All posts tagged: Home Ownership

MURPHY’S LAW

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Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, especially in real estate, which is why you should take appropriate precautions to minimize financial risk, whether you’re buying a home to live in or an investment property.

Murphy was a competitive mudder, had him the fastest four-wheel-drive on semi-dry land—‘Murphy’s Mud Bucket.’  Like most of us, Murphy wanted to get ahead in life.  He knew he wasn’t going to drive around the state forever picking up trophies for crossing the quagmire quicker than anyone.  He took his winnings and decided to invest.

So he bought a nice little property on bank auction, a house with a front yard just about the perfect size for a good mud bog, but Murphy was going to sell it before he put any tire tracks through across the grass.

Now Murphy knew you didn’t win races if you got stuck between the starting point and the finish line.  You had to get in and get out fast without getting stuck in the middle.  The only way he was going to make any money off this thing was to get in there and get out fast.  He’d bought the house; all he had to do was sell it and he’d be money in pocket, no prizes for second place.

That’s right, folks, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle between the start line and the finish.  The same is true of real estate investments, only Murphy wasn’t so savvy about what he was doing.

You see the previous owner had bought the house and lived there.  Then that owner had gotten a reverse mortgage.  When that owner died, the property reverted to the Bank, and the Bank had sold it to Murphy at auction.  Murphy had made the purchase without a survey and used an out-of-town title company.  He also did not get an ALTA 9 Endorsement.

Murphy fixed up the house and found him a buyer.  BUT, the buyer got a survey and realized that Murphy only owned the front yard—not the house!!  The legal description on the title when the Bank took it over was incorrect.  Murphy had WAY OVERPAID for a front yard that he couldn’t sell.

Next Murphy tried to contact the out-of-town title company, but they didn’t answer.

They didn’t answer.

And they didn’t answer.

Also, because Murphy didn’t get the ALTA 9 Endorsement which protects property owners from survey errors and inaccuracies, Murphy had no recourse.  Murphy was stuck in the mud with no prize money for failure to finish.

There are ways to get across the bog to the good value side of real estate:

  • Use a Local Title Company that can help you if (and too often when) things go wrong.
  • Get a Survey, not just to know where your boundaries are, but also so you can get proper title insurance.
  • Get an ALTA 9 Endorsement, which is an important part of proper owner’s title insurance.

This is based a true story but the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

By Stephen Collins & C. J. Godwin

Land Title of AmericaMURPHY’S LAW
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SHE COULD OWN YOUR HOUSE

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Isn’t she cute?  Did you know this little girl could own your home, evict you, and throw out all your stuff? 

In the State of Florida, if a person lives in a home and has a minor child, that child inherits the house.  What if the previous homeowner had a girlfriend you didn’t know about?  And the girlfriend had a baby with the previous owner?  That child owns the home, not you.

The previous homeowner’s girlfriend’s baby is not going to show up in public records on a title search.  But she could evict you.

Do you have an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy? 

Owner’s Title Insurance provides and pays for the legal defense of your property rights.  For a low, one-time premium you can protect yourself against financial loss to any such title claims.   Call Land Title of America, Inc. today at (904) 797-9600, serving all your real estate closing and title insurance needs.

Not sure if your home has title insurance?  Call us at (904) 797-9600 and we’ll be glad to check the title insurance status of your property free of charge. 

Land Title of America, Inc.

2495 U.S. Highway 1 South

Saint Augustine, Florida 32086

(904) 797-9600

www.GoLandTitle.com

Land Title of AmericaSHE COULD OWN YOUR HOUSE
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WHAT’S BURIED IN YOUR BACKYARD?

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What’s buried in your backyard:  a jar of cash, the family pet, human remains?  A home inspection doesn’t usually involve shovel work, and even a good survey can’t cite unmarked graves.

True Story:  There was a man who bought a new home in a new development.  Each of the lots was five acres, and on this man’s new property, the front yard had a nice grass lawn, trimmed with shrubs and flowers.  The back section was wooded.  Now the developer had disclosed that there were stones in the backyard that seemed out of place, in other words, not of a natural formation or deposit, but he gave no further details.

The developer really didn’t know what they were.  That part of the five-acre property did not fall into the construction area of the house, nor into the landscaped part of the yard.  The man moved in and was very happy with his new house on his new property, but when he went to clear a garden, he discovered a cemetery in the woods!

Nineteen headstones marked slave graves, untouched for over a century.

The man wanted none of this.  He didn’t hold a séance; he started a sue-ance.  He sued the developer, the real estate agent, and the title company.  The man felt the property was contaminated, compromised.  He didn’t want the bodies relocated—he wanted to be relocated instead!

In the end, the nineteen bodies were relocated, the developer resold the property, and the man lived unhaunted ever after.

What to do if you find human remains in your backyard:

  1. STOP.
  2. Call the Medical Examiner. In St. Johns County the phone number is (904) 209-0820.

The Medical Examiner will determine the age of the remains.  If more than seventy-five years, then an archaeologist gets involved.  If less than seventy-five years, you may have a police investigation in your own backyard.

This is not as much a property rights issue as it brings up issues of crime, public health, historical value, and respect for human remains.

* True story.  Some of the details are changed to protect the parties involved.

Land Title of AmericaWHAT’S BURIED IN YOUR BACKYARD?
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WHAT MAKES TITLE INSURANCE DIFFERENT?

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Owner’s title insurance is like health insurance in that you never want to use it, but you’re glad to have it if you need it. But unlike health insurance, title insurance has a low, one-time premium that gives you a lifetime of coverage for a property.

Owner’s title insurance is different than other types of insurance because it’s not casualty insurance.

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. Check with your title company for specifics on discounts available for some transactions. Proper title endorsements to the policy are also a part of your complete coverage and those vary depending on the property. The base rate and the endorsements don’t come near the legal cost you’d have to pay to defend your ownership rights. And remember, you only have to pay the premium once for owner’s title insurance and you’re good for life.

Title insurance is good for all real estate ownership. If you are unsure whether or not you have title insurance on your inherited or gifted property, contact Land Title of America, Inc. at 1-904-797-9600, and we’ll be glad to check your title insurance status for free.

Land Title of AmericaWHAT MAKES TITLE INSURANCE DIFFERENT?
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WAD OF CASH

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How big of a wad of cash can you flush down the toilet?  Is $10,000 too much?  I mean you might have friends coming over, what if only a few thousand dollars clogged the system?  Are hundred dollar bills septic safe?  Those are the questions you have to ask if you own real estate without an owner’s title insurance policy.

Title claims happen in the best of families, and in the worst.

Even with a title search, there can still be questions of property ownership due to clerical errors, unrecorded deeds and documents, and a whole range of other circumstances.  It is the homeowner’s responsibility to defend their ownership rights against such claims.  Even if the claims have no validity whatsoever, it is still your responsibility to stand up in court and say, “No, that’s mine!”  Otherwise you could automatically lose your home.

If you don’t have title insurance, then you have to pay the legal fees to defend your ownership rights.  The real tragedy is that you could foot the bill in court—the lawyers, the filing fees, and other legal costs—and you could still lose.  That means your money is gone AND your house is gone.  You could be left without a pot…to throw your money away in.

Here’s an idea:  don’t risk your money or your house—get an owner’s title insurance policy. 

An owner’s title insurance policy not only pays the court costs, the policy also provides the legal defense.  Yep, they bring the lawyer.  How much does title insurance cost?  A lot less than a plumber.  For a low, one-time premium, you can purchase a lifetime of title insurance that covers your financial obligation toward the property.  Furthermore, if you do get sued for title to your house, and if your case does not prevail in court, then you get the amount of the policy.

Even with title insurance, you could still lose your case, but you don’t lose everything.  Without title insurance, you might as well chuck wads of cash down the toilet and find out how much you can afford to flush.

Land Title of AmericaWAD OF CASH
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INSURE YOUR HOME OWNERSHIP LIFESTYLE

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Not everyone should own a home. No offense, but we need all types to make the world go round—we need homeowners, and we need landlords and tenants. Not everyone is suited for the stability of home ownership, and thankfully in America, we have the freedom of diversity.

In the United States we can enjoy different lifestyles, some of which aren’t compatible with a permanent living situation. Home ownership requires a certain lifestyle with certain sacrifices. What do I have to give up for a beach house? Renting a place to live may be a temporary situation, or it can be a way of life.

However, if you can afford a home, insure your title to it. If you are able to put your hard-earned money into a home, pay the one-time for an owner’s title insurance policy, which insures your rightful entitlement to the property. Just because you got a survey and a title search and did everything right doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t do something wrong.

If home ownership is the lifestyle for you, insure that lifestyle with title insurance, to protect yourself financially from the legal expense of a challenge to your ownership. Remember, it’s expensive to be right.

Land Title of AmericaINSURE YOUR HOME OWNERSHIP LIFESTYLE
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Congrats Habitat for Humanity of St. Johns!!

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It took 486 Volunteers only 108 Days to make homeownership come true for a local family.  Congratulations to Habitat of Humanity of St. Johns for the completion of another home in St. Johns County!!

Habitat for Humanity of St. Johns has helped over 100 families realize homeownership in our county, allowing them to establish a stable home environment in which to learn and grow and share with each other.

Habitat for Humanity/St. Johns offers homeownership to St. Johns County residents based on need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with the program.  Qualified applicants put in 250 to 400 sweat equity hours on the construction of their home—it’s a hand up, not a hand out.  The home is then sold to the new homeowner with an affordable monthly mortgage payment.

It’s a great deal for a new homeowner, and a great deal for our community!!

Congratulations to Delores Washington on your new home, and congratulations to Habitat for Humanity/St. Johns for building hope.

If you would like to contribute or learn more about Habitat for Humanity St. Augustine/St. Johns, please visit their website at www.habitatstjohns.org or call (904) 826-3252.

Stephen CollinsCongrats Habitat for Humanity of St. Johns!!
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What You Don’t See Can Really Bug You

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In June 2014, my band OE-2-KB (Old Enough-2-Know Better) had a gig along the St. Johns River.  It had rained all day, but Eddie said he had a thousand-foot tarp that we could put over everything.  So we started setting up and we were watching the radar…and wondering if that tarp could really cover all of our band equipment.

There were a few little blind mosquitoes around, but they didn’t bite, so no big deal.  We played our first set, took a break, and came back.  By then it was very obvious the atmosphere had changed—there were blind mosquitoes everywhere!!  At first I thought they were just around the lights, but they were everywhere!!  Still, they didn’t bite, so we started our second set.

It was like the plagues of Moses—the blind mosquitoes were in our mouths, in our ears, and all over the keyboards, the guitars, the drums.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  My brother, Rusty, had pages of music stuck together with dead bug bodies.  We had been worried about the rain, but what we didn’t see coming that stopped the music.  The same can be true of real estate title claims.

Owner’s Title Insurance addresses not just the title problems you can see in public records, but also the hidden risk.  

Home ownership should be hassle-free.  You should be able to check the radar, have a big tarp handy to cover everything, but even so, challenges to your ownership can happen.

Most property disputes are something small—not a big claim like fraud or forgery on a deed, or someone trying to claim ownership of the entire property.  Usually it’s a matter of feet, an encroachment.  It’s the freak bizarre things, and you just don’t see them coming—that’s why you get title insurance.

Title Insurance provides an initial service when you pay for it—a title search—and provides a secondary service—legal representation and / or compensation of the policy amount—at no additional charge to you should the title come into question.   Title Insurance can’t always prevent an attack on home ownership rights, but it can shield the Homeowner from court costs in a legal defense of property title.

Title Insurance helps keep title claims from bugging you.

(If you’re looking for OE-2-KB, you can keep up with us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OE2KB or our band website at http://www.oe-2-kb.com.)

 

Stephen CollinsWhat You Don’t See Can Really Bug You
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Real Value of Owner’s Title Insurance in Florida

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The misconception of Title Insurance is costing Florida homeowners dearly.  I would like to clarify the real value of Owner’s Title Insurance for all those impacted by the Florida real estate market, from the individual homeowner to the State economy.

When an Owner’s Title Insurance is purchased, primarily it is for the prevention of claims against home ownership.  When a company provides title insurance, a title search is part of the risk assessment done before issuing a policy.  The title insurance company’s objective is in lockstep with the consumer’s best interest:  to avoid questions or challenges of the homeowner’s title.  Thus in the examination of public records, the title company has a vested concern to find any and all complications to the ownership title.  We just do not say, as quoted in a famous movie, “This house is clean.”*   You saw how well that went—they should have gotten a policy as their house is being sucked into oblivion!  We put our money where our mouth is and insure it.

Though title insurance works mostly through prevention, it offers security via financial protection from the massive costs of litigation and other legal expenses should a problem, challenge, or complication to a Florida homeowner’s title arise.  No matter how much effort is put into this prevention, bad things still happen.  It’s expensive to be right when someone thinks you’re wrong.  Owner’s Title Insurance provides and pays for all costs associated with a title claim (whether through settlement, legal defense, and / or reimbursement of the policy amount to the homeowner if that defense does not prevail).

The cost of Owner’s Title Insurance is promulgated by the State of Florida, and the current rate has been the same for 20 years.  It is a nominal fee when compared to what litigation costs are.  Furthermore, Owner’s Title insurance is a one-time fee, typically paid at the closing of a real estate transaction.  Once it’s paid, it’s paid—no monthly premiums, no annual fees—no additional charge to the consumer, the homeowner.

With Owner’s Title Insurance, consumers pay a set amount for financial protection against the unknown cost of hidden risk to home ownership. 

Please refer to the numerous posts in my blog for examples of hidden risk to home ownership.  These issues are real and can be devastating to those who are not insured.

Homeowners need Owner’s Title Insurance now more than ever.  Title Insurance plays a vital role in Florida’s recovering housing market.  As a source of financial protection, Owner’s Title Insurance assures potential Florida buyers they can invest in real estate with stable value backing that investment.

Owner’s Title Insurance is good home economics.  It nurtures financial security for the homeowner, the State budget, and the Florida economy.  Owner’s Title Insurance adds real value to real estate rights, thus it benefits every Florida citizen.

*Poltergeist

 

Stephen CollinsReal Value of Owner’s Title Insurance in Florida
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Peace of Mind on a Piece of Property

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Home ownership should be hassle-free.  Once you close on your house and get settled, you shouldn’t have to worry about who owns your home.  Doesn’t always work that way.

In our human world, errors occur…and sometimes omissions…or undisclosed heirs.  Sometimes a title company (not mine I hope!) misses a document in public records during a title search.  And every now and then, there’s a case of forgery.  Any of these things can put your home ownership in jeopardy.

Title Insurance can’t fix that.  What it can do is pay litigation costs should one of these events become an event in your life.

Home ownership comes with responsibility.  As a homeowner, you are responsible to defend your ownership.  Title Insurance gives you peace of mind knowing that if your ownership comes into question, the cost of legal defense (an attorney and all court fees) is paid for with your policy.

Home ownership is not hassle-free, but you can have financial peace of mind over a piece of property with Title Insurance.

Stephen CollinsPeace of Mind on a Piece of Property
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