Catherine Schmitt

Catherine Schmitt

Catherine Schmitt is a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant

She received her Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School and holds two bachelor's degrees from the University of Maryland.

Catherine has more than 25 years of experience in the title insurance business, and her clients vary from new homebuyers to seasoned investors. One thing her clients have in common, though, is that when it's time to close, they have a thorough understanding the settlement process.

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How to make sure you have "good funds" for your real estate closing

Wire transfers are a very common aspect of the real estate settlement process. But for many consumers, the purchase of a home is their only exposure to wire transfers, which can lead to confusion and unnecessary stress. 

To clear up any confusion and to help prepare our clients for settlement, here is rundown of some of the questions we hear and things to consider regarding wire transfers.

I wired directly via my bank’s website and money has left my account – why don’t you have it yet?

This is a question I have gotten more than once.  Did your bank charge you a fee for this "wire"?  The answer to this follow-up question, is usually "no" or "I paid a small fee." What your bank may not be telling you is that you are actually ordering an ACH (Automated Clearing House) transaction and not a wire directly from your bank to our bank.  

You will need to check in with your bank prior to sending out funds to make sure the fee you are paying is for sending a wire and not a fee for an expedited ACH.  Our bank will not accept ACH transactions for the purchase, because the ACH funds are not considered good funds.

Why aren’t ACH funds "good funds" for purchasing my home?

An ACH goes through a clearing house. Because these are bulk transactions, the funds are not "liquid," or immediately available funds. ACH funds can be adjusted, changed or recalled by the clearing house without authorization from the accountholder. In general, our bank will not accept ACH funds for any of our accounts

Can I write a personal check?

The short answer is no. Personal checks are not considered immediately available funds. Unfortunately, not all personal checks are good when they are written – either by mistake or by design, clients sometimes fudge that funds are available. There are occasions when we can accept a personal check for a small amount of funds at closing.

What are "good funds" for closing?

A wire, cashier’s check, or a certified check is considered good funds. A wire is considered good funds because the funds are wired from your bank directly to our bank via the Federal Reserve and are immediately available. Another example of good funds would be a cashier’s check. These funds are immediately available from the bank.

A certified check is not often used as a vehicle for funds, but is still acceptable. A certified check is a personal check that has been stamped and certified by a bank official the funds are available in the account. The bank then make sure those funds are only good for that purpose. Banks rarely issue certified checks, as it is much easier to issue a cashier’s check. 

So, how do I make sure I have "good funds" for closing?

All banks are different. Have a conversation with your bank early in the process. Find out what your bank needs from you to wire funds. Ask your bank if there are any fees involved to wire funds and how much lead time the bank needs for getting funds to closing on time. Also, make sure you coordinate with your settlement agent and lender to ensure you have the correct bottom line and have the amount of funds to close readily available prior to closing.   

Taking these steps early really help to make the buying process a little less stressful.   

Hazard Insurance – If I change it, will it affect my mortgage?

If you are like everyone else, you have at least one New Years’ resolution.  Some choose weight loss, others fiscal awareness, other personal awareness, etc, etc.  If one of your resolutions is to lower your monthly costs and you are looking at changing your hazard / homeowner’s insurance, make sure you talk to your mortgage company.  

Why, you ask?  Well, you want to make sure you have enough insurance to meet the lender’s guidelines and the lender has notice of your insurer.  

What do you mean by "having enough insurance to meet the lender’s guidelines"?

If you change your insurance (lower your coverage), then there is a possibility you no longer have the amount of coverage required by your lender. Your lender is guided by the type of loan you have and specific guidelines provided to the bank either internally or by the government. You can contact your lender to get the list of requirements/guidelines for your coverage, so you can make sure you get the insurance that is best for your budget AND meet those requirements.

Why does it matter is I change insurance companies as long as I have the same or better coverage?  

In the documents you typically sign when getting a loan, there is typically a document stating you will keep your insurance intact and you will provide the lender proof of insurance – regardless of whether you have your insurance paid out of escrow or you pay the insurance directly. The lender will need to make sure the new company and the new policy meets the appropriate guidelines. The lender will also be checking to make sure it is listed on your policy as a mortgagee and the mortgagee clause is correct.

(Please note that the lender is focused on the fact that you are changing your insurance company. Does not matter if you are leaving your coverage the same, increasing coverage or decreasing coverage.)  

What happens if I do not contact the lender when I change to a new insurance company?  

The lender usually checks on insurance annually – whether you have a current policy and it has the appropriate coverage. If the lender checks in with the old company, it is likely the old company will report they no longer insure your property. When this happens and no new insurance company information has been provided to the lender, the lender will send a letter to you allowing you to provide proof of insurance. If you do not respond to this letter, the lender will put into place its own insurance – forced-place insurance is not easy to get removed.  

What is the bottom line?

When and if you change your hazard/homeowner’s insurance, call your lender to make sure those changes will not affect your loan servicing.

Supplemental tax bill catches some Maryland homebuyers off guard

When people purchase a home, especially for the first time, many practice their due diligence and find out the amount of the present tax bill and proposed insurance in order to calculate their closing costs and future expenses in addition to their proposed mortgage payment.

This is not as easy when purchasing a newly renovated or built home. Yes, you can estimate taxes based on the purchase price of the property, but people are often blindsided by a supplemental tax bill. Not all jurisdictions have supplemental tax bills, so it is wise to check the jurisdiction in which you are buying to be certain.

What is a supplemental tax bill?

A supplemental tax bill is a bill that is issued when a property is reassessed during the current tax year. Often the supplemental bill will be for a specific period, i.e., a quarter, half or three-quarter tax period. This bill is an additional bill that is sent directly to the home owner and is paid directly by the owner.

Tax escrows that are collected by the mortgage companies as part of the servicing of a loan do not contemplate supplemental tax bills. In fact, most mortgage companies will have you sign a document at closing stating the borrower/home owner will be responsible for paying any supplemental tax bill directly.

What "triggers" a reassessment of a property?

Typically, major renovations or improvements added to a property will trigger a reassessment at time of completion.

What constitutes completion?

Usually, completion is when all permits are closed, certificate of occupancy is issued, and/or the property is sold as an improved lot.

Why would this affect a new home buyer?

At time of purchase of a new home, the real property taxes are often based only on the assessed value of the lot. The sale itself triggers a reassessment. Although this can be contemplated for purposes of an escrow account by estimating the taxes based on the purchase price, there is no way to know what the new actual assessment will be and when it will be actually done.

It is prudent for a new home buyer to put money aside based on the timing of closing and the estimated amount of taxes based on the purchase price. In Maryland, the fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year. So for example, if you purchase in September you should expect to get at least a three-quarter supplemental bill.

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, first-time new homebuyer or just someone who likes to do the homework – remember to consider supplemental tax bills when looking at not only the closing costs but future carrying expenses for your new home.

For further information, feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at Federal Title & Escrow Company.

What does it mean when my DC property is classified as Class 3?

As a real property owner in the District of Columbia, the last thing you would ever want or need is for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to classify your property as Class 3 – Vacant Real Property.

That's because the DC Office of Tax & Revenue assesses properties classified as vacant nearly six times the rate of a residential real property. So instead of paying $0.85 per $100 of assessed value, Class 3 property owners pay $5 per $100. (Still not as bad as a Class 4 or "blighted property" classification, which is assessed at $10 per $100.)

While the policy overall has helped the city clean up rundown houses and revitalize neighborhoods, occasionally it can lead to headaches for property owners such as someone who bought a fixer-upper that hasn't been occupied for some time.

Our office deals with these types of situations from time to time. Here are some examples of questions people call in with. If you have other questions, feel free to contact us. 

Click beyond the jump to continue reading the Q&A

Have a home inspection without placing a contingency in the contract

I want a home inspection, but I don’t want to put a contingency in my offer. How can I have it both ways?

Since inventory is low in the DC area, most potential buyers do not want to remit an offer that has any contingencies. Many buyers find themselves in a multiple contract deal and their agents let them know (and rightly so) that any contingencies in their offer may make the offer less desirable when competing for a property. 

So, how does a buyer get a home inspection and still make a solid offer?  

Some of the agents in the area are requesting a pre-inspection with a termite inspection for purchaser’s purposes only. The inspections are only so the purchasers get an idea of what they may be signing up for if they put in an offer for the house “as-is” as of the date of the pre-inspection without an inspection contingency. 

This type of contract tends to be a stronger contract for the sellers too, because the purchasers already have an understanding of the condition of the house and are not solely relying on disclosures. 

The down side to handling everything this way is there is an expense to getting the property inspected without knowing if the seller will accept your offer. 

Depending on the property, there is another approach agents are taking. They do a thorough walk through of the property with their clients at the open houses; and, if all looks good, the purchasers buy a home warranty at settlement to cover anything they may have missed. 

Purchasers should make sure they have a clear understanding when they are buying a house “as-is” without an inspection – they may be taking on conditions they did not anticipate. They should also make sure to read the seller disclosures thoroughly and know what a home warranty may or may not cover.

Buying a newly renovated house

I am putting in an offer on a recently renovated house and I am not sure the sellers got permits. Is there a way to protect myself in the contract?

Buying a newly renovated house is always an adventure. What do you ask for and what don’t you ask for in a seller’s market with very little inventory? Well, I asked around to a couple of attorneys that specifically handle construction cases and the following language is what they suggested to add into the offer:

"Notwithstanding anything in this agreement to the contrary, this agreement is contingent upon the Seller’s providing evidence that all construction, rehabilitation or renovation work done by Seller (whether themselves, or through any one or more contractors or subcontractors) complies with all applicable local law including (without limitation) any permitting or inspection requirement under the applicable building code. If sufficient evidence is not received by ____, then Buyer (in its sole and absolute discretion) can declare this agreement null and void."

Of course, there are ways to check for permits, but this language helps to put the onus on the seller. 

Other considerations you may want to check into with your seller is what work is covered under warranty and make sure you get a written warranty from the seller; as well as a list of subcontractors that worked on the house and any warranties they offer for their work.  

DC - Tenant’s Opportunity to Purchase Act a.k.a. TOPA

As a settlement attorney in the District of Columbia, the last thing you want to hear for the first time at the settlement table is there are/were tenants in the property being sold.

The Tenant’s Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is very pro-tenant and is often daunting for agents to tackle as part of a listing or as part of a purchase. Fortunately, there is guidance out there and the shock of the last-minute TOPA issue has become less likely as agents and their clients have become more educated on the process. 

The Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) has been proactive in getting forms out on its platform to assist agents, such as the Tenancy Addendum for Washington, DC and a TOPA Affidavit that is accepted by most title insurance underwriters.  

The DC Department of Housing and Community Development now provides the Tenant Notice forms online. These forms are very specific as to who is to be given notice, when notice is to be given and how notice is to be given. The forms also specify the timeframes in which all parties – property owners and tenants – are to act. 

It is important to note that giving notice to each of the tenants is not enough in the District of Columbia; you must also give notice to the Mayor c/o District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development – Rental Conversion and Sale Division.  

Following directions on these forms is imperative for a successful tenant occupied property sale.

Deed transfers, revocable trusts... explained

Welcome to the latest installment of our series regarding Deed Transfers.

Our office receive several inquiries on this topic. We've already written about Deed Trusts and LLCs and joint tenants for example. Today I will be addressing Deed Transfers and Revocable Trusts.

(1) Transferring title from a sole owner to a Revocable Trust

We all eventually get to an age where we should be doing at least a little estate planning. One of the popular tools for estate planning is the Revocable Trust. When your estate planning attorney or adviser sets up your revocable trust, she will often advise that you title your property in the name of the trust. 

I am often asked how much this will cost in the District of Columbia.

Click beyond the jump to find out...

Haven't received your DC Tax Abatement exemption?

I applied for DC Tax Abatement as part of my closing. I did not get my letter from the District of Columbia saying I got tax abatement and that I am exempt from real estate taxes for the next five years, and my lender is still collecting taxes in escrow to pay my bills. What do I do?

Recently I've been receiving a lot of calls and emails to that effect. And, well, there are a number of things to look at before we know if anything is "wrong."

  1. Does the Office of Tax and Revenue reflect the lower income abatement on the tax records online? You can check DC property tax records online by putting in your Square and Lot. Once you pull up the property detail page for your property, see if it reflects your name as owner and lower income status. If your name appears, your deed is on record. If your name does not appear, check in with your title company to see when and if your deed has gone to record – bear in mind that it can take between 6 and 8 weeks for the tax records to be updated after your deed is recorded.  If your name does appear, but the lower income status does not, you need to go to the next step.  

  2. When did the new deed go on record? Tax Abatement does not start until the next FULL tax year. For example: Settlement took place on October 2, 2017. Tax abatement would not kick in until October 1, 2018 for the 2019 tax year.

  3. If it seems that your deed was recorded correctly and you are beyond the beginning of the tax year that your tax abatement should have started, you need to call the Office of Tax and Revenue – 202.727.4829 (202.727.4TAX). They will be able to give you a phone number for a contact in the Office of Tax and Revenue – Maps and Titles Department. You will need to let the folks in Maps and Title know that your tax abatement has not yet kicked in and ask if they will check on it for you. (They are very responsive.) They will be able to discern the issue and should be able to fix the records for you.

  4. Once the records have been fixed, you will get a letter from the Office of Tax and Revenue stating you qualify for tax abatement, the time frame you will be exempt from real estate taxes and the procedures if there are any changes in your occupancy and/or ownership.

Visit our DC Tax Abatement program guide for the most up-to-date information.

What does 'no consideration' deed mean?

Consider all the factors, talk to a pro when choosing how to transfer a property

When someone says "no consideration" deed, what does it mean? Does it mean no transfer and recordation taxes?  No. It actually means that the property is being transferred via deed without money exchanging hands. 

Not all no consideration deeds are exempt from transfer and recordation taxes. There are a number of situations where a "no consideration" deed is appropriate and some of them are as follows:

  1. Transfer between husband and wife;

  2. Transfer between individual and a revocable trust;

  3. Transfer between Personal Representative of an Estate and the beneficiaries of the Estate;

  4. Transfer from individual(s) into an LLC;

  5. Transfer from LLC into individuals;

  6. Transfer from parents to children;

  7. Transfer from children to parents;

  8. Transfers pursuant to a divorce decree or settlement agreement;

  9. Transfer pursuant to a termination of a domestic partnership;

  10. Transfer between domestic partners;

  11. Inter-familial transfers i.e. grandparents to grandchildren or sisters to brothers, etc; and

  12. Transfer pursuant to a termination of a Partnership or Corporation.

This just gives an idea of situations when a "no consideration" deed may be used. It is very important to check your jurisdiction to see if there are any transfer and/or recordation taxes if you choose to do this type of transfer. 

In cases where transfer/recordation taxes are likely, the tax assessment for the property is typically used to determine the amount of taxes owed. 

It is really important to consider all of the factors and talk to a professional when you are deciding how your property is going to be transferred.

Title insurance and known title defects

"Don’t worry about it – title insurance will cover it!” ... This is what I keep hearing from agents when they talk to their clients about potential title insurance issues: “Don’t worry about it, you are getting title insurance – that will cover it!” 

My response: “Whoa!” 

The most recent instance was a District of Columbia tenant issue. I had to break it to the agent and the purchaser that the title insurance would not cover it and the underwriter would take specific exception to this issue because all of the parties were aware of the issue. 

One thing many folks do not seem to understand is that the title insurer literally steps into the purchaser’s (new owner’s) shoes and commences legal action based on the title issue at hand on behalf of the purchaser (new owner) and can only pursue a legal action the actual owner would be able to pursue. 

In other words, title insurance is to cover the unforeseen title issues.  If the purchaser, now the new owner, has knowledge of an issue or has waived the right to sue the seller for any title issues  it is difficult for the title insurer to pursue any legal action on behalf of the new owner. (Hint: look at the addendum to a contract for properties bought from a foreclosing bank or acknowledged tenants in the property, etc.)

So, before a purchaser becomes a new owner to a property with known potential title issues, that purchaser should consult the settlement attorney to fully understand what he or she is “signing up for.”

Title insurance doesn’t always “cover it.”

What is an insured closing letter and why am I paying for it?

An insured closing letter, also called a closing protection letter, is issued on behalf of a title agent (i.e., title/settlement company) by the title insurance underwriter for the benefit of your mortgage lender...

In short, this letter is a form of insurance to protect your lender against certain acts (i.e., non-compliance with lender’s instructions, theft, etc.) committed by the title company.

As the lender must make sure that the title agent has authority to issue lender’s title insurance, this letter must be issued to the lender prior to the delivery of the lender’s closing package and instructions

Once the letter is issued and the loan is ready to be closed, the lender provides instructions to the title agent along with the documents for the borrower to sign. This letter provides assurances that the lender may be compensated for losses resulting from certain claims arising from the title agent’s negligent acts.

The fee for the letter is a pass-through cost to the borrower like the lender’s title insurance policy.

For further information, feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Catherine Schmitt.


Homebuyers may apply for DC Tax Abatement up to 3 years after closing

"Help! I didn’t know about DC Tax Abatement, and I have already settled. Is there anything I can do?"

We get emails and phone calls like this all the time. If it's been less than three years since your closing, you can relax a little. You can apply for tax abatement after the fact, according to the Recorder of Deeds office. It must be within three years of your original purchase date.

Visit our DC Tax Abatement program guide for the most up-to-date information.

You will still need to meet the guidelines and supply proper documentation. You must have met the property purchase price threshold, used the property as your principal residence and be domiciled in the District of Columbia.  

In addition, you will need to include with the tax abatement application:

  • A copy of your purchase contract
  • Your settlement statement
  • Your last two income tax returns
  • Two most recent paystubs and W-2’s for the tax years provided

The Recorder of Deeds office will review the information provided and let you know if there is any additional information they will need from you. Be prepared to provide the tax returns, notarized statements, etc. for the period in which you purchased the property, as well as, the W-2 for the same period.  

If you qualify, you may be entitled to part of the transfer/recordation tax paid at settlement and the five-year exemption for real estate taxes, so make sure you request a refund!

For further information, feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Catherine Schmitt.

What happens after settlement of a refinance property in the District of Columbia?

A few things that happen after closing a refinance of a property in the District of Columbia. 

First, if the property refinanced was your principal residence, a period of three business days from the date of signing the documents – often called the three-day right of rescission – must pass before the loan process can be completed. 

The rescission period is the time in which a consumer can re-examine the loan to make sure it is something the consumer truly wants to take out and can cancel the loan prior to midnight of the third day. (In certain very specific circumstances, this three day period can be waived for principal residences.)  

If the refinanced property was an investment property, no rescission period is required. 

The second thing that happens is your loan is funded by your lender. (The lender usually waits to fund the loan until after any required rescission period has passed.)  

If your refinance was a “cash-out” transaction, in other words, you are to receive money, then the title company sends the money to you either in check form or a wire transfer, whichever you requested at settlement.

The third thing that happens is your fully signed and notarized loan documents are sent to the lender and any document to be recorded is sent to the Recorder of Deeds office, usually via a recording service provider.

Lastly, once the lender lien document has been recorded at the Recorder of Deeds office, then the public records will reflect a new loan or lien against your property. The recorded document is sent directly to the lender.

Real estate closing procedure in the District of Columbia

The closing process in Washington, D.C. is usually performed at a title company office, by either an attorney or a settlement agent. Several steps are involved in the process.

First a title order is submitted, and then a file is processed. A title search is obtained, and a title examination is conducted. Finally documents are prepared and reviewed, and settlement occurs. In this article, I explain each step of the closing process in the District of Columbia.

Click beyond the jump for a discussion of each step.

What is the Maryland homestead tax credit?

In Maryland, if you meet the requirements and file an application, you may receive a discount on your real property taxes.

In this article I will discuss the minimum requirements to qualify for the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit, how to fill out an application and why the Tax Credit is such a great deal for Maryland homeowners.

Click beyond the jump for answers to common questions about the program.

What buyers, sellers should know about the home warranty

Home warranties can be helpful, especially in the first year of home ownership. But be sure to read the warranty so you don't get blindsided by fees or lack of coverage.

In this article, I answer common questions about home warranties, including what you should look for in a home warranty and why a home warranty may be beneficial to you.

Click beyond the jump to continue reading.

How to qualify for the DC Tax Abatement program

The DC Tax Abatement Program was designed by the District of Columbia to help lower-income residents purchase a property.

Homebuyers who qualify for DC Tax Abatement are exempt from paying DC Recordation Tax at settlement. They also receive an allowable credit from their seller(s) that's equal to the DC Transfer Tax. What's more, DC Tax Abatement recipients are exempt from paying their property taxes for the first 5 years they live in the home, beginning the next full tax year. What a great deal!

Qualifying properties must not exceed a certain purchase price threshold, while incomes of DC Tax Abatement applicants must not exceed a certain household limit. Contact us if you need assistance with DC Tax Abatement. We're more than happy to help you file your qualified application as part of the settlement process.


The basics of FIRPTA withholding tax

The basics of FIRPTA withholding tax

When getting prepared for settlement, one of the concerns of every settlement company is whether the seller is affected by the Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). In fact, all settlement companies will require the seller to sign an affidavit stating they are not subject to FIRPTA.

If the seller cannot or will not sign the affidavit, then 10% of the sales price is collected at settlement and paid directly to the IRS by the settlement company.

The rules of FIRTPA changed February 16, 2016 when the withholding rate on properties over $1 million increased to 15%. Read our coverage of the increase of FIRPTA withholding to learn more.

The following are some commonly asked questions with some basic answers.

When is your client affected by FIRTA?

When the property sales price over $300,000 and your client is a foreign person i.e. does not participate in the US tax system.

What does my client need to do?

Apply for an exemption by filing an IRS Form 8288 on or before date of settlement OR pay 10% of the sales price directly to the IRS via the closing agent.

NOTE: If your client does not have a tax identification or social security number, then your client will also be required to file a W-7 form at the time of either filing for an exemption or paying the tax.

How is my purchaser affected by FIRPTA?

If the seller is foreign and does not pay the requisite tax or file for exemption; then your purchaser is on the hook for paying the tax.

NOTE: If both the seller and the purchaser are foreign, your purchaser will be required to file a W-7 form if your purchaser does not already have a tax identification or social security number. Your purchaser’s tax identification number must be on the seller’s form whether filing for exemption or filing to pay the tax.

Can any of the paperwork be filed in advance?

Yes, the requisite forms can be filed as soon as you have a ratified contract. You will need to get the purchaser’s information i.e. SSN, address, etc., in order to do so.

How long does it usually take the IRS to grant an exemption or give a decision as to the exemption?

Typically it takes 90 days to receive a certificate of exemption, partial exemption or non-exemption.

Who usually files the requisite forms?

  1. If the seller is paying 10% of the sales price as part of settlement, then the settlement agent/attorney will file the forms and pay the money directly to the IRS.
  2. If the seller wishes to file for an exemption, then the seller hires the settlement agent, a tax attorney or an accountant to file the forms. There is usually an additional fee to handle the exemption filings.

If you need any further information or need the forms, visit IRS webpage on foreign persons or contact our office.

The basics of Maryland Real Estate Withholding Tax

* Editor's Note: As of 2016 the amount of tax required to be withheld is 7.5 percent of the "total payment" to a nonresident individual and 8.25 percent to a nonresident entity. For the most up-to-date information regarding Maryland withholding requirements, visit the Maryland comptroller website.

When is your client affected by Maryland Withholding?

Your client is affected if your client is not a Maryland resident and has not lived in the property as his/her principal residence for 2 out of the last 5 years.

If your client is an entity, your client is affected if the entity is:

1) A “nonresident entity” is defined to mean an entity that:

(a) is not formed under the laws of Maryland more than 90 days before the date of sale of the property, and 
(b) is not qualified by or registered with the Department of Assessments and Taxation to do business in Maryland more than 90 days before the date of sale of the property; or

2) A Trust that was a not formed under Maryland law and/or not governed under Maryland Law; or

3) An Estate where the decedent was not a Maryland resident.

What does my client need to do?

Apply for an exemption by filing a Maryland Form at least 21 days before date of settlement and received an exemption certificate; or pay 7.5% if an individual or 8.25% if a non-Maryland entity of the sales proceeds directly to the State of Maryland via the closing agent at settlement.

How is my purchaser affected by Maryland Withholding?

Your purchaser is not affected at all by Maryland Withholding.

Can any of the paperwork be filed in advance?

Yes, the requisite forms can be filed as soon as you have a ratified contract.

How long does it usually take the state of Maryland to grant an exemption or give a decision as to the exemption?

Typically it takes 21 days to receive a certificate of exemption, partial exemption or non-exemption.

Who usually files the requisite forms?

If the seller is paying 7.5% (or 8.25%) of the sales proceeds as part of settlement, then the settlement agent/attorney will file the forms and pay the money directly to the State of Maryland.

If the seller wishes to file for an exemption, then the seller hires the settlement agent, a tax attorney or an accountant to file the forms. There is usually an additional fee to handle the exemption filings.

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