Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Liens, Liens, Liens – Which Ones You Can Spot, and Which Ones You Can’t!

It may not happen often, but when it does it can pose closing challenges that can be insurmountable. What are we talking about? Liens!
An unanticipated lien can kill a deal if the homeowner doesn’t have the means to resolve it. The sooner you uncover liens, the better. Once the ball starts rolling on a deal, so much time and expense is expended for all that a solution to quickly uncover liens is paramount for any real estate sales professionals.
Now – there is no magic bullet for liens as there are some liens you can learn about through a simple search and some you can’t! For example:
Construction – if someone has had or is having work done on a property or is building a home a construction lien could exist without it appearing on a Parcel Register*.
Unpaid property taxes – this is a huge one because all taxes must be paid before the property title will be transferred. While a lien may not be formerly registered on title, unpaid property taxes could exist, will be uncovered on closing, and could therefore sabotage a deal.
Condo fee arrears. Like property taxes, if your client has fallen behind on their payments to condo fees, a lien may not be registered but upon the lawyer receiving a status certificate, unpaid condo fees will be uncovered and will have to be paid on closing.
Other liens that will appear on the Parcel Register* include:
  • Unpaid tax debts/debts to the government
  • Liens registered through the court once a creditor has obtained a judgement
  • Condo liens – once registered
  • Property tax liens – once registered
You can greatly mitigate a lien going undetected by performing some basic diligence.
Checking the Parcel Register* will uncover most liens. If a lien comes up and you need to communicate more details on the lien to your client you can go a step further and look at the instrument image associated to the registration number of the lien. The instrument image will reveal more details about the lien, such as the contact information of the registrant.
Where condo owners are concerned – we have come a long way since the days of the 10 day condo certificate process. While some condo certificates do still take time to obtain, the process to get them is far simpler. You can now request a condo certificate online and receive it electronically – vs waiting to have that mammoth 100+ page document delivered to you.
Property taxes – you can handle this 1 of 2 ways. You can ask your client to provide you with their most recent property tax statement or you can request one from the tax office directly. Now requesting it from the tax office may include a fee so you may just want to mandate that on all new listings one of the required documents that your client provide be their tax statement.
Taking these simple steps can help you root out more liens and allow your client to address any issues before an offer is extended. Don’t let anything impact a closing.
For more about any of these documents or how to obtain them, please visit today.
*An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Divorcing Client May Require More Due Diligence

A divorce can send folks scrambling. In a perfect world, when people split they would be able to talk through what to do with their assets, but in a nasty divorce especially, where emotions are high and everyone is trying to come out a winner, this is not always possible.
Through marriage, people work together, sometimes over their entire lives, to accumulate assets which include real estate. This is why it is not uncommon that some may do whatever it takes to try to get what is theirs out of the divorce.
A very common occurrence with divorcing spouses is that one may want to sell a property that has the other spouse’s name on it with the hope that if an offer comes in they will be able to convince the ex-spouse to sell – some may even deploy other tactics to provide you with a signed offer.
Avoiding this is simple.
  • When you are considering taking on a new listing, prior to visiting the property, perform a search to confirm who the legal homeowners are.
  • At this point you can contact your client to confirm that all legal homeowners will be at the engagement meeting with identification.
This is the only real way to verify that you are dealing with all legal homeowners – meet them, see them, see their ID. It is a red flag if you uncover that there is another person on title and your client says that they won’t be available to meet in person, but that they can send a copy of their ID and any documents can be faxed to them to sign. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t meet and see ID for all legal homeowners, you may want to pass on the listing.
From time-to-time you may encounter someone that says that their spouse lives out of province or country – in this instance another option is to send the other party to a lawyer in their country to certify their identification and identity.
In the most innocent scenario, taking the extra step to verify who owns a property will mean that you can flag an issue and work through it, or, in the ugliest scenario, prevent blatant mortgage fraud.

Protect yourself and your clients. Use GeoWarehouse to easily find out who is on title. Contact us today at 1-866-237-5937. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

3 Real Estate Musts You May Not Know are Online -- Survey, Status Certificate, Parcel Register*

When you meet your clients and take them out too see properties, they see one side of real estate – you could say, the sexier side. In all reality, that represents only one aspect of your job as there is the whole back office piece that everyone doesn’t get to see.
Landing a client, or making a sale, leads to a number of agreements, searches, research and more. The faster and more efficiently you can access the information you need to get your work done, the better.
There are some searches or materials you will need all the time and then some on an as-needed basis, so it can be hard to keep on top of innovations that have made it much easier to obtain what you need.
Yes: we are talking Parcel Registers*, surveys and status certificates! While Parcel Registers* have been available online for at least the past 10 years, status certificates and condo certificates have not.
What a pain status certificates have been to obtain historically. Requesting them, paying for them, waiting for them and then retrieving them. Surveys too – you have to call a surveyor, make an appointment, have the survey conducted, waiting for it… not to mention the cost!
Remember those innovations we started this blog talking about? Luckily now, Parcel Registers*, condo certificates and surveys are not only available online, they are also all in the same place!
When logged into GeoWarehouse you can request a survey, condo certificate or Parcel Register* in the GeoWarehouse store. Once your purchase is completed, the requested search or document is available for you electronically.
Wondering how to do this? Here is some help:
  1. How to obtain a Parcel Register*:
  2. How to obtain a condo certificate:
  3. How to obtain a survey:
Not a GeoWarehouse subscriber? Visit today to find out more.
*An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

True or False: Goodbye Land Surveys, Hello Title Insurance?

In today’s real estate world, many lenders will not require a property survey to finance a property when there is title insurance. But does that mean your client should buy a home without having a survey?
Let’s look at a land surveys and their benefits.
A land survey describes, verifies and maps the boundary lines and improvements of the land being surveyed. The survey will reveal power lines, building locations, fence locations, where the street is, regulations, zoning and more.
It benefits the homeowner to have a survey. A seller who doesn’t have one may want to think about getting one as some potential buyers may make it a condition on an offer,
Drilling down, a survey will:
  • Reveal if a fence, wall, garage or other structure from a neighbouring property is in fact on your property. There have even been instances of driveways spilling over onto another property owner’s land.
  • Enable you to avoid misunderstandings as far as where your property line is as not to accidentally build a fence or other structure on a neighbour’s property.
  • Reveal/end property line disputes
  • Validate exact property dimensions, sizes and locations of structures on a property to be matched against a listing
  • Where there are plans for future investment, a survey can help you understand if things like dividing your lot in the future are a possibility.
One of the reasons that title insurance emerged as such a competitive product is because, in the past, surveys have been somewhat time-consuming and expensive to get – but not so much anymore. Online applications like GeoWarehouse enable you in most cases to obtain a land survey for your client online.
While some have made it a question of survey or title insurance and even purchased a home without a survey just to avoid the expense, having both seems to be the best scenario. In a recent blog, Brian Madigan on agrees:
With a survey and title insurance your client will know all the facts about the property and have insurance that protects them against defects in that information and even potential forgery/fraud. Title insurance protects the insured against matters that happened in the past as opposed to things that might happen in the future.

If you would like more information about how you can obtain a property survey online for your client please visit