HOP Training Helps Title Agent Connect With Seller

March 30, 2017

By Philip S. Janny CLTP, NTP

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Last year, I attended a full-day training to become an ALTA Homebuyer Outreach Program (HOP) leader. I was able to use the skills I learned at the training the very next day.

Our office was working on a real estate transaction involving a seller that was an estate. Since it was an estate, among the many things, we have to look for the inheritance tax return and proof of the tax being paid. Since the death of the decedent occurred in late October, no inheritance tax return was filed. When reaching out to the executrix of the estate, I quickly found out that it was the daughter of the decedent. Over the phone and in a couple of emails, I told her that we as the title agent will require an escrow of monies to be held from the proceeds until she can produce a Notice of Appraisement showing a zero-balance owed. She seemed okay with this requirement until a couple of days prior to closing. I received an email from her saying “I was reviewing the escrow agreement with my family who owns a commercial real estate firm and have sold several properties. They never heard of such an agreement or have ever had a party, title or the like, holding any funds in escrow. I have also spoken with other real estate agents who have never held funds either. Can you advise me as to what regulation requires this escrow of funds as the only one I am aware of is a foreign seller?”   

If I hadn’t attended the HOP event a day prior to receiving this email, I most likely would have responded informing her that she was wrong. I realized at that moment, that this person—the executrix of the estate—the seller in this transaction—needed to be educated about title insurance. The HOP training education kicked in and reminded me that I have a golden opportunity to create a conversation, cu-rate a message to her about what I do, connect with her as the seller and explain to her why we collect the escrow to clear title, and start the culture of educating the uneducated about the benefit of title insurance.

I spent about 25 minutes on the phone explaining the need for the escrow, the process of what I do to clear title and how that process enables me to insure title to the property and issue a title policy to the purchaser. After that, she politely thanked me for taking the time and admitted to me that she was quite emotion-al selling the family homestead. She apologized if she came across with a “tone.” I simply told her I completely understood. At the closing, the deal turned out to be a great success. In addition to insuring the purchaser in the transaction, the seller thanked me profusely and asked for my business card. She plans on purchasing a new home, and would like me to insure the title.

I couldn’t have asked for a better result.

Philip S. Janny CLTP, NTP of the law firm Plunkett & Graver PC can be reached at 610-432-1590 or philj@plunkettgraver.com. Janny is a trained HOP leader and serves on ALTA’s Government Affairs Committee and Research – Abstracter/Agent Subcommittee, and a past president of the Pennsylvania Land Title Association.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.