All posts tagged: Education

Habitat for Education

The National Association of Realtors cites increased education as a benefit to home ownership.  You can run the numbers of renting versus buying and see that it makes a lot of financial sense to purchase a home rather than rent, but you cannot realize the full value of home ownership until you see what it does for a child.  Habitat for Humanity is all about that!!

A stable home allows parents and/or guardians a safe place to establish positive learning routines and homework zones—staging for books, backpacks, and supplies as well as a place to ask questions and seek answers.  Habitat for Humanity St. Augustine/St. Johns helps area families by supporting this home learning environment as part of their mission “to build homes, community and hope.”

In addition to the financial counseling requirement for housing participants, Habitat St. Augustine/St. Johns also offers a college scholarship to its local families, and has a monetary rewards program for Habitat children in Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade.

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


Stephen CollinsHabitat for Education
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Am I Speaking English?

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

Stephen CollinsAm I Speaking English?
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Equity Q&A

Q: My house is paid for and worth quite a bit—can I use the equity to purchase another house?

A: Yes. You can use the equity in your home by getting a line of credit, and then with that money, can do what you like. The bank you got the line of credit from does not need to take a look at the property you’re buying. Right now if you have equity in your house, real estate is a GREAT investment—take advantage of the great rates!

Holly Yelton was kind enough to help us with the answer. If you have a real estate-related question, please ask and we’ll be glad to address it.

Stephen CollinsEquity Q&A
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Spaghetti! Spaghetti! Spaghetti!

I’m glad you’re paying attention because title insurance is often overlooked. In the half-inch stack of disclosures and mortgage documents you sign at your real estate closing, you might not realize the threat you have of losing your home or land—it’s odorless, soundless, and you can’t see it with a title search—you don’t know it’s there until it’s on top of you! And then you’ve got to pay to defend yourself against it!

I’m passionate about title insurance, maybe you’ve noticed. It’s not just spaghetti on the wall. Title issues are a real estate subject with broad reaching ripples. What affects the real estate market affects the overall economy? I don’t care if you’re buying a single-wide mobile home or the Taj Mahal, title insurance helps protect everyone.

Everyone can see flood damage, everyone knows what a fire can do to a house, but the harmful effects of losing your home or land because of a legal challenge to your ownership aren’t real obvious to outsiders.

There’s a lot to know in a real estate transaction, and there’s a lot I want you to understand at the closing table. If I can educate you on the importance of title insurance beforehand, then we’re ahead of the game. The closing table is not an ideal place to learn all the subtleties of risk to your ownership. You’ve got the title search in your hand showing clear title—it’s hard to see the need for title insurance when the risk is hidden.

Some people learn the hard way, and that’s very bad. If you’re aware of the risk, what you’re up against, and the advantages of title insurance, then you can prevent a financial loss that could swallow up your property.

No, the law does not require title insurance. But the law does allow its citizens the right to own property and the right to protect it. If you buy a security system for your home, why not title insurance? Both protect your property.

I live here. Your loss is my loss. We’ve had enough devaluation in the real estate market. Support sure ground with title insurance.

Stephen CollinsSpaghetti! Spaghetti! Spaghetti!
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