in this issue

By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator

Owning land in the U.S. has always been revered. It comes with a lot of pride especially since, for most it is their greatest asset. Because real property is valuable, many people want to claim ownership. "Titles" came about as a means of legally proving who owns the property. Through the centuries, however, a parcel of property may change hands dozens of times. At any point along the chain of ownership, problems may arise casting a "cloud" over a title, putting a claim of ownership in doubt which is why expert title examiners such as Tracy Smith with the Fidelity National Title Group in Philadelphia, are so important. Read Tracy's story entitled "130-year-old woman sells her home."

In 2011 we published an article entitled "Abuse Of Our Reputable Name" describing fraudsters who were using our Company's good name in an attempt to steal funds from owners of timeshares. This scheme has not gone away. It is important to recognize the signs and take the time to assist customers who might call to verify our affiliation with a company purporting to handle timeshare sales just like our two superstars, Nate Hidalgo and Beau Johnson, did. Read about the steps they took to protect a customer in "DEFENDING the company's reputation."

Linda Dean, a talented title officer with Fidelity's Southwest Title Group in Phoenix, received an order for an $80,000 cash sale of a single family residence located in Flagstaff, Arizona. The order originated from a Lawyers Title escrow office and the order sheet instructed the title officer to review documents for the record owner, including a Death Certificate, Affidavit for Transfer of Title of Real Property (used for estates valued at less than $100,000) and a Power of Attorney. The documents appeared suspicious to Linda, find out why in the story entitled "ARIZONA department of corrections."

Divorce and refinance often occur hand–in–hand. One spouse typically buys the other spouse out of property as they split up their assets. As a result, one spouse is removed from title as a part of a refinance. The spouse granting their interest in the property will be paid a portion of the proceeds from the refinance and relieved of their portion of the existing loan; both reportable under the IRS regulations. Read "DIVORCE: a sale or refinance?" to discover how to properly report a transfer from one spouse to the other for consideration.

Be sure to answer the monthly 1099—S question to make certain you understand the tips on properly reporting sales in order to avoid penalties!

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