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Jim Valentine: Names and real estate

By Jim Valentine

When it comes to real estate names can play a large part in it. It begins with the names of the parties.

Many people, particularly in the West, have nicknames that they use on a daily basis and are known by to their friends and public. Their real names can be a surprise, especially if they have no apparent relationship to the nickname they are known by. When you are contracting for real estate you should write the offer in the name in which you intend to take title, which would be your legal name.

What is a legal name? It starts out as the name on your birth certificate, your given name. Names change along the way as marriages occur, adoptions happen, and other things transpire that necessitate or trigger the desire for a name change. It usually comes down to what you can prove to get your drivers license with, i.e.- birth certificate, court name change order, passport, etc. Most people use the initial of their first or second name as a matter of course for signature purposes so if that is the way you sign then take title that way. You can prove your identity when it comes to selling so go with that. 



It is a common practice today to have a family trust, or other such trust entity in which to hold property. You are then a trustee and can use your common name, but it is a good idea to stick with your legal name for legal matters to avoid future complications. This is especially true for your heirs in the event you pass and there are questions about your identity and ownership. You might not like your legal name, but the good thing is few people know that is you so if it shows up on the legal records they likely won’t link it back to you thus affording you a level of security and privacy. 

Names in real estate are also what we call people or things. For instance, we use escrow officers and title officers for the purposes of title research and insurance, and escrow services. When we refer to their company, however, we often say “title company,” or “escrow company” when in fact we are getting both services from one company. Either way is acceptable of course, its just interesting how they are mixed up.



Lenders have a similar situation. We talk about “your lender,” but it is all encompassing for loan officer, loan processor, underwriter, and closing desk all work on your loan for the company you have selected. Each is a separate operation within the same organization and their unique names don’t get used until you hit a speed bump from “the underwriter,” or whichever department is making a demand in their capacity.

It is important when you have a bump in your escrow to understand where it is coming from. If you have “an escrow problem,” is it the escrow officer having trouble reaching a beneficiary to get a payoff demand, or is it the title officer with a glitch in the title? The same goes for the separate branches in the loan process. Find out who is truly making the request and why. Often title matters are presented through the escrow officer as they are the public point of contact, the same as the loan officer on the loan side. They are the conduit of the information, but they aren’t the source of your “problem” if you want to talk somebody to explain or get guidance on how to work through the problem. Work with your agent on such matters, and be sure they know your real name.

From finding a property, or buyer, to the closing of your escrow, real estate is a series of problems that need to be solved. That is the essence of the realtor’s job, solving problems to get you what you want and are bargaining for. Along the way you will find yourself in the “name game,” be sure you know who’s who at the zoo when you are in that position and you will save time and frustration solving the issues in question.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your Real Estate needs… Experience is Priceless! Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704. dpwtigers@hotmail.com