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If you’ve ever purchased or refinanced a home, chances are you’ve been assisted in the process by a title company. I sat down with the ladies from the title companies in Yankton to find more out about the roles they play.

Yankton offers two experienced title companies, First Dakota Title Company and Yankton Title Company. Both title companies are run and managed by women who are skilled in several aspects of their job. You’ll find that the ladies in both offices are dedicated, compassionate and a pleasure to work with.

The role of the title company is to insure the title to the real estate that you are purchasing. To do this, they search all public records at the County Register of Deeds and the Clerk of Courts offices. They try to find everything that is relevant to that piece of ground that a person is purchasing or refinancing and compile that information into a title commitment. The title commitment tells you the property legal description, who owns the property, real estate taxes, easements, covenants, etc.

They are looking to assure there are no liens, judgments or past defects in deeds or anything that could cause a problem in the future. “A lot of what we do here is curative work, we find the problems and we cure the problems either prior to or at closing,” explains Nancy Hall from Yankton Title Company. If you would just purchase a property from someone without the title company’s services, any defects on that property become your defects. This could cause problems down the road if you try to sell the property. They work with various parties in the process, from clients to realtors, lenders, attorneys and surveyors. Their assistance expands further into the home purchasing and refinancing process, both companies also offering escrow services to assist with the closing of your loan.

First Dakota Title Company

First Dakota Title Company was formerly Meridian Title Company until Dakota Homestead, part owner of Meridian Title, was bought out by First Dakota Title this summer. They have been in Yankton for six years and have offices in Vermillion and Elk Point (Union County Abstract), all branches under the Title Resource Network. The company is locally grown and their funds stay within the community. (Note: First Dakota Title Company is not affiliated with First Dakota National Bank.)

The three ladies in the Yankton branch strive to make every transaction the best for their customer. Tina Wysuph, Sara Magstadt and Julie Blunck. Wysuph and Magstadt primarily work on the escrow side of the transaction while Blunck completes title searches and verifies taxes and liens against properties in Yankton county. Their office in Sioux Falls prepares the title commitments, which are reviewed by the ladies in Yankton before sending it out. Part of their responsibilities in the Yankton office include a pre-close process before closing where they prepare documents, request payoffs and assure all requirements are satisfied to clear the property’s title.

Wysuph, Escrow Manager, came to First Dakota Title 3 years ago, when she was offered the position while she was working at First Dakota National Bank. She hired Magstadt, Manager shortly after she started and Blunck, Title Support came aboard last year.

Wysuph enjoys her job and likes its flexibility. “I enjoy looking at the title work and I enjoy working with people,” she smiles. Magstadt agreed that their favorite part of the job is seeing the customer happy after they finish helping the customer sign the closing paperwork.

“What I love about this job is that you can mix up customer service and data entry,” Magstadt explains.

Wysuph adds, “We get to get out in the community and we get to do some traveling.”Wysuph and Magstadt didn’t have experience in real estate prior to coming to First Dakota Title. Magstadt’s retail bank and management experience gives her experience in working with people. Her job at the title company is a good fit for her as she likes change and learning new things. Wysuph has a strong background in documentation and attention to detail from her previous position at First Dakota National Bank.

They strive to be a team-player in the community. Magstadt explains as Wysuph nods in agreement, “We’ve really worked hard to become part of the community that we’re working in. Just being active in the community, I feel, as a local business, is so important.”

As the last people that are seen in the homeownership process, their goal is to make the customer’s experience the best possible. They feel that they are the final step in the process, they tie all the pieces together for the customer. To do this, Magstadt puts herself in the shoes of the homeowner before every closing. She reminds herself of the feelings of anxiety, nervousness and fear that comes with buying or refinancing a home.

Changes in technology is the biggest change that they have seen over the years. One of their adaptations to these changes is a phone app, called TRNagent 3.0. One of their biggest challenges is getting the information they need to satisfy the title requirements, often waiting on people to provide the information needed. Waiting on closing docs at the end of the process is another challenge. They struggle with the delay from online lenders, stating that the process goes more smoothly when the client uses a local lender. Every closing is a new experience as they become accustomed to the various documents used by different lenders.

Using one word to describe themselves, Wysuph uses “reliable” and Magstadt, “conscientious.” “You’re going to have a positive, pleasant experience,” Sara smiles, explaining their top priority of customer service. “We’re here for the customer. Whatever we need to do, we’re flexible to their schedule.”

Their Yankton office is located at 341 Walnut Street and phone number is 689-2800. You can visit them on their website at www.titleresourcenetwork.com.

Yankton Title Company

Yankton Title Company has been in existence for over 100 years, starting out as a family operation. Now Stuart Title Guarantee, their underwriter, is the primary owner of the company. With more than 45 years of experience combined among their staff, they have two licensed and bonded abstractors in the state of SD, Nancy Hall and Tami Guenther. They had to pass a rigorous test to obtain this licensing, which is a requirement to sign off on title commitments.

Nancy Hall is the division president of Yankton Title Company and has been with them for 21 years. She searches and exams all the orders that come into the office and manages the office and the employees. She performs loan closings, oversees the financial bookkeeping and escrow accounts along with reviewing all title policies before they are sent out. When Hall started at the company, Bob Stewart, the owner at that time, taught and mentored her for the first five years before he retired and she took over the business.

She explains she’s always discovering something new. “In the job or the position of the examiner, or they call us abstractors, you learn something every day. You will always run into a situation that you’ve never seen before.”

Because of the annual increases in and changes to the industry’s rules and regulations, they’ve encountered the need to add additional staff over the years and now have five people on staff. Their most recent hire is Brenda Fahrenholz, hired to temporarily assist during their busiest season. I talked with Hall, Guenther and the other full-time employees, Coreen Simonsen and Amantha Boese-Pieper about their roles.

Hall explains the one item that stands out to her over her tenure. When the rest of the country saw the foreclosures and housing market challenges, that scenario didn’t happen in SD and it was rare for their business to work with a foreclosure. She’s noticed a more consumer educated trend over the years. She explains that regulations have been brought about to help protect the buyer and keep them more informed throughout the process, even though it’s lengthier in preparation time.

Because South Dakota has a title plant law, the title companies are required to retain an exact copy of what they find at the county Register of Deeds. This is called their title plant. South Dakota, unlike other states, can only search and exam properties in the county where their title plant is located.

“Our office has records for all the properties in Yankton county, some of them back to the 1800’s,” Hall explains. They have thousands and thousands of files, a copy of every title policy they’ve ever written. “If anyone needs a copy of their deed, or has questions about their mortgage, we’re just a phone call away,” she smiles.

Piecing information together is her favorite aspect of her job. She explains, “My favorite part of the job is, it’s kind of like being a detective. You take a file and you start from the beginning and you follow that whole history of that property from the patent all the way forward.” Following the property all the way through without any breaks in the chain of title is very satisfying for her.

The most challenging part of her job is making sure that they are complying with all the laws and regulations and keeping on top of the new regulations. With the evolvement of fraud and privacy concerns, they must be very cautious at what they are doing. The biggest change that she’s seen over time has been the increase in security and privacy requirements.

Coreen Simonsen has been with the business about 14 years and describes herself as particular. Her position of a Senior Title Examiner requires her to examine the chain of title for title commitment requests as they come in. This is done either at their office or at the county Register of Deeds office.

Tami Guenther describes herself as detail-orientated and has been on staff for a little over 11 years. As the Senior Policy Specialist & Closing Agent, she is the closing agent on purchase and refinance transactions. She leads the client through signing the necessary paperwork and completes the steps required for home purchases. She also manually completes the final title policies.Amantha Boese-Pieper, self-described as personable, is on her first year, having started in January. As an Escrow Officer, she handles the preparation of Closing Disclosures for the closings, working with all parties involved.

Guenther describes their ability to help each other. “We’re very fortunate in that aspect to know each other’s job, so when someone’s gone we can help out in that area. That’s a great part about our office.”

Simonsen smiles and adds, “We all wear the same hat.” Simonsen explains her job, “Most of the time I’m looking at documents and going through the chain of title, which is what I really like to do. I love the research.” She recalls following a chain of title once back to the 1800’s. “It’s interesting what you find in those documents,” she continues.

Boese-Pieper likes working with numbers and enjoys the people that she meets. Her previous experience as a licensed insurance agent gives her skill in working with people.The group explains how their job is never dull because each transaction is different. Hall said that generally, people don’t know what title insurance is or why they should have it until they need it. “Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments in your life and you don’t ever want to have that investment threatened. We try to find the problem before the problem finds you,” she explains.

The staff at Yankton Title Company can be reached by phone at (605) 665-6559 on via their website at www.yanktontitle.com.

The helpfulness and compassion of these ladies from both companies help make the process of buying or refinancing your home go much more smoothly. Let them help you fulfill one of the biggest dreams!