ABoR.com | Extreme Makeover

You may have noticed the Austin Board of REALTORS website got a makeover recently.

Austin Board of Realtor's Website

The changes offer a more intuitive experience while surfing the site, but change is always a little difficult so they’ve made it easy to quickly access some of the most important areas of the site. Notice this?
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When you click View Site Tips, you get (you guessed it) site tips!

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There is one tip you can’t see on this screen, and that’s what happens when someone searches using the Find a Member button.

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You’ll still be able to search with partial information…

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and see a list of agent names and phone numbers.

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However, to see more information, like an email address, click Details. You’ll then be redirected to the Realtor.com profile for that agent.

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So if you haven’t logged in to claim your free profile on Realtor.com, or haven’t logged into the site in a while, now is the time! Be sure your contact information is up to date, and if you haven’t already, include a cover and profile image as well.

| Log-in to Realtor.com as an agent |

Realtor.com has recently updated its website as well, it seems much more user-friendly with several easy ways to include recommendations and reviews from past clients and other industry professionals.

Lastly, if you can’t locate something on the new ABoR site, remember to use that search bar at the top!

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Hopefully these tips will help you make an easier transition to using the new site. Remember, go set up your Realtor.com profile today!

New Regulations Are Around The Corner

Are you unsure how to best prepare your clients for closing in light of the new rules set out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB)? We’ve got you covered!

Below are seven tips to help you and your client prepare for the changes effective October 3rd, 2015.

  1. Encourage your buyer to remit financial documents to the lender voluntarily for pre-approval
  2. When considering an offer on a listing that includes a pre-approval letter, confirm the following with the lender:
    1. pre-approval was based on more than a credit score
    2. proper verification documents were obtained
  3. Set realistic expectations with your clients regarding the timeline to close and emphasize items now required earlier in the closing process such as the buyer’s choice for the home warranty company
  4. When writing a contract or considering multiple offers, confirm a realistic closing time-frame with the lender.
  5. Become familiar with the new closing documents; Independence Title will be utilizing the following documents for TRID transactions:
    1. Borrower’s Closing Disclosure
    2. Seller’s Closing Disclosure
    3. ALTA Settlement Statement
    4. Texas Disclosure
  6. To ensure proper commission disbursements due to the new Texas Disclosure, remit your disbursement authorization form to the title company well in advance of closing
  7. Mark your calendar to keep track of the closing disclosure timelines for each transaction

 You’re not alone in preparing for the new regulations, we’re ready at Independence Title! 

Below are seven ways we’ve worked to ensure continued smooth closings for your clients.  We have:

  1. the largest education & training department in our industry in Central Texas
  2. taught over one thousand classes on the new regulations and implementation to the REALTOR and lender community
  3. updated our online calculators to comply with CFPB and TRID regulations and provide accurate estimates 
  4. completed software updates to our closing systems that integrate with lender portals allowing for back and forth communication of fees, documents and instructions
  5. trained all Escrow staff to prepare and are ready for your next transaction
  6. proudly become the first title company to implement a Best Practice Policy Guide to comply with CFPB requirements
  7. continued to provide resources for the real estate and lending community to communicate with clients such as A Consumer’s Guide to Buying or Selling After October, 3, 2015 and Why You Need Title Insurance

 

Keep Calm Independence TItle

Our Online Calculators are Ready for the New Regulations

As many of you now know the implementation date for the new TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) regulations set out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is October 3rd. Most residential transactions with a loan applications dated on or after October 3rd, 2015 will be affected by these new regulations. This summer we released a brochure, The Consumer’s Guide to Buying or Selling After October 3rd, to aid in your conversations with clients.

If your clients have bought or sold a home in the past, the new forms will look different so even seasoned buyers and sellers may have questions. One change on the forms is how title insurance is disclosed; the loan policy will be disclosed as if it’s the only policy being purchased (called single issue) and the owner’s title policy is marked as an optional purchase on most literature from the CFPB. We’ve prepared a brochure for your clients, Why You Need Title Insurance to help them understand what they’re paying for.

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We pride ourselves on providing some of the best online tools in the real estate community, and our calculators are no exception. If you need to know the title insurance premium; how much a seller may net from the sale of property; how much a list price needs to be in order to net a certain amount; or the closing costs and estimated payments on a particular loan, you can plug in some numbers and receive an instant estimate. To keep these figures accurate and assist with the process of gathering fees for the new disclosures we’ve been working hard with developers to update the calculators. Below are the updates you’ll find available:

Our Premium Calculator calculates the promulgated rate set by the Texas Department of Insurance of the Owner’s Title Policy, Lender’s Policy and endorsements. The update now shows the cost difference between a Loan Policy being issued alone (single issue) and  an Owners Title Policy and Loan Title Policy being issued at the same time in one fee (called simultaneous issue).

Premium Calculators: Austin | DFW | Houston | San Antonio

The Loan Estimate Worksheet is completely revamped for the new CFPB Loan Disclosure. This calculator provides lenders with all the fees needed to complete their loan estimate including:

  • title insurance premiums
  • recording fees
  • courier fees
  • escrow/closing fees
  • tax certificate fees

The Loan Estimate Worksheet prints to a PDF revealing exactly where the fees need to appear on the loan estimate.

Loan Estimate Worksheets: Austin | DFW | Houston | San Antonio

In addition to updating our calculators, preparing educational literature on these changes, and updating our software systems we have created and taught over one thousand classes to the real estate community. Our goal is to be a resource to the real estate community during this transition, if you haven’t attended one of our classes contact a Business Development Representative today.

Do You have Survey-a-phobia?

Anyone working in this industry for a few years has a scary survey story or two to tell. I heard one recently from a local REALTOR; she had what you might call a “challenging client,” who needed a good deal.  They finally found a house and although the contract negotiations were very tough, the buyer’s agent prevailed! During the contract negotiations she assumed the existing survey was acceptable.  Unfortunately during negotiations regarding the inspection, the title company had to reject the survey. Instead of paying for a new survey, those buyer’s have opted out. 

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We all see surveys on almost every transaction we close, but do you know what all the little marks and symbols mean?  Do you have survey-a-phobia?

They didn’t teach us to read a survey in real estate school.  Most of us learn it as we go, or unfortunately generally when a survey problem arises.

Most lenders require a land survey before lending money on any type of real estate transaction. A survey provides an overhead view of the property and reflects all the structures built on the property, any and all easements, building setback line requirements, and boundary/property lines.  A survey can be used in many situations outside of buying and selling a home. Any time you plan to dig on your property it’s important to know where the underground easements are! If you’re building a fence, the survey will tell you the exact locations of your boundary lines. Having a survey can often end a dispute with a neighbor about the property line.

Wouldn’t it be nice, as a REALTOR, to know the ins and outs of a survey, and have the confidence to tell your clients their survey contains the key items needed for closing approval? We have good news; You can! We now offer a new MCE approved class called “Surveys at a Glance.”  In the class you’ll learn the different types of surveys and how they function.  You’ll also receive a survey checklist and the ability to recognize key items within the survey. Contact a Business Development Representative today to find out about our next class or schedule one for your office.

Have you Utilized YouTube?

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1.8 Million Words

That’s the value of one minute of video, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

Have you incorporated video in your marketing efforts yet? If you haven’t, what stands in your way?

Of course, YouTube is likely the first website that comes to mind when we hear “viral videos.” Many people likely think of music videos, funny animal videos or the discovery of Justin Bieber; YouTube is much more than that, though.

Do you know YouTube has become the second largest search engine in the world behind Google? Do you also know just how big a boost your search engine optimization gets from having videos on YouTube? If you’re ready to learn more or are already convinced and ready to market your brand on YouTube, contact a Business Development Representative to book our new class, Utilizing YouTube, and discover the exciting features of a YouTube Channel and how to boost your business!

An Interview About Mineral Rights in Texas

Mineral rights are a hot issue in real estate transactions. Since mineral rights can also be a confusing topic, I sat down with our legal counsel Jay Fitzgerald to try and clarify what mineral rights are and whose  role it is to determine those rights. 

Q: Let’s say a buyer is interested in the mineral rights on a potential property. How would a buyer find this information?

A: What we usually suggest they do is hire what our industry has historically called a “l and m an”. A land man is a person who professionally reviews the mineral conveyances or severances in a chain of title, and they will usually give an opinion as to who holds the mineral interests in a  piece of property. If an owner holds both the right to use the surface of the property and the right to produce the minerals on the property, they hold an unsevered property interest .A “severance” occurs when the rights to use the surface of the property and the rights to the minerals from the property are split, with one person owning the right to use the surface and another person holding the right to produce and benefit from the minerals on the property.

Q:  Are mineral rights something title companies research?

A: For insurance purposes, title companies will typically do one of two things  In a county where we are able and willing to do so, we will research the minerals back to the early 1900s in order to be able to list specific mineral severances on our title insurance commitment in Schedule B as exceptions. When we do that, there will generally be language inthose exceptions stating that we did not research any further conveyances of a given mineral interest once it was severed. In other words, we do research conveyances of a mineral interest to a limited extent , for the purpose of determining how we will insure. The other way mineral rights are addressed by title insurance companies is to show the promulgated general mineral exception,  which makes exception for any mineral severance or lease of record .

Q: Would the promulgated general mineral exception eliminate coverage in cases where there was a mineral severance prior to 1900?

A: Yes, although the more typical case, in a situation where there is limited title evidence, would be that we only have title evidence going back to around 1950 . If we can research back to 1900 or earlier, the typical underwriting standard is that we may proceed to list specific severances as exceptions without the general mineral exception.

Q: If I am the owner of the property and I have a title commitment with an exception stating that one-third of the mineral estate has been conveyed to someone else, am I guaranteed by my title company to own the other two-thirds interest in the mineral estate?

A: No. The only reason we have exceptions on the title commitment , and ultimately the policy, is because the company is willing to insure on those terms. If you’re the seller on the transaction, nothing on the title commitment insures you whatsoever. You might look at your existing title policy and see what it reveals. If you’re the buyer and want to know the status of the mineral rights for a property, our advice in every case will be to have a land man review the chain of mineral severances and conveyances for you. Regardless of what’s reflected on the commitment, which will usually only contain the original mineral severances (and perhaps mineral leases that we find that have not been expressly terminated), the buyer may want to know exactly how the mineral rights have been divided. It is entirely possible that there are scores of fractional interests in the mineral rights on a property, particularly if a large portion of the mineral estate has been separated out and then re-divided through the years among several people. This is often the case when there has been active mineral production on the property.

Q: Would it be correct to say the title commitment and title policy represents more of a notification of what has been filed in the county records regarding the mineral estate ,and is not a guarantee as to what mineral interests are owned?

A: I would say that our commitment is never intended as a representation of title , whether it’s title to the mineral estate or any other aspect of property rights. It’s simply an indication of how we propose to insure on the policies that we are going to issue.

Q: So the policy doesn’t guarantee that an owner actually owns any mineral rights ?

A: It depends on the exceptions. If you have a policy where there are no general exceptions made as to minerals, and  no specific mineral exceptions taken, then you may have policy coverage extending to a mineral estate. It is unusual to see a policy owner make a claim because they thought they had a mineral estate and they didn’t actually have one,  because in an active production county the mineral rights have most likely already been severed by instruments of record . The last major slew of claims like this came out of the Dallas area a few years ago, when people realized there was value in natural gas in the Barnett Shale.

Q: While mineral rights issues don’t apply to most transactions we deal with , there are a few outliers. In what instance should an agent advise their buyer/seller to use the TREC mineral addendum?

A: First, when the seller simply says, “Hey, I want to be sure I reserve any mineral rights I have.” That’s pretty obvious.  Additionally, the TREC form could be used when there is active production on the property or some other value in the minerals. In most cases there’s already mineral production and a stream of income from production, and as a seller you want to figure out if you’re going to hang on to your rights to mineral production, or you could decide to adjust the sales price for whatever you think is the value of the future mineral income.

Q: So really at the time of listing, when a realtor is taking a listing that doesn’t fit in the box, maybe it’s out past Liberty Hill, they need to be asking the question “Do you know anything about your mineral rights?” and they need to know if they want to keep that or convey it.

A: Often, yeah, it will be outlying ranch lands, right.

Q: In order for the seller to reserve their mineral rights, do they have to work with a land man to be sure they’ve correctly reserved their rights?

A: It’s always a good idea to figure out exactly what you have now when you’re trying to negotiate for a future value. For example, in a situation where the property has a mineral lease on it that’s going to terminate in three years, that’s vastly different than other interests that are for a longer term and therefore  more valuable, or may have more future value than present value. Part of the trouble we have right now in clarifying mineral rights is there are new and novel ways of extracting minerals from property that have not been considered in the past. 

 Q: How much does it typically cost for a land man to do research on a property’s mineral estates?

A: It’s going to vary depending on the complexity of the chain of title , and also the volume of real estate records for a given county. If it’s a county with a relatively small volume of real estate records and the property has relatively few severances to follow , then the research is probably going to be less expensive. If the property is located in a county where there has been a lot of mineral activity, there is a larger volume of real property records to research, and there are more records directly affecting the mineral estate, that research is probably going to cost more.

Q: Does Independence have a list of people they use for minerals searches?

A: Yes. We have a short list of people to whom we refer “land man” work .

 Q: How do mineral rights differ from water rights?

A: There’s a running debate on what “mineral rights” are.  There are certain mineral interests perhaps you could consider as the “classic” mineral interests , which included rights in common mineral types considered included in “minerals” generally and requiring no specification. But there are other types of mineral interests that are a little bit more exotic that require specification, because people were concerned these types of minerals wouldn’t be included under the general scope of “classic mineral rights”. Water rights are separate and apart from mineral rights. They’re governed by a different area of law . Once you get into the area of water rights, there’s a whole separate set of licensing and records for water rights interests that are kept by the state. There are experts that practice water rights law. If someone is concerned about their potential water rights on a piece of property, they should go to a water-rights expert.

 Q: So we’ve established that a title policy and commitment do not guarantee whether a property owner holds a mineral estate or water rights, and there are other experts who need to research these issues for the owner to be certain of full ownership and use of any rights on the property.

A: The title insurance policy only insures mineral rights subject to the exceptions set out in Schedule B.

I hope this information regarding mineral rights in real estate was helpful to you.  We also wanted to let you know that if mineral rights have been severed from a piece of property then the Central Appraisal District in your area will typically assign the severed piece of property its own account number.

Gyft The Giftcard App

The thing you learn very quickly at SXSW is just how much swag you can carry. Every time I thought there was no way I could cram another thing into my backpack someone forced me to take a free t-shirt.

If by “forced,” I mean they held it out and asked if I wanted it. Of course I want a free t-shirt, this is SXSW, people.

This is my new friend Sam. He’s holding the shirt he said was free but I really earned.

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Okay, that’s a lie, I don’t know his name. I didn’t ask his name, but I meant to and should have. I was too busy dreaming about what would happen if I won the $5,000 scratch-off he handed me with my free t-shirt. I’m sorry, I’m a terrible blogger. I don’t think Sam will mind that I forgot to ask his name, he seems like a reasonable person (yes, I’m still calling him Sam).

He tackled me and forced me to take the free t-shirt asked if I’d like a t-shirt.  I said “Of course I do.” and then he held my new shirt ransom and said I had to download the Gyft App first. After explaining to Sam that while I thought his strategy was very clever, free means I do nothing and you give me a shirt. Since I was already invested in my new threads I downloaded the app. While we waited Sam explained that Gyft keeps track of gift cards. Now I can store, buy, send, redeem and transfer gift cards through Gyft. I’ll admit keeping track of the amount left on a gift card can be a little frustrating. I’ve done it all: wrapped the receipt around the gift card and stuffed it back in my wallet, used a sharpie to write the amount somewhere on the card and I’ve even taken a photo of the card and tried to keep the amount updated in Evernote. So Gyft makes a lot of sense. Plus, I really like the idea that I can transfer gift cards to someone else.

When I asked Sam if he’d hold up my shirt (the one I had clearly earned) so I could take his photo for this blog, he seemed a tad reluctant. I snapped one quick photo, thanked him, and headed for the metro rail.

Then I checked out the Gyft Facebook Page and discovered Sam was holding out on me. He totally knows how to pose.

Gyft

 

by: Erin Reichman, Education Specialist

Evergreen: Cultivating Enduring Customer Loyalty

Today I attended a South by Southwest session on creating Evergreen Clients by Noah Fleming of Fleming Consulting & Co. Noah’s book Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving covers, what he calls, the three c’s as the keys to building lifelong relationships with clients; character, community and content. Twitter user @Salmonilla tweeted her notes from the session and they sum up his talk perfectly.

 Customer Loyalty Noah Fleming SXSW

Quote bubble reads:
Building lifelong relationships with customers builds loyalty

According to Noah, client retention is often overlooked as many sales funnels end with the sale. They are, after all, called sales funnels and not life-long-client funnels. He believes you can create Evergreen clients by focusing on the three c’s, which he breaks down into practical methods in his book.

EvergreenCover2Read a few pages of Evergreen.

Noah’s was my favorite session today, and I’ll probably be buying his book this week. The concepts he discussed are applicable to any industry, and since most people have to live somewhere we know the evergreen concept is certainly applicable in real estate. You can follow Noah on Twitter, like his Facebook page or check out his website.

by: Erin Reichman, Education Specialist