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Understanding Preliminary Reports

After months of searching, you’ve finally found it -- your perfect dream home. But is it perfect?

Will you be purchasing more than just a beautiful home? Will you also be acquiring liens placed on the property by prior owners? Have documents been recorded that will restrict your use of the property?

The preliminary report will provide you with the opportunity, prior to purchase, to review matters affecting your property which will be excluded from coverage under your title insurance policy unless removed or eliminated before your purchase.

To help you better understand this often bewildering subject, the Land Title Association has answered some of the questions most commonly asked about preliminary reports.

What is a Preliminary Report?

A preliminary report is a report prepared prior to issuing a policy of title insurance that shows the ownership of a specific parcel of land, together with the liens and encumbrances thereon which will not be covered under a subsequent title insurance policy.

What role does a Preliminary Report play in the real estate process?

A preliminary report contains the conditions under which the title company will issue a particular type of title insurance policy.

The preliminary report lists, in advance of purchase, title defects, liens and encumbrances which would be excluded from coverage if the requested title insurance policy were to be issued as of the date of the preliminary report. The report may then be reviewed and discussed by the parties to a real estate transaction and their agents.

Thus, a preliminary report provides the opportunity to seek the removal of items referenced in the report which are objectionable to the buyer prior to purchase.

When and how is the Preliminary Report produced?

Shortly after escrow is opened, an order will be placed with the title company which will then begin the process involved in producing the report.

This process calls for the assembly and review of certain recorded matters relative to both the property and the parties to the transaction. Examples of recorded matters include a deed of trust recorded against the property or a lien recorded against the buyer or seller for an unpaid court award or unpaid taxes.

These recorded matters are listed numerically as “exceptions” in the preliminary report. They will remain exceptions from title insurance coverage unless eliminated or released prior to the transfer of title.

What should I look for when reading my Preliminary Report?

You will be interested, primarily, in the extent of your ownership rights. This means you will want to review the ownership interest in the property you will be buying as well as any claims, restrictions or interests of other people involving the property.

The report will note in a statement of vesting the degree, quantity, nature and extent of the owner’s interest in the real property. The most common form of interest is “fee simple” or “fee” which is the highest type of interest an owner can have in land.

Liens, restrictions and interests of others which are being excluded from coverage will be listed numerically as exceptions in the preliminary report. These may be claims by creditors who have liens or liens for payment of taxes or assessments. There may also be recorded restrictions which have been placed in a prior deed or contained in what are termed CC&Rs- covenants, conditions and restrictions. Finally, interests of third parties are not uncommon and may include easements given by a prior owner which limit your use of the property. When you buy property you may not wish to have these claims or restrictions on your property. Instead, you may want to clear the unwanted items prior to purchase.

In addition to the limitations noted above, a printed list of standard exceptions and exclusions listing items not covered by your title insurance policy may be attached as an exhibit item to your report. Unlike the numbered exclusions, which are specific to the property you are buying, these are standard exceptions and exclusions appearing in title insurance policies. The review of this section is important, as it sets forth matters which will not be covered under your title insurance policy, but which you may wish to investigate, such as governmental laws or regulations governing building and zoning.

Will the Preliminary Report disclose the complete condition of the title to a property?

No. It is important to note that the preliminary report is not a written representation as to the condition of title and may not list all liens, defects, and encumbrances affecting title to the land, but merely report the current ownership and matters that the title company will exclude from coverage if a title insurance policy should later be issued.

Is a Preliminary Report the same thing as title insurance?

Definitely not.

A preliminary report is an offer to insure, it is not a report of a complete history of recorded documents relating to the property. A preliminary report is a statement of terms and conditions of the offer to issue a title insurance policy, not a representation as to the condition of title.

These distinctions are important for the following reasons: first, no contract or liability exists until the title insurance policy is issued; second, the title insurance policy is issued to a particular insured person and others cannot claim the benefit of the policy.

Can I be protected against title risks prior to the close of the real estate transaction?

Yes, you can. Title companies can protect your interest through the issuance of “binders” and “commitments”.

A binder is an agreement to issue insurance giving temporary coverage until such time as a formal policy is issued. A commitment is a title insurer’s contractual obligation to insure title to real property once its stated requirements have been met.

Discuss with your title insurer the best means to protect your interests.

How do I go about clearing unwanted liens and encumbrances?

You will wish to carefully review the preliminary report. Should the title to the property be clouded, you and your agents will work with the seller and the seller’s agents to clear the unwanted liens and encumbrances prior to taking title.

Who can I turn to for further information regarding Preliminary Reports?

Your real estate agent and your attorney, should you choose to use one, will help explain the preliminary report to you. Your escrow and title company can also be helpful sources.

CONCLUSION

In a business which is directed at risk elimination, the efforts leading to the production of the preliminary report, which is designed to facilitate the issuance of a policy of title insurance, is perhaps the most important function undertaken.

Article by CLTA

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Testimonials

11/2018 
 
We bought our Kona home in November 2018 and are so grateful we worked with Lance and Kimi. We started working with them in the spring of 2018, when we visited Kona and Lance took us to see many properties and informed us about microclimates and different neighborhoods. Then we headed backed to Boston and Lance kept in touch with us about listings, the market, and the vog. One time he texted us a picture of a gorgeous clear day, and a few days later he texted a picture of a voggy day, saying he wanted us to see that too - that's the kind of people Lance and Kimi are, honest and upfront. Once we found a home their guidance and hard work were absolutely indispensable to us. Great negotiating skills, responsiveness to our many questions and concerns via text, email and Skype, and through the entire closing process holding our hands and digging up and/or checking all documents with our best interests in mind. There was so much to keep track of and so much we weren't even aware of that needed to be checked, we are beyond grateful that we worked with Lance and Kimi. They are experienced, knowledgeable, efficient, thorough, professional, and kind.
You can't go wrong with Lance and Kimi!

 
Denise & Joe  
2/19/2019
Lance, we love that your client has an agent who cares about them the way you do.
Love the idea of sharing the shifting market guide this way, and love even more your commitment to guiding and advising your clients through the buying/selling process. We are grateful to be your partner! 
Yours truly
Keeping Current Matters 
Charlotte P. H.

8/31/2018
What an outstanding experience we had with Lance Owens and Kimi Nagatoshi!! We gave Lance our thoughts about what we might be looking for in a new home on Hawaii Island and he showed us quite a number of places that fit that description. We hadn't thought we'd actually buy on that trip -- we were really only trying to see what we could afford -- but with what Lance showed us, we ended up putting an offer in after only 3 days of looking. And then Kimi went to work helping us through the entire process of the inspection, counteroffers, and, ultimately, the purchase. It's our dream home and we have both Lance and Kimi to thank! 
Karl and Mary 

Source: Realtor.com

Karl and Mary


8/30/2018
8/17/2018 
7/13/2017
5/22/2017
Lance and Kimi did a fantastic job selling our multiple lots in Kau. We continue to recommend Lance and Kimi to our friends!

Source: realtor.com

Kathy and John C.
5/18/2016 Aloha Lance! Thank you all for your “local kine” support of the Big Island Chocolate Festival this year. It was really very successful and your support helped us keep the ball rolling as we brought tickets in. I will let you know how much was raised for the schools, but wanted you to see this online news story that mentions your sponsorship. Hawaii 24/7 has quite a large readership. Thanks again! http://www.hawaii247.com/2016/05/15/big-island-chocolate-festival-names-top-confections/ Julie Ziemelis-Owner Ziemelis Communications Integrated Communications Expert-PR
2/29/2016 In 15+ years of Hawaii Mortgage Company dealing with thousands of realtors, it is very rare when you come upon agents who really care and love what they do and want to make the transaction as wonderful as possible for all parties involved. Lance and Kimi go above and beyond for their clients and the mortgage professionals (like us!) who they are working with. In a world full of mortgage regulations, Lance and Kimi make sure to keep everyone on track of the timelines to ensure closing on time, which benefits both the sellers and buyers. We are lucky to work with them and look forward to many more transactions together in the future! Maura K. Shannon Manager / Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #339190 Hawaii Mortgage Company NMLS #232582 443 Portlock Road Honolulu, Hawaii 96825 Tel: 808-988-6622 Fax: 808-988-7722 Maura K. Shannon
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Kona Home Team
 Lance Owens RS-62947 | 808-936-8383 
Kimi Nagatoshi RS-76851 | 808-936-2575
LUVA LLC | RB-21030 | Office ID 2340 | Office 808-769-5111
75-240 Nani Kailua Dr. Suite 8, Kailua Kona, HI 96740