March, 2018 NewsBlog

March, 2018 NewsBlogVIVA ESCROW Q & A SEGMENT

(Real questions left on our website!)

My sister and I hold title on a rental as “Joint Tenants”. She want to transfer her share to her Living Trust. Here are my questions:

  • Do I have to sign and quitclaim and /or grant deed to terminate the Joint Tenancy and turn into a Tenancy in Common?
  • Can my sister sign to quitclaim her name to her Living Trust and then we hold title as Tenant in Common?
  • Can I as an individual hold title as Joint Tenants with a Living Trust or a Limited Liability Company – an LLC ?

Here are our responses to the questions above:

Your ownership can be turned into a Tenancy in Common situation simply with your sister signing and recording a Deed putting her interest into her Trust, without your signature.

This breaks the Joint Tenancy that you originally had. However, please note that without a specific statement in that document, should the percentage interest owned come into question in the future, the courts will presume that the ownership interest will be 50/50 between you and your sister’s Trust.

If you would like to confirm and set your interests correctly then you and your sister can do so by both signing one Deed to yourself and your sister’s Trust and state, “each as to ____ percentage interest, as Tenants in Common”. There should then be no future issues.

An individual should not hold title with an entity, whether it is an LLC or Trust, as “Joint Tenant”. Holding as Joint Tenant means that the parties have the right of survivorship.

The Trust and the LLC can continue on forever, so if the individual should pass away his interest would automatically go to the surviving joint tenant, in this case, a legal entity, one which can conceivably exist in perpetuity.

So the answer to that particular question is, “No, a Joint Tenancy type of ownership should not be held between individuals and corporate or other entities.”

Feel free to leave your escrow or real estate related question
on our website or as a comment to this blog!


The beginning of the year always seems to be a good time to make those decisions to expand the business or launch a startup.

The last 2 months saw not just one, but TWO “reduced commission” companies announce their intent to take a swipe at the real estate market.

Have you heard of “Reali”?

Me neither, but they are a “tech focused real estate start up” rolling out a program in California where their flat fee charge to either Buyer or Seller is $950 for homes under $250,000 and incremental increases based on sales price to $9,950.00 for homes over $750,000.

That is still a little over 1% of the price and leaves a lot more cash for the Seller or Buyer.

On the other hand, have you heard of “Purplebricks”?

Me neither, but maybe that’s because they are a UK company who are branching out in the US, starting with New York.

They also tout themselves as offering a “technology-focused selling experience”.

Their offer is $3,200 commission to Seller to list the home and a 2.5% commission if they find the buyer.

This has to be the lowest commissions that I have seen (especially Reali) and perhaps it is all a gambit to break into the market for a new start up.

If they do their marketing well there is no doubt that Buyers and Seller will gravitate to them, but what will it look like in the future?

They build up their market share and in a few months maybe they will start increasing that initial rate or add additional fees, like “transaction fees” onto it.

Will other companies follow to survive?

As they introduce their technologically advanced platforms, will the large brokerage houses have to re-think their own marketing strategies?

What is the future of the weekend open houses, the realty boards’ multiple listing services, the agent with the car driving buyers around from house to house?

Will the traditional format for the sale of real estate be changing?


  • Those days of getting a lot of bang for your buck in Las Vegas may be a thing of the past. It used to be that you could get a brand new 4- bedroom single family home 20 minutes from the Strip in a quiet enclosed subdivision for a little over $250,000. Now the developers are getting smart and are building higher priced homes knowing that even at double the $250,000, they will still attract buyers from Southern California where new homes within that price range can only be found much further inland. See the stats quoted in this article . Did we miss the boat?
  • It seems that in some parts of the U.S., like Florida, there are real estate companies willing to take the lead in cryptocurrency purchases of homes. They are rare enough at this time that the number across the U.S. can probably be counted on one hand, so whoever managed to broker such a transaction gets bragging rights. The Keyes Company apparently dealt in 3 such Bitcoin transactions, according to this article.  But before we all go out and try to talk our Seller or our Buyer into being a part of this, first consider this:
    1. You have to find a Seller who believes in the future of the cryptocurrency
    2. You have to find a Buyer who has enough of the cryptocurrency
    3. In California, you have to structure it in a way that the settlement agent who is highly regulated by the government is going to be able to handle this.

So, ready? Set, Go! Remember the bragging rights!

  • Is a lawsuit worth the measly profit made from flipping a house?
  • I would not think so, but greed can blind the senses.
  • This lawsuit made a bit of headlines in the LA Times,  much to the dismay of the real estate company whose agents were embroiled in this stupid flipping scheme: Listing Agent asking the Seller to drop the listing price from $315,000 to $190,000.
  • A corporate Buyer, made up of agents in the same office plus the Listing Agent’s wife, comes in and purchases the house at the reduced price. They then list the house for $399,000 and sells it for $375,000 in a matter of a few months, making a $185,000 profit.
  • Apparently, no value comparables were given to the original Seller to ask for the reduction in listing price, nor were there any disclosures as to the relationship of the Listing Agent to the final Buyer.
    The original Seller filed the lawsuit and it is my feeling that the whole profit made on this flip will be used on attorney fees.
  • Can you blame me for feeling no sympathy for the defendants in this lawsuit?

What does amaze me is the audacity of crooks. A crook serving time in prison and an outside helper conjured up a scheme  to send fake monthly HOA invoices to homeowners.

The recipients ignored the invoices as it was known that there was no homeowner association.

That is, until the crooks file liens against the homeowners for non-payment. Then the owners sat up and took notice. As it is in many short staffed recorder’s offices, this one in Missouri just stamped the fake lien documents, thereby making the liens valid to the property.

Now, to remove the liens, the homeowners have to hire an attorney and do a “quiet title action” (as we call it in California) and remove them by court order.

Amazing isn’t it, the things that can happen!  This is why I recommend that, like doing an annual exam on the status of your health, homeowners do an ownership check of their property every few years

You want to make sure that there is nothing untoward filed against your property without your knowledge.


With Chase developing a platform  for all-digital mortgages, you can now see that the lending industry is much more on the cusp of changing themselves to better pursue a larger market share.

Would any Millennial prefer a walk-in loan application to a comprehensive phone app to handle their transaction?

Not that I know of. It’s easy to forecast that where Chase goes, Wells Fargo and Citibank will be close behind, and there you go, the big three.

Not to mention that many other institutional lenders, like United Wholesale Mortgage, are pushing out their e-closing platforms .

That concept of a complete closing done remotely, including the notarization of the documents, raises many concerns in the settlement (escrow) industry which have to be addressed, state by state, issue by issue, before it becomes fully integrated into and accepted as a nationwide process.

However, we can already see that that future is NOW.


I never follow the antics of the Kardashians/Jenners, but when this news article came up, I couldn’t help but find it a mind boggling scenario:  one tweet from Kylie Jenner that she doesn’t open her Snapchat app anymore and the company lost $1.3 Billion (with a “B”, mind you).

It does not compute, at least in my mind, that any one person, phone in hand, typing 140 letters, can have such a huge impact on the value of a company that she doesn’t even have a financial interest in (that we know of).

What kind of a financial world do we live in?

How did we give this young lady so much power and credibility? And I would be interested to know how she feels of the consequences of her one thoughtless, inconsequential tweet?


My amusing piece of the month goes to this YouTube video of an interview with a Millennial.

This is an exaggeration (I hope), but because someone actually bothered to do this video it shows how askance we Baby Boomers look at the generation that comes after us.

And as we come to the end of this blog, here are a few things that others much wiser have complied for us to think about:

  • The word “swims” upside-down is still “swims”.
  • Intentionally losing a game of rock, paper, scissors is just as hard as trying to win.
  • 100 years ago, everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses.
  • Your future self is watching you right now through memories.
  • The doctors that told Stephen Hawking he had two years to live in 1953 are probably dead.
  • If you replace “W” with “T” in “What, Where and When”, you get the answer to each of them.