All posts tagged: Security

Personalized Homeland Security

Owning a home without title insurance is like going to war only armed with a pellet gun. You’re not going to do very well if you try to stand your ground.

Home ownership is nothing like going to war, but it can be a battleground of property disputes. Sure you get your survey done and your title search, but those only show the obvious landmines. You can’t see if there is an ambush your ownership—errors and omissions in the public records, undisclosed heirs, or even fraud and forgery.

Defense spending starts in the tens of thousands of dollars and escalates from there in legal fees—but not if you have title insurance. Title insurance can’t prevent an attack on your home ownership rights, but it can shield you from the shock wave of court costs to defend yourself. Title insurance provides and pays for the legal defense of your property title. And should you lose that battle, your title insurance policy will pay out the amount insured.

Having someone challenge your home ownership is a bad case scenario, but spending all of your own money on a legal defense, then losing your house anyway is a worst case scenario. Get title insurance for personalized homeland financial security.

Owning a home without title insurance is like going to war only armed with a pellet gun.

Stephen CollinsPersonalized Homeland Security
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Payments & Costs

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. That’s your one-time fee at your real estate closing—it’s one EASY payment that can prevent MEGA payments in litigation fees should your ownership be questioned. I promote title insurance because it’s a relatively small amount compared to the risk of legal defense cost, which can be mightier than your bank account and all your savings put together.

Title insurance pays for your legal defense should someone challenge your property ownership. It pays all your filing costs with the court and for your attorney. The bad news is that your homeownership is in jeopardy—the good news is that your title insurance pays the cost to defend it. Title insurance gives you that peace of mind for as long as you or your heirs have a financial interest in the property. It pays valid claims and covers the cost of a legal defense of your ownership. And it’s a lot cheaper than paying for an attorney yourself.

It also pays out the amount you are insured for should your court case does not come out in your favor. Yes, just because your title search showed up clean and just because you paid for your real estate, someone could have a valid claim to your property. You might still lose your house. Title insurance pays for your legal expenses plus the amount you’re insured for should your defense fail. It protects you against financial loss even if you have property loss.

You could lose your home, but you don’t have to lose your shirt.

Stephen CollinsPayments & Costs
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Easter Egg Hunts & Title Searches

The problem with using hard boiled eggs at an Easter egg hunt is that you might not find them all. Furthermore, by the time you realize you’re missing one, you might not want it anymore. What’s that smell? Yeah, it ain’t good. The same can happen with real estate title searches.

When you go to buy a house, you don’t really want to find a lot of obstacles to your ownership, but, on the other hand, you don’t want to miss any either. You have a title search done before you buy—you want to make sure what you spend your money on is going to be exclusively yours, and that you don’t have to share a bathroom with Mrs. Henley next door because of overlapping surveys—oops! It happens, it’s fixable, but that’s the kind of thing you want to know about ahead of time. You want to set clear boundaries from the start so Mrs. Henley doesn’t show up one morning in her shower cap and bathrobe.

So you have a title searcher look for all the problems he can find. How many Mrs. Henleys are there who might come forward and claim a part of your property or all of it? Yeah, you want to know about those people ahead of time and deal with them up front.

What if the title search misses someone? What if there’s one egg out there, hidden under-recorded deeds at the courthouse or a relative nearly faded off a family tree who may have financial rights to your land or home? That bad egg could be sitting out there in the sun, getting more rotten.

Title insurance cannot protect you from rotten eggs. If you pick up an egg and it seems unnaturally light, throw it as far as you can and hope you don’t hit your sister. Title insurance, however, can protect you financially from challenges to your home ownership.

If you’re buying a home or land, happy title searching. I hope you find all the issues which may complicate you purchase and ownership—it’s best to know about and deal with those ahead of time. If you already own real estate, I hope you have title insurance in case a problem arises.

Happy Easter, and may you find all the eggs!

Stephen CollinsEaster Egg Hunts & Title Searches
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Hugeantic Repartment

“Hugeantic Repartment” is something I used to say as a kid. It means “Huge Apartment.” I’ve been spellbound most of my life (thank goodness for spell-check!) and I’m still making up words. I figure the English language is so messed up anyhow, isn’t that how most words came to be? You take Spanish, French, German and shake them up in a box and let ‘em go like Yahtzee dice—I’m just trying to do my part for the English language! Spelling and pronunciation errors are pretty easy to correct compared with real estate title problems. Title problems can hide then surface and cause financial “devastruction” (again, trying to do my part).

You can make one hundred percent on a spelling test. That means you spelled every word correctly, the grade goes on your report card and it’s not going to change. Real estate, on the other hand, can pass a title search—an inspection of public records—and still have problems.

A deed is the document that says you own your home or land. It comes in many different forms—it comes in the form of a Warranty Deed or a Quit Claim Deed—yuck—or Certificate of Title. It’s supposed to be unique—it has a legal description of the property and gets filed in public records to designate your ownership rights. Unfortunately, mistakes happen. Just like on a spelling test, you can have errors and omissions. Unlike a spelling test, those errors and omissions on a deed can fold into pockets of hidden risk, along with undisclosed heirs, a simple recording mistake, or even forgery.

A clear title search does not rule out possible ownership challenges. No problems found now doesn’t mean there won’t be a big risk later. What you can’t see can cost you unless you have title insurance.

On a spelling test, you’re liable for your own mistakes. In real estate ownership, you’re liable for everybody else’s mistakes who owned that property before you. Title insurance takes the risk of financial loss out of real estate ownership. Title insurance pays claims and litigation costs in the defense of ownership. You get an A Plus on your bank statement no matter what ownership challenges you face.

Stephen CollinsHugeantic Repartment
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You Might Still Lose

Homeownership comes with the responsibility to defend that ownership, even against hidden risk. It is not your fault someone at the courthouse didn’t record a deed, or that the previous owner forgot to include an estranged daughter in the will, but you are responsible to defend your ownership against these kinds of problems.

If someone challenges your ownership of your home, that person could be right. It sounds ridiculous, but yes, someone could have a valid claim to your property. Just because a rigorous title search didn’t reveal the estranged daughter of the previous owner doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a legitimate right to claim. Title insurance doesn’t prevent that kind of thing—it pays for it. Risk to ownership is inherent with real estate ownership itself.

Furthermore, title insurance doesn’t guarantee you’ll win in court. No one can do that, not even my brother, Rusty, even though he thinks so. If you have title insurance and the estranged daughter of the previous owner challenges you in a court of law, your title insurance will pay your legal fees—it pays for your attorney and all legal-related expenses of your case. The bottom line is you might still lose your house, in which case title insurance pays your legal expenses plus the amount of money you insured the house for.

Title insurance pays valid claims and legal fees to defend your ownership. The big advantage of title insurance is that it protects you from financial loss. Nobody wants to lose all their money and their home. Title insurance keeps your shirt on even if you lose your house.

Ownership challenges are not pretty and they can be difficult to deal with, but if you have title insurance, then you keep a bad situation from becoming a worst case scenario.

Stephen CollinsYou Might Still Lose
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Into the Woods

I went to college where I got a real education: MARRIAGE. I met my wife, Jennifer, at BYU-Idaho in a play called “Into the Woods,” a musical by Stephen Sondheim. She was Cinderella and I was Prince Charming. Our first kiss was a stage kiss. Our wedding was the start of many great things over the past 20 years, but happily ever after has had its challenges. Jennifer loved to dance, but lost that ability when she got MS. Our son, Sterling, was born with hypo plastic left ventricle and has had four open heart surgeries.

I’m a big believer in insurance. Certainly my family has benefitted from having health insurance—my wife, my son, I’ve had cancer, my brother had a heart attack. I’m grateful for the financial support we’ve had when we faced medical difficulties. I’ve also seen firsthand the benefit to having title insurance on a home or land. Title insurance protects you from financial devastation should you face a challenge to your ownership.

When you buy home or land, you step into the woods. Real estate ownership comes with responsibility and is surrounded by hidden risk. Despite a title search, you cannot avoid uncertainty. There could be errors and omissions, mistakes in examining records, forgery, or undisclosed heirs. There are many fallen trees in public records. If your deed is lost in the woods, it may be difficult to find in the forest of documents. You take on risk when you take on real estate ownership.

Home ownership comes with benefits as well, like shelter for you and your spouse and children. You can maximize your good fortune of ownership with title insurance to protect it. Beware of wicked stepmothers who try to get your property!


Stephen CollinsInto the Woods
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What Experience Has Taught Me

I’ve called St. Augustine and Palatka home since 1979. From my early years in high school, I worked in my father’s title company, Collins Title & Abstract Co., Inc. In 1987, I graduated from St. Augustine High. I went to college, got married, and returned to work with my father. In 1997, I started Land Title of America, Inc., and have been at it ever since, carrying my foundation of family values and solid business practices forward to meet the challenges of today’s real estate market.

I have seen lots of crazy things in the real estate industry over the years, and my experience has taught me the inherent risks of owning real estate. I’ve been around long enough to see the loss from unnecessary risk and how awful that is, like where spending a few hundred dollars on a survey would have saved thousands in a lawsuit. I’ve seen firsthand the need for title insurance, like when title does not get recorded properly. I don’t say what I say because someone told me to—I didn’t hear it at a seminar—I say what I say because I’ve seen it firsthand. And I’ve seen what happens to the people who take a risk without precaution.

I’m glad to do what I do, because title insurance protects people from risk. The threat to real estate ownership can be financially devastating for those who are uninsured.

Stephen CollinsWhat Experience Has Taught Me
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Insure Yourself, It’s Cheaper Than You Think

Some people have plenty of money, are self-insured—I’m not worried about them because they can afford to take the risk. For the rest of us though, a little bit of money spent on title insurance can go a long way.

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. The bottom line is that it’s a one-time fee at closing that protects you for as long as you or your heirs have an interest in the property. It pays valid claims and covers the cost of a legal defense of your ownership. And it’s a lot cheaper than paying for an attorney yourself.

Don’t know if you’ve had to hire a lawyer lately, but it’s dang expensive! Not every homeowner is going to come up against a question of their home ownership, but it’s a big risk if you don’t have title insurance.

For a little bit of money up front, never to bill you again, you can buy an owner’s title insurance policy that insures you into the future for the faults of the past, even protecting you after you sell that property through all past hidden claims. You have that fee, versus the risk of financially defending yourself on your own.

Insure yourself, it’s cheaper than you think when compared to the risk.

Stephen CollinsInsure Yourself, It’s Cheaper Than You Think
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Title Wave

Surf’s up! It’s a great time to have title insurance! There are a lot of great deals in the real estate market with REO’s and foreclosure sales. You can pick up an investment property or a primary residence for a bargain purchase price. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish.

Just because you saved a bundle on the purchase price doesn’t mean you should go on a cheap streak and not buy title insurance. Regrettably the real estate industry has gone through some hard times, especially in the documentation of who owns the note. People think they’re getting a great buy, then it turns out the company they bought from did not have the rightful authority to sell it. The sale gets challenged in court and the new homeowners have to defend their ownership from somebody else’s error.

That legal defense is dang expensive!

Or it can be a smaller title problem, like a dispute over a property line. Maybe the neighbor’s survey puts the line six feet over the homeowner’s easement. That’s not as dramatic, but you still have to face a claim or litigation. Again: Dang expensive!

Title insurance pays claims or litigation costs if there’s a debate over a title. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a question of the entire property or a just a property line location, title insurance pays your legal fees to defend your ownership. It doesn’t give a discount towards legal fees—it pays them. Period.

With the current conditions of the documentation, we are likely to see more confusion over a property title both now and in the future, making this a great time to have title insurance.

Stephen CollinsTitle Wave
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What Is Clear Title?

Question: What is Clear Title?

Answer: Clear Title means that no one else has ownership rights or financial interest rights over a real estate property title.

When a buyer receives Clear Title by virtue of a Title Search, that means there are no obvious defects to the title, but a Title Search is insufficient to disclose unrecorded risk that could exist.

Even with Clear Title, it’s a smart move to get Title Insurance. Despite Clear Title, court cost to defend your ownership can become cost prohibitive. Title insurance will bear that cost for you. It can be very expensive to have Clear Title if you don’t have Title Insurance to go with it.

There’s a lot to know in the real estate market and details can make a big difference. With over 30 years of service in Northeast Florida, if we can answer a real estate-related question for you, please ask us!

Stephen CollinsWhat Is Clear Title?
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