All posts tagged: Property Ownership

Land Title Talks about Environmental Impact and Property Ownership Rights

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Hosts Stephen Collins and Rusty Collins talk with Robert Kessler of Environmental Heritage Investors, LLC about the environmental impact on property ownership rights. Hear about what to do if you have a protected species of animal, like a gopher tortoise, on your property prior to construction or what to do if your neighbor redirects water onto your property.

Stephen CollinsLand Title Talks about Environmental Impact and Property Ownership Rights
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Property Loss Versus Financial Loss

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If someone tries to claim ownership of your land, you could pay for a legal defense yourself, or you could just give them the land—forget the hassle or the dividend you’d make from selling the property. Land is valuable, sure, but it’s only money.

Not everyone feels that way. For most of us, property loss IS financial loss. If you were to lose your home in an ownership dispute, it could be financially devastating.

That’s a risk you don’t have to take. Title Insurance protects your financial interest in a piece of real estate. It pays valid claims and all litigation costs should someone challenge your ownership. Title Insurance covers legal expenses in the defense of your home, and it pays the amount insured should that defense fail. With Title Insurance, you may have property loss, but you won’t have financial loss.

Stephen CollinsProperty Loss Versus Financial Loss
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Your Move

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Moving is a hassle. We just moved our Land Title Office to the Lewis Point Plaza in St. Augustine (where Planet Fitness is located) and believe me, it wasn’t easy. You don’t want to move if you don’t have to, which is another reason I encourage people to get title insurance.

It’s really a matter of money. When it comes right down to it, the question is if you want to spend a little money up front, or risk spending a lot of money in a lawsuit. For a one-time fee at closing, you can buy title insurance on your property. Yeah, a challenge of your ownership is no cake-walk, but it’s not going to hit your finances if you’ve got a title insurance policy. That policy is the financial backbone that’s going to defend your ownership in a court of law should someone claim they own the property or have some other kind of interest or rights.

What if, let’s say, a man knocked on your door and told you there was a mistake at the courthouse and that your home actually belonged to him and he wanted you out so he could move in? If you don’t have title insurance or grandiose personal finances to defend your ownership rights, guess what? That man automatically wins. He automatically gets your house and you have to move. No defense is no defense. You need to be independently wealthy or have title insurance to defend your ownership in a court of law (and the second one is a little easier for most people).

It’s your move. You decide at the closing table if you want to buy title insurance or risk losing your house and all your money.

I hate moving, but I will say that we’re very happy in our new location on South US 1 in St. Augustine. It’s a nice newly designed space, easy to find, easy to get to, it’s got that fresh paint smell, AND WE NOW HAVE PLENTY OF PARKING. Did I just shout that out loud? Feel free to come and see our new place.

Stephen CollinsYour Move
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Title Insurance on a Cash Purchase

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Question: I just bought a home and paid cash for it. Do I need title insurance?

Answer: Yes. It’s highly expensive to be totally innocent. You could be dead right about your ownership of a home or land, but you’ve got to prove it in a court of law if someone questions that ownership.

Title insurance is not about what’s on your title search. It’s about what isn’t. Regardless of whether you paid cash, have a mortgage, or the property was given to you, title insurance protects your financial interest in that property by paying claims or legal expenses related to any challenges of your ownership.

You don’t buy title insurance because you want to use it, but if you need it, it covers your legal expenses.

Stephen CollinsTitle Insurance on a Cash Purchase
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Great Deals in Real Estate, Especially Foreclosures

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If you haven’t noticed lately, there are some great deals in real estate! Look around—it’s a buyer’s bonanza! If you’ve got the finances, real estate is a great investment—take advantage of the low rates.

Holly Yelton recently reported that lending is loosening up.  She is doing quite a few loans on condos, FHA and VA loans, construction loans for both primary residence and second homes, and down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers (yes, though the Federal program has ended, there are ongoing programs for first-time homebuyers). So that’s good news for real estate buyers.  Furthermore, there is a home fix loan, which is designed for a distressed property, such as a foreclosure.

The foreclosure properties out there are often great deals, but may need a little work. The home fix conventional loan product Holly mentioned is only available for a primary residence, but it is well-suited for buying a house that’s been foreclosed on, making a great deal even sweeter!

Stephen CollinsGreat Deals in Real Estate, Especially Foreclosures
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Real Estate Ownership Questions and answers

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Q:  When should you have Title Insurance?

A:  You should have Title Insurance for every piece of real estate that you ACQUIRE.  Whether you take title of a property through purchase or inheritance, you take on the liability that goes with that ownership.

Under the new regulations, a Title Insurance Policy can transfer to the heirs of a property.  They can inherit the title along with the title insurance.  However, if you receive a home or land as a gift, title insurance does not come with it, and you do not buy the title insurance policy at the purchase price of a property.  You are responsible to defend your ownership should a challenge come up against it from previous owners, their heirs, or lien holders.

In these tough economic times, desperate people can do desperate things.  You’re a sitting duck without feathers if you don’t have title insurance because a challenge can cost you more to defend your ownership than you can afford, unless you have an owner’s title insurance policy to cover those litigation expenses.

Q: When does your liability of real estate ownership stop?

A: When you croak. You are responsible for the title on land you’ve sold.  When you sell a home or land, you transfer ownership to the buyer by warranty deed.*  Don’t throw those policies away!

Title insurance protects you even after you sell. Because the contracts and the new title insurance for the buyer require you to convey with warranties, you become liable for anything that has ever transacted on the property. Hold on to that owner’s title policy, even if you let the property go.

Answers! Answers! Answers! If you have more questions about Title Insurance, we have more answers.

*Warranty Deeds are required in most Real Estate Contracts for Purchase and Sale.

Stephen CollinsReal Estate Ownership Questions and answers
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Vested Interest

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I live here. Your loss is my loss when it comes to real estate. When it comes to title insurance, I have a vested interest beyond my business interest.

When one property in your neighborhood goes into foreclosure, what happens to your property? That’s right.  Your property value goes down.

You have a vested interest in title insurance too. When you buy a home or land, you have a financial interest in that property. You put money into it either through a cash purchase or through a mortgage. Even if you inherited a home or land, that property becomes part of your financial assets. Furthermore, you are liable to defend your ownership for every property you have, and that legal defense is going to draw on your financial resources, unless you have title insurance.

Yes, your home or land should be an asset in your financial profile; however, ownership also comes with liability and liability can be very expensive if you are not prepared for it—it can cost you your house.

Stephen CollinsVested Interest
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Property Title Claims – How Does This Happen?

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When it comes to inheritance, some family reunions are more welcome than others. There was a situation of husband and wife. Second marriages for both of them, and they both had two children from previous marriages. The husband and wife wrote a will to include their combined four children. Then the husband died. Next the widow wrote a new will, which included only her two children from a previous marriage. Then she committed suicide. Regrettably, this is a true story.

The probate was clean and done when the husband’s two children showed up. They claimed the widow had written the second will under duress and they wanted their part of the inheritance from their father. Despite probate, a person who has an interest in a property has 30 years to stake that claim. It’s not just that there is a hidden risk—the risk is lingering.

A title search can’t catch hidden risk, but title insurance helps the legal defense of ownership against property title claims. A title insurance policy is not something you want to have to use, but if you need it, the title company who issued the policy will pay all your litigation costs.

Stephen CollinsProperty Title Claims – How Does This Happen?
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Am I Speaking English?

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I don’t want to speak title jargon. What’s a Title Claim? What’s a Title Challenge? When I say there’s hidden risk, how can you tell if you can’t see it? I might just be making up words.

I can be pretty detached from Standard English. Real Estate is not a Romance Language—it’s full of big words that are often compressed into nonsensical acronyms. I’m an industry insider, fluent in Property Pidgin from any Landguage. My job is to translate it to you.

Let’s talk title. Real Estate Title is a combination of all the elements that constitute the highest legal right to own, possess, use, control, enjoy, and dispose of real estate or an inheritable right or interest therein. It is the rights of ownership recognized and protected by the law. Sometimes problems occur with the property title, including errors or omissions in deeds, mistakes in examining public records, forgery (yaouch!), or undisclosed heirs.

These are the kinds of problems you can’t see coming—someone down at the courthouse made an error in recording a deed, someone at the title company (not mine I hope!) missed a claim on public record, someone forged a document, or the heirs of a previous owner came forward within their allotted 30 years to stake their claim.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of title problem it is, the bottom line is that you as the property owner have to fix it. If your ownership is being challenged, you are responsible to defend your ownership. Make sense?

You have three options:

  1. Don’t defend your ownership and thereby lose your property.
  2. Rely on your own financial resources to either pay the claim or hire a lawyer to defend your ownership in a court of law (where you still might lose—then you’d be out the legal expenses as well as being out of your house).
  3. Buy Title Insurance which protects you from claims and legal fees.

You get to a closing table with a half-inch stack of documents to sign. I want you to walk away with a full understanding of the deal you just made, including the liability you take on with real estate ownership.

Don’t just take my word for it. For more real estate terms, check out the glossary at alta.org.

Stephen CollinsAm I Speaking English?
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