Title Insurance

WHY DO YOU NEED A TITLE COMPANY?

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At Land Title of America, Inc., we’re not just an air-conditioned office full of friendly faces.  We’re here to help—in the immediate sense when you have a real estate closing, AND if there’s a problem.  If someone questions the real estate title to your home, you can walk in our front door and receive assistance in defense of your ownership rights.  Our services breakdown into three parts:

  1. Real Estate Closings – Yes, one function of a title company is to conduct real estate transactions. It’s a process, and it starts with a title search. We examine public records to make sure the chain of ownership is strong.  If we find a weakness, then we assist the seller in addressing that weakness.  We’re also watching the clock and the punch list to make sure surveys are done, inspections are made, and the money is in place.  We make sure funds are distributed correctly and documents are recorded into public record.  We want all parties involved to walk away from the closing table satisfied that their deal has been done as specified in the real estate contract.
  2. Title Insurance – Title companies sell title insurance. Though title insurance is not required by law, it’s normally a contractual obligation, and a real good idea.  Furthermore it’s a real good deal at a low cost that gives you a lot of financial protection on your real estate investment.  While title companies research every detail to minimize risk to the new owner, they also offer (at a one-time, low cost fee) an insurance policy that financially protects that owner from claims against his or her ownership.  The title search is an analysis of the situation, but it’s no guarantee; title insurance is the financial protection in case the title search doesn’t catch something.  Title insurance provides and pays for the legal defense of your real estate ownership should somebody challenge your rights to the property.
  3. If There’s A Problem With Your Real Estate Title – If someone questions your ownership to your home, you’re going to want a title company that can help you stand up for your rights by providing legal representation and paying for it.

It’s a bad day when a customer walks through our door because someone has filed a lawsuit against them, claiming ownership to their home.  But it’s good when we can be a big part of the resolution by putting that title insurance policy to work.  That’s what a title company like Land Title of America, Inc. is there to do.

Land Title of AmericaWHY DO YOU NEED A TITLE COMPANY?
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LAND TITLE CELEBRATES 20 YEARS IN BUSINESS

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Land Title of America, Inc. celebrates two decades of business in St. Augustine in 2017.  The best part, according to company president, Stephen Collins, is the homeowners they have helped in that time.  Since 1997, Land Title has performed title searches, assisted in real estate transactions, and offered title insurance to protect homeowners from financial loss due to a challenge against their real estate ownership.

In 1997, the first Harry Potter book came out, the stock market hit record highs, and Stephen Collins opened Land Title of America, Inc. in St. Augustine, Florida.  He credits his aunt and uncle, John and Faye Gullett, who financed his venture, and Robert Mooney who granted him an agency agreement through Fidelity National Title Insurance Company.  These people provided him with the infrastructure to make his company a reality.

Stephen Collins was no stranger to the title industry, having grown up in the family business, Collins Title & Abstract Co., Inc., which had served Northeast Florida since 1979.  Stephen remembers being a human fax machine:  biking documents from one office to another starting when he was in middle school.  Raised with a foundation of family values hand in hand with solid business practices, Stephen carried the tradition forward to meet the challenges of today’s real estate market.

“On the one hand, I can’t believe it’s been twenty years,” says president and owner, Stephen Collins, “but on the other hand, so much has changed.”

Twenty years is a major milestone given the real estate market over the past two decades.  Land Title opened when the Dow Jones and New York Stock Exchange hit record highs and real estate was booming too, but then the subprime mortgage crisis began in 2007, which led to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.  Land Title not only had to shift its focus within the market, it also had to adjust how it did business according to the new regulations.

Flexibility and creativity became keys to survival and success.  Stephen Collins expanded the company’s online presence with social media and a new website (www.GoLandTitle.com/).  Also he and his brother, Rusty, began to host the bi-monthly radio show, “Land Title Talk” on 102.1 FM WFOY (first and third Fridays at 8:00 a.m.)  The on-air discussions keep the public informed about real estate and legal issues affecting our area, and helps Stephen to know the concerns of homeowners living here.

Probably the most creative business strategy was the music marketing.  In 2011 the Collins brothers started a band called Old Enough-2-Know Better (OE-2-KB), which gave Stephen another way to reach out to customers and potential customers.  Now OE-2-KB performs every third Wednesday at Gypsy Cab’s Corner Bar, and every third Friday at the Orioles Nest #324, plus special events, like the Blue Crab Festival and St. Augustine Beach Blast (www.oe-2-kb.com).

Over the last twenty years, Land Title of America has played an important role to solidify property value in Northeast Florida.  Their commitment to customer satisfaction and their dedication to homeowner rights remain unchanged into their future.  You may contact Land Title at (904) 797-9600 or visit their website at www.GoLandTitle.com.

Land Title of AmericaLAND TITLE CELEBRATES 20 YEARS IN BUSINESS
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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN & SALMON P CHASE

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Neither Benjamin Franklin nor Salmon P. Chase were President, yet both appear on US money; however, there’s a hundred-fold difference between them.

Benjamin Franklin-everybody knows him! He was an inventor, a statesman, and public leader. His face is printed on the hundred dollar bill, a handsome portrait to have in your wallet!

Salmon P. Chase-doesn’t tend to ride in people’s hip pockets so often (even when buying gas!). He served as Secretary of The Treasury and he’s on the ten thousand dollar bill.

The cost difference between having Owner’s Title Insurance on your real estate could be as great as the difference between these two men.

Owner’s Title Insurance typically costs a handful of Franklins (The base rate is $5.75 per thousand up to $100,000, and then $5.00 per thousand thereafter. The minimum charge for an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy is $100). It’s a one-time fee, and then those Franklins are ready to go to work should a property dispute arise.

Without Owner’s Title Insurance, a property dispute could cost the homeowner a lot more. The homeowner has to pay out-of-pocket for attorney’s fees and court costs to defend his ownership rights. Legal defense is expensive regardless of the property value of your home. The Salmon P. Chase bill is rare and hard to come by, yet title defense could cost $10,000 or more, and in the end, you could still lose your house.

When you spend a Woodrow Wilson (hundred thousand dollar bill) on the home of your dreams, it’s worth some Franklins to insure your title to it. Use correct denominations to get the maximum value. It’s a lot easier to reach into your walle for a Franklin
than for a Chase!

Land Title of AmericaBENJAMIN FRANKLIN & SALMON P CHASE
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ALTERNATIVE ENDING

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Owner’s Title Insurance is like a pre-written alternative ending to avoid misfortune. The happily-ever-after of home ownership should be hassle-free. You should be able to own your home and sell your home without any question of your entitlement. You paid for the house-heck, it’s your home-and you should have the right to live there and sell “there”… but life doesn’t always have a fairytale ending.

Sometimes the wicked stepchild of the previous owner comes back to claim her inheritance…and sometimes the next-door-ogre snatches a yard of your yard for his compost heap…and sometimes a courthouse clerk misfiles an earlier deed to your property…and then there’s fraud.

Court costs to defend your property rights can pile up higher than your neighbor’s compost. And they stink if you have to pay them yourself. However, for a one-time fee for owner’s title insurance, you can have an all-time alternative ending should someone make a claim against your land.

A title insurance policy cannot prevent a property dispute, but it can provide financial protection should an ownership challenge arise. Owner’s title insurance pays for the legal defense of your title-it pays for attorney’s billable hours and filing fees and other court costs associated with the matter… If that doesn’t work, then title insurance pays the amount insured.

Title insurance is a two-for-one deal-you get two endings for the price of a one-time fee at closing. If someone should challenge your ownership rights to your property, you either get your legal defense and you get to keep your house, or you get your legal defense and you get the policy amount so you can buy a new home (hey, not what we want, but sometimes we have Mr. Grimm writing the fairytale).

A title claim is not a win-win situation, but with title insurance, you can have an ending different from lose your house, lose all your money.

The expense of title insurance is only “once upon a time” at closing, and it brings you peace of mind for your “happily-ever-after”.

Land Title of AmericaALTERNATIVE ENDING
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AVOID DOUBLE NEGATIVES

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If you can afford a house, you cannot not afford to get title insurance. Does that make any sense? What I’m trying to say is that no risk is acceptable if it is avoidable. Risk of financial devastation due to property disputes is avoidable with title insurance.

If there were a mud puddle, would you step in it? Well, if you’re my son, Sterling, you’d not only step in it-you would dive in it! But I wouldn’t step in it, not with your good shoes! Homeowners avoid obvious ownership problems by getting a title search and a survey done before they buy, then they can deal with any questions of boundary lines and ownership entitlement ahead of time.

But some problems you can’t see coming. Some title issues hide in courthouse records, some linger in deeds that never got recorded, some wait with heirs who can procrastinate in making their claims, and every now and then, you get a case of flat out fraud. You can’t see these kinds of things coming, but what you can do is minimize your financial exposure and risk to them with title insurance.

Why spend big money on a lawsuit when you could buy title insurance for a nominal one-time fee? Have you priced attorneys lately? You’re not likely to get a Groupon.

A lawsuit can range in the upwards tens of thousands of dollars… and keep in mind you could still lose your house after fighting for your ownership rights in court. Title insurance, on the other hand, generally costs a few hundred dollars, depending on the value of the property. That’s why I say if you can afford a house, you cannot not afford title insurance-it’s bad English to use a double negative, but it’s worse English if you spend all your money on your legal defense and lose anyway. That’s a double negative!

Like I said, for a few hundred dollars you can buy a title insurance policy that pays for the legal defense of your title, and will pay out the policy amount should that defense fail.

Obviously you don’t want to lose your house in a property title dispute, but you really don’t want to lose it if you’ve paid all your savings, your retirement and your kids’ college fund on the legal defense – then you’ve lost your home and all your money. Cardboard boxes are cheap, but they lack ambiance.

Instead of the double negative, let’s rephrase this issue with a double positive: if you can afford a house, you can afford the title insurance to go with it, then you’re covered in court costs and policy amount of your house, should you need it. Get title insurance and avoid double negatives.

Land Title of AmericaAVOID DOUBLE NEGATIVES
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THE ART OF WORRY

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Gladys Mae knew the art of worry. She worried about her husband’s gallbladder, the price of gasoline, and if clothes on her clothesline could be seen from her neighbor’s yard, especially when she washed her girdle. The one thing Glady’s Mae did not worry about was her property title. Glady’s knew that she and her husband, George, owned that house and had the rightful authority to live in it… or to sell it or will it or gift it as they wished.

Oh sure, property disputes could happen—Gladys didn’t deny that, but she didn’t worry about it either. She didn’t worry about her home ownership title because she and George had title insurance.

Title insurance is peace of mind, assuring your financial protection if someone claims that all or part of your property is theirs.

Gladys Mae had worry beads and stones worn smooth from handling, but she didn’t waste these on her home title. If Mr. Huckleberry next door was going to claim part of her clothesline ran across his property, why then she would just call up her title insurance company and have them deal with Mr. Huckleberry… though she might dry her girdles indoors. If some other joker came to the front door and said he owned the whole lot, then he too would have to take up his challenge with her title insurance company.

Gladys Mae didn’t worry about title claims against her ownership because she had title insurance to fight the battles for her in court, and to pay for the related legal fees. She did not waste her time worrying about title claims… she had better things to worry about!

Land Title of AmericaTHE ART OF WORRY
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WHY IN THE HECK DO YOU TAKE SHORTCUTS?

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So you’ve inherited real estate with your brother. He’s willing to sell you his half of the estate. He’s family. You pay him in cash. So now what do you do? You get him to sign a deed, right? It’s just a deed, you can type it up, there’s forms online, why go to an attorney to have him type it up (and knowing attorneys, they’re going to talk you into getting title insurance), he’s family, what can go wrong?

So you are about to take a shortcut on Real Estate Title, let me share a little story. Once upon a time—no, scratch that, this is no fairytale. Unfortunately what I’m telling you is a true story in Florida. The names have been changed, but the situation is real and ongoing.

This story begins with a set of grandparents. Let’s call them Bob and Sally. Sally died, leaving the house to Bob, and then Bob died shortly thereafter. Bob had a will that left the house to Bob’s son and daughter, we’ll call them Jack and Jill. Seems simple enough, but wait-there’s more.

Jill had agreed previously to purchase all of Jack’s interest in their father’s (Bob’s) estate. Because Jack was her brother, a handshake and a hug was all they had to solidify their agreement. They would take care of the legal paperwork later. “We’re family, what could go wrong?” she said. Some months later, Jack unexpectedly becomes ill and goes into the hospital.

Shortly thereafter, Jack dies.

Jill decides to sell the property, and then realizes in order to get this property in her name so she can sell it, she is now going to have to pay for a probate—penny-wise dollar-foolish! When the probate was complete, Jill was designated as the personal representative and Jack’s wife and her two children would get Jack’s share of the money for the sale of the home.

So Jill lists the property and finds a buyer.

The buyer insists on getting title insurance so a title search was ordered. Title search came back squeaky clean and closing was set. A simple happy ending to what could have been a very complicated situation, except for, prior to closing, a young lady by the name of Jackie surfaces and claims to be the biological daughter of Jack. Talk about sliding home and missing the plate entirely!

Right / Wrong / or Indifferent-it doesn’t matter! Jackie felt that she had rights to seek financial interests in her father’s estate.

Had this closed and Title Insurance issued ( thank heavens it didn’t!), we would have paid a Title Claim to the Biological Child either in legal fees incurred to defend the title, or given her the money she needed to make her go away.

Did the Title Examiner miss something?

No. No matter how many times you look at the Title Search, you can’t see what’s not there.

Was it the Probate Attorney’s fault for not asking about other heirs?

In the end, it doesn’t matter! If you are the Owner, you are stuck with the problem!

I don’t care how many times you look at a Title Search and the Title Search looks great, you can still have problems for things not recorded in the public records. Shortcuts on real estate title can bring unnecessary hardship on you and your family.

Whenever you take title to real estate, get title insurance, no matter if you’re inheriting a piece of property, someone gives it to you, no matter if it comes from your pastor, your brother, your father, your best friend, your son’s wet nurse—crap happens! Unless you’re independently wealthy and have a slush fund with my brother, Rusty’s name on it (he’s an attorney by the way) get title insurance.

This is story 283 in my book of 1001 reasons to get title insurance.

Land Title of AmericaWHY IN THE HECK DO YOU TAKE SHORTCUTS?
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THE SOWER & THE TITLE INSURANCE POLICY

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A sower went to buy a field. To decide which field to buy, he took some seed and went forth to sow. Some seeds fell by the wayside and the birds devoured them. Some fell upon rocky soil where they had no roots and they withered and died. And some seeds fell among the weeds and the weeds choked them. But other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth fruit a hundredfold! Thus the sower went and soldeth all that he had to buy the field with good soil. And he bought title insurance to go along with the property.

The sower became a very wealthy man indeed from the harvest of his field with good soil, and soon he had neighbors on every side, but these neighbors were not wise men. One had bought the field by the wayside, and he had no luck at all. Another had bought the rocky field and was very hopeful when the plants first sprang up, but then he was crestfallen when they withered and died. And another man had bought the field of weeds.

A wicked envy arose around the sower’s success. The three unwise neighbors conspired to take his field. The man who owned the wayside claimed that the property survey was incorrect and that one-third of the sower’s field was actually on his land. The man on rocky soil claimed his late grandmother had left one-third of the sower’s field to him. And the man with the weed patch claimed that one-third of the sower’s field was his easement. In this way, the three unwise men planned to divide the sower’s field amongst them. They would not only get his land, but would break the sower of his wealth as he tried to defend his ownership in a court of law.

The sower listened to their claims…and then he unfolded a lawyer from his title insurance policy. The sower’s title insurance provided legal representation in defense of his land ownership rights, and in so doing, protected his financial interest in the property. Because that policy covered legal fees, the sower did not have to ply his wealth in court costs regarding these property challenges.

In the end, the neighbors could not withstand the legal battles they had waged. The one by the wayside hit the road. The one on the rocky ground started a band. And the third got busted for his weed. The wise sower who had title insurance to financially protect his field of good soil continued to reap a wealthy harvest, and he lived and worked carefree of property disputes.

The sower who had title insurance on his good soil reaped a wealthy harvest regardless of property disputes. http://bit.ly/Sower_and_Title_Insurance

Land Title of AmericaTHE SOWER & THE TITLE INSURANCE POLICY
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SIDE OF FRIES & TITLE ENDORSEMENTS

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Purchasing title endorsements is not like ordering a side of fries. Title endorsements close the gap between your title insurance policy and the exceptions and exclusions of that policy. For instance, title insurance does not cover covenants and restrictions violations, mineral issues, easements, abusive association, challenges against condominium declarations, and the list goes on. That’s where title endorsements come in.

Title endorsements aren’t for wishes—they’re for needs. Title endorsements allow you to customize your title insurance to meet your specific needs.

Proper title insurance coverage means having proper title endorsements. Your title insurance isn’t going to do much good if it only goes as far as the monumental exceptions, like the eight foot utility easement that runs right through your house.

You could probably scrape together enough cash in your car to get a side of fries, but it’ll cost you a lot more on a title claim if you don’t have proper title insurance with proper endorsements. Title endorsements are a very inexpensive way to cover some very real issues that can be very expensive.

Land Title of AmericaSIDE OF FRIES & TITLE ENDORSEMENTS
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$10,000 QUESTION

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What would you do with $10,000? Was your first answer: “Pay legal fees for a lawsuit I could have prevented for a nano-fraction that amount?”

For a one-time fee at closing, you can buy Title Insurance that covers legal costs relating to ownership disputes on your property.

Sure, title claims don’t happen every day in your life, but they do happen every day, but they can wreck your whole week if they do. More realistically, Title Insurance prevents months of worry about how to par for legal defense of your ownership title.

Don’t waste your money-spend it wisely. The small cost of Title Insurance can prevent a giant expense in legal fees.

What would you do with $10,000? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

Land Title of America$10,000 QUESTION
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