Tag Archives: Property Ownership

I Even Hate Little White Lies

Victrola

Truthfulness; a virtue as old as this Victrola

I hate lies. Even little white lies. Dolefully this puts me in the minority. Most people think it’s okay to tell little white lies. I don’t. But my battle for truth has formidable foes. Example: Dr. Robi Ludwig writes an article called, “Truth Be Told; When it’s OK to Tell A White Lie.” Of course Dr. Ludwig is talking about interpersonal relationships. No wonder the divorce rate is 50%.

Another example: Lisa Kogan writes on Oprah.com, “Lisa Kogan Tells All: The Lying Game.” Lisa says it’s okay to lie to your friends if you’re busy. What are frieds for if not to deceive? Besides, if it’s on Oprah.com it’s gotta be right. Right? Well I say wrong!

Here’s why it’s not alright to condone even the littlest of white lies:

Moral Decay

Moral decay doesn’t happen over night. It’s starts small and continues with baby steps until boundaries are fuzzy and no longer perceptible. If you get comfortable telling white lies without retribution eventually you’re going to tell bigger lies. Without a consequence where’s the harm, you’ll reason with your conscience.

The Erosion of Trust

Getting caught telling white lies pulls on the stitches of trust until there’s a systemic open wound infecting any opportunity of credible transparency. After all, if you’ll lie about little things where is the line demarcating little from medium or big? It’s not easy trusting a known liar.

Little white lies do hurt others

Most will argue that white lies protect people from hurt. On the contrary. I think people tell white lies because it’s easier on the lier, not on the recipient. You might say you lie to protect the other persons feelings but what you really mean is, you don’t feel like taking the necessary time to convey inconvenient news in a truthful but non harmful way. Sometimes it’s just plain conflict avoidance. However when you practice this form of deception you’re in effect robbing the receiver of their right to act, feel, or take action based on truthful information. Finding out you’ve been lied to is far more difficult to reconcile than dealing with factual news, even if the facts aren’t pleasant or desirable.

Little Lies Grow Big

When you tell little lies inevitably you’ll need to tell bigger lies to perpetuate your new designer truth. This is how little lies grow big.

Lying And Foreclosure

I hung up the phone and shook my head. Another case of someone losing their home to foreclosure. Instead of going down gracefully the homeowner chose the dishonest road leaving an insurmountable mess in their wake. What’s worse; they were aided in the lies and deception by a lawyer.

The Scam Goes Like This

Joe Homeowner is notified by the lender they’re headed for foreclosure. Sam Lawschool calls right behind the lender and promises to keep Joe Homeowner in the home for a long as possible–legally. Joe believes Sam Lawschool because Sam’s a lawyer. Aren’t lawyers supposed to uphold the law? Sam Lawschool tells Joe Homwowner they’re going to deed random people, people you don’t know and have never met, on the property Title thereby delaying the lender from taking back the property. This sounds wrong in Joes head but he decides to go along with it. Joe has now just crossed into the dishonest zone but justifies it by getting mad at the lender. “Those big banks are evil and are hoarding all the money.”

The harm this scam permeates is far reaching. The property becomes so encumbered by unknown people it can no longer be short sold. The Title is too clouded to unwind. The resulting foreclosure brings down property values, increases the loss to banks, degrades trust from lenders and drags down our economy’s recovery. That’s a lot of damage from one selfish lier!

Recently I asked Stuart Price, an honest attorney (they do exist), how many above board, legal ways there are to stop a foreclosure. Stuart was very precise. He said in his matter of fact way, “Ric there are only 2 ways. (1) Pay what is owed or (2) Get a judge to stop the foreclosure with an action, like bankruptcy for example.”

From a broader perspective, business losses to liars are staggering when considering lost dollars. Experts predict a range from the low billions up to $40 billion annually. From the few dollars the movie house loses from a child who really isn’t under 12, or merchandise bought with full intent to use and return, to the proprietor arsonist who torches a building to collect the insurance, billions are lost every year. And guess what? It’s the honest people who end up paying more for everything to offset the losses inflicted by liars. That’s why I hate even those little white lies.

If we all agreed to be tell the truth, all the time, wouldn’t we as a society be much better off? What do you think?

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note: I’m a Title Rep. In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Reincarnation of Bonnie and Clyde (The Modern Day Bank Robber)

A Bank Robbers Hide-A-Way

In many ways The Reincarnation of Bonnie & Clyde is a tale of bank robbery.  Instead of walking into a bank wielding a gun, the modern day bank robber uses Real Estate.

Much like the romanticized movie version of Bonnie & Clyde’s true life crime spree, I’m leaving out details because this case is presently under investigation by the FBI. What’s more I simply don’t think like a larcenist; a prerequisite for understanding the nuances of the crime I’m about to share with you.

The somewhat slow and murky work day, now commuted to early evening, hadn’t done much to help me toward my personal goals. Business was dragging as it frequently does near holidays. Tired and just hungry enough to be skeptical, iPhone alerted me to an e-mail with the familiar ‘ding’.

The e-mail, from a Real Estate Agent, simply read, “I need a Prelim on these two properties.”

A Prelim, short for Preliminary Title Report, is an extensive search on a subject property, sometimes going back 30 or more years, to determine the rightful owner without so much as a drop of ambiguity. There can’t be any unexplained breaks in the Chain of Title, liens, judgments, etc. As long as there’s no discourse a Prelim is an offer from the Title Company to insure the property. The Prelim is often the most time-consuming and expensive cost to the Title Company which, if a policy is purchased, is rolled into the cost of that policy.  But if a policy isn’t purchased the now lame-duck Prelim is nothing short of a non recoupable elephant expense.

A request for two Prelims coming from one agent can be cause for joy but in this case (I know this particular agent doesn’t normally do that kind of business) it was cause for question. I asked Siri to call the agent and like a faithful secretary she dialed the number for me. After a few simple and friendly questions I took a deep breath and ordered the Prelims. Maybe the day had been worthwhile after all.

Not so fast there sizzle britches.

Within a few days the Real Estate Agent was asking me odd questions. And I had a few questions of my own. For one thing, why was there an opened order from another Title Company on one of the two properties I was asked to search?

It took awhile to understand what was going on.  In a nutshell one of the two properties had just sold but was up for sale again. The other property was up for sale too but not having been flipped.  Another odd occurence, why was the lender on the first property calling the original owners demanding payment?  None of this made sense.

The Real Estate Agent who ordered the Prelims kept telling me the bank who loaned money on the first property was calling the original owners, demanding payment, or the bank would foreclose. But wait. Everyone knows when you sell property all liens, loans, judgments, etc., must be paid off or cleared before the property can transfer to new ownership. So why would the “old” bank be asking for payment after the closing?

I asked the Real Estate Agent why they used a smaller off-beat Title company on the first sale.  Why didn’t they just call me in the first place? This agent always uses me and I was a little surprised to see I’d been left out of the first transaction. The Agent explained the Escrow company had demanded they use the smaller Title company. Red flag. Escrow can recommend but not demand the use of a specific Title Insurance company.

Exasperated I suggested the Realtor drive to Escrow and find out what was going on.

The next phone call I got from the Real Estate Agent was sobering. The Escrow Office was shut down. Closed. Gone. Packed up and moved out. History. See ya!

Here’s what happened.

Fake Escrow gets a license for two months, opens an office, takes in as many orders as possible, directs payoff funds from legitimate banks (the new lender) to a fake lien holders (the supposed old lender), grabs the money and books out-of-town.

The perfect bank job?

There are probably others involved in this scam. Like I said, I don’t think like a larcenist so I don’t know for sure. But here’s what I do know. This type of crime is ramping up. This isn’t the first case we as Title Company’s have seen like this. As the economy languishes, people grow desperate. And when people get desperate they are more willing to believe what sounds too good to be true.

Here’s my advice.

If you’re getting involved in a Real Estate transaction today make sure the people you’re working with have the expertise necessary to watch for traps. I’m not suggesting you can’t trust someone just getting into the business, we all had to start somewhere, but if they are new in the business make sure they have a reputable, well established company behind them. The Title Insurance company you choose is probably the most important decision you’ll make during a Real Estate transaction. (See, “Does Your Realtor or Lender Know What You Drive?”)

In a perfect world the original owners of the first property would get their home back, the old lien holder will get paid from the owners on the normal payment plan, the buyers will be reimbursed by the Title Company (That’s one of the 21 reasons for having Title Insurance), the Title Company has to pay another claim and the FBI gets the bad guys.  In a perfect world.

Beware of the modern day bank robber.  They aren’t in the bank with a gun anymore!

Please feel free to leave comments. Thank you.

Note: Besides being a CFII, MEI, Pilot, I’m a Title Rep.  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 150 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Flying Airplanes and Title Insurance

Last night I showed someone how to fly an airplane from 6,000 ft up and 15 miles away from the airport to the approach end of the runway, and then land, without ever looking out of the window.

I’m a Title Rep.  (Tie-tél Rep; a person or reptile that scurries through Real Estate Offices and Lending institutions in search of food, stopping at nothing, including stepping on other Title Reps in its pursuit.)  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. But even worse, I also fly airplanes. In fact I teach flying whenever I’m not in a Real Estate office. A lot of people have two jobs these days. I’m no exception.

The airplanes wheels gently touched the pavement. They squeaked, or screamed, for a half second while the resting tires accepted the change in weight from zero to 2,000 pounds and spun up to 70 mph.

Once stopped I got out of my seat in the cockpit and left the airplane for the debriefing room. There I’d discuss the flight just flown with my student. It had been a long day. Working Title from early in the morning and then flying at night. A sixteen hour day for me. Title Insurance and aircraft landings were merging in my head and then it struck me.

How is Title Insurance similar to piloting an airplane?

Before a pilot flies an airplane they do what’s called an acceptance check. The entire airplane is checked, the airframe, engines, safety equipment, every system, navigation, fuel, weight, weather, everything. Once the pilot in command is satisfied the airplane is safe and the flight can be conducted safely they’ll sign a legal document saying the aircraft is airworthy. After the daily acceptance check, the Captain or First Officer will do a preflight inspection before each subsequent flight that day.

Like a Pilot In Command, a Title Officer first checks the “worthiness” of the properties legal description before issuing a policy. That way when you buy, or “accept” a new home you are insured against anyone who may come out of the past to file a claim against your legal right to ownership of the property. And if too much time passes between the Prelim (Preliminary Title Report) and closing, the Title Officer will do a subsequent search or “date down” to make sure nothing new popped up since the initial “acceptance check”.

Unlike other types of insurance, Title Insurance insures property owners against events that occurred in the past that might adversely affect the present property owner. Part of the cost of Title Insurance goes toward searching the properties chain of Title, legal coats to correct defects, and toward making sure problems are cured before a new Title is recorded on a property.

Likewise a Pilot getting ready to fly checks the aircraft for any defects that may have been caused by previous flights.

Personally I find it comforting to know my airplane is fit to fly before getting on board. And I also find it comforting to know my Title Insurance Company has checked the Title on my largest investment and is willing to insure me against claims before I take ownership.

For questions on Title Insurance or flying contact me at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized