The SMPR difference – Experience. Expertise. Integrity.
SMPR Title Agency is a New York Title Insurance company. Our Title Insurance Agency is composed of real estate experts who provide our clients with comprehensive property transaction services including: Property Title Insurance, Mortgage Lender Insurance, Title Searches and Documentation Preparation Services.
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When you purchase a property in New York, you get more than just the land; you acquire a set of rights, restrictions and obligations that specify how you can use or enjoy that land, now and in the future. These are legally attached to the property, and are passed forward from owner to owner. With every successive possession, title can be affected by events as simple as refinancing or failure to pay taxes, or as complicated as an easement granted to a utility or a neighbor, or a reservation made in a life estate.
Sneeringer Monahan Provost Redgrave Title Agency, Inc., is upstate New York’s oldest, largest and most respected title agency. Our mission is to provide you with a secure title for a secure investment. How do we accomplish this?
- We search backwards in the chain of title to uncover any and all known title issues that could impact your wallet or your enjoyment of your property;
- We work diligently with all parties to collect payment for back liens, taxes or judgments, and clear title issues before you close on the property;
- We provide you with title insurance that covers you in case unknown title issues still exist that might jeopardize your finances or your ownership now or in the future;
- We maintain a title plant covering thousands of local titles, compiled throughout our 50 years of servicing the region; and
- We are here to facilitate your title needs today; and we will be here to answer your questions and address your needs if a problem occurs in the future.
- We are agents for the largest title companies and underwriters, in the United States. This matters to you because the money to defend and settle any claims is based on their financial strength
The Searching Process
Our work begins with a detailed examination of historical public records to find unpaid taxes or liens, outstanding mortgages, judgments, utility or other easements, and any other restrictions jeopardizing your use or enjoyment of the property. To uncover these, we start with our own historical records. We have been in the area so long, chances are good that we searched your property in the past. We carefully note any special circumstances such as past incorrect indexes, multiple spellings, and other issues. We then search state, county and municipal records, online and in person, looking for any details in public records that might affect you. These are then set out in our title commitment (title report), which notifies all parties of the steps that need to be taken to clear title issues prior to closing. Many of these are common, such as:
- securing a mortgage satisfaction or payoff figures to clear the seller’s mortgage lien against the property;
- identifying funds needed to pay off taxes, judgments, liens, warrants, or other items that have attached to the property; or
- correcting deeds or other documents requiring corrective measures
At the closing, we verify the identify of all parties, proofread all documents to be recorded, ensure all appropriate funds have been collected to record or file the documents, and record those documents immediately with the appropriate clerk or agency.
Hidden Defects and Hazards
All the searching we do is intended to find and clear known title issues. But no matter how thorough the title searching process is, there is always a chance that hidden defects or hazards in title could surface to challenge your ownership in the future. These are items that could not be found in public records, and are only discovered if someone brings forward a claim of ownership or other rights to your property. These are disturbingly common, especially in these troubled times, and can include:
- Human error
- Incorrect recording or indexing at the county clerk’s office, resulting in liens against your property not yet attached to the property
- Open taxes that were misreported as paid
- Mortgages and deeds indexed under an incorrect spelling
- Incorrect deeds that neglected to show reservations of life estates, easements, restrictions, or exceptions carried forward from previous deeds
- Errors, confusion, or fraud regarding similar names (such as Jr., III, Sr., etc.)
- Forgery of a spouse’s signature
- A fake death certificate presented to hide a living heir or part owner
- A counterfeit will
- Use of an expired or voided power of attorney
- Changes in Status
- A challenge to the mental competence or legal age of a prior seller
- An unrecorded private mortgage or lien brought forward by the lien holder
- The sudden appearance of unknown heirs (people presumed dead, illegitimate children, stepchildren)
- Discovery of a will of a person presumed to have died intestate
- Legal technicalities which might reverse or void a judgment upon which title rests
In addition to searching title, correcting known defects, and recording the documents, SMPR offers title insurance policies to protect your investment. Only a policy of title insurance can protect you from financial damages due to hidden defects and hazards such as those noted above. Without such a policy, defending any claim to your ownership can be prohibitively expensive and extremely complicated; but with an owner’s title insurance policy, you receive free expert legal defense of title; and in case of a loss, the title insurer (Underwriter) will reimburse you up to the full value of your policy.
Title Insurance Policy Types
Mortgage or Loan Policy
When you purchase a property In New York, your lender requires you to purchase title insurance that covers the lenders’ equity in the property. As the loan is paid off, the value of the policy declines to zero. The mortgage title policy assures only the lender that they will suffer no financial loss due to any title claim.
Owners or Fee Policy
An owner’s policy protects your equity up to the full sale price of the property. A separate market value rider can also be purchased to insure the inflation-adjusted full market value of the property as the amount rises over time. Unlike the mortgage policy, the owner’s policy value does not decline over time; and it never needs to be renewed. Your owner’s policy insures your secure title to the property for as long as you own it, forever. That means if a title claim were to arise on the property and an action was initiated against you, even long after the mortgage was paid off or years after you sold it, you and your heirs would still be covered by your original owner’s policy.
Too many people, including some attorneys, believe that the front-end title search work that clears known issues from title, and the purchase of a mortgage policy for the lender to insure against hidden defects and hazards, together sufficiently cover the buyer from risk of a title claim. Sadly, they do not realize the gravity of this error until a title claim has arisen. The truth is most title claims do not rise to the bank’s concern. A neighbor’s encroachment, the discovery of an easement or restricted use, improperly indexed tax records, and many other title claims, may affect your financial interest in the property, but not the lender’s.
If a challenge to your ownership does cause the lender to file a title insurance claim, you may benefit from the free defense mounted on the bank’s behalf; however, if the defense were to ultimately fail, the underwriter would reimburse the lender’s mortgage; but the underwriter could then take over the note; in such a worst case scenario, you could lose the property yet still have to make payments on it!
Furthermore, without an owner’s policy:
- You become a self-insurer of your property’s title
- You would become financially responsible for defending or initiating a claim, and would further be responsible for correcting title prior to selling or refinancing the property
- You will need to find expert legal representation for any title claim, as your real estate attorney may know little about complex title claims
Fraud, past bankruptcies, multiple refinances and human and computer errors impact so many real estate transactions, that a one-time purchase of an owner’s policy of title insurance is one of the least expensive yet most important forms of insurance you can buy. And if you purchase it at your closing concurrently with the mortgage policy, you get a very significant discount.
Are your prices competitive?
Rates for all title insurance premiums in NY are filed with and approved by the State. There is little or no variation in rates between underwriters. However, the quality of the service performed varies greatly. Why not choose the best title insurance company to protect your most valuable asset? Quality Matters.
If you’re insuring title to the property, it must be clear, right?
We search a property to discover all known defects. If they can’t be cleared, you can choose to either live with the known title issue, or walk away from purchasing the property. If you purchase the property, only title insurance protects you against any mistakes made in searching, and any hidden defects and hazards that were not in the public record.
My seller has an owner’s policy. Does that protect me?
No. The seller might have encumbered the property many times since the policy was issued. And if the title issue affecting you predates the seller’s ownership, the title company would actually be required to defend the seller in any action you bring.
What if I have no equity in the property?
Your policy still covers your free expert defense of any and all title claims; and as your equity grows, so does the value of your policy, up to the original purchase price.
Am I safe from a title claim if the property I’m buying has been in the same family for ages?
Some of the most tangled title claims arise in such long-held assets from split interests, unrecorded private mortgages, newly discovered wills or heirs, and frauds and forgeries stemming from divorce or other family arguments.
Can my bank or my attorney require me to use their affiliated title firm for searching and insurance?
No. Even if you purchase only a mortgage policy, you retain the absolute right to choose the title company and agent.
Make sure your title insurance provider performs their own title searches, will be around in the future should a claim arise, and is large enough to be able to deal effectively with the underwriters in the event of a claim. This will ensure that you get the best title product for your money, since all title rates are regulated in New York.
What makes SMPR Title better?
When comparing title agencies, ask others how long they’ve done title, how many title specialists they employ locally, and how many title policies they wrote last year. SMPR’s own employees search records in over fourteen county clerks’ offices, dozens of municipalities, state archives, and our own archives; our title professionals carefully read title documents and review the title commitment; our own staff produces all title reports and policies. We continuously work with buyers’ and sellers’ attorneys to explain and clear known title issues, and prepare quality title commitments and policies. SMPR closes thousands of transactions per year.
We’ve been doing title for nearly 50 years; and no one knows the land title issues in this area better than we do. Our expert knowledge and excellent work greatly reduces our claims rates, which is why four of the largest title underwriters in the United States compete for our business on every file. This means you can rest assured because:
- All known title issues have been raised and brought to your attention prior to closing;
- In case of a claim the defense provided by the underwriter will be assisted by SMPR, experts whose only business is title; and
- You are backed by an agency that has long standing relationships with the nation’s largest underwriters, whose substantial financial resources will fully compensate you in case of financial loss.
Quality matters, and Sneeringer Monahan Provost Redgrave provides the best title services in upstate New York. For more information, visit us at www.smprtitle.com or call us at one of our area offices listed below:
Who Needs It: Everyone.
What Is It: Title insurance protects you in the event that your ownership of and rights to a property are challenged. This happens for a number of reasons, almost all of them having to do with a previous owner. Before you buy any property, you want to make sure it has a clean title.
Usually, your attorney or your bank’s attorney will order a title search and title insurance. A title search is a detailed examination of historical public records, including deeds, mortgages, court record, property and name indices, and other public documents. It reports the current owner’s name and encumbrances on the property, such as unpaid taxes or liens, outstanding mortgages, judgments, utility or other easements, and any other restrictions limiting the owner’s use or enjoyment of the land. SMPR prepares a title report from the information provided by the title search and a title insurance policy is issued after the closing of title and after all matters affecting title have been properly disposed of by the experienced professionals at SMPR.
Protection and Ownership Rights for Commercial, Real Estate, Land and Residential Property
Why It Matters: If a claim is made against your rights to a property, you could end up with staggering legal fees, paying someone else’s back taxes or debts, and possibly be barred from living in or using the property you purchased. Title insurance provides the mechanism by which monetary compensation to the insured can be made in the event of a claim against title, therefore protecting you and your investment from potentially devastating circumstances.
The SMPR Difference: When it comes to title insurance, SMPR works for you to ensure your largest investment is protected. Through the experience of closing thousands of transactions per year, our employees are highly trained to do a thorough search of records in over fourteen county clerks’ offices, dozens of municipalities, state archives, and our own archives. From there, our title professionals carefully read title documents and review the title commitment before producing the title reports and policies.
We continuously work with buyers’ and sellers’ attorneys to not only ensure each party clearly understands the title issues, but to find solutions to any title matters that are raised.
Who Needs It: Anyone looking to buy a home or property.
What Is It: An owner’s title insurance policy protects you as the property owner and your equity up to the full sale price of the property. Unlike mortgage policies, owner’s policies do not decline in value over time. A separate market value rider can also be purchased with the owner’s policy, to keep pace with inflation and insure to the full market value of the property as it rises over time.
Moreover, an owner’s title insurance policy premium is paid just once, and covers you forever, not just for the duration of your ownership of the property. It provides you with:
- Free expert legal defense of title in case of a claim.
- Reimbursement, from the title insurer (underwriter), up to the full value of the sold property if the defense should fail.
- Long-term peace of mind. If a title claim is ever initiated against you, even after you have sold the property, you and your heirs will still be covered by your owner’s policy on that property.
Only an owner’s title insurance policy can protect you from financial damages as a result of a claim against your ownership. For these reasons, an owner’s title insurance policy is perhaps among the least expensive, yet most important insurance you can buy.
Before Purchasing A Home Or Property Ensure You Have Fee/Owner Title Insurance
Why It Matters: Most of us finance a property through a bank or mortgage company. These lenders have title insurance to protect their investments, but it is important to know that these policies do not cover you.
Many people mistakenly believe that the lender’s policy covers the buyer from the risk of a title claim. But most title claims do not affect the bank’s interest in the property. A neighbor’s encroachment, the discovery of an easement, improperly indexed tax records, or restrictions on your use, may affect your financial interest in the property, but not the lender’s.
The SMPR Difference: For over fifty years, SMPR has been insuring titles throughout New York and neighboring states. We perform an exhaustive research process on a property’s history and guide each client through the complex demands of modern real estate transactions.
Who Needs It: Mortgage lenders.
What Is It: A mortgage lender’s policy protects the lender’s equity in the property, which is usually less than the full market value of the property. As the loan is paid off, the value of the policy declines to zero.
Who Pays For It? You as the borrower pay for the lenders title insurance policy, which is why you have a choice to select the title company you want to handle your investment. Some attorneys, realtors or lenders have business relationships with title companies and in some instances benefit financially when you have them choose your title agency. During this process, we recommend that you shop around for service based on industry knowledge and local market expertise.
Why It Matters: Your mortgage lender also has a great financial interest in the property you are buying. Just as you do, lenders rely on professionals to keep them safe from title problems. The mortgage/lender’s policy helps ensure that the lender will not suffer a financial loss due to any title claim.
Mortgage Lenders Need Protection Too – Learn How We Can Help
The SMPR Difference: In our fifty-years of experience, we have mastered every variation of title insurance. We offer flexible services that are tailored to fit your needs, regardless of lender or loan type. With four regional branches for convenient service, expedient closings, and local insights, we offer streamlined product delivery and expert guidance that only comes with a tradition of success and integrity. We have a highly skilled and experienced team in each office available to guide you and work through clearing matters throughout the transaction.
Who Needs It: A party or tenant entering into an agreement granting the use or occupancy of land during a specified period of time in exchange for rent.
What Is It: A leasehold policy insures either the owner of a leasehold estate or a lender making a loan secured by a mortgage on the leasehold estate with respect to the title of the property. If a tenant is prevented from using a property because of an insured title matter, the tenant will be covered under this title insurance policy.
Why It Matters: If, in computing loss or damage, it becomes necessary to value the estate or interest of the insured as a result of a covered matter that results in an eviction, the insured may collect the value of the remaining lease term of the leasehold estate.
The tenant may also recover incidental damages, including the following: Reasonable costs of relocating any personal property, rent or damages that the insured might be obligated to pay to any other person who has paramount title to the landlord’s lease, the fair market value of any lease or sublease that the insured had in place at the time of the eviction and reasonable costs in securing a replacement lease, which should include brokerage commissions, costs to obtain zoning and other approvals, architectural and engineering fees, attorney fees and other consulting fees incurred.
Do Not Assume Estate Owners Have Good Titles To Leased Properties
The SMPR Difference: A leasehold policy, particularly for businesses, can be extraordinarily complex and any problems that arise with the title can be even more so. SMPR’s Eugene M. Sneeringer Jr. offers unparalleled expertise in leaseholds coupled with a long tradition of integrity. You can rely on us to be there, and you can count on exceptional guidance throughout the transaction.
Who Needs It: Anyone who owns or is looking to purchase a cooperative unit.
What Is It: As the owner of a co-operative unit, you receive shares of stock in the corporation that owns the building you live in. As a result, a co-op insurance policy is unique. It protects against loss and legal expenses resulting from claims from a previous owner’s creditors, bankruptcy status, or issues with the co-op itself.
Why It Matters: If you own a co-operative unit, it is considered personal property and so it is exposed to a different set of risks than usual ownership. There are a couple of ways your co-op unit could be jeopardized by hidden defects or hazards, including:
- Whenever you are buying a co-operative unit that has been the subject of foreclosure
- Buying from an estate
Under these circumstances, the potential for title problems increase.
When Owning A Co-op Unit You’re Subjected To Unique Types Of Ownership Risks
For example, if a foreclosure was not handled properly, or if all potential heirs or beneficiaries to an estate were not identified, that could significantly affect the buyer’s ownership interest in the apartment.
The SMPR Difference: SMPR has provided co-operative leasehold owner insurance and co-operative leasehold mortgage lender insurance for decades. Our depth of experience will give you the peace of mind needed for these unique transactions.
Who Needs It: Buyers and mortgage lenders.
What Is It: Both professional title settlement and loan closing services are often (but not always) provided by a title insurance company. This process entails researching the title for hazards and defects, working with the necessary parties to ensure all details (collection of recording fees, taxes, payoff of existing loans and liens) have been completed in preparation for the closing and final signatures.
Why It Matters: Mortgage lenders need a company they can trust to manage the closing process. They need to be certain that the closing company handles the process meticulously. The buyer, on the other hand, needs guidance as well as expertise. Closing day can be a blur for many people. The perfect closing company will not just run the numbers and cross the T’s, but also make the process less confusing and more pleasant.
Protect Yourself from Previous Hazards and Defects Prior Before You Sign
Whether you have a straightforward mortgage loan closing, home equity mortgage loan closing, or simply a witness closing, we have the experience and flexibility to close loans efficiently and conveniently. We offer several closing locations, experienced real estate attorneys on staff to answer any and all questions, and the resources and expertise to handle every type of residential or commercial closing.
The SMPR Difference: We work and live in the same communities as our customers. Our customers are our neighbors, our children’s classmates and our friends. That is why it is important to us to have an honest, diligent work ethic.
Who Needs It: Anyone involved in a commercial, industrial, or residential property closing.
What Is It: Escrow simply means that an impartial third party is responsible for holding funds or documents for a transaction and then disbursing them only after certain agreed upon requirements are met. Basically, it allows a buyer to show his or her commitment by giving the money to a secure, uninvolved party, but also ensures that the seller fulfills his or her promises.
Why It Matters: All transactions are subject to contracts and other agreements. Escrow allows all involved parties to negotiate specific terms and deliverables from the outset. The escrow agreement is the set of instructions the escrow agent uses to verify that all requirements have been satisfied and distribute the funds appropriately and efficiently.
Choose A Title Agency You Trust To Handle Finances In Real Estate Transactions
The SMPR Difference: Over our long history, both individual and commercial clients have come to rely on SMPR for the safety and security of their escrow investments. This is because SMPR works not only as an escrow gatekeeper, but as a liaison, communicating with all parties to facilitate the closing process while protecting all involved parties in honoring and executing escrow agreements.
Who Needs It: Buyers and sellers involved in a mortgage or loan closing.
What Is It: The providing of a notary public for the limited purpose of obtaining signatures and proofs of identity at real estate closings.
Why It Matters: Any loan or mortgage closing is required by law to be witnessed by a notary public.
We’ll Be There When A Notary Is Needed To Close Your Loan or Mortgage
The SMPR Difference: We have four convenient locations with a number of qualified notary publics ready to close your loan or mortgage. And when needed, we are happy to travel to other locations.
Who Needs It: Anyone looking for specific real estate documents professionally prepared. Most often this pertains to real estate related businesses.
What Is It: Any real estate transaction, commercial, industrial, or residential, requires a host of specific forms. These forms are often complicated and time consuming to prepare. Document preparation ensures that documents are prepared correctly by knowledgeable professionals.
Why It Matters: Even the simplest of real estate transactions is still a complex system of forms, agreements, and contracts. It is critical to have all necessary documents thoroughly prepared and reviewed by a qualified professional.
Rely On Us For Help With Complicated Real Estate and Property Transactions Forms
The SMPR Difference: With over fifty years of experience dealing exclusively with real estate and a full staff of attorneys, and researchers, all your documents are prepared with unmatched expertise.
We offer multiple, convenient, technologically advanced ways for you get the important documents you need to maximize your business and secure your transactions. Long gone are the days of snail mail, we are able to send documents via the method of your choice (scan, email, fax, downloadable forms, etc.).
Who Needs It: Mortgage lenders anticipating foreclosure on a property.
What Is It: A foreclosure guarantee is a report on the property about to be foreclosed. It includes all tax information, a legal description of the mortgaged property and the mortgage to be foreclosed, and a listing of all parties who need to be named in the foreclosure. In addition, a foreclosure guarantee will certify the title of the property and note any “exceptions to title of record subsequent to the recorded mortgage.”
Why It Matters: Foreclosures are increasingly complex actions and are coming under more and more legal scrutiny. It is critically important that all necessary parties be identified so that they can be legally sound with notice of the proceeding to the foreclosure.
Our Services Report All Tax Information, Legal Description and Mortgage Amount
The SMPR Difference: SMPR takes the utmost care when searching for defects, hazards, or liabilities with a foreclosed property title. Our employees search records, read title documents and produce all reports and policies. We provide a timely and comprehensive report to better enable you to protect your investment.
Who Needs It: Potential Buyers
What Is It: A title search involves examining the records in the county clerk’s office in the county in which the subject property is located. This includes searches into deeds, notes, liens, and outstanding taxes, but can also extend to judicial records, franchise taxes, and Uniform Commercial Code.
Why It Matters: The more comprehensive the search, the more likely it is that you will discover any problems with a title before purchase. A potential buyer of property can request a preliminary title search before they sign a contract or during the due diligence period.
Comprehensive Searches Examine All Public Records For Desired Real Estate Purchases
The SMPR Difference: SMPR staff has access to public records in all counties of New York State. We offer comprehensive and in-depth title searches performed by full-time staff researchers. Our staff specializes in thorough, proactive, and affordable research.