What's the status of e-closings in DC, Maryland and Virginia?

It’s about time. The title insurance industry is catching up and rapidly integrating technology into all aspects of the real estate transaction.

The ESIGN Act was federally passed in 2000 to enforce the viability of electronically signed documents, but ironically, an industry that thirsts for more efficiency has been slow in adapting to technology.

Eighteen years on, homebuyers and refinancing homeowners still come to our closing table every day to sign their closing documents, some 50+ pages, with pen in hand. But that all may be changing in the very near future.

With the emergence of online mortgage solutions and the increasing availability of technology to simplify the process of finding a home for purchase, the title insurance industry may be next on the fast track to online integration.

In the next year there will be a major shift toward electronic closings, or e-closings, as legislation is being proposed and adopted all over the country to make way for a faster and more secure way to close real estate transactions.

In 1996, Federal Title became one the first companies in the nation to offer an online service to shop and compare closing costs, and more importantly, order title and settlement services.

We are now positioned to be among the first in the country to offer e-closings in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. We’re still waiting for clearer legislation in Maryland and DC to make e-closings viable, and not all lenders have a system in place yet for tracking them.

How does an e-closing work?

Once the parties have a ratified contract, any party in the transaction may order settlement services at https://federaltitle.com/order. The title company and lender will work to finalize a closing disclosure and coordinate a settlement date with the borrower.

The closing documents from the title company and the loan documents from the lender will then be uploaded to an online portal where the borrower, lender, agent and seller (if a purchase), will have the ability to review and sign their documents in front of a video notary.

Can I close remotely now via e-closing?

Federal Title is up to date with the latest software to provide an online closing for our clients. However, there a few caveats to be ironed out this year.

Legislation in DC and Maryland does not yet explicitly state that the use of a video notary is acceptable, although no legislation against it has been passed.

Meanwhile, Virginia was the first state in the United States to allow the use of video notary and thus is a viable option for e-closing.

The second caveat is on the lending side. The Note and Deed of Trust are essentially the two most important mortgage documents that the borrower signs.

Some mortgage lenders have already established an “E-Note” and “E-Vault” platform and are capable of closing your entire loan electronically. Essentially, the E-Note allows for the Note to be enforceable when electronically signed, and the E-Vault stores the E-Note.

Many mortgage lenders are diligently working to transition to e-closings, and it will be no surprise to see a major influx of e-closings in the very near future. We’re also keeping an eye on e-closing legislation in DC and Maryland.

To see if you qualify for a remote closing or have more questions regarding the e-closing process, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Assignment of TOPA rights (Tenant's Opportunity to Purchase Act): Q&A

Assignment of TOPA rights (Tenant's Opportunity to Purchase Act): Q&A

Q: Can TOPA rights be assigned without a contract?

A: With our without a contract, TOPA rights can be assigned.

Q: How much (consideration) does the landlord/owner need to pay the Tenant to make the assignment valid?

A: Most title insurance underwriters agree that there must be at least $300.00 of consideration which can be in the form of rent abatement/waiver, moving expenses, or cash payment.

Q: What forms must be provided to the tenant prior to the existence of a contract?

A: The landlord/owner must provide TOPA Form B by certified mail before tenant signs the agreement to assign. Because the rights of first refusal will be assigned concurrently with the rights to purchase, it is not necessary to provide Form C.

Q: What forms must be provided to the tenant with the existence of a contract?

A: The landlord/owner must provide TOPA Form A by certified mail before tenant signs the agreement to assign.

Q: Once the Assignment is signed by both landlord/owner and tenant, is there a waiting period before settlement can occur?

A: No. However, do note that either Form A or Form B must be sent by certified mail in order to satisfy the legal requirements such that the rights become legally assignable.

What's the benefit of the DC First Time Homebuyer Recordation Tax Deduction

What's the benefit of the DC First Time Homebuyer Recordation Tax  Deduction

What’s the Benefit?

DC First-Time Recordation Tax is reduced to 0.725% from customary 1.1% or 1.4%.

Qualifications*

  • Homebuyer* has never owned a principal residence in the District of Columbia.
  • Homebuyer must qualify for the DC Homestead Deduction.
  • Purchase price cannot exceed $625,000.
  • Total Household Income cannot exceed defined thresholds listed below:
    • Persons in Households / Income Limits
      • 1 / $139,140
      • 2 / $158,940
      • 3 / $178,740
      • 4 / $198,540
      • 5 / $214,560
      • 6 / $230,400
      • 7 / $246,240
      • 8 / $262,080

What's the Benefit of the Maryland First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit?

What's the Benefit of the Maryland First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit?

What’s the Benefit?

The Maryland First-Time Homebuyer Credit exempts the buyer from paying the State Transfer Tax.

Qualifications*

  • All homebuyers must be individuals (cannot be a trust or other entity) who have never owned in the state of Maryland residential real property that has been the individual(s) principal residence; and
  • The residence will be occupied as the homebuyer’s principal residence.

* There is an exemption that will allow a homebuyer to qualify if a co-buyer is on title solely for the loan qualification and will not occupy the property as a principal residence.

Seller Property Disclosure Requirements in DC

Question from an Agent:  My client, a seller of a DC property, has recently purchased a property and has never occupied it.  Is the seller still required to complete the property disclosure form or is the seller exempt?

Answer from an attorney:  There is no statutory exemption that would preclude the above seller from providing the property disclosure statement.   DC Code § 42-1301 (b), provides guidance and lists certain types of property transfers that are exempt from anyone having to fill out the Disclosure statement.  Some, but not all of these include:  transfers between co-tenants; foreclosure sales; court ordered transfers such as probate, bankruptcy, divorce; and transfers made by a person of a newly constructed residential property that has not been inhabited. 

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