All posts tagged: title insurance policy

WHAT MAKES TITLE INSURANCE DIFFERENT?

No comments

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?
read more

TITLE INSURANCE IS YOUR FINANCIAL SEAT BELT

No comments

Are you really that stupid that you would own real estate without an owners’ title insurance policy?  Whether you purchased or inherited, the risk is the same.  Look ya’ll, I’m gotta house!  Risk is in all real estate; however, you can reduce your financial risk with an owners’ title insurance policy.

Now why would I want to go and spend more money on an owners’ title insurance policy when I’m trying to save money?

Let’s put it this way:  whether you drive a minivan or a convertible, you wear a seat belt for safety.  You may have financed your old minivan and made a cash deal on your convertible—either way, the accident risk is the same.  Title insurance is your real estate seat belt.  You never want to use it, but it saves your financial life.

Wear your seatbelt, EVEN ON A CASH DEAL.

ESPECIALLY ON A CASH DEAL!!

IF IT’S A CASH DEAL, IT’S YOUR CASH ON THE LINE.

If something goes funny with your ownership rights, then you stand to lose everything you put into it, and then some.  The circumstances of real estate transactions aren’t always cut and clean.  Where there’s room for doubt, there’s room for a lawsuit.  Do you know how much lawyers cost?  Do you want to find out?

Idiots abound, but you don’t have to be one.  You can do everything right—do the title search and get the survey—but that doesn’t stop some idiot from challenging your legitimate ownership of that property.  And as the owner, it’s your responsibility to defend your legal rights to the property.  Title insurance not only takes the burden of the legal defense, they also pay the bill.

Did you get that?  For a low, one-time premium, title insurance provides AND pays for the legal defense of your ownership rights. 

You can’t always stop stupid, but you can financially protect your property with title insurance.

* Please understand all title insurance policies have exceptions in their coverage.  Be sure to have an attorney review those exceptions with you.

Land Title of AmericaTITLE INSURANCE IS YOUR FINANCIAL SEAT BELT
read more

A DEED AMONG FAMILY?

No comments

Who needs deeds a deed among family members? The family members do!! Good deeds support good relations among kin, especially when inheritance gets involved.

When property changes hands from branch to branch on the family tree, keep the paperwork in order and maintain title insurance so that ownership rights can be properly recognized and defended should a dispute arise. Don’t take shortcuts just because it’s family—don’t take shortcuts because it IS family!!

A major source of title challenges is from family transactions in real estate.

Even if the old homestead has been in the family for fifty years, property disputes can happen at any time. Family disputes tend to be the biggest and most emotional. When there’s a lot of emotion, there’s no rational—and it’s costly! Want to help an attorney pay off his college loan, pay for litigation on a family dispute. When somebody says, “I’m fighting this for the principal of the matter,” they usually mean: “For all the principal in your bank account!”

It’s expensive to be totally right!! Have you hired a lawyer lately? Remember, if a person—family member or otherwise—files a claim against your property, YOU have to pay for the legal defense of your real estate rights. Title insurance covers those court costs and provides the legal representation.

Whether Uncle Elmer thought your daddy left the place to him, or Cousin Jesse claims your septic tank is on her side next door, a title insurance policy provides the financial and legal means to assert your ownership rights.

As of March 2001, a lot of companies started issuing the new and improved title insurance forms which allowed for those who inherit property to also inherit the title insurance. But any policy issued without the updated forms is not assumable to heirs; therefore, even though granddaddy had coverage, it doesn’t mean you do.

Don’t know if your inherited property came with title insurance? Land Title of America, Inc will be glad to check—it’s a free service—just stop by our office located on U.S.Highway 1 South in St. Augustine (in the Lewis Point Plaza) or give us a call:

Land Title of America, Inc
2495 U.S. Highway 1 South
St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 797-9600

Land Title of AmericaA DEED AMONG FAMILY?
read more

SOUTH FLORIDA CONDO NIGHTMARE: PAST DUES!

No comments

In a Florida home foreclosure, when the bank repossess the home, the lender is not liable for more than one year of back home owners’ association fees when it’s a subdivision, and six months when it’s a condo.* Often that’s not nearly what is owed, but it gives the association some recovery from the loss of income. That’s what’s supposed to happen, but one South Florida condo association—which shall remain nameless here—sees it differently.

The condominium owner went into foreclosure on his unit. He didn’t make his mortgage payments and he also couldn’t afford the condo association dues. Financial hardship led to foreclosure and months of unpaid association fees. Finally the condo unit went to auction on the courthouse steps, and the lender ended up with the property.

Then a buyer came along. He bought the foreclosure condo from the lender and got title insurance. As part of the closing process, the title company obtained an estoppel letter from the condo association that provided a certain amount to catch up all the back association fees.

Everything was great. The new buyer became the owner of their dream condominium. They got done, closed, everybody thought everything was wonderful. Now if that were really the case would I be writing this blog? In a typical situation, everything that transacted here here would be considered normal and customary—everybody crossed their proverbial t’s and dotted their proverbial i’s—why would the buyer waste money on title insurance?

Let’s list all that has transpired: There was a proper foreclosure and sale at the courthouse steps. When a new buyer was found, a new title search was done and everything came back spotless, no issues. In preparation for closing, the title company acquired all proper estoppel letters and all monies due including taxes. And the closing was conducted properly—what could go wrong?

I’ll tell you what could go wrong: the association came back and demanded all unpaid association fees prior to the buyer purchasing the condo.

“But we have an estoppel letter that says all association fees are current,” said the buyer.

The association said, “Show us the original letter.”

The buyer says, “ The lender only has a faxed copy.”

The association says, “That’s not good enough. Pay up, because if you don’t we’re going to foreclose… and by the way, thank you for the new cabinets and flooring and the updated toilet seats, they’re nice.”

How could this happen? Everything was done right. The answer: crap happens, and it’s expensive when it does.

There is a happy ending to this story even though this story has not ended: the buyer has title insurance, and the title insurance company is paying to defend the buyer’s ownership.

In a case like this, it doesn’t matter if the lawsuit is right, it doesn’t matter if it’s legal, it doesn’t matter if it’s covered in spaghetti and meatballs—the New Owner has to defend his interest in the property in a court of law… and that costs money. Without Title Insurance, the full force of the legal expense lands on the New Owner’s wallet.

The legal expense—hiring an attorney and court costs—versus the balance of the condo association. Which is more? Doesn’t matter if you have Title Insurance. Your Title Insurance Policy will either settle the claim or provide and pay for the legal defense of your ownership interest (and pay out the policy amount if that defense fails).

You buy Title Insurance for peace of mind—not because you know you are going to use it. Title Insurance is a one-time fee you pay at ground level in case a high rise of legal expense happens related to your property ownership.

No matter where you live, the view is better if you’ve got clear title, and beyond that, you’ll rest well if you’ve got financial protection through Title Insurance.

*This limitation on what’s owed on back association fees is only applicable if the foreclosing lender is the highest bidder at the courthouse steps. If a private party is the highest bidder, that person is responsible to pay all back association fees no matter how high the fees are or how far back the fees go.

Reason #328 to get Title Insurance.

Land Title of AmericaSOUTH FLORIDA CONDO NIGHTMARE: PAST DUES!
read more

INSURE YOUR HOME OWNERSHIP LIFESTYLE

No comments

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
read more

Attorney Mistake in Writing Title

No comments

Attention Attorneys who represent their clients in a real estate transaction AND write title insurance for them in the same transaction:  I want to talk about CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

How can an attorney objectively write a Title Insurance Policy and represent a client in a real estate closing?  Who does the attorney really represent?  Answer:  The Title Underwriter.*  That attorney has a contractual agreement to represent the title insurance company first—the homeowner’s interest is subordinate.  How is that for proper legal representation of the homeowner?

An attorney who writes title insurance AND represents a client IN THE SAME CLOSING doesn’t really care about the client, and violates the mutual trust of an attorney-client relationship.  

An attorney who writes title insurance and practices law is fine, as long as that person doesn’t represent a client in the same transaction.  A title insurance company owned and operated by an attorney?  No problem—I’ll compete with you all day long.  But if you try to represent a client in the same transaction in which you write the title insurance policy, then I take issue with you—CEASE AND DESIST IMMEDIATELY for the sake of your customers!

Let me tell you a little story about a lady named Sheila.  Her attorney/closing agent never recorded the deed and mortgage.  After paying nearly $70,000 into the loan, Sheila goes to refinance only to find out she doesn’t actually own the house she’s been living in for almost four years.

Problem 1:  The attorney who supposedly represented Shelia has a contractual relationship with the title company who now has a title problem.

Problem 2:  That attorney was suspended for three years.

Problem 3:  The title policy was never issued.

Problem 4: The title company where the attorney/closing agent worked refused to pay for the title error.

Problem 5:  Sheila’s going to have to pay new closing costs to have her deed filed.

How could this have worked differently?  

Sheila could have hired an attorney whose interests were only aligned with hers.  Her attorney could have made sure all documents were properly recorded and a valid title policy issued, insuring her against any title questions.  (But instead Sheila had a selfish attorney who tried to represent her and the underwriter, and when the doggie doo-doo hit the fan, Sheila was left without representation and without insurance.)

Any questions?

This is a true story that happened in Pennsylvania—how many stories don’t we hear about?  In how many cases is the result of dual representation so devastating the homeowner victim can no more afford to fight than they can afford to live in the house they thought they owned?

“This case is a perfect example of why people have to hire their own attorney when dealing with this much money,” said Pennsylvania real estate lawyer, William Mackrides, about Sheila’s situation.

There’s no way this woman’s problem would have gotten this far if her attorney hadn’t also been her title agent.  Sheila’s story shows why you cannot just rely on the attorney who writes your title insurance to also represent you.

Everybody’s human.  Everybody makes mistakes.  The separation of representation—the homebuyer’s attorney and the title company—adds an objective checkpoint so that each party’s interest is fully represented without bias.  

There are a lot of fine attorney/title agents out there, and when they play title agent only, that’s great.  But if you think your attorney/title agent has your best interest in mind first, then you could be $70,000 wrong.

 

* If financing is involved, then the attorney has a contractual obligation to represent the title underwriter first, then the lender, and finally the homeowner.  Thus the homeowner would be third in line for legal representation.

 

Stephen CollinsAttorney Mistake in Writing Title
read more

Title Insurance is Champion of Ownership Rights!!

No comments

In the never-ending battle for truth, justice, and clean title to real estate, Title Insurance is the champion of your ownership rights!  From easements to inheritance, no claim is too small or too large for an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy—your Title Insurance company is there to fight for you!!

Superhero1

Keepin’ It Real

Title Insurance puts the real in real estate.  Should you have a claim against your deed, Title Insurance will meet the challenge to your ownership, providing the legal fees and the attorney to do battle in court if necessary.  (Even if your court battle loses, you still get the policy amount.)

When you obtain property, don’t walk—fly to make sure you have the proper coverage to fully insure your real estate title!!  It’s a one-time fee, normally paid at closing (but can be acquired at any time), and costs a lot less than hiring an attorney on your own.

Furthermore, Title Insurance is also a proactive measure as well as a defensive strategy.  The cost includes a title search to address any questions in the chain of title that appear in public records.  Once that’s done and any issues dealt with, then the policy insures against any questions that may arise in the future, but aren’t necessarily revealed in public records.

One good deed deserves another!

And later when you convey your property to a new owner, your Title Insurance policy continues to protect you from possible challenges for which a new owner could hold you liable.

Title Insurance – It’s good for now, it’s good for later, it’s good for what happened in the past, and it’s good for you!!

Stephen CollinsTitle Insurance is Champion of Ownership Rights!!
read more

Claims Versus Reality in Title Insurance

No comments

The perception of Title Insurance is that for every $100 that gets paid into the pot, only $6 of that gets paid out.  The reality is that for every $100 paid in, $94 goes into making sure no more than $6 will have to go towards a title claim.

While Title Insurance takes on the financial responsibility for title-related issues, that financial responsibility is limited to the policy amount—the cost is much greater than what’s covered.  The power of Title Insurance is the preventative work that goes into it.

Title Insurance is NOT casualty insurance—Title Insurance is PREVENTATIVE insurance.

Coverage:

Title Insurance coverage is unique because it reaches both forwards and backwards at the same time to protect the homeowner.

Title Insurance is good from the beginning day of the policy backwards.  It covers everything that happened before the real estate acquisition, including all unforeseen title flaws, and the policy pays for litigation should someone challenge the ownership through a lien, claim, or taxes.*  Thus the coverage protects the homeowner during their ownership of the property and for everything that happened before they took title.

Title Insurance insures the homeowner’s financial interest forwards into the future, even protecting them after they sell that property.  Because the Contract for Purchase and Sale typically requires the Seller to convey ownership with warranties, the Seller becomes responsible for anything that has ever transacted on the property. Thus the homeowner retains liability for their link in the Chain of Title even after they sell.  A Title Insurance Policy protects the homeowner for as long as that person has a financial liability to the property…which is until death.

Service:

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.  Owner’s Title Insurance is primarily for prevention of claims against home ownership, and a title search is part of the risk assessment.  Thus in the examination of public records, the title company has a vested concern to find any and all complications to the ownership title, in fact to kick the proverbial sleeping dog…on purpose.  We’d rather find out now (rather than after the fact) whether or not that dog has teeth and a temperament for biting.

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.  (Just remember, another person’s perception is reality.)  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).

Cost:

The cost of Owner’s Title Insurance is promulgated by the State of Florida, and the current rate has been the same for over 20 years.  It is a nominal fee compared to litigation costs.  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. 

The Big Picture:

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 adds real value to real estate rights, thus it benefits every Florida citizen.

Any further questions, tune into “Land Title Talk,” on the First and Third Thursday of each month from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on 102.1 FM WFOY (http://www.1021news.com).  Please call or text during the show to comment or ask about real estate-related issues.

*Please note Title Insurance does have exceptions.

 

Stephen CollinsClaims Versus Reality in Title Insurance
read more

How Do You Know If Your House Is Possessed?

No comments
Welcome to Poltergeist Heights!  An Owner’s Title Insurance Policy not only says, “This house it clean!” it insures it.

Welcome to Poltergeist Heights! An Owner’s Title Insurance Policy not only says, “This house it clean!” it insures it.

The easy answer is to get a Title Search.  The best answer is to get Title Insurance.

Possession is a huge deal in real estate.  The big problem is that past owners can come back to haunt your property.  A Title Search is good, but it only sees what’s in the public records.  (A Title Search cannot see the deed filed in Uncle Bob’s sock drawer that gives ownership of your house to Cousin Delilah.)  Whereas an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy not only says “This house it clean!” it insures it.

Title Insurance is a policy that protects the real estate owner from financial loss due to a challenge against his or her real estate ownership. 

The cost to defend yourself against a title claim is a grave matter—don’t do it on your own!!  A Title Insurance Policy is a minimal expense compared to the cost of defending your ownership rights in a court of law.

Stephen CollinsHow Do You Know If Your House Is Possessed?
read more

Title Challenges in Family Transactions

No comments

Most property title challenges come from two situations.  Right now in the current economic climate, we get a lot of title claims in foreclosure properties.  The second major source of title challenges is from family transactions in real estate, and this type of title claim is around in all economic environments.

Whenever you interact with family, you take shortcuts because, hey, it’s family.  Maybe dad told you to do it, but then as soon as the head-of-household is gone, other family members may see things differently.  For instance, the woman accused of coercing her father into signing the deed over to her.  She took care of him, but now all the family is suspicious of her.  These things only surface when dad passes on.

Title Insurance cannot prevent the risk of all title claims; however, an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy does pay to fight or settle such claims.  Even if you are inheriting property that’s been in the family 50 years, always get a title policy on the property.

 

Stephen CollinsTitle Challenges in Family Transactions
read more