Escrow) on behalf of transacting parties (i.e. buyer and seller and bank) where a deposit of funds occurs for payment of certain conditions that apply to the mortgage, usually property taxes and insurance.
The lending institution provides closing instructions on how to disburse funds from the escrow account and the escrow agent (i.e. Tuten Title & Escrow) has the duty to properly disburse the escrow funds.
Some of the disbursement of funds may include payoff of the seller’s mortgage, pre-payment of home owner’s insurance, pre-payment of property taxes, disbursement of funds to real estate agents/brokers for real estate commissions earned, etc.
Title to Real Property
Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. For example, one party may own surface rights to a piece of property, while another party may own mineral rights.
Title may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership. In this case, transfer of title at the closing will be required in order to transfer ownership in the property to another person.
Title insurance is indemnity insurance against financial loss from defects in title to real property. It is meant to protect an owner’s or a lender’s financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. It will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title it insured, or reimburse the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.
There are two basic types of Title Insurance Policies: (1) Lender’s Title Insurance Policy and (2) Owner’s Title Insurance Policy.
Lender’s Title Insurance
This is sometimes called a “Loan Policy.” In general, Lender’s Title Insurance protects the lender from defects, liens and/or encumbrances in the title to the property to be purchased.
In order to loan funds to purchase your home, most lenders require that buyers of real property purchase a Lender’s Title Insurance policy to protect the lender. This means, your lender, most likely, will require that you purchase a Lender’s Title Insurance Policy.
Owner’s Title Insurance
A home, most likely, will be the greatest single investment you will make. When you purchase a home, you are purchasing more than just a building or land; you are purchasing the right to occupy and use the space. This right to use space may be limited by rights and/or claims of others. Title insurance protects against the rights and/or claims of others.
The owner’s title insurance policy assures a purchaser that the title to the property is vested in that purchaser and that it is free from all defects, liens and/or encumbrances except those listed as exceptions in the policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy’s coverage.
It also may cover losses and damages suffered if the title is unmarketable or if there is no right of access to the land. Although these are the basic coverages, expanded forms of residential owner’s policies exist that cover additional items of loss.
The liability limit of the owner’s policy is typically the purchase price paid for the property and title insurance coverage lasts as long as you, the insured, retain an interest in the land insured.
Cost of Title Insurance
Title insurance rates are regulated by the State of Louisiana, and are determined by a number of factors, such as: purchase price, loan amount, required endorsements and dates of issue. The premium is generally paid once and not annually as other types of insurance requires.
If you would like a quote on Owner’s Title Insurance, please contact our office and our staff will assist you.
Certified Funds at Closing
Some clients are able to obtain 100% financing for their property purchase and it is not necessary for those clients to bring funds to the closing. However, most clients must bring funds to the closing to purchase their property.
If it is necessary for you to bring funds to the closing, please be aware that according to Louisiana Revised Statutes 22:532(B)(3)(h), Louisiana Law requires the following:
- If the amount the buyer needs to bring to closing is $500.00 or less, personal checks are acceptable;
- If the amount the buyer needs to bring to closing is more than $500.00 but less than $2,500.00, a certified or cashier’s check from a qualified lending institution is preferred;
- If the amount the buyer needs to bring to closing is more than $2,500.00, a personal or commercial check cannot be accepted and the funds must be in the form of a certified or cashier’s check from a qualified lending institution;
If part of the home purchase is being financed by a lender (in other words, the buyer is obtaining a loan to purchase the home and the buyer is not paying “all cash” for the home), some lenders will not accept a money order. So, please do not bring money orders to the closing.
Tuten Title Fees
For a Tuten Title fee schedule, please request here
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