Is your wordpress site mobile ready?

Make WordPress Site Mobile Ready

How do I make my wordpress website easier to read on mobile devices?  Having the answer to that question has become more important as we have studied smartphone usage statistics and  considered our tech savvy real estate client base in the Puget Sound area.  In a nutshell, a large portion of our clients (and future clients) are seeing us online through the filter of a 4-inch screen in their hand.  And consciously or not, they’re making judgements about us based on how we appear.

Smartphones are about to dominate the market
Have you observed people and their smartphones lately? It seems everyone has one and they’re always in hand. If you remember our recent post regarding Ticor’s ability to receive title & escrow and customer service requests via text, you’ll remember that experts are expecting smartphones to garner the lion’s share of the mobile device market by the end of 2011. And what are people doing all day on their smartphones? They’re doing all the usual smartphone things… They’re texting, calling, gaming, reading emails, using apps, and looking at websites.

The problem of browsing the web via Smartphone
Have you ever looked at a website on a smart phone? It’s quite an experience because you never know how things are going to turn out as you browse from one site to another. Sometimes you get lucky and the website is so simple (like craigslist) that it looks normal on even an old-school blackberry. But even on the latest phones with larger touch-screens, you’ll find websites with strange columns of text or split pictures that appear for no apparent reason, making things very hard to read. And if there’s flash on the site, good luck…

Screen shot of mobile ready website

The Good News
We don’t have a solution for the world’s mobile browsing problems. But we do have a solution that we’ve applied to our WordPress site (this site).  Back in 2010, at RE BarCamp in Seattle, Mike Mueller shared a few of his favorite wordpress plugins and one of them happened to be a plugin that makes wordpress sites easy on the mobile browser.  At the time that was a ‘stupiphany’ for us.  Duh!  There’s a wordpress plugin for everything.  Of course there would be one that would make our site mobile ready!

Since that time, we have tested a few mobile-ready plugins and settled on one called WPTouch that we are very pleased with.  It provides a mobile ready look and feel for the most popular mobile platforms and it provides an intuitive set up with options for colors, drop-down menus, individual page icons, and the inclusion or exclusion of pages from the mobile site.

So if you’re a mobile user, we’d love to hear your feedback on how usable our site is on your mobile device.  Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

Product Spotlight – Ticor Pocket Profile App

Ticor Pocket Profile App ScreenshotWith Ticor Title’s Pocket Profile application, real estate professionals can get immediate property information on their iPhone or iPad. By entering a property address, owners’ name, assessor’s parcel number (APN) or search nearby properties, Ticor Title’s Pocket Profile can provide real time access to valuable property information.

There are two steps to getting started:
Install the app on your phone
Call this number and ask for a Ticor Representative to activate your account: (425)-255-7575

Get Ticor Pocket Profile for your Smartphone today!

Ticor Pocket Profile for iPhone

Ticor Pocket Profile for Android

Ticor Pocket Profile for Blackberry

What is a Plat? And what should I know as a home buyer?

What is a plat?

A plat is another name for a subdivision. For example, Fircrest is a well known city of about 6,000 near Tacoma. Residents know that Fircrest is not just one neighborhood, but a combination of many unique, smaller communities. And usually, these neighborhoods are named from a subdivision, or plat, that defines the land within a specific area. So, Fircrest residents may think of their particular neighborhood as Fir Tree Park, Linden Manor, Regents Park, or Monterey Park. Each of these ‘neighborhoods’ started as a ‘plat’ or ‘subdivision.’

Seeing a copy of the plat is important because it provides information that may not be recorded anywhere else. Often ‘the plat’ provides specific locations of lots and other features in a visual way on the survey map. Seeing an easement drawn on a map is easier for most of us to understand than reading the legal description would be. Also, a plat creates simple and logical legal descriptions for lots which are far less prone to error or misinterpretation than are metes and bounds legals.

Plat Map Markers

Click to Download the Interactive Plat Map

5 benefits or restrictions you may see on the face of the plat (download interactive map):

  1. Utility easements: can be for power, water, sewer, phones, cable
  2. Access easements
  3. Greenbelts, Native Growth Protection Easement/Area (NGPE/NGPA) open space
  4. Recreation areas: some plats contain features like playgrounds or bridle trails
  5. Monuments and dimensions for measuring and identifying lot boundaries

The notes section or the map may contain valuable information about:

  • Who is responsible for maintenance of common areas
  • Who can use specific tracts and for what purpose
  • Which tracts will remain as greenbelts and which are designated for future development

Do you have questions about a particular plat? Need some help, understanding some of the important items on a plat? Ticor Property Information Specialists are at your service!

Click here to download the interactive plat map.

Ticor Email for Property Info:
Ticor Seattle / Renton: 206-720-6969 / 425-255-6969
Ticor Bellevue: 425-467-0377
Ticor Puyallup / Pierce County: 253-383-0055
Ticor International: 425-204-5113

Note: Some charges may apply, in accordance with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Guidelines, but profile, map and deed are always free.

*Correction 4-26-2011 – Fircrest is a city near Tacoma, not a neighborhood in Tacoma.

Why do I need escrow? The escrow process in plain english.

When purchasing your first home, the escrow process can be a little confusing. Buyers and sellers may find themselves asking, “What is escrow and why is it needed?”

With that in mind we’ve formulated a brief synopsis of the escrow process in plain english.

An Unbiased Third Party

When buying or selling real estate, escrow is often opened for protection and ease. The escrow agent is setup as a disinterested third party and performs mulitple tasks, as directed, by the parties involved in the transaction. Some of these items include, holding of legal documents, disbursement of funds on the buyer or sellers behalf and distribution of funds in accordance with the instructions set forth by the buyer and seller. Both the buyer and the seller rely on the escrow holder to fulfill the intention of their instructions with consistency and in good faith.

The convenience provided by the escrow holder is realized by buyer and seller due to the fact that both parties can move forward independently, but in parallel to close the transaction. The idea is such that either party can submit inspections, loan commitments, funds, deeds and other items pertinent to the transaction’s closing. When all insructions are in order and consistent, escrow facilitates a seamless closing.

Summary: The Purpose of Escrow

The process of escrow was established to facilitate the purchase and sale of real estate. Here’s a brief outline of the escrow holder’s duties in a transaction:

• Act as the impartial “stakeholder,” or depository of documents and funds
• Process and coordinate the flow of documents and funds
• Keep all parties informed of progress regarding the transaction
• Respond to lender requirements
• Secure title insurance policy
• Obtain approval of reports and documents from the parties as required
• Proration and adjustment of insurance, taxes, rents, etc.
• Record the deed and loan documents
• Maintain security and accountability of monies owed and owing

Do you have questions or comments regarding the escrow process? Please share below.

A Policy by any Other Name – ALTA Homeowner’s Policy Demystified

Homebuyers choose ALTA Homeowners Title Insurance Coverage

What are the differences between Title Insurance Policies?

What kind of title insurance policy should the real estate buyer get? Does it make a difference? Is there a cost difference?

There are different types of title insurance policies with different coverages. In the past, standard or extended policies were the norm, but the Homeowner’s Policy (“ALTA Homeowner’s Policy for One-to-Four Family Residence”) has become the new standard for residential transactions. This expanded coverage policy is the default policy called for in Paragraph “e” of the NWMLS Residential Purchase and Sale Agreement. It is the best choice in most residential transactions involving platted lots with an existing home. But it’s not available for all transactions, including waterfront homes, large acreage, or if the buyer is a corporation.

The Homeowner’s Policy Benefits

The Homeowner’s policy offers significant benefits in three respects: First, affirmative coverages are built right into to the policy for such things as off-record survey related matters, the existence or impact of easements, boundaries and encroachments. And it includes significant areas not previously covered by title insurance, such as certain zoning problems (including relating to building permits) and platting irregularities. Second, the policy is written in “plain language.” It has never been easier to interpret the title policy’s “fine print”.   And finally, for the first time some limited coverages are available for future events historically excluded from policies – including, for example, you discover the former owner didn’t get a building permit for the out building that the County has now red tagged.


There may be a trade-off though because some covered matters have deductibles – either a stated percentage or a dollar amount, whichever is less. It is important for the Realtor® to remember that the benefit would be valuable only if (1) a defect was not subject to a deductible, or (2) if the cost of taking care of it exceeded the deductible. In other words, if the loss is lower than the deductible, no payment would be made under the policy even if the claim would otherwise be covered. If it exceeds the dollar limit only the amount between the deductible and that limit would be covered.

For example, assume the owner has to spend $2000 to remove and rebuild a wall and fence because they encroach onto the neighbor’s land. While it’s covered by the policy there is a $2500 deductible. So, none of the cost is reimbursable. Now, if the cost was $5000, then reimbursement would be available for $2500 – the first $2500 is the owner’s responsibility because of the deductible, and the coverage caps out at $5000.

In the example above, the extended coverage policy would have been an appropriate option – it costs more initially, but there are no deductibles in the event of a covered claim. Ultimately, a buyer who has questions about the different types of policies can contact a Ticor Title representative or if they are concerned about which policy would be best suited to a transaction should seek legal advice.

The Home Buyer Has A Choice

Even though the Homeowner’s policy is an excellent choice the Realtor® should always make sure that the buyer and seller understand that there are options to choose from.   If another form is desired by the buyer it must be addressed in the purchase and sale agreement, and then it must be confirmed that the title commitment actually reflects the correct policy.

Do you have questions or comments about the ALTA Homeowner’s policy?

Please share by commenting below!

Receive Recorders office holiday schedule via text

We’re launching a new service that will remind you via text message when the King County, Pierce County and Snohomish County Recorders’ Offices are closed for holidays!

Just text the word ‘RECORDER’ to the number 47170.

Recorders office holiday schedule King Pierce Snohomish County

Download The Recorders Office Schedule

The King Pierce and Snohomish county recorders’ offices will be closed for a total of nine holidays in 2011. And we all know that when the recorders offices are closed, it can affect the closing of our real estate transactions. So for your convenience we’ve put together an at-a-glance calendar that clearly shows the holiday schedule. That nice looking calendar can be downloaded by clicking the image to the right.

But wouldn’t it be better if you could just simply be reminded a few days in advance of when the Recorders’ offices will be closed for holidays? How about a text message reminder right to your phone?

Here’s how it works.

If you would like to receive a text message that reminds you of the recorders’ office holiday schedule, just text the word ‘RECORDER‘ to the number 47170. You’ll recieve a welcome message once you subscribe. Then three days prior to every Recorders office holiday closure date, you’ll get a short text message reminding you of the day and date of the closure.

Try it today! Text the word ‘RECORDER‘ to the number 47170

Or simply click on the button below to subscribe right now…

These are the dates that the recorders offices are closed during 2011

Monday, January 17
Monday, February 21
Monday, May 30
Monday, July 4
Monday, September 5
Friday, November 11
Thurs – Friday, November 24-25
Monday, December 26

Matt Sweet
Ticor Title