Land Title of America

DOUBLE ENTENDRE

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“Title Claim” has two meanings. (1) Threat to your real estate. (2) Threat to your money.

The French invented Double Entendre, or at least they came up with the cool saying that means “double meaning“. Probably they weren’t thinking of real estate when they coined the phrase.

In the immediate sense, a Title Claim is a lawsuit filed against you claiming that all or part of your real estate belongs to someone else. It seems ridiculous that these things happen, but they do. Just because you paid money for your home and a lawyer closed it, or you inherited it does not make you exempt from a Title Claim.

In the secondary sense, a Title Claim obligates you to defend your rightful ownership in a court of law, and in that way involves your money in legal expenses… unless you have Title Insurance. Sure, you could walk away from the lawsuit and the property, in which case both threats come true at once- you lose your house and your money by virtue of the equity in the house. Or you could fight the lawsuit on your own at your own expense, paying legal fees until you run out of funds or lose your house, whichever comes first-in which case both threats come true.

While a Title Claim is a threat to your house and your money, you can financially protect yourself from a Title Claim with Title Insurance.

Title Insurance also helps protect against loss of your house in that it provides and pays for legal representation to defend your ownership rights. Title Insurance is not a guarantee you will win your court battle; however, in the worst case scenario with Title Insurance, you lose your house but you also receive the policy amount insured, enabling you to make a down payment on another house.

In real estate, two independent owners claiming 100% each cannot both hold title to the same piece of property at the same time, which makes the Double Entendre of “Title Claim” particularly dirty.

Land Title of AmericaDOUBLE ENTENDRE
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“IF ANY”- QUIT CLAIM DEEDS

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With a Warranty Deed, the grantor fully warrants the title to the said land, and will defend the same against lawful claims of all persons whomsoever. You don’t get that with a Quit Claim Deed.

When someone deeds interest in a property via Quit Claim, he conveys or gives all interest he has IF ANY

. What if he doesn’t have any interest in that property? A Quit Claim Deed provides no warranties. DON’T DO IT.

Furthermore, because Quit Claim Deeds carry no warranties, they void title insurance policies. Yeah, so not only do you have no warranty on the deed, you also have no insurance to protect you from financial loss should someone challenge your ownership of the property.

A Quit Claim Deed is a great way to “clean up” title, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. It can also be a conduit for fraud, and you really don’t want to be on that end of the stick.

With very few exceptions, always get a WARRANTY DEED instead of a Quit Claim Deed.

Land Title of America“IF ANY”- QUIT CLAIM DEEDS
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JUST SAY “NO” TO INSANITY

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Joey came home one day to find a man in his living room. The man said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” “This ain’t one of them,” Joey replied.

“I’m not breaking and entering,”said the man. “This is my house.” He pulled a deed from his pocket.

“I’ve got a deed too,” said Joey, “and it’s not printed on the back of a psychiatric release form.”

“I’m recycling. Save the planet!” said the man.

“This is crazy,” said Joey. He ushered the man out, but he could not get rid of the man’s claim.

No matter how insane /bogus/absurd/bizarre a title challenge is, the homeowner is responsible to defend his ownership rights.

So Joey crashed in an investment for $10,000 to pay a retainer fee for an attorney.

Legal fees kept coming in after that for his title defense-filing fees and billable hours. Joey had planned to buy a new truck, but he realized he’d have to hold off on that, just like he’d have to put off retirement another twenty years, and drive his old truck the whole time. Joey was going through money like his toes were going through the ends of his socks.

Finally the title claim case came to a close and Joey lost his house.

What! That’s not how the story is suppose to go!

Title claims don’t always follow “supposed to”.

But Joey lost the house to a crazy man!

Joey didn’t have title insurance, which would have paid for not only his legal defense, bu would have also paid out the policy amount when the court failed to rule in his favor. So who’s the real crazy on in this story?

For a nominal, one-time fee for title insurance, you can stop further legal expenses regarding title claims against your real estate. Don’t go insane with court costs on title claims.

Land Title of AmericaJUST SAY “NO” TO INSANITY
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BEYOND COMMON CENTS

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Get in out of the rain. If you’re cold, put on a sweater. If your printer stops printing, check the paper. When your car unexpectedly stops, see if the fuel light is on. Some things in life are self-explanatory-others need further explanation.

The advantages of home ownership seem pretty straightforward. Unless you’re in the military service or you still live with your mom, you need a place to call your own, a place were you can pile up your dirty socks, raise your children, make spaghetti. However, the risks of home ownership are not quite as easy to see. A property title dispute may lie beyond common sense, and can be financially devastating.

A home gives you shelter and the stability of equity, which can help you get credit for other things like student loans for your kids or auto loans. A dispute of your home ownership title puts everything in jeopardy-from the roof over your head to the financial future of your children.

Even if the challenge to your ownership title is bogus, you still have to defend yourself in a court of law-that’s what makes a title challenge so expensive. It’s financial double jeopardy. For one, your house is at stake in the challenge. And for two, all your other assets are at stake-college funds, retirement pensions, checking account, savings account, and even that little investment your wife doesn’t know about yet- as you try to pay for legal costs in your defense.

Relax, there’s an easy fix: Title Insurance. For a one-time fee, Title Insurance covers the hidden risk of ownership title challenges. Easy, and a nominal cost compared to legal fees.* Title Insurance gives you financial protection for pennies on the dollar-now that’s common cents compared to the extravagant expense of court costs.

If you didn’t get Title Insurance at closing on your home and you don’t have a current claim files against your title, you can buy Title Insurance after the fact.

Title Insurance may not have intuitive worth at purchase, but it packs uncommon value if your ownership rights are challenged.

*Title Insurance fees are regulated by the State of Florida. The base rate is $5.75 per thousand up to $100,000, and $5.00 per thousand thereafter up to $1 million. For example, if you’re looking at a $100,000 home, then the Title Insurance cost is $575. For proper coverage, you need title endorsements. A title endorsement is an addition or modification of a title insurance policy which expands or changes coverage of the policy, fulfilling specific requirements of the insured. The average cost of an endorsement is $25 to $85 per endorsement. On a $100,000 home, you can get a whole lot of coverage for only a handful of hundreds.

Land Title of AmericaBEYOND COMMON CENTS
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FEET FIRST FIRST TIME

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That’s the rule for jumping into an unknown body of water. You wouldn’t want to dive headlong onto sharp rocks under shallow water. Minimize risk by putting your feet at peril instead of your skull. “Foot trauma” always reads better on a medical chart than “head injury”.

Buying real estate can be like jumping into unknown water. Even if you know the seller, even if you know the real estate has been in the seller’s family for generations, there can still be risks that you just can’t see.

A title search is a good way to minimize risk. A title search is a review of public records- deeds and documents from the courthouse that show the chain of ownership for a particular plot of land. A title search reveals obvious problems-logs sticking out above the water’s surface-which you want to deal with before you jump in.

However, a title search cannot “see” problems that are off the record. Errors and omissions, undisclosed heirs, and forgery are some of the jagged objects that can hide below the waterline. Your real estate ownership can snag on these, after the closing of the sale, after you’ve put time and money into the home or land.

While a title search helps minimize risk, title insurance minimizes the financial risk. What you don’t know could cost you a lot of money. However, title insurance protects your financial investment and protects it in two ways.

One, title insurance pays for the legal defense of your ownership rights. If someone tries to claim that your home was actually willed to them, your title insurance will pay for all the legal fees in the defense of your ownership.
Two, title insurance will pay the policy amount if the legal defense fails.

Whether it’s your first real estate purchase or if you’re a veteran landowner, always get a title search to look for obvious risk, and always get title insurance to protect you financially from hidden risk.

Remember: if you’re jumping into water where you’ve never been swimming before, go feet first the first time.

Land Title of AmericaFEET FIRST FIRST TIME
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FAMILY FAVORITISM & REAL ESTATE TITLE

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Would you have lunch with a felon? Yes? No? Under what conditions? What if he were family? What if he were your brother? Do you show family favoritism because you feel obligated, or is it that because he’s family, you’re more willing to give him a second chance? Families can get into tough situations, real estate transfers among them.

With any transaction with someone familiar to you- a friend or family member-there’s a tendency to drop the formalities, to do things quickly. Quickly is not necessarily correctly and may cause a lot of problems later up and down the family tree.

Nobody wants to have to answer that first question. And nobody wants to deal with a real estate title problem, especially one inherited from a family member. Sometimes those close to us cause the most difficulties. ALWAYS get title insurance, no matter where the property is coming from. Title insurance covers the mistakes of the past through all of your ownership or financial interest future in the property.

Land Title of AmericaFAMILY FAVORITISM & REAL ESTATE TITLE
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CLOSE ONLY COUNTS IN HORSESHOES- NOT LAND SURVEYS

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I lined up the shot- a three-pointer from the other side of my office, over my desk, aimed at the trashcan under the credenza. I angled my stance, checked the wind speed of the A/C draft, and released the paper wad from my hand…. It arced gracefully to clear my workstation and was on target to drop through the rim without touching. Then the air conditioning kicked on and knocked my perfect shot out of orbit. The paper wad quickly lost altitude and landed on the floor-I was so close! My staff did not applaud. Close only counts in horseshoes-not in basketball and certainly not in land survey.

A survey on a piece of real estate can’t be “close”. A survey defines the amount of land you pay for (or will be paid for) and is the basis of your living space-easements and set-backs.

Get a survey before you buy. Even if you are purchasing within a platted neighborhood where colorful flags “outline your lot”, get survey. It can mean the difference between where you put your jacuzzi and being in hot water.

The problem is, if you encroach on someone else’s property, not only do you decrease their lot, you also throw off the set-backs they’re required to have.

A swimming pool in the wrong place tends to water-down relations between neighbors. A poorly located drain field is even worse! When stuff like that hits the fan, amicable next door residents can become nasty neighbors in a hurry. No, “close” definitely doesn’t count in land surveys.

Get your survey when you purchase, and get title insurance to cover any in accuracy on the boundaries. There’s a lot at stake. Survey errors can happen, but if you have title insurance without a survey exception, you don’t have to pay to fix the mistake. Title insurance pays for the defense of your ownership and will pay for valid claims, such as an error on your survey. (The ALTA 9 endorsement will probably be a good idea also.)

Be close in horseshoes, be close with your neighbors, but when it comes to putting up a fence, know where your boundaries are and follow them.

Land Title of AmericaCLOSE ONLY COUNTS IN HORSESHOES- NOT LAND SURVEYS
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KARMA & TITLE INSURANCE

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Andy was a man who lived right. He was fair and honest in all his business dealings. He gave money to numerous charities, volunteered his time at schools and hospitals, and he was even known for saving prime parking spaces for old ladies at the grocery store on rainy days. One day a man moved in next door to Andy, a newcomer to the town, and accused Andy of having his septic tank eight feet over on his yard. Despite Andy’s many good deeds, he had the misfortune of this property dispute, and Andy was obligated to defend his land ownership rights.

Fortunately for Andy, where his karma had failed, he had title insurance without a survey exception to help him through his crisis. His title insurance policy provided legal representation and covered all court costs in the defense of his property rights. It was not an easy process, especially to be at odds with his neighbor, but at least he had financial support in a bad situation.

Furthermore, even while Andy was going through the property dispute, he could afford to continue donations to his favorite charities because his title insurance paid for his legal expenses.

Land Title of AmericaKARMA & TITLE INSURANCE
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BAD WORD: “QUIT CLAIM DEED”

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I said a bad word on the radio- “Quit Claim Deed”. Don’t say that in front of your mother or write it on the bathroom wall!

When you convey a property using a Quit Claim Deed, you give all interest you have in that property IF ANY– but you may not have any interest. There are no warranties.

Let’s say Henry bought a nice home from a family member and paid cash. Because the transaction was among family, everybody decided to save cost and do the transfer without an attorney or title company. They’d heard from their friend that because there was no closing involved, it was a fast transfer of interest, it was a QUICK claim deed. (Please pay attention to the spelling- it’s a quit claim deed, not a quick or fast deed.)

DON’T DO IT. By using a Quit Claim Deed, the title insurance policy on the property was voided. Quit claim deeds are great for cleaning up title related issues, but not much more.

(Quit claim deeds can also be an easy way for someone to commit fraud.)

With few exceptions, always gat a WARRANTY DEED instead of a quit claim deed.

Land Title of AmericaBAD WORD: “QUIT CLAIM DEED”
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