Mesia Swan Interview  

TJ McLelland: What's up, everybody? Welcome to the Fitness Realty Channel. My name is TJ McLelland, and I'm the broker. I'm super excited to share all the things we have planned with you. So sit back, strap in, and let's have some fun! What's up, everybody? Hey, this is TJ McLelland, broker, a Fitness Realty here with Mesia Swan from Eagle Gate title. We're super excited to have her on our show today, and we're just going to talk about the title and what that is, what it means, and a whole bunch of things that she's just going to drop knowledge bombs all over us, so super excited. Mesia, will you introduce yourself? 

Mesia Swan: Hi, TJ, hi everyone. Like TJ said, I'm Mesia with Eagle Gate Title. Just happy to be here and talk about all that exciting stuff of escrow in the title and the things that happen behind the scenes. 

TJ McLelland: That is awesome. There is so much stuff that happens behind the scenes. So first, I want to ask you, what in the heck is title insurance? 

Mesia Swan: You know, I get asked that just about every closing because, like I said, we're really behind the scenes. Most of the time, people don't even talk to their title or escrow officer until it's time to sign the document. So really people are kind of, it's, it's vague, people don't understand what it is. 

So title insurance is insurance that either is provided to a lender who's loaning money on the house, or it's provided to a buyer at the cost of the seller to provide protection to the buyer, the new owner of the home to ensure that nobody's going to come out of the woodwork saying that they have any ownership, no liens against the property. It's insurance to say once we give you this ownership, this vesting, it's yours and yours alone. 

TJ McLelland: Oh, so let me kind of spitball back to you, so what you're saying it's making sure that when, let's say when I buy a house that I actually own it and that nobody can come and say, hey, your previous owners signed this napkin and says I own this property instead.

Mesia Swan: Exactly, and that does happen. I mean, you see it in movies. They make it a little more exciting in their version of it, but it does happen. People come out of the woodwork. Sometimes deeds were signed, they weren't reported. Our job is to research the title to make sure we understand who actually legally owns the property. 

If they have the right to sell the property, how much ownership they have in the property, and then, of course, anytime someone racks up debt with property taxes or judgments, those people who have those judgments get to place a lien on the property, meaning they also have interest in the property. And we want to make sure that when the buyer steps into that ownership, they are not responsible for any of that previous debt or people who might say that they have a stake or claim in the home. 

TJ McLelland: Got it. Makes a lot of sense. Do you find that a lot of the like, a wishy-washy gray area happens with like probate and death in the family where it's like nobody really knows who owns this piece of property anymore? Or is it just a crap shoot? You never know what's going to happen. 

Mesia Swan: Obviously, every file is a crapshoot because each file is no different history on the home. Even new homes have a history with builders, right? So as boring as it probably seems, the history of the home comes out in the title. And we're not just talking ownership. We're talking leans. You know, we know where utilities are run. 

Uncle Bob might have said to. You know his neighbor 100 years ago? Sure, you can have a driveway through my property to get to your house, and a new buyer comes along and doesn't know Uncle Bob made that promise, and they want to shut that driveway down. You need to make sure that you understand the promises that have been made in the life of that title. 

So yeah, there it's a crapshoot with each one, and things do get definitely a little more hairy. And we've got things where you don't have a will or a trust or, but the title itself tells us how it's vested or how it's owned. So we have a pretty good idea of, if its tenants in common, there's a certain portion that's split or if they're a married couple. I mean, the title, the deed itself helps us quite a bit to understand that, but that is the Gray areas, definitely when you've got, you got to go through probate, that's just in itself. 

TJ McLelland: Gotcha. Well, what I like about kind of already how we've talked about this is the unknown, right? So you're helping us to understand the unknowns that we would not have known and can really blindside you during a contract or transaction or when people are trying to buy a piece of property. 

So this is really good stuff. We've kind of touched on why would we need that, but kind of go into really what is the protection of title insurance to us or to a new buyer. Let's start there!

Mesia Swan: OK. So like I said, sometimes people will have judgments or debts and it's using title protects not just the buyer but the seller. Because I've seen before where a seller is unaware or has forgotten or, you know, for whatever reason, they've got to lean against the title that they don't realize is going to come out of their bottom line. And that can really affect a seller if they don't have much bottom line to work with. And they're not cell the home unless that's been taken care of. 

So they're protecting the seller and ensuring that they can actually make this transaction. They can sell their home, but we're also the insurance insures the buyer that when they come in, all of that's going to be taken care of because they don't want to purchase a home with a lien against it. That was improved that you know wasn't their responsibility to take care of for the first place. 

So we buy the insurance to make sure that it protects the buyer from anything that wasn't found at the time as we do the very best that we can to research everything. Newer homes are a little bit easier for the older homes. I mean, we have to go really far back in the archives to find all of this information. And you want to make sure that no judgment is going to creep up out, out from nowhere with this new buyer, and all of a sudden, they have a debt that they didn't approve. So the insurance covers that shouldn't happen. 

TJ McLelland: That is awesome and really protective! 

Mesia Swan: I lender as well. That's kind of what's tricky is that everybody is like, well, why do I need to policies while you're buying a policy for the buyer, but the lender insists that you buy a policy to protect their interest in the property as well.  TJ McLelland: Gotcha. Those lenders, they get you coming and going. Oh, man. Well, OK, let's switch from title to escrow. What does escrow mean? I know that a lot of people just merge both of them together, and we just do whatever with both of those terms. But I know that there's a very specific part. So would you tell us what that is? 

Mesia Swan: Absolutely, yes. So I actually enjoy. Escrow more than I do title, even though they do, they run hand in hand to the title is, like I said, researching the past, but that the escrow part of it is managing all of the money in between. It's incredibly stressful. You have to be very meticulous with it, but you know where the neutral party that works with the lender, with both agents, but the other title company. We all have to balance out. We all have to be on the same page, and we're moving money here, there, everywhere. 

So the role of the escrow officer is actually really important. And they are the firefighter in the sense that when fires pop up, that's who we have to go to. And if they're good, then you'll never know it existed, right? That's why your deals go through so smoothly is because, yes, grow officer, no house to solve the problem. So escrow, to answer your question, is kind of known in two different ways. One, the escrow officer handling the finances during the transaction to from buyer to seller with the lender, but you also have an escrow which is where when you purchase the home.

The lender may insist that your property taxes your homeowner's insurance, sometimes your HOA dues. They make sure that those are paid with your payment so that no liens can be put against the property if you choose to not pay those debts. So it's kind of them taking an extra step to ensure that their interest in the property is not going to be impeded. So that escrow incense is just a third party that works with the lender to end with the new buyer to hold the money and then pay it out at the end of the year when it's too. 

TJ McLelland: Interesting. This is stuff that I think, as a general public, nobody really talks about, right? Like when they want to buy a house or like, yeah, bought a house, but they really don't know what happened on the back end. 

Mesia Swan: Exactly. I mean, it's truthfully; it's not like the sexiest area of real estate, right? I mean, you've got looking at houses and the lenders giving you money. I mean, there's so many mother more other aspects of real estate that are super exciting, and I didn't even, you know, I've held different positions in real estate. I had no idea until I was in this role exactly what it all entailed. And it really is a lot. But nobody knows until they go to sign the papers and they think that they're just, you know, sign here, sign here, sign here. 

It is an important role. And I think if you know buyers and sellers are listening, they need to understand that they need to have an agent like you, like your agents in your brokerage, that understands their escrow officer needs to know what they're doing. They're just throwing it to anybody, and they don't know how to put out those fires. It's going to be a complicated situation for everybody involved

TJ McLelland: I totally agree that something that's kind of interesting to me is I talk about this with my clients, and I call it the Gray area. And the Gray area is when I'm like, OK, we're all working on the back end, getting everything done and getting everything taken care of.  But they really don't understand that the Gray area is so much bigger than what it looks like, that they're in control of the Gray areas. Like if you were to look at an iceberg, it's like. Here's what they get to see. And the bottom is, like all of the Gray areas that we're working in the back end.

Mesia Swan: Absolutely, yes. The 200 emails are going back and forth between you and I and all, yes, all of the risk management that you and I are handling for them. And yes, I mean, the more that I learn about the industry, this industry about real estate, even though I've been in it, like some capacity or another. The more I am adamant that you have got to have an agent represent you in a buyer cell. There's just so much Gray area that you think you can Google, and you can't. Special liability, right? 

TJ McLelland: Oh yeah, I just had a buddy of mine. Well, it's not a buddy. It's my cousin. He was like; there's so much stuff that I wouldn't have known in real estate. Because he's looking to try to buy a duplex or something out in the east, and it's like, yeah, I know, get yourself an agent. 

Mesia Swan: Absolutely. My favorite saying is you don't know what you don't know because you can think that you can solve it all, but you have no idea what's going on. That you know you really are putting yourself in a predicament as setting yourself up for a lawsuit without even knowing it. Make yourself a couple of bucks and it's not worth it, 

TJ McLelland: Right!

Mesia Swan: Yes. 

TJ McLelland: Alright, my next question is, why do we need both a title and escrow officer? Or can a person be both? 

Mesia Swan: Well, you definitely need both, and a person can be licensed in both, usually because escrow carries such a heavy load. Even if they're licensed in both, we have a title officer on our team, so for me, you know, I've got a title officer who does all of the research to dig in early deep because that's somewhat time-consuming in with escrow. 

You got to be ready to drop everything and go close on a home, so someone doesn't lose their lock on alone, or you know reach contract on the Rep see, or I mean there's it really is so much involved in the escrow that typically. Someone doesn't carry both loads, but you definitely can. And I think that it's good when you have the opportunity to be in those both of those roles, because otherwise your researcher is just handing you stuff, and you have no idea where they found it, how they got it, and it's pretty difficult for you to solve a problem when you don't know where it started. 

So I think that it's great if you work with a title company to make sure that the guest's grow officer is licensed and entitled as well, so they know what they're doing. 

TJ McLelland: Gotcha. That's fair. Knowing what you're doing is crucial. 

Mesia Swan: Yes. And, you know, it just helps you see the whole picture. In fact, that's why I love that I have a real estate background is because they bring so much more knowledge to the table of understanding the other side that you know, if you're stuck in just your bubble, you don't know what other people are seeing from their angle. And so the more that you can learn, the better you are at any capacity in this state.

TJ McLelland: Right. Totally agree. The next question is, sometimes the documents say optional for title insurance, and now I know that in today's age, everybody is trying to save money because of inflation, and everything is just getting more expensive.  So when people see optional every time at the closing table, they're like, hey, I'd rather not pay this. And I'm like. Well, yeah, but so can you explain like why it says optional for one and what is it that is really optional to that aspect? I guess.

Mesia Swan:  Yeah, that's a great question because I do get asked just about every closing. When it says optional brackets, they're like, then yeah, I opt out to do it because it'll insurance can be kind of a pricey one-time hit. So to explain it, and obviously, every state has different laws.  OK, so this is pertaining just to Utah. It is innocence optional. However, in the real estate purchase contract, you're agreeing to purchase it, so it's no longer optional, and it's for a lender. It's not optional because they insisted. We want this loan. This is going to be purchased to protect us. So it's very similar to her insurance. It's optional, but if you want to drive, you're going to be paying for it, right? 

TJ McLelland: Gotcha. 

Mesia Swan: So yes, it just protects all parties where the seller is involved. I just, yeah, you have to pay for it for your buyer's peace of mind where the buyers are involved. You have to pay for it in order to for the lender to feel good about giving you the money. So yes, it's optional, but if you want that house, it's not so option. 

TJ McLelland: Gotcha. Yes, it does. Now have you ever seen anybody that, or I guess during a cash deal, could they actually waive that and not pay that? 

Mesia Swan: So because lenders not involved, there's no lenders policy. Yeah, yeah, they don't have to. The seller will pay for a buyer's policy for the cash buyer for their peace of mind. But no lender's policy is needed because no one has else has an interest in the property that wants to be protected. 

TJ McLelland: Gotcha.

Mesia Swan: The way we have to close when there's a cash buyer, you have to close at the same title company because in Utah, because we're split, you can't actually close the deal without issuing a policy. So since no insurance is being issued, it has to happen to the seller's title company. 

TJ McLelland: Interesting. I did not know that. I mean, I've always known that we just go to the seller's title company when its cash, but I didn't know why we were doing that. I was like, oh wait, yeah, we just have to go to the seller's title company. But now we know. 

Mesia Swan: I will let your buyers and sellers know buyers mostly what I'm seeing a lot this trend of these investors coming into Utah and buying homes with cash. Typically the seller already has a title open because they open title when they go on the market or before they go on the market. So the agent has the peace of mind that one they own the home. 

Two, they can afford to sell the home because they don't have a bunch of liens, but anyway, so the seller usually already has the title open when the buyer comes with a bunch of cash if they are insisting that you close at their title company. Take that as a red flag because they've seen a lot of the investors do that. And when I'm looking at the settlement statements when all is said and done, I can see that their title company has charged them far more than what they would have paid had they gone with, you know, that I'm a normal title company that the buyers didn't insist on using. 

TJ McLelland: Interesting.

Mesia Swan: Yes. So, you know, sometimes they'll say it's a total deal breaker. That's an even bigger red flag.

TJ McLelland: Right. Like, let's walk away!

Mesia Swan: If you're at all concerned you can, you can always ask the title company to send you a fee sheet and estimated fee sheet, and then you can see because typically, Utah, if you plan on about a 1% for your title closing costs, you're going to be extra safe. So me, specifically my run about .4% to .6 depending on, you know, the cost of the policy that they want, but Utah and averages is less than .1. I have seen them as high as 4%. 

TJ McLelland: Whoa!

Mesia Swan: Yeah. Already got other fees that you're taking care of. You know, there's no policy in the world that has to be that expensive. So, you know, just be really careful because sometimes these sellers get super excited, and they're like, hey, yeah, let's, take this cash offer. I don't care, will close their title company. No big deal. 

But their bottom line is a pretty big hit. And other reason they need to work with smart agents like you is because you're always going over stuff with me to ensure your clients are protected. They're not getting junk fees from everybody. 

TJ McLelland: Thank you. I appreciate what you said there because it's just the knowledge that we're trying to put out there and educate people that the things that they don't know they could be getting fleeced and not really understand that they are really getting fleeced for 4%, you know and a deal especially now with inflation as high as it is and as property prices have grown so high. 4% is a big deal. 

Mesia Swan: Yeah, nuts are already really difficult. And it's so hard, especially for first-time buyers, younger couples. I mean, it's hard. It's almost impossible. You don't want to be tacking on a bunch of crap to make some rich investor even more rich.

TJ McLelland: Right. For sure, yeah!

Mesia Swan: So for everybody watching, just be careful. Not going investors, just the ones that try to take advantage.

Mesia Swan: Yes.

TJ McLelland: Right. Just the shady ones. Be careful of those, for sure. 

Mesia Swan: Yes.

TJ McLelland: Alright. I guess one, maybe two, final questions. First, have you ever seen some crazy stuff on the title, and what was that? 

Mesia Swan: Crazy things, you know, just some interesting things where they try to share ownership and in lots of different ways. That's been kind of strange. But mostly, it's just really scary when you've got a seller who thinks they have a ton of equity, and they aren't thinking that that equity has to pay for the debt that has been paid against the title. That's a really big fear that I have with sellers.  You know, we've had ones, not necessarily in a seller's market, but before things heated up, it really was you've got to pay off your mortgage. And if you've got property tax debt and a bunch of judgments or hoac judgments, those all add up by the time you're done with all those fees. If you're only walking away with five bucks or you even have to bring money to the table.

TJ McLelland: Right.

Mesia Swan: Want to reconsider whether or not you really want to sell your home? Yeah, that's a big one. And then, just, of course, the other night we're being. The 4% or title fees that are outrageous, junk fees, things like that. So just be aware of that. Other than that, you know, it's just always the fun things that come out of the more rural areas where somebody promised somebody else, you know, certain kind of thing, and you have to go back and dig through, and you find a crumpled up paper that says, Oh yeah, we could keep your horses in your backyard. 400 years or yeah, crazy things like that that are pretty entertaining you have to iron out, but that doesn't happen every, you know, very often. 

TJ McLelland: That's cool. I think one of the big key factors that you just said there was sometimes clients or sellers just don't understand that they do have to make good on all of those liens or judgments against their title because, I know we've had clients in the past that we're like 3 or four make 3 or 400 grand and it's like, well, you have to pay these other things off. And then by the end of it, they're like, I'm really only making 50, and it's like, do you really want to sell now, or do you have to sell? 

So I think that's a really crucial piece educating people that they. They do have to take care of those liens to move the property. And then a long time ago, like you said, there were sellers that had to come to the table with money to close, which is odd to see for me on the settlement statement where both sides are bringing cash to clothes, and it's like, it's like, oh crap, we're in trouble. 

Mesia Swan: Exactly, exactly. And you don't want that to come out at 5 minutes before you sit down at the table, right? Because, you know, now you're legally bound to a buyer to make it happen. So yeah, absolutely. it's something that needs to be caught in the front end, and it's scary. 

TJ McLelland: Yeah, so crazy out there. OK, well, final question. For everybody watching, I just love to introduce people that are on my team that I love to work with, and Mesia is one of the best title reps that I've ever worked with. And so we'll continue to do business with her. But I wanted her to kind of take a moment to tell everybody that's watching what makes her the best and why do we keep going back and using her for her services. 

Mesia Swan: Alright, TJ, thanks. I appreciate that. 

TJ McLelland: You're welcome. 

Mesia Swan: You know, I don't wanna do my own horn and say I am the best, but I do think that I bring to the table some unique qualities, and that is my experience as a licensed real estate agent and, of course being married to a real estate attorney, you know and working with the classes that were set up to get people licensed, I just I have a really good idea of what it all entails. I can see the big picture from a bird's eye view, and it helps so that I can work with the agents and understand your deadlines are important. 

Even though they aren't my deadlines, they really are because they're your deadlines, and we have to be a team and have that good communication, and I can see things from a different perspective. And I also like to tailor my services. You know, I like to be there available 24/7, whereas other title companies work nine to five, real estate is not open, just nine to five. 

TJ McLelland: Yeah, so true. 

Mesia Swan: People aren't always available to sign documents when you needed to. So I go to them it day or night, make it happen because there's a lot at stake. If you missed deadlines or lose interest rate locks or things like that, there's a lot at stake. And I think that having the experience I have, I'm able to understand that better. 

So and I love working with you and your agents because you guys are so thirsty for more knowledge that you come to learn more, and you really do apply it to be a better agent so to protect your clients better. So I love it!

Thank you so much. I have heard two things out of what you just said that we're like boom and they're always things that stand out to me. One is communication is key. Me and you have talked about communication being the key crucial part of real estate in general. I wish more people would just understand that and take that into their heart. 

But number 2 is 24/7 real estate does not happen nine to five, and you're absolutely right about that, which is why everybody that's watching. This is one of the crucial pieces. Why we work with Mesia is because we can get her on the phone anytime because sometimes when you need something in a deal, in a transaction, it's like, hey, I need this right now. Well, it's 11:00 o'clock at night, and it's like, well, we have a question that is going to burn down this transaction if we don't get an answer door fixed right now. 

And things like that happen, and it doesn't happen at that time, but it is nice to have somebody in your back pocket that's like ready to help you when things get crazy and kind of burned down, which does happen sometimes. So I'm super grateful about that. This is why we use Mesia is because we get to come to her anytime, all the time. And then she takes care of us. Enjoy that. I really enjoy that. I just love working with you. 

TJ McLelland: I'm happy to have you as a crucial part of our team, and we do talk about teamwork all the time. We are building that team, and you are a part of that. And I'm just super grateful that you're here with us and just transact close transactions. 

Mesia Swan: Awesome. Well, it's a great team to be a part of, so I appreciate it. 

TJ McLelland: Oh, thank you. Alright, everybody, I'm the broker of fitness Realty. I'm TJ McLelland, and this has been a fun, fun chat and discussion with Mesia Swan, all about the title. She's with Eagle Gate Title. Love you guys, and we'll see you next time. And that's a wrap. Thank you so much for supporting us. We'll see you next time, and we love you!        

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