As we approach the beginning of a new year, many of us like to organize, sort and get rid of things that just add clutter to our life. And many of us have multiple files of real estate papers for various transactions we have done throughout the years. Some are current documents for recent transactions. Some are for houses that you have long since sold. And some may be for refinances of previous transactions. Many of us tend to keep the entire package given to us at closing, which just take up space. So the question is, what should you keep and is there anything you can get rid of?
As a title company closer, I personally have purchased, sold and refinanced many properties over the years. I’ve had a tendency to just add each new closing package to the “real estate drawer” where it sits with all the others, taking up space. A few years ago, I found I couldn’t fit one more new folder into my already crammed drawer. So I knew it was time for action!
I started with homes that I no longer owned. From those files, I kept the following: original Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance (this will still protect you down the road as a “warrantor policy” if any title problem rears it’s ugly head); any “paid in full” documents I received from loans paid off (such as “paid in full” marked Notes and Release of Liens plus lender correspondence on that); HUD settlement statement; survey. The remaining documents I shredded.
On properties I still owned but had refinanced, I shredded all prior loan documents in the file for the lender that was paid off, other than the HUD settlement statement. Again, I kept the same “paid in full” documents mentioned above. I combined files and just labeled it the property address and put the purchase documents (minus shredded lender docs) in with the new loan docs. I created a “notation” page on the front of the file that simply reminded me of transactions, such as who the original loan was with, date, the loan amount, interest rate & term, original balance and date of and balance at payoff. I then noted the new loan info on the refinance, such as date of transaction, Lender, new loan amount, interest rate & term. So at a glance, I knew what had transpired on that property without having to keep all of the documents. If you are like me, you may have refinanced the same property more than once and I continued the notes on the front of the file in that way, shredding each set of old loan docs and just retaining what was mentioned before.
On the properties I own and have a current set of loan documents, I purge through those as well. There are important and pertinent documents signed at closing but there are many documents signed that I see no purpose in retaining after a year or so from the original transaction. So for those files, I keep the Owner’s Title Policy, sales contract, HUD 1 settlement statement, survey, Note, amortization schedules and original Warranty Deed. I shred just about everything else, including all the misc. affidavits such as name affidavits, occupancy affidavits, insurance and flood insurance docs, W9 and 4506 tax information forms, and so on. I greatly reduce the size of my file by doing this.
For those of you that are techy, you can take remaining documents and scan them into the cloud or onto a USB drive if you would like. I’m personally not at that point yet but I’m trying! Maybe in 2016.
Branch Manager & Closer
Capital Title of Texas, Willow Bend location