Best Homes Title Agency LLC is a full-service title company offering a wide range of residential and commercial title and escrow services. Established in 2006 with four title professionals, Best Homes Title, headquartered in Farmington Hills, has ballooned to 70 employees and 13 offices covering the entire State of Michigan.

We’re proud of our growth as we approach our first decade in business. It is our goal to be an industry leader in the title and settlement services sector, from the tip of the Upper Peninsula to the state’s southern borders, through the marriage of “old school” customer service and cutting-edge technology. Our team represents the very best of what our industry has to offer: experience, creativity, expedience, and simply the best customer service.

At Best Homes Title and its Commercial Division, BHT Commercial, we put our clients first while standing at the forefront of industry compliance. Best Homes regularly provides continuing education to the mortgage and realtor communities.

Along with our partner, Martindale Hubbell, AV-rated attorney, Peter Schneiderman, Neil Sherman has received a number of recent local and national honors. In 2014, he was named to DBusiness magazine’s “30 in their 30s,” as well as being recognized nationally by HousingWire magazine as a 2014 Real Estate Rising Star.

For Release: June 1, 2015

Contact: Neil Sherman, 248-286-3800


New acquisition drives firm’s focus on offering the best in terms of in-person access as well as the latest in technology

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (June 1, 2015) – In its effort to become one of  Michigan’s largest and most experienced title- and escrow-services company, Best Homes Title announced today that it has grown with its acquisition of Rochester Hills-based Homeowners Title Agency.

This is the company’s largest Metro Detroit expansion, boosting Best Homes Title to 13 full-service offices across the state. Best Homes Title now has more than 75 employees, including an array of industry veterans in the areas of residential and commercial real estate.
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While the recording of Lost Document or Lost Mortgage Affidavits has been a long standing practice, when such an original document appears to have been lost between execution and the intended recording, Case Law and Bankruptcy Trustee challenges have left a lack of clarity as to the validity, enforceability and priority of such Affidavits.  But, after a great deal of hard work spearheaded by the Michigan Land Title Association, the Michigan Legislature recently (finally) passed a series of laws (Public Acts 347, 348 and 349 of 2014), resulting in revisions to MCL 565.201(6) and MCL 565.451a.
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Through the years people have sought economical ways of streamlining succession plans of owning real estate and avoiding the prospect of probate court upon the owner’s demise.  Often this resulted in a parent or parents deeding property to themselves and their heirs or desired successors, as joint tenants with rights of survivorship.  In many cases that achieved the desired goal, passing title to the designated survivor(s) and voiding the time and expense involved with probating an estate.

But such a practice was not without potential issues or problems.  What if: (1) the grantor changed his or her mind as to who should get (or share) the real estate after his or her death?  Of course, there could be numerous factors that might change the relationships or appropriate nature of the grantees.  Perhaps one of the heirs (grantees) moved across the country and thus had no need or interests in the real estate.  What if one of the heirs had been the principal care giver in recent years and was deserving of a greater share?  Or what if there was a falling out between the grantor and one of the heirs?  How could the grantor change his or her mind and undo what had been previously put in place?
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In our last issue we mentioned the Dodd Frank Act and the resulting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  In the CFPB’s efforts to provide easier-to-use mortgage disclosure forms, improve consumer’s understanding  and ability to shop for mortgages, and to prevent surprises at the closing table, the CFPB has created its Know Before You Owe program, and will be combining the elements of the Real Estate Settlement Protection Act (RESPA) and the Truth-in-Lending Act (TILA) into a new Loan Estimate (replacing the GFE) and a Closing Disclosure, which will replace the HUD-1 in August, 2015.  The CFPB also created the Qualified Mortgage (QM) rules for lenders, which we discussed in our last issue, focused on the consumers’ ability-to-repay.

But, real estate investors and individual sellers, considering seller financing as part of their transaction, should know that the QM rules may also apply to them!  The CFPB has issued rules regarding seller financing, which includes carry-back mortgages and land contracts.  Investors and Realtors should be aware of these rules, as they may impact the sellers’ options and obligations.

Essentially, there are two different rules applying to seller financing, which may allow a seller to avoid being characterized as a “loan originator” under the CFPB regulations.  A lender/seller may qualify under the 3-Propety Exclusion (within a 12 month period) or the One-Property Exclusion (1 property in 12 months).  In the 3-Propety Exclusion, the seller financed mortgage (or land contract) must fully amortize (no balloon payment or negative amortization), have a fixed rate of interest or a rate that adjusts no sooner than 5 years, and the lender/seller must determine that the consumer/buyer has a reasonable ability to repay.  The lender/seller may be a natural person or an organization, but must be the owner of the property.  The lender/seller may not be a builder.

In the One-Property Exclusion, only natural persons, their estates or trusts may be the lender/seller (again, they must be the owner).  The repayment schedule may have a balloon payment, but may not have negative amortization.  There is no obligation relative to the buyer’s ability to repay.  It may be a fixed rate financing or adjustable rate with reasonable annual and lifetime limits on rate increases.  The National Association of Realtors issued a bulletin entitled Impact of Loan Originator Final Rule on Seller Financing, which includes more detail on this subject.  Seller (and Realtor) beware.

Third Party Sheriff’s Sale Purchaser Opportunity to Secure During Redemption

Of possible interest to Third Party Sheriff’s Sale Purchasers (or prospective purchasers), seeking to protect and secure their purchased property, in January of this year, MCL 600.3240(13) became effective, which allows a sheriff’s sale purchaser to inspect the interior of the foreclosed property during the redemption period and initiate an action for possession if the inspection indicates that the property is damaged.  MCL 600.3237 and MCL 600.3238, effective June 19, 2014, replace MCL 600.3240(13) and outline the steps a sheriff’s sale purchaser must take in order to lawfully inspect the interior of the foreclosed property and commence an action for possession, during the redemption period.
Before inspecting the interior of the property, the purchaser must serve the mortgagor with two pre-inspection notices.  The second of which must be at least seventy-two (72) hours in advance of the date of inspection.  If the initial inspection of the interior reveals actual or imminent damage to the property, or the inspection is unreasonably refused, the purchaser can then send a notice of the purchaser’s intent to commence an action for possession, unless the property is repaired within seven (7) days after the mortgagor’s receipt of the notice.  MCL 600.3238(11) provides examples of “damage,” including but not limited to local ordinance violations, exterior conditions that present risk of criminal activity on the property, stripped plumbing, electrical wiring, siding, or other metal material, missing or destroyed structural aspects.
The current version of the law provides the investor (third party purchaser), or its counsel, and the courts with greater guidance as to how an investor puts itself in a position to remediate conditions on a “damaged” property prior to expiration of redemption.  With this greater guidance and clarity, local communities will hopefully begin to see investors bid more aggressively on at risk properties.

Endorsements, which add or modify the coverage provided by a title policy, have become more uniform over the years, being sanctioned by the American Land Title Association. Endorsements that were once created and filed locally in Michigan have given way to nationally standardized language.  As such, they are periodically reviewed and occasionally revised by the ALTA forms committee.  While such revisions may often be minor language adjustments, every so often more dramatic changes in the coverage are approved by the ALTA and promulgated nationally.

A prime example of this is the recent revisions of the ALTA 9 Endorsement, once identified as the Restrictions, Encroachments, Minerals (“R.E.M.” or “Comprehensive”) Endorsement.  This Endorsement was first used in the 1980’s to bundle affirmative coverages, which most lenders routinely requested in connection with matters shown on Schedule B of the Loan Policy or were not covered by that policy.  It insured the holder of the indebtedness (the lender) against loss or damage resulting from a number of potential adverse matters.

Those matters included possible violations of covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs), encroachments of the improvements onto adjoining land or into easements on the land, and damage to existing improvements as a result of the exercise of mineral rights for extraction or development. Similar, although more limited coverage of this sort was later provided with Owner’s Policies – the ALTA 9.1 for improved land and the ALTA 9.2 for unimproved land.

The ALTA forms committee has carved up and created several variations of the former ALTA 9, resulting in a virtual menu of ALTA 9 Endorsements, including variations when the property is under development or has existing improvements.  The issue of enforceable “Private Rights” is another issue that may be afforded coverage for a Loan Policy.  And, the new ALTA 9.1 and 9.2 Endorsements now only provide CC&R coverage.  There are separate endorsements created to deal with coverage for encroachments and the exercise of mineral rights.  Through this all, the basic ALTA 9 for Loan Policies is still intact. But, it becomes rather clear that the endorsement landscape is a continually changing one.  Check with your experienced commercial title professional at BHT Commercial, if you have any endorsement or title coverage questions.

BHT Commercial is the commercial division of Best Homes Title Agency, LLC, a full service title agency, providing comprehensive title and settlement services for residential and commercial real estate transactions. While the name Best Homes might suggest a strong dedication to residential transactions, BHT Commercial has the personnel, experience and applied technology to handle all types of real estate transactions – commercial, industrial and developmental, as well as default, new construction and extraordinary situations.

Led by Chief Operations Officer, Allan Dick, with over 40 years of commercial title insurance experience with local, national and multi-site transactions, BHT Commercial’s staff of dedicated commercial real estate experts include Attorney-President Neil Sherman and Attorney-Vice President Peter Schneiderman. Peter has well over 30 years of experience with commercial transactions, representing lenders, developers and commercial realtors, as well as Best Homes Title Agency.

Allan Dick’s background includes having been senior underwriter for three major title insurance underwriters, national accounts division manager for First American Title Insurance Company and is currently President of the Michigan Land Title Association. With a hands-on approach, he has underwritten, coordinated closed a wide variety of commercial transactions.

With the help of a strong support staff of some 40 title and escrow personnel, BHT Commercial and Best Homes Title Agency, LLC have the experience, expertise and staff to provide the very best in title and closing services for commercial real estate transactions of all types and sizes

When it comes to retail and residential title and closings, we understand the customer service that is needed to keep production at its best and clients’ expectations met and exceeded. One of the things that we pride ourselves on at Best Homes Title is that, since we have opened in 2006, our escrow department has continued to grow in all aspects, including REO, Retail, Commercial, and REFI business, which includes an exceptional support staff.

We pride ourselves on the hands-on approach from the time a file comes in until it is complete. This hands-on approach means having one main contact on our retail files, which we have found to be very important to our local clients. In addition, our office is very flexible and will send a closer out to ANY location requested by the local client to help accommodate our clients on any Purchase, REO, Commercial, REFI, FISBO and Retail Cash Deals.

Primary Services

  • Owner and Lender Title Insurance
  • Residential and Commercial Closings
  • Escrow Agent
  • For Sale By Owner
  • Title Searches
  • Foreclosure Guarantees

Additional Services

  • Online Ordering
  • Office Hours 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Home/Workplace Closings
  • Eleven Closing Locations in throughout Michigan
  • Evening and Weekend Closings
  • Staff Attorneys
  • Ultra-mobile Professional Closers (accessible by email or cell phone)

Best Homes Title Customers Have Online Access To

  • Place new orders
  • View up-to-the-minute file status
  • View and print closing and title documents
  • Share documents
Grand Rapids

FARMINGTON HILLS, MI — Best Homes Title Agency announced on Thursday, Jan. 3, that it has acquired The Closing Office Title Agency of Grand Rapids.

“We’re so proud to be further expanding our reach across Michigan with the addition of a Grand Rapids office,” said Best Homes Title President and Co-Founder Neil Sherman. “But even more so, we are thrilled to be acquiring an agency with as stellar a reputation as The Closing Agency.”

With the acquisition, Best Homes Title will now operate The Closing Office Title Agency’s six offices in Grand Rapids, Portland, Grandville, Rockford, Newaygo and Kentwood.

“We enjoy a shared work ethic, growth strategy and experienced professional teams that are committed to providing superior customer service. It’s a win for us, and for our collective current and prospective clients,” Sherman said.

Founded in 2006 by Sherman and Peter Schneiderman, Best Homes Title has 45 employees between its headquarters in Farmington Hills and office in Saginaw. The addition of The Closing Office team will increase their total staff to 60.

“Joining the Best Homes Title team means only good things for our customers,” said Wes Parkinson, President of The Closing Office. “Our team will be able to offer expanded insurance solutions, and clients will benefit from access to even greater statewide services; a tremendous asset moving forward.”

Source: MILive.com