C.H. McLaughlin Title Company, LLC -- 70 Center Street, Suite 401B -- Portland, Maine 04101
ph: 207-874-0500 f: 207-874-0505 -- email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations! If you are reading this you probably either have a home under contract or are thinking seriously about buying, perhaps for the first time, perhaps for the fourth or fifth time! We know that buyers have already spent a lot of time researching communities, neighborhoods and individual properties before they get to this point. The closing process can seem confusing, but we are here to reassure you and to answer your questions.
What is a title search and why is it performed?
A title search is a thorough search of the recorded documents that have been put on record pertaining to the subject property. The title search is the "underwriting" which enables us to issue the policies of title insurance.
We start a title search once your lender sends us a “title request”. The timing of that relative to the signing of the contract varies by transaction. Sometimes the property hasn’t even been appraised yet, but we get the process started on our end as soon as we get that request.
Title insurance is required by lenders and is optional for home buyers, but we strongly urge all buyers to purchase Owner's title insurance. For more information from our title insurer, First American, click the button to the left.
Will a Mortgage Loan Inspection Plan be done as part of the process?
Some lenders still order this basic sketch-style survey with every purchase transaction. However, because of the redundancy of MLIPs being done every few years on the same property, many lenders no longer order them. In its place, the seller signs a “Survey Affidavit” at the closing table. This statement attests that no physical changes have been made to the property during the seller’s ownership. Or, if changes have been made, it attests that all changes were made according to state and local building codes and were fully permitted. The purpose of both the MLIP and the survey affidavit is to remove the standard survey exception in the lender's title insurance policy.
If you prefer to have a sketch done, notify your loan officer or call us as soon as possible. Not all lenders work this cost into your fees, so it may have to be an added expense. Our surveyor’s standard charge for an MLIP ranges from $225 to $350 depending on location.
Who does the title company represent – me or the bank?
Under Maine law, borrowers have the right to choose their own attorney when obtaining a mortgage from a lender. If you as an individual choose us, we represent you personally. If we are chosen by the lender, we represent the lender, in which case we regard you as our client's client and will bend over backwards to make you happy.
Funding the balance of your purchase
You will probably be bringing funds to closing. The exact amount you will need is calculated by your lender on the Closing Disclosure form, which they will send to you in advance of the closing date, giving you time to review it. We are available to answer any questions you have about the calculation of the fees. Your funds must be either in the form of a bank - issued (not personal) check, made out to C.H. McLaughlin Title Co., or wired directly to our settlement account. Our wiring instructions will be provided upon request.
I can’t attend closing. What now?
We strongly urge that everyone involved in a real estate transaction attend the closing. Not only is it the best way to correctly sign documents you may be unfamiliar with, it’s also a great time to exchange information about the property and the neighborhood. But we understand that circumstances can conspire to keep you away. We have had buyers from Guam and buyers with a baby due on their closing date. In these cases, we prefer to work at the closing table with an individual who has been designated as Power of Attorney to sign on the buyer’s behalf. Your lender must approve this method of signing, and our fee for preparing a Power of Attorney is $125. Closing remotely with a notary public is possible, but should be considered only by experienced buyers with a computer and printer available to them. If you do sign remotely, we will work with you and your lender to be certain that everything is done correctly and in a timely manner.
Real estate taxes are pro-rated at closing. Do not assume that the property taxes are paid in full at the closing table! How much we collect depends on the lender’s preferences and the closing date relative to the municipality’s due dates.
A lot depends upon timing when it comes to getting your property taxes paid. Towns and cities choose their own due dates and fiscal calendars. You can familiarize yourself with your town’s collection practices by quickly visiting your municipality’s website. Regardless of town-by-town differences, the important thing to remember is that, as of your closing date, you are the owner of the property and therefore are responsible for the payment of all taxes owed going forward.
Maine state law is clear when it comes to the collection of property taxes. Every municipality assesses AS OF APRIL 1. That means that the owner on April 1 is in the town’s records as the owner until the following April 1. It is the buyer’s responsibility to make sure the taxes get paid, and if a bill is sent to the previous owner and remains unpaid, it is the current owner who is liened for non-payment of taxes. It is common practice in Maine for the seller to physically forward the tax bill to the new owner, but the seller is under no legal obligation to do so. Your best bet is to give the assessor a call and make sure your name is put on the account. Another option is to go to your town or city’s website and look up your property to get due dates and tax amounts – or even, in many cases, print out your own bill.
Of course, if you have opted to have your taxes paid by your lender out of escrow, the payments are being taken care of for you. However, it never hurts to double check with your lender and the municipality to make sure that is happening seamlessly. Feel free to ask questions at the closing table if any of this is not perfectly clear to you.