Ratified Contract Now What

YFTL BLOG GRAPHIC_RatifiedContractNowWhat_10.24.2015You did it! You received your first ratified contract! Next step, send it to the Title Company (and the Lender). But what should you expect after that? What ELSE do YOU need to do?

I can’t speak for the Lender but the Title Company needs several additional pieces of information not stated in the contract and then a few ongoing things, or actions if you will, that will help ensure the process is smooth.

COMMISSION & ADMIN FEES

The Title Company does not have access to the MLS so they need to know what the total commission is and how it should be divided amongst the Listing and Selling Agent. If your Brokerage charges an administration fee or any other fee in addition to the commission, we need to know what the name of the fee is, how much it is and to whom it is payable.

CREDITS

If you or the other agent is giving a credit to the Seller or Buyer and it is not listed in the contract, we need a letter from your Broker detailing the amount of the credit, what it is for and to whom it is being given. An addendum signed by the Buyer and Seller is not sufficient.

CONTACT INFO FOR YOUR CLIENT & THE LENDER

The more contact info we have, the better! Please provide a phone number and email address for each of your clients and for the Loan Officer.

COMMUNICATION

Be sure to respond to all emails as quickly as possible. In most cases, the Title Company communicates with the Buyer and Seller through their Agent. It is critical that you read every email from us carefully and reply in a timely fashion. In this day and age, it is easy to miss an email or forget to return a voicemail. It happens to the best of us. Our Processor will follow up if she has not heard back but not all title companies do that so be alert!

If there are any addenda to the contract, send a copy to the Title Company, no matter what. You may think we don’t need a copy but better safe than sorry. The more we know, the better service we can provide and the better the overall experience will be for your client.

There are many moving parts from contract to close. And if you are a new or newer agent, it can be a bit overwhelming. The Title Company should be a resource to you and be willing to help you navigate through the entire process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if you think it has nothing to do with the closing. If you are not getting the support you need, communicate that to the Title Company. If nothing changes, find a new Title Company, period.

Teamwork, loyalty and partnerships are very important but your first priority should be that you and your business are well respected and taken care of by all referral partners.

About the author

Kara Macdonald is the Director of Business Development for Pruitt Title, LLC. She has over nineteen years of experience in processing, closing and marketing. Pruitt Title is a woman owned, independent title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, with offices in Rockville and Tyson’s Corner. Remote closings are also available.

How You Should Feel After Closing . . .

How You Should Feel After Closing . . .I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was 1996 when I started working in the title business.  The office was small and intimate.  Typewriters clicked, the phones and fax rang.  We checked voicemail quickly and returned calls right away.  My favorite part was and always will be interacting with the Buyers and Sellers.  By the end of the transaction, everyone knew everyone by their first name and understood the role each person played in getting the closing done.  Marketing Agreements and Joint Ventures didn’t exist.  We relied 100% on referrals received from building relationships.  We stayed most Friday nights for a couple of drinks because we worked HARD all week long.  It was a fun and rewarding place to work.

Yes, that was almost twenty years ago and a lot has changed.  Technology has affected the way everyone does business.  Email and text messages are how we communicate now and even then, responding to everyone seems nearly impossible.  Marketing Agreements and Joint Ventures are now the norm, leaving little room for smaller title companies to compete.  Most real estate offices have exclusive partnerships with lenders and title companies.  The playing field is definitely not level nor is the general feel of the transaction.

What has changed?  People are still people and they’re still buying a home, one of the most important and special events they’ll ever experience.  There are stories behind every closing.  Whether it is a single mom who has been saving for years or a couple that is newly engaged and so excited to start their lives or maybe the man who lost his wife and is selling to move closer to the grandkids.  There is always a story and it’s our responsibility to know it.  What has changed is that technology and laws have made it possible for companies to get very big, very quickly, and the personal touch is lost.

I always say I miss the George Bailey days.  He ran a Savings & Loan in the classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life.  George knew every single person that came into his bank by name (and their whole family).  He cared about them and everything that was going on in their lives.  It was not about the next account or deal or closing, it was about the people and their stories.

The best part about this business is the closing day.  When you sit down at the closing table and you know everyone by name and there are no surprises, the magic happens.

It is the responsibility of the Realtor, Lender and Title Company to give that experience to our clients.  Let’s all be sure the only reason we recommend our clients to another service provider is because they share the same values as we do.  Period.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

human pyramidYesterday was not the easiest day for my team.  We had a difficult closing.  And it was not just one person making it difficult; the buyer was unhappy, the seller was not cooperative, the agents were mad at each other.  The closing took almost three hours.  But is closed.

I had heard about Mr. Difficult Buyer last week.  The Selling Agent had mentioned it at another closing.  I did not completely grasp how bad it really was until yesterday.

I was copied on a few emails early in the day regarding outstanding issues that everyone was trying to tie up.  They seemed pretty urgent but everyone was replying quickly so there was nothing for me to do.  I did send a quick text to the Selling Agent to say while this is obviously not an ideal day, I am pleased at the way our teams were working together.  His reply was, “Agreed.  Love it!”.   A couple of hours later (at the same time settlement was occurring), I received a call from the same Agent to ask how the closing was going.  I told him I would check but I was not worried.  He seemed surprised.  After getting a brief update from the closer and letting him know that all seemed okay for now, I knew there was still a chance it may not close.  An hour goes by . . . I was waiting to hear something, anything so I could tell the Agent that all was well . . . but I was not worried.  I received one more text from one of his team members stating it was not going well.  My thought was, “but it is still going”.  Another hour goes by and I finally heard everything was signed.  They had agreed on some changes to the HUD and once it was approved, closing would be complete.  That approval came this morning.

As I reflect back on the events of yesterday, I am so grateful for my team.  I have worked for a total of five title companies since 1996.  This is the first time I have ever been 100% certain that my team would handle everything just as it is supposed to be handled.  At the last four companies, I was in the trenches of the day to day processing.  It isn’t easy.  I respect the hell out of anyone that works in this industry.  But without fail, there has always been someone on my previous “teams” that just was not on the same page.  That is not the case with Pruitt.  Sara Bolton has put together the most competent group of people and created an environment of respect, trust and faith for us to work in.  It is in fact, the perfect place to work.

Team has taken on a whole new meaning since starting with Pruitt in June 2013.  We each know what our job is and we do it with pleasure.  We also trust that each of our teammates is also going to do what they are supposed to do.  I know I was put here for a reason; to be a part of something GREAT.  And that’s what Pruitt Title is.

Not every settlement is going to go perfectly but there’s a good chance it will end well when you’ve got us on your side!

Can A Realtor Ask A Title Company For Money?

Yesterday I received an alarming Facebook message from a local Realtor.  The conversation went like this:

Agent: Hi Kara!  I hope all is well.  Does your office offer traveling settlements for Virginia and Maryland?

Me: Yes ma’am.  How awesome of you to think of me!!!

Agent: Perfect.  I am growing my business but of course there is a cost associated with doing that.  I have heard many agents mention title companies helping them grow their business by paying for leads and in return sending them business.  Is this something your title company does?

Me: We do not offer this service.  Our fees are extremely competitive and we also offer a home warranty to many of our buyers.  BTW it is a violation of RESPA for a title company to to pay for leads in exchange for business.  I would be very careful asking people for this.

Agent: Strange how a lot of agents are violating RESPA.

The RESPA laws are pretty black and white.  The portion of the law specifically relating to this conversation reads:

§2607. Prohibition against kickbacks and unearned fees

(a) Business referrals

No person shall give and no person shall accept any fee, kickback, or thing of value pursuant to any agreement or understanding, oral or otherwise, that business incident to or a part of a real estate settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan shall be referred to any person.As the Director of Business Development for a Title Company, you would be surprised how many agents ask me for money.  But this request was different.  No agent has ever written or said out loud “in exchange for business”.

It was very clear to me that this agent had a very poor understanding of the law that is directly related to the field in which she works.  And I bet she is not the only one.

As a professional, no matter what the field, you need to know your “stuff”.  If you ever have to go before a judge, and you are asked why you broke the law, I can assure you that “I didn’t know I was breaking the law” is NOT going to be a sufficient answer.

Trust me, I understand the mindset of someone who asks for money, especially if they are seeing others do it or even being instructed by their brokerages to do it.  It is EXPENSIVE to start a real estate business.   Most get into real estate because they think it is easy money.  I also understand the opinion that companies that benefit monetarily from your referrals should contribute to the cost of attaining said referrals.  However, it is against the law.

Ask your Broker first before asking anyone for anything of any value.  The last thing you want to do is lose your license especially when you are simply trying to build your business.

Kara Macdonald is the Director of Business Development for Pruitt Title, LLC, located in Vienna, VA.  

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out of Networking Events

Hello Friends!  It’s Your Favorite Title Lady, Kara Macdonald here and this is  my very first blog entry EVER!  I am super excited.  I have been wanting to blog forever but quite frankly, didn’t think I had enough to say.  Seriously?  I have TONS to say!

I want to touch on how I have made networking and networking groups work for me.  No matter what business you are in, there is an extremely high chance that you must develop new relationships to grow and succeed.  And although I am constantly tweaking and revising my methods, for the most part, a few things have not changed . . .

First is, you must ATTEND!  If you are on the fence about whether attending a networking group will be worth your time, trust me when I tell you, if you know how to “work” a group properly, every event you attend will be worth your while!  Of course, not every event or group you go to will be awesome but the probability that you will meet at least a couple people that could help your business is HIGH!

Second is follow up.  For a long time I had NO systems in place for follow up which essentially means attending the event was pointless.  Over time, I have learned to write where and when I met the person (or ran into them if I already knew them) ON THE BUSINESS CARD with a Sharpie marker.  Now, I know there are apps and such that will add them right to your contacts or CRM but that has not worked for me.  I schedule time into my schedule twice per week to follow up with everyone I meet.  Again, there are some people I may not want to follow up with and that is fine but it is nice to at least shoot them an email stating it was nice to meet them and if they ever need any help in your field, you are happy to try and help.  It is just good mojo to put kindness into the world.

Third is to keep following up, ESPECIALLY with the people whom you could potentially receive business from.  Now, I know this should be a no brainer, but I have attended HUNDREDS of networking events and I rarely receive any type of follow up, much less a second touch.  Think of the impression you will make if you follow up regularly since few others are doing it.  I am not basing this on my own experience alone, although it has worked for me.  Other people in various fields have told me follow up is rare, they are bad at follow up  themselves or conversely, when someone follows up regularly with them, they are more inclined to give that person a shot.

So there it is, my first blog post..  Hope you enjoyed it and hope you can put these tips into action and see results!

Pruitt Title is an independent,woman owned title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.  Kara Macdonald is the Directorbof Business Development and can be reached at 571-432-9382.

Shiny Objects Don’t Always Produce Fruit

When I first fell into the marketing / networking world, I loved it.  I saw opportunity after opportunity and it was very exciting.  I met with people, started to build relationships, met with them again, called them, and even got some of them to give me a shot at their closings.  I learned quickly that people were anxious to help other people by way of introductions to people I wanted to meet.  It was wonderful.  I definitely succeeded in gaining new business for thew title company I was working for at the time.

The more people I met, the more information everyone wanted to give me.  I couldn’t believe how many tools and seminars and blogs and classes and workshops and trips I had to take.  I immediately got to work!  I mean, if they were doing all of these things and it was ALL working for them, it would definitely work for me too, right?  WRONG!
Don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) very grateful for everything everyone told me.  BUT, I became very overwhelmed with wanting to do EVERYTHING everyone told me.  At the beginning of 2014 (after being in this new world for approximately 18 months) I decided I needed to FOCUS on a few things (three at the most).  It was not easy because I knew that all of the things worked and I wanted to be successful.  I needed a new perspective.  A former Boss used to tell his wife, “Sweetheart, you can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.”. This goes for business too.  I can do anything well, but I cannot do everything well.
Since I began with Pruitt Title in June 2013, I knew there were a couple of activities that produced the most fruit.  I decided those two activities is what I would put the majority of my time, resources and energy into.  I also had a dream of developing and teaching classes to consumers and realtors.  I decided to make that a goal for 2014.  Now I had a plan.  Three things.  No more, no less.  I am happy to report that while every day is not perfect, I focus on these three things and have seen my business and myself grow exponentially.  If a new, bright, shiny idea or thing pops up, I remind myself of how I felt chasing every shiny thing in 2013.  It wasn’t fun, nor did it produce any fruit.
The real estate business is full of fantastic ideas, classes, systems and people.  If you can discipline yourself to focus on what bears the most fruit, and recognize key opportunities that will truly improve your business and yourself, I guarantee you will see a harvest like you have never seen before.

Pruitt Title is an independent,woman owned title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.  We close anywhere at anytime.Kara Macdonald is the Director of Business Development and can be reached at 571-432-9382 or via email at kmacdonald@pruitt-title.com.

Being A Late Bloomer Isn’t So Bad

I was a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to social media.  I know that is probably hard to believe but it is true.

In 2008 I was in the grocery store and I can remember very clearly the young lady bagging groceries was chatting with the young man ringing up my groceries and said she had 7,000 Facebook friends.  I believe I remember that moment so vividly because Facebook is where I started and it is by far my favorite social media tool.  I did not open an account until two years later.  Now I have a lot of friends (I admit I do not know all of them personally but that is my decision and they accepted my friend request so . . .  .).  Facebook allows you to leverage yourself in a very personal way and has allowed me to form connections with people (over time), I otherwise would not have had.

Fast forward a couple years, I knew I had to get on the Twitter train.  I was terrified of Twitter.  I had opened an account six months prior to that and had maybe been on it twice.  I didn’t get it.  One day, I decided to figure it out.  And I did.  Thanks to Twitter, I am now connected with some of social media’s top influencers. Why does that matter?  Because they are thought leaders and by following them, I stay on top of the latest and newest trends.  It is the most powerful platform out there right now (in my humble opinion).

My latest endeavor has been Instagram. I do not totally get it but I am willing to learn because my potential customers are on it.  All I do is read a few blogs or watch a few YouTube videos on the platform I am currently trying to figure out and bam, I learn a few tips here and there, put them to use and expand my reach.

Same with Pinterest.  Very different than Insta (as the kids call it) but again, my customer base is on Pinterest and people come to Pinterest to BUY.  In real estate, you could not ask for a more perfect platform.

It is all about being willing to learn.  It is definitely scary.  I am currently trying to learn something new for Facebook and I am very frustrated.  BUT, I will prevail!  Just like I did with Twitter!  I am grateful I am willing to learn because I can help others learn too.  I have held social media classes for real estate agents to help them get started just like I did a couple years ago.  Don’t be scared, just dive in.  It is actually quite fun!

Kara Macdonald is the Director of Business Development for Pruitt Title, LLC. She can help you with all your real estate closing needs and SO MUCH MORE. Call her today for a free social media analysis or consultation on getting started. Pruitt Title’s main office is located in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia and we have satellite offices throughout the D.C. Metro area.  We accommodate flexible, on-site closings, so that borrowers can have their settlements conducted at their choice of locations, whether it is at their home, office, realtor’s or lender’s office or another convenient location.