Properties Magazine November 2012 : Page 71

Specialized Real Estate Title and Closing Services A conversation with Ted Bush of Thoroughbred Title Agency at Weltman, Weinberg and Reis Co, LPA By Dave Larkin | Photo courtesy of Weltman, Weinberg and Reis Co., LPA F ounded in 1930, Weltman, Weinberg and Reis Co., LPA (WWR) has grown to become the nation’s largest creditors’ rights law firm. Partnering with the Real Estate Default Group at WWR, Thoroughbred Title Agency Inc. (TTA) provides comprehensive real estate title and closing services to clients nationwide. Today the firm, headquartered in Cleveland, supports ten offices and over 1,200 employees. Recently, Properties sat down with Ted Bush, the Director of TTA, to discuss his point of view on where his agency is positioned in these areas and some of the difficult issues in the marketplace today. Properties : Can you provide some background on TTA’s services? TED BUSH: Thoroughbred Title Agency Inc. (TTA) handles every aspect of the real estate title and closing process for all types of transactions, including commercial and residential purchase and refinance transactions, with special emphasis on distressed properties. PM: What markets do you cover? TB: We are licensed in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Florida and have offices in Cleveland; Cincinnati; Troy, Michigan; and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. PM: What services does TTA provide? TB: TTA performs title examinations and issues title commitments, policies and endorsements for every imaginable type of real estate transaction. We also handle the closing of these transactions. In essence, we step in to quarterback what is a complex transaction involving many parties with different needs and per-spectives. We are the central clearing house responsible for interpreting the contractual intent of the parties to facilitate the seamless transfer of clear and marketable title as well as the proper and safe transfer of funds. PM: Can you comment on some specific client real estate title and closing needs you have addressed? TB: Our title staff averages more than 20 years of experience in title insurance, and our escrow staff averages more than 15 years of experience in handling closings. Like anyone who has worked in real estate, we EXPERT ADVANTAGE Working with a title and closing company that is familiar with local practices can help to avoid unwelcome surprises, says Thoroughbred Title Agency Director Ted Bush. attorneys to identify any potential defects with the title. In most cases, we are able to either clear the defect or determine that insurance still can be offered. Because TTA is underwritten by four of the largest title insurance underwriters, including Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, First American National Title Insurance Company, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company and Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, we have the opportunity to shop coverage to obtain the most favorable coverage pos-sible for our customers. In those circumstances where the title defect is more significant or if there is a disagreement among the parties with respect to a closing/escrow issue, we are able to suggest alternative dispositions to the parties. PM: Does Northeast Ohio have any special prob-lems for property owners/managers? TB: Real estate title issues share many common characteristics no matter where you are, but Northeast Ohio does offer some special challenges that can really lead to unwanted surprises if the title and closing company you are working with is not familiar with local practices. Many of our communities require point-of-sale inspections prior to the transfer of property. If the inspection reveals code violations, the municipality will either require repairs prior to transfer or will require the closing agent to hold funds in excess of the estimated costs of repair until the repairs have been completed and pass inspection. Similarly, Northeast Ohio, and Cuyahoga County in particular, certainly have seen their share of foreclosures in the past few years. Our local governments and our courts have been at the forefront of the national debate regarding the role and respon-sibility of the various participants in the lending and foreclosure cycle. As a result, we frequently see new legislation and judicial decisions that affect the day-to-day activities of those in the real estate transaction. TTA closely watches these developments so that we can help guide our clients to the successful completion of their transactions. P For more information, contact Ted Bush at 216-685-1054 or 71 all have favorite stories and some of them sound almost too incredible to be true. Nearly every transaction offers its own unique set of challenges, whether it is a title issue, a problem the lender might face with loan approval, a property inspection surprise or something similar. In the commercial arena, we have handled several receivership transactions in the recent past that require us to get involved early to review the motions and draft orders being submitted to the court to assess the insurability of the title that will be transferred upon completion of the litigation. One recent residential transaction involved the purchase of a condominium in a high-rise building. The seller shared the same last name with another unit owner in the building. Unfortunately, the mortgage given by the other unit owner was incorrectly placed on the seller’s unit. We were able to make a couple of phone calls and clear the issue well in advance of the settlement date so that there was no delay in the closing of the transaction. PM: How do you help clients with these poten-tial problems? TB: Title insurance is unlike property and casualty or health insurance because a title insurer’s main goal is to eliminate risk up front. We conduct a thorough title examination that is reviewed by our experienced

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