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
Welcome to McLaughlin Title! As title attorneys, we represent the buyer’s lender, but we often end up working very closely with the sellers and their real estate broker. We hope this information sheet helps you understand our role and the basic materials we need from you in order to complete the process and get you to the closing table.
We send standard form letters to the seller(s) every time we open a purchase file. This is done before our title search is completed. You will receive a form requesting information regarding existing mortgages on the home, water and sewer services and homeowners’ associations whether or not these things apply to your particular transaction. Our title search reveals whether there are liens on your property, but it's up to you to make sure we have correct account numbers and contact information for your loan servicer. If you have a current mortgage, your signature is required on our payoff authorization form. Docusign is not accepted by many lenders. Also, it helps us tremendously to receive these forms back for the file, even when every question is answered “N/A”. At the end, we ask for your social security number because the state requires this information for the transfer tax for every transaction we close. We treat your personal information as completely confidential.
We tell you to call with questions or concerns, and we really mean it. Occasionally, our initial information from the brokers or the lender contains minor errors in your name or the address of the property. This is an easy fix and we welcome your input. Often, your worries can be quickly abated with a phone conversation or email exchange, and that is how we prefer to do business. A little communication can go a long way.
Also, please remember that our initial contact with you is made before we conduct the title search.
Selling as an entity
If you hold title as an LLC, a corporation or a Trust, we will require you to provide us with evidence, well in advance of the closing, that you are authorized to sign.
If you have divorced since the last time the property was transferred, there may or may not be recorded documents in the Registry detailing how the property is to be vested. If nothing has been recorded, we will need to see a copy of the divorce decree in order to avoid inadvertently contradicting a court order and creating a cloud on the title.
A big concern for out-of-state sellers is the 2½ % Maine state withholding at closing. We are required by state law to collect this at closing unless an exception from withholding has been granted by the State of Maine. Exceptions from this withholding are frequently granted to sellers whose basis in the property is greater than the sales price – an occurrence all-too-common in a down market. To apply for an exception, you need two forms: the REW-5 form and a draft of the transfer tax form (ME RETTD). You can print out the REW-5 form from this page. The phone number at the state for questions is 207-626-8473. We are happy to fill out a draft transfer tax form for you if you have chosen to have us prepare your deed. Otherwise, the attorney preparing your deed will be able to do that for you as well. If we are not on the paperwork that the state receives, we will not be notified as to the outcome. It is your responsibility to provide us with the exception certificate prior to closing.
Paying off your mortgage or home equity line
When you sell a property, any liens secured against it need to be discharged in the Registry of Deeds. Your existing mortgage and any second mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), whether or not there is a balance, need to be paid off at closing in order to be discharged by your lender. For that reason, we will need a signed authorization from you so that we can get the correct figures for payoff from your bank or mortgage company. For now, this form has to be personally signed, not docusigned. We send this form to your real estate broker, to be forwarded to you, as soon as we open our file. Please be sure that the information you give us is correct. It's also very important for us to have this form back in a timely manner, even if the closing date seems far off. A blank copy of this form can be printed from this website; please see "Seller Form" at left.
It is your responsibility as the seller to have a deed drawn up. You can have your attorney prepare a deed or we can do it. Our fee for deed prep is $175 plus recording fees. If you have an outside party prepare a deed or Power of Attorney for you, we need to review those documents in advance to ensure accuracy and compliance. As the closing agent, it is our responsibility to ensure that every document is legally binding and can be recorded.
The Closing – to attend or not attend
It has become pretty common for sellers to opt out of attending closing. We understand that you may have already relocated and that travel is time-consuming and expensive. However, we highly recommend that everyone involved in a real estate transaction attend closings, and we always assume that you will be present unless we are told otherwise. Without enough advance notice we will not be able to accommodate a separate closing.
If it is truly impossible for you to make it to the closing yourself, our second choice is for you to appoint a Power of Attorney to sign on your behalf at the table. Our fee to prepare a Power of Attorney is $125 plus recording fees, or of course you can have your own attorney prepare it. In that case, we need to review it before you execute it.
When we prepare the PoA, our practice is to email the deed and PoA together, then you print them, sign them in the presence of a notary public, and send the originals back to us. The originals need to be present at closing, so unless you give us plenty of notice, you will need to pay extra to expedite it back.
"Mailaway closings" are sometimes requested by sellers. This means that all the closing documents are sent to you in a package, for you to sign with a notary and return to us. Often we will email the documents to you, but we always need the originals sent back to us -- usually by overnight mail. This is done at your own expense. Whenever we conduct a closing by mail, we will need to send your proceeds to you, either by wire or in the form of a check which we overnight to you. We charge $50 to wire and $25 to overnight a check. Please note that we do not wire funds until the deed has gone of record. (For more information about receiving your funds, please see "Your Proceeds" below.)
Please also bear in mind that separate closings in any form create more work for our processors and be patient as we work to meet the needs of all the parties.
Our standard practice is to issue a check at closing, made out to the seller. If the seller is a Trust or an LLC or some other type of entity, please know that your check will be made out to that entity and not to you, personally.
Often we are asked to wire funds. Here are a few things you need to know. We charge $50 to wire and we do not send wires until the deed has gone of record. Also, we ONLY wire into accounts in the seller's / sellers' name or names. For example, if a husband and wife own property together, we will only wire into an account that has both names. If the seller is a Trust, we will only wire into an account that is in the name of the Trust. Please verify all this information with your bank before instructing us to wire. If we get incorrect information from you, it will delay the transfer of your funds. Wiring instructions (your bank's routing number plus your account number) should be treated as very sensitive information. Mail or fax is a safer way to get those to us than email, since specialized hackers now seek out communication regarding wiring instructions.
We prorate property taxes to the day between buyers and sellers at the closing. Depending on when the closing date falls compared to the municipality's due dates, you will either collect some money or owe some money at closing to make sure the taxes aren't late. Occasionally, when a closing is held very close to a tax due date, your payment hasn't posted. We do our best to check and double check with towns so that duplicate payments don't cross in the mail. If you have any questions about the taxes, do not hesitate to ask!
Because cities and towns are only required to update ownership information every April 1, you may receive a tax bill for the property you sold. Forwarding the bill to your buyers is the expected thing to do.