Land Title of America

TITLE INSURANCE IS YOUR FINANCIAL SEAT BELT

No comments

Are you really that stupid that you would own real estate without an owners’ title insurance policy?  Whether you purchased or inherited, the risk is the same.  Look ya’ll, I’m gotta house!  Risk is in all real estate; however, you can reduce your financial risk with an owners’ title insurance policy.

Now why would I want to go and spend more money on an owners’ title insurance policy when I’m trying to save money?

Let’s put it this way:  whether you drive a minivan or a convertible, you wear a seat belt for safety.  You may have financed your old minivan and made a cash deal on your convertible—either way, the accident risk is the same.  Title insurance is your real estate seat belt.  You never want to use it, but it saves your financial life.

Wear your seatbelt, EVEN ON A CASH DEAL.

ESPECIALLY ON A CASH DEAL!!

IF IT’S A CASH DEAL, IT’S YOUR CASH ON THE LINE.

If something goes funny with your ownership rights, then you stand to lose everything you put into it, and then some.  The circumstances of real estate transactions aren’t always cut and clean.  Where there’s room for doubt, there’s room for a lawsuit.  Do you know how much lawyers cost?  Do you want to find out?

Idiots abound, but you don’t have to be one.  You can do everything right—do the title search and get the survey—but that doesn’t stop some idiot from challenging your legitimate ownership of that property.  And as the owner, it’s your responsibility to defend your legal rights to the property.  Title insurance not only takes the burden of the legal defense, they also pay the bill.

Did you get that?  For a low, one-time premium, title insurance provides AND pays for the legal defense of your ownership rights. 

You can’t always stop stupid, but you can financially protect your property with title insurance.

* Please understand all title insurance policies have exceptions in their coverage.  Be sure to have an attorney review those exceptions with you.

Land Title of AmericaTITLE INSURANCE IS YOUR FINANCIAL SEAT BELT
read more

NO GUARANTEES IN FORECLOSURE PURCHASES

No comments

If you’re in the foreclosure market, then you’re in the highest risk in real estate—there are no guarantees!  Yes, you can make money from nightmares, but sometimes nightmares are just nightmares.

Foreclosure properties often have a lower purchase price, and you can get a great deal…a great deal of trouble.  With opportunity, there’s risk.  Little opportunity means little risk.  Big opportunity equals bigger risk. Mitigate your risk.  Here’s what you do if you want to invest in foreclosures:

  1. REALTOR

Know your property.  Make sure the value is there.  Know the property and know the area.  The best way to do the research is to get a good competent Realtor to assist you because in the end, nothing but the property value matters.

Once that’s taken care of properly, then you can worry about the next steps.

  1. TITLE CHECK

Get a title check from a competent title professional.  Why?  Because:

  • Did you know that you might be purchasing a second mortgage? If this is the case, you’ll be required to pay the first mortgage.
  • Are the taxes current?
  • Is the association current? What might the association fees be?
  • Were all junior liens properly named?
  • Is IRS involved?
  • How does a 120-day wait sound to you before you can work on the property?

These are some of the title issues that might affect your purchase of a foreclosure property, and that’s without even talking about survey-related issues that you’re not going to know prior to the sale.

  1. FORECLOSURE AUCTION REGISTRATION

If the title issues are taken care of or at least addressed, then the next step is to make sure you’re properly registered with the county in which you want to bid.  Foreclosures are all cash transactions, no financing, and the money normally has to be with the clerk within hours after the sale.  Most counties in Florida require five percent of your maximum bid prior to auctioning, that isn’t a quick process.  Sometimes it can take days before you’re eligible to bid.

Conclusion

These are just a few things to think about when investing in foreclosures.  It’s not for the novice investor; it’s for the seasoned veterans who have lots of experience.  Don’t get caught looking in the distance at the beautiful scenery and get stuck in the quicksand.

Truly you’d be surprised at how much better off you are to just find a local Realtor and buy a standard property without all the excitement, bidding, stress, and extra risk of the foreclosure market.  You’ll be able to take a deep breath, do the proper analysis, and find out what you really want and need.

Land Title of AmericaNO GUARANTEES IN FORECLOSURE PURCHASES
read more

MORTGAGE COMPETENTLY

No comments

“Confidence” and “competence” are not the same. Just because you can click a button to get a mortgage doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. You can be completely confident in absolute incompetence. If you use an online company for your closing and your loan, chances are you’ll pay an astronomical amount for lack of ground control when it comes closing cost and other concerns.

Online mortgage companies offer one-stop shopping, in that you get your mortgage loan and your closing from the same source. However, one-stop shopping isn’t so convenient when it comes with an extra pricey payload.

First of all there’s closing cost. Real Estate is a location-specific commodity, and different regions have different customs regarding fees charged at closing. Online lenders aren’t familiar with local customs. They may tag on a fee standard for their area which does not apply for the location in which you’re buying. However, a local closing company will only apply fees specific to the area—you won’t have superfluous expenses. Also, online lenders may add fees for working long distance, fees that would not be charged when using a local title company.

And secondly, there’s oversight cost. A title company owned by the lender and run by the lender does not have the oversight that an independent, locally owned title company does. “Houston, we have a problem.” Lack of oversight can be costly!! A lender-owned title company is only really concerned about the deals that they get audited on. A local title company is concerned about EVERY deal.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or be in a rock band to get a good mortgage. If you pay, you choose—you don’t have to use the lender’s title company. Even with an online lender, you can choose a local title company for a smart financial decision.

Mortgage competently with a local title company.

Land Title of AmericaMORTGAGE COMPETENTLY
read more

YOUR CHOICE

No comments

If you were buying a new Ford F-250, would you let your mother-in-law pick the color?

Would you get a telemarketer to name your firstborn?

Would you take fishing advice from a flight attendant (well, maybe if she’s from Alabama)?

Then why in the world would you let your lender tell you where to have your real estate closing?

If you pay, you choose.  The bank cannot force you to use their title company.

Nothing is free.  The lender may claim that they pay the closing costs, but the rate of the loan will be affected by them covering your title fees.  They’re making money at your expense—financially and maybe emotionally too.  That “one-stop” shopping—get your financing and your closing from your lender—is not as convenient as it is expensive!

Typical pitfalls of a lender-owned (or real estate broker-owned) title company include:

  • Extra charges for non-applicable fees
  • Not honoring applicable discounts
  • Motivation to just get the deal closed no matter what the fine print says

A locally owned third-party title company avoids these pitfalls, saving you money, and also gives you a fresh set of eyes reviewing your closing documents with you.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!  Seek some oversight when big money is on the table.

Look ya’ll, I’m buyin’ a house!

You can do it the smart way with a locally owned third-party title company and get better service and save money, or you can use the lender’s or real estate-owned title company—it’s your choice.  Be smart!!

Land Title of AmericaYOUR CHOICE
read more

OUT OF THE BALLPARK

No comments

When a batter hits a ball, everyone can see where the ball lands…unless he hits it out of the ballpark. Similarly, a real estate title search only reveals deeds recorded in the public record. The deed in the back of Uncle Ernie’s sock drawer may have a legitimate claim on your newly purchased home, but you’re not going to learn that with only a title search, no matter how good the title company is. That’s where Title Insurance can change the score in your financial favor.

If only baseball teams could take out insurance against homeruns hit by their opponent! Well, you wouldn’t have much of a game if that could happen. When it comes to homeownership, though, you don’t want to play games.

Homeowners can buy Title Insurance. For a low, one-time fee homeowners can level the playing field should someone make an ownership claim to their real estate—could be something like a well on the wrong side of the property line or an inheritance misunderstanding (who knew Uncle Ernie had an illegitimate son who he loved dearly enough to leave him his entire estate?). Title Insurance provides and pays for the legal defense of your ownership title.

A title challenge is no walk in the park, but Title Insurance reduces the risk of you losing your house and your out-of-pocket money for an attorney and court fees. Title Insurance gives you the home field advantage.

Land Title of AmericaOUT OF THE BALLPARK
read more

IS ANYBODY THERE? THE PROBLEMS WITH NATIONAL TITLE COMPANIES

No comments

National title companies are easy to find online…unless you have a problem.  If you need help to defend your ownership rights of your property, then it’s up to you to navigate a website, or you’re at the mercy of a telephone tree.

It could be a lesser claim, like your neighbor says that your well is three feet on her property, or it might be something bigger, like a survey error puts a highway smack-dab through the middle of your living room.  Either way, legal fees are expensive.

The claim may be crazy, but it’s your responsibility to defend your ownership rights.  Title Insurance goes a long way to help you.  Title Insurance not only pays for your legal defense, your policy also provides the attorney.  That’s great…so long as your title company answers your call.

A local title company has more accountability to you.  If there’s a challenge to your real estate title, a local company will take your call, or you can walk in the door and speak to someone face-to-face for help.  People who work at a local title company are going to see you at church or school functions, shopping at Wal-Mart, or enjoying downtown.  When they review your closing documents with you, they’re going to make sure you understand them.  A local title company is not going to close the deal over the Internet and never see you.  They’re there to make sure your ownership goes smoothly, and to defend your rights if it doesn’t.

Furthermore, a local title company normally costs less than a national title company.  A national title company may tag on a fee for one region which does not apply for your location.  A local company will only apply fees specific to the area—you won’t have superfluous expenses.  National companies also may add fees for working long distance, fees that would not be charged when using a local title company.

The personal touch of a local title company gives you superior service in cost and accountability for your most valuable investment, your home.

Land Title of AmericaIS ANYBODY THERE? THE PROBLEMS WITH NATIONAL TITLE COMPANIES
read more

A DEED AMONG FAMILY?

No comments

Who needs deeds a deed among family members? The family members do!! Good deeds support good relations among kin, especially when inheritance gets involved.

When property changes hands from branch to branch on the family tree, keep the paperwork in order and maintain title insurance so that ownership rights can be properly recognized and defended should a dispute arise. Don’t take shortcuts just because it’s family—don’t take shortcuts because it IS family!!

A major source of title challenges is from family transactions in real estate.

Even if the old homestead has been in the family for fifty years, property disputes can happen at any time. Family disputes tend to be the biggest and most emotional. When there’s a lot of emotion, there’s no rational—and it’s costly! Want to help an attorney pay off his college loan, pay for litigation on a family dispute. When somebody says, “I’m fighting this for the principal of the matter,” they usually mean: “For all the principal in your bank account!”

It’s expensive to be totally right!! Have you hired a lawyer lately? Remember, if a person—family member or otherwise—files a claim against your property, YOU have to pay for the legal defense of your real estate rights. Title insurance covers those court costs and provides the legal representation.

Whether Uncle Elmer thought your daddy left the place to him, or Cousin Jesse claims your septic tank is on her side next door, a title insurance policy provides the financial and legal means to assert your ownership rights.

As of March 2001, a lot of companies started issuing the new and improved title insurance forms which allowed for those who inherit property to also inherit the title insurance. But any policy issued without the updated forms is not assumable to heirs; therefore, even though granddaddy had coverage, it doesn’t mean you do.

Don’t know if your inherited property came with title insurance? Land Title of America, Inc will be glad to check—it’s a free service—just stop by our office located on U.S.Highway 1 South in St. Augustine (in the Lewis Point Plaza) or give us a call:

Land Title of America, Inc
2495 U.S. Highway 1 South
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 797-9600

Land Title of AmericaA DEED AMONG FAMILY?
read more

DREAM HOME OFFICE & YOUR LOCAL TITLE COMPANY

No comments

If you’re going to paint, add lighting, put in shelving and storage, move electrical outlets, and install a computer network, expenses can add up quickly, not to mention if you’re going to pull a permit and build an addition.  Refinancing may be the solution to remodel a bedroom into the home office of your dreams, and using a local title company keeps closing costs low.

You don’t have to use the lender’s title company when you’re refinancing real estate.  In fact, you’re better off to use a local title company.  A national title company usually costs more; whereas, a local title company can normally give you a better price because they’re not going to overcharge, or charge you fees that don’t apply to the area.  (And if you ever do have a problem with your real estate title, you’re not at the mercy of a toll-free number; you can walk into an office to get help.)

Invest where you’ll get the best value, and that’s putting money into your home office renovation rather than toward unnecessary closing fees.  Whether you’re self-employed or a home-based employee, using a local title company is a smart business decision.

Land Title of AmericaDREAM HOME OFFICE & YOUR LOCAL TITLE COMPANY
read more

WHAT’S CHEAPER, A SURVEY OR A JACKHAMMER?

No comments

Jackhammers are not as easy as they look. (And if you thought it looks easy, you scare me a little bit.) SO why in the heck is a Land Title Blog talking about jackhammers? Why not? Aren’t you tired of hearing about title stuff? So I figure I’ll spend this paragraph and talk about jackhammers and the importance they have in everyone’s life. Nah, you’re not that lucky!

If you’re one of those highly intelligent souls who thinks they can just take a visual of their property lines and that’s good enough to save the cost of a survey, you might need a jackhammer. As comedian Bill Engvall says, “Here’s your sign!”

Jackhammers cost around $3,000 and a land survey is a fraction of that expense.

Don’t try this at home! Leave property disputes to the professionals. Use a Survey instead of a Jackhammer to settle property line disputes.

Land Title of AmericaWHAT’S CHEAPER, A SURVEY OR A JACKHAMMER?
read more

SOUTH FLORIDA CONDO NIGHTMARE: PAST DUES!

No comments

In a Florida home foreclosure, when the bank repossess the home, the lender is not liable for more than one year of back home owners’ association fees when it’s a subdivision, and six months when it’s a condo.* Often that’s not nearly what is owed, but it gives the association some recovery from the loss of income. That’s what’s supposed to happen, but one South Florida condo association—which shall remain nameless here—sees it differently.

The condominium owner went into foreclosure on his unit. He didn’t make his mortgage payments and he also couldn’t afford the condo association dues. Financial hardship led to foreclosure and months of unpaid association fees. Finally the condo unit went to auction on the courthouse steps, and the lender ended up with the property.

Then a buyer came along. He bought the foreclosure condo from the lender and got title insurance. As part of the closing process, the title company obtained an estoppel letter from the condo association that provided a certain amount to catch up all the back association fees.

Everything was great. The new buyer became the owner of their dream condominium. They got done, closed, everybody thought everything was wonderful. Now if that were really the case would I be writing this blog? In a typical situation, everything that transacted here here would be considered normal and customary—everybody crossed their proverbial t’s and dotted their proverbial i’s—why would the buyer waste money on title insurance?

Let’s list all that has transpired: There was a proper foreclosure and sale at the courthouse steps. When a new buyer was found, a new title search was done and everything came back spotless, no issues. In preparation for closing, the title company acquired all proper estoppel letters and all monies due including taxes. And the closing was conducted properly—what could go wrong?

I’ll tell you what could go wrong: the association came back and demanded all unpaid association fees prior to the buyer purchasing the condo.

“But we have an estoppel letter that says all association fees are current,” said the buyer.

The association said, “Show us the original letter.”

The buyer says, “ The lender only has a faxed copy.”

The association says, “That’s not good enough. Pay up, because if you don’t we’re going to foreclose… and by the way, thank you for the new cabinets and flooring and the updated toilet seats, they’re nice.”

How could this happen? Everything was done right. The answer: crap happens, and it’s expensive when it does.

There is a happy ending to this story even though this story has not ended: the buyer has title insurance, and the title insurance company is paying to defend the buyer’s ownership.

In a case like this, it doesn’t matter if the lawsuit is right, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal, it doesn’t matter if it’s covered in spaghetti and meatballs—the New Owner has to defend his interest in the property in a court of law… and that costs money. Without Title Insurance, the full force of the legal expense lands on the New Owner’s wallet.

The legal expense—hiring an attorney and court costs—versus the balance of the condo association. Which is more? Doesn’t matter if you have Title Insurance. Your Title Insurance Policy will either settle the claim or provide and pay for the legal defense of your ownership interest (and pay out the policy amount if that defense fails).

You buy Title Insurance for peace of mind—not because you know you are going to use it. Title Insurance is a one-time fee you pay at ground level in case a high rise of legal expense happens related to your property ownership.

No matter where you live, the view is better if you’ve got clear title, and beyond that, you’ll rest well if you’ve got financial protection through Title Insurance.

*This limitation on what’s owed on back association fees is only applicable if the foreclosing lender is the highest bidder at the courthouse steps. If a private party is the highest bidder, that person is responsible to pay all back association fees no matter how high the fees are or how far back the fees go.

Reason #328 to get Title Insurance.

Land Title of AmericaSOUTH FLORIDA CONDO NIGHTMARE: PAST DUES!
read more