Land Title Blog & Radio Show

New Licensed Title Agent, Jolene Martyn

Land Title of America, Inc. is proud to announce that team member, Jolene Martyn, has become a licensed title agent.  In this capacity, she joins ranks with Stephen Collins, Lisa Byers, and Karen Richmond at Land Title to write title insurance policies with their underwriters:   Fidelity National Title, Westcor Land Title, First American Title, and AmTrust Title.  Thus Jolene expands service to customers, and enhances her own professional stature.  Go Jolene! 


“Jolene Martyn comes from a place where hard work means something, and she’s headed to where experience pays off in lasting value,” says Land Title owner Stephen Collins, “and benefitting the customers the whole way.” 

The best part of home ownership is not paying rent into someone else’s pocket, according to Jolene.  However, the entire closing process, from signing the contract to getting the deed, can be a bit mysterious to many buyers and sellers.  That’s where a good title agent comes in. 

The role of a title agent is to perform accurate closings based on the contract and with the title commitment requirements, and make it look seamless to the customer.  “If you are detail-oriented, like to research, and can solve puzzles, it’s a great job for you,” says Jolene.  She compares her job to a puzzle where you have to put all the pieces together, while actively watching out for fraud (a great reason to use a title company!). 

Does she have a specialty?  Yes she does:  mobile homes and mobile home transfers.  While Jolene is licensed to write title for any type of property, these are her particular specialty niche market.  

With her new professional status, her role as a closer is strengthened, to the deep benefit of her customers.  She now has direct communication with the underwriters.  She can see more information, and has access to more information and tools.  For example, a recent customer needed to sign with a mark (instead of a standard signature), and Jolene was able to directly download the appropriate forms to make that possible.  Thus she can streamline the closing process, making the transaction easier and faster to complete for customers. 

As an insider to the title industry, Jolene’s advice to buyers and sellers is twofold:  1) Do NOT close without a survey, and 2) ALWAYS use a title company, because you have no idea what’s in the chain of title.  And that goes for investors as well as residential customers. 

An area native, Jolene’s first introduction to real estate title started in 2003, and she has been with Land Title since 2017.  She credits her years of experience with helping her pass the licensure test.   The study guide is nearly two inches thick, but her familiarity with the Marketable Records Title Act (MRTA) and riparian rights, as well as numerous other technical topics gave her the qualifying experience to pass the test, and add immeasurable value to every file she touches.  You may contact Jolene Martyn at Land Title at (904) 797-9600 or by email at [email protected].  Go Jolene! 

Land Title of AmericaNew Licensed Title Agent, Jolene Martyn
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Land Title Sponsors Powerlifter Delia Hernandez

Land Title of America, Inc. is proud sponsor of Powerlifter Delia Hernandez, and congratulates her on her First Place Win at the Jenn Competition in Lakeland, May 2022.  Way to go Delia! 

Delia’s Reminder:  “I came from somewhere too.”

Delia Hernandez grew up in Athens, Texas.  As a high school senior, she competed in a regional powerlifting meet, and qualified to represent her school at the state level. 

Then she went on to serve in the US Navy, but when she left the military, she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.  “Some days I used to walk like grandma,” she says of the debilitating disease.  With medication she was able to train again, but she had to start from the ground up in movement and form. 

Delia’s Motto:  “There’s always a way.”

Powerlifter Delia Hernandez

Delia has a degree in sports medicine, and has been a personal trainer for six years.  Her career began with general population, recovering from injury, dealing with chronic physical challenges, and improving overall fitness.  Over the last few years, and up to recently, she has transitioned to training mostly women of all fitness levels who want to feel stronger and are curious about the sport of powerlifting.  In May 2021, she started her own business, Empowered Lifting.  It took off by word of mouth, which is how she met a sponsor representative from Land Title.  In January 2022, Delia began training with her coach, Daniel Tinerajo (based in Ormond Beach, Florida).  Five months later she was standing on top of the podium at the Jenn Competition. 

Delia’s Goal:  Create a community of women who feel strong and empowered. 

The future is brighter with competition, both in her personal life and her business. 

With more competition under her belt, Delia is more confident to train others in strength training, especially women.  Already she has introduced a handful of girls to powerlifting and competition.  She enjoys the camaraderie of the sport, where one can feel the energy, and see the strength of a person push through with the right instruction, instruction that keeps a person safe.  She wants to promote that progression in herself, and in other women like her. 

Delia’s Secret of Success:  Drive and the determination to push for more.

For Delia, the lifts at the Jenn Competition felt surprisingly easy.  She is ready for the next challenge.  Right now, that means four days a week in the gym.  She is excited about the layout of the program she has with her coach, and looking to the next meet, scheduled for October this year.  One of her biggest obstacles is to take days off, give her body that chance to rest, recover, and build strength.  Her fuel is carbohydrates before the gym, protein after, and she wakes up each morning with an appetite for more success. 

You can follow Delia on Instagram @delias_world_ and her client spotlights @empowered.lifting

Delia Hernandez Jenn Competition Top Results, May 2022

Squat                    130 kg / 287 lbs

Bench                   70 kg / 154 lbs

Deadlift 155 kg / 342 lbs

A New Personal Record by 30 pounds!

Land Title of America, Inc. is a real estate closing and title company in St. Augustine, Florida.  At Land Title, we celebrate our community, and we are proud to support Delia and her showcase of strength.  For information about local sponsorship through Land Title, contact Stephen Collins at (904) 797-9600

Land Title of AmericaLand Title Sponsors Powerlifter Delia Hernandez
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Queenie’s Alter Ego


Queenie Lews at the Beach

Outside the office, Queenie Lewis prefers a beach backdrop.  You may find her at church and helping others, or doing arts and crafts and making gift baskets, or visiting with family.  But away from those activities, the beach is her happy place, where she can sit and listen to the water, and be refreshed. 

Email [email protected]

Land Title of AmericaQueenie’s Alter Ego
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Florida Land Title Association

FLTA 2022 Member Logo

We are proud of our affiliation with the FLTA and thought it was important to tell you of our membership. Florida Land Title Association’s (FLTA) mission is to support the land title profession for the protection of property rights and the integrity and security of real estate transactions.

Advocate. Connect. Educate.

When you work with us, you are enjoying the benefits of the FLTA and all its affiliates. We thought you should know.

Land Title of AmericaFlorida Land Title Association
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Guess who’s a loyal British colony during the American Revolution?  FLORIDA!  All that messy business at Valley Forge, the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence—all that happened while Florida was Great Brittan’s 14th American colony.

Isn’t that a fun fact?

Via the Treaty of Paris, Florida is peacefully ceded from Spain to Great Britain from 1763 to 1784, and then the second Treaty of Paris peacefully cedes Florida back to Spain.  So during the hard winter at Valley Forge, British soldiers could come on leave straight to sunny Florida.  Here in St. Augustine, Samuel Adams and John Hancock were burned in effigy in the Plaza, and three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were imprisoned in the Castillo de San Marcos:  Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge.

These little historical gems can make for superb conversational gambits, like at a party or trying to impress a date, but other times, what you don’t know about the past can really bite you…right in the wallet.

Let’s say you inherit real estate.  It’s been in the family for years, passed down from one generation to the next, and now to you, the only living heir.  The property is paid for—no mortgages or liens against it.  It’s a nice little house, well-kept, and full of fond family memories.  So you move right in and feel right at home.

And THEN there’s a knock at the door:  it’s the Seminole Indian Tribe.  Just as you are about to serve lemonade, they inform you that your house is sitting atop the sacred burial ground of their ancestors.  Isn’t that a fun fact?  They don’t want your lemonade—they want you out.

Best thing to do here is whip out your Owners Title Insurance Policy.  Even if Uncle Ed had Title Insurance on the house and never had a claim, when you acquire the property, you need a Title Insurance policy that covers your interest.  (Uncle Ed’s title insurance covered his interest, and he isn’t very interesting now because Uncle Ed is dead.)

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. 

You could lose your house if they have a legitimate claim, or the Seminoles could be five hundred feet off and should be knocking at your neighbor’s door—either way your Owners Title Insurance Policy pays for the legal defense of your property ownership.  Title Insurance pays to vigorously defend your ownership rights—they don’t want to pay out on a title claim if they don’t have to, but they will if they need to.  Thus you are doubly covered with Title Insurance—your legal defense of ownership is paid and if that fails, the policy is paid out.

Yes, you could still lose your house, but with Title Insurance, the policy amount will be paid out to you, and you don’t walk away empty-handed.  Isn’t that’s a fun financial fact?

Land Title of AmericaHISTORY SURPRISE?
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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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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

Land Title of AmericaSHE COULD OWN YOUR HO– USE
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Henry the Hunter bought himself a plot of 40 acres right smack in the middle of nowhere. It was the perfect piece of land. Beautiful layout and just the right retreat from the womenfolk. Only thing was, he couldn’t get to it.

The front side of the property was a meandering swamp that swelled up into a raging river in heavy rains. There was a dirt road off a side street, but that was posted private property with a locked gate. Henry had him a sharp set of bolt cutters, but the law wasn’t fully in favor of him using them.

The Judge said: “Build a bridge.” Regardless of permitting issues, traffic flow, or environmental impact in a wetland—the Judge did not care about convenience. He looked at records of where the lot came down from and the Right of Access was attached to that highway, not the dirt road. Right of necessity is another matter, and what is legal does not equal what is convenient for the landowner.

Henry didn’t have the money for permits and construction to build a bridge, but he did have a pair of waders. Way he saw it, that Judge just made his property more valuable. If his hunting camp was remote before, it was now nigh unto impossible to get to, and there was no way his wife was going to put on a pair of rubber boots to come find him.

In Florida, you can’t stop a person from accessing their real estate. You have Implied Easement to allow you access to your property, the question is where. You need more than a title search to learn about your Right of Access; you need a full land abstract to see where your lot comes down from and which road it is attached to.

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

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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.

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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.

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