First I want to disclose that I am NOT an Attorney and I am NOT authorized to practice law in the State of Washington. I do however, want to give you some insight on the process of using a Power of Attorney to buy a house here in Kitsap County. First, off I am a Navy spouse, my husband is active duty currently stationed at Naval Hospital Bremerton. He purchased the home we live in today while he was on his second tour to Iraq attached with 1st MLG out of 29 Palms, CA. I had the Power of Attorney, and it was a hassle. I was working for First American Title Company at the time and had access to Power of Attorney forms and title information, and still it was a hassle.
Below is a blurb you can find on most title company sites concerning a POA
What if I need to use a Power of Attorney?
The Title Company and Lender must approve the Power of Attorney prior to preparing the documents. The original Power of Attorney must be delivered to the Title Company, so it can be recorded in the Real Property Records. On the day of closing, the Title Company will contact you to verify you are alive and well and have not revoked your Power of Attorney.
The first line states that the Title Company and the Lender must approve the Power of Attorney prior to preparing documents. Now that is fine and dandy if you know who the title company and lender are going to be when you have your POA drawn up. Most times the situation is that the military member is deploying and the spouse is going to be looking for homes while they are gone. How do you have a POA drawn up to accommodate this? Usually you have a lender you are working with and they may have approved your POA, but what about title? Title could and has rejected wording on a POA. Then what do you do?
The only thing you can do is make sure the person giving the POA is available to have a new one drawn up by military legal where ever they are deployed to. This might not work in every situation and you need to remember the original must be sent home. A fax or a scanned PDF in an email will NOT work. You should allow at least 4-6 weeks for the mail to arrive home. That is just about the time it will be needed to close on your home purchase transaction. This is why you must notify EVERYONE upfront that you are using a POA. Your real estate agent must use this information when requesting the closing date in the purchase and sale contract.
Remember that no one is obligated to take a POA. There are lenders that will not process a loan with a power of attorney so you must disclose this first thing. If the lender you wanted to use doesn’t then you can find a different one that does.
Another issue with using a POA that arises when the lender doesn’t allow the Purchase and Sale Agreement signed with a POA along with the loan documents. So you must have the ability to have the person giving the POA to sign the purchase contract at the minimum. If your military member is on a ship, or stationed on a supporting base they just might be available through email to do this. Remember also, that most lenders still are NOT accepting electronic signatures. One more hurdle you must jump. If your military member is on a sub or at a forward base in Afghanistan it just might be near impossible to use a POA to purchase a home in Washington State.
My husband was in an area of Iraq where he didn’t have access to email, or mail or for that matter phone most of the time. There was no way for him to sign the purchase and sale agreement. A couple of weeks before closing I was told that the lender would not allow the loan documents to be signed with the POA since the Purchase contract had been signed that way. This was at the end of his deployment so I just crossed my fingers that he was able to arrive home before the extension to the contract ran out. He did and signed the loan documents the day after he arrived home from being deployed for 7 months. What a mess it all was.
Another, little tidbit of information is that your military member must be able to get an Alive and Well Certification signed by their CO on the day of closing. This document is usually required by the lender prior to funding the loan and wiring the funds to escrow. If your military member doesn’t have access to email and a scanner this can stop the transaction from funding.
When signing with a power of attorney, a special signature is always required.
It usually looks like this: John Smith by Carol Smith his Attorney in Fact.
Personally, I think that you must find the home prior to deploying or wait until return. If not you have to be willing to lose the home you wanted, because sellers don’t want to hang out any longer than they have to.
Of course there are exceptions to all of the above, but it is NOT a cookie cutter process and when one person’s experience can be different and yours may be the total opposite way so you need to be prepared with the facts.
Semper Gumby – military spouses will understand this! 🙂