All posts tagged: Property 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 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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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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