All posts by Frances


What’s an iBuyer?

The real estate agent’s quick guide to everything iBuyer. And, no. iBuyers won’t be taking your job.

blue Home graphic surrounded by tech graphics

If you’ve been living under a rock, you probably haven’t heard the latest buzzword in the real estate industry: iBuyer. Even if you have heard about it, you may still have some questions or concerns.

What is an iBuyer? Is it the right choice for sellers? Are iBuyers taking over real estate agents’ jobs? I-Buy who?

No fear! We’ve gathered all the information you and other real estate agents need to know about iBuyers.

 

WHAT IS AN IBUYER, & HOW DOES IT WORK?

iBuyer services take a modern, technology-based approach to the real estate market and those looking to buy or sell homes. iBuyers use a strategy similar to companies like “We Buy Ugly Houses” by giving you the option to sell your home quickly for cash. However, unlike the “We Buy Ugly Houses” approach, iBuyers focus on homes in good condition. Typically, an iBuyer isn’t looking to flip a property or take on anything that needs extensive repairs.

To get started with iBuyer, a seller visits the website, plugs in the address of the home to be sold, and fills out a questionnaire about the property. Within 24 -48 hours, the seller receives an offer on the home. iBuyers base these offers on technology like the automated valuation model (AVM) to get the quickest “comps” for the property. From there, a seller can decide to move forward with the iBuyer and set a closing date.

 

PROS TO USING AN IBUYER

  1. Speed & Convenience

According to realtor.com data, the median home spends 58 days on the market. However, selling to an iBuyer can take only a handful of days (or longer if the seller prefers). This arrangement would be ideal for an out-of-state property inheritance or a sudden job change resulting in a quick change of living arrangements. It’s also perfect for sellers who just wish to have the control of the time frame. Let’s face it. Selling a home can be somewhat of an inconvenience. Between keeping your home tidy, having the listing agent come in to stage, and leaving at a moment’s notice for a showing, selling your home can become a hassle, and iBuyers can help decrease the time a seller has to deal with these stressors.

  1. Low Risk

When selling with an agent, there’s a certain level of uncertainty. Potential buyers could back out for different reasons, at which point the seller and listing agent are back at square one. When selling with an iBuyer, though, transactions almost never fall through. The only problem a seller may run into is getting a lower appraisal than expected, which may result in a lower offer from the iBuyer.

 

CONS TO USING AN IBUYER

  1. Lower Profits

While convenience is nice, a seller will pay for it. Typically, iBuyers charge a service or convenience fee that can range from 6-9.5% or more. In fact, one MarketWatch study of 26 home sales to iBuyers found that these sellers average around 11% less than owners who sell to a traditional buyer. Granted, traditional home sales have the 5-6% commission fee, but a recent study from Collateral Analytics found that home sellers will pay an average of between 13% and 15% more in fees to an iBuyer than they would to a traditional listing agent.

  1. Limited Availability

Currently, iBuyers are in select major markets only. And while iBuyers are expected to expand, they’re not something available to every home seller. There are some iBuyers that are even more selective than others about buying homes and the condition of each home.

 

HOW TO STAND OUT TO POTENTIAL SELLERS

  1. Show Your Value

For the home seller who’s on the fence about whether to use an iBuyer, you must show them the value of using a listing agent. If a potential seller wants to get as much value as they can for their property, remind them part of that value is the expertise you bring to the process. An iBuyer can’t put a price on the beautiful ocean view or the impeccable 19th-century hardwood floors of a home, but a listing agent can and knows how to use those unique and sometimes intangible selling points.

A great agent knows the amount of work that goes in to preparing comps, creating a marketing strategy, staging the home perfectly, communicating and negotiating with potential buyers, and so much more.  Communicating this value is key to putting yourself above an iBuyer.

  1. Educate the Seller

There is something about a listing agent who’s transparent and helpful to a seller that ensures agent security. Educating your seller and consumers will help them understand the value of each option and give them the opportunity to choose what is right for them. Not every seller will want to use an iBuyer and some won’t want to use a listing agent. Every seller is unique. However, giving consumers their options builds trust with them, and it’s another point on your scoreboard.

  1. Have the Right Tools

What good is all this information if you can’t physically show a real-world example based on their own situation. Our free FANAgent ONE app gives agents the opportunity to compare a potential seller’s net profits with a click of a button. With the iBuyer Comparison Calculator, agents can plug in the information and calculate an instant comparison to show their seller.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

New technology and processes will always shake up any industry. iBuyers are simply one of these “shake ups.” As time passes, consumers will become more educated on the differences between iBuyers and traditional selling techniques, and not every seller will want to use an iBuyer.

Remember these words: DON’T PANIC.

iBuyers, such as Opendoor, Offerpad, Zillow Offers, and others, are expanding into major markets rather quickly. However, iBuyer transactions make up for a small percentage of real estate transactions. In 2018, 620k homes were sold to iBuyers, compared to 5.5 million homes sold without iBuyers. In fact, Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM Data Solutions, a nationwide property database, predicts iBuyers will only account for about 15% of the real estate transactions in the long run.

 

So, don’t panic! There is still value and will always be value in a seller hiring a listing agent.

 

What’s one way you can communicate the value of using a listing agent today?


Florida Agency Network Partners with Notarize as the First Title Company to Utilize the Notarize Platform to conduct its own closings

Florida Agency Network (FAN), a conglomerate of independent title agencies, settlement service providers, and innovative technology companies within the State of Florida, announces a new partnership with Notarize to perform remote online notarization within the FAN title insurance offices. This partnership marks a historic shift in the title industry and how it handles the ever-changing needs of the consumer. FAN is the first title insurance operation in the nation that will leverage the Notarize platform to perform their own remote online notarized closings, using its own title agents and notary closers.

The partnership was announced on stage in front of 300 attendees representing 200 companies at Notarize’s conference, REWIRED, in Miami this week.

“Today, we couldn’t be more excited to announce that Florida Agency Network will be the first company to leverage what we’ve built at Notarize and perform their own closings on our platform,” said Notarize Founder and CEO Pat Kinsel. “The real estate industry is ultimately local, and we’ve heard from title companies and closing agents that they want to be able to use this technology to deliver a better closing experience. What the industry has been asking for over the last four years, today, is becoming a reality.”

Since meeting Pat Kinsel, CEO and Adam Pase, COO of Notarize, in June of 2017, Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network, knew working together would evolve into a broader partnership over time. What started with achieving Florida’s first fully digital closing, expanded to a much larger-scale goal of overhauling Florida’s title insurance landscape for the better.

 “We completed the first online closing in the state of Florida in 2018 and have done hundreds with Notarize since,” said Davis. “By being the first partner to work with Notarize on a platform to help our title agents use this technology to perform their own closings, we’re changing the title industry and the way that our agents serve customers. We’ve seen first-hand the impact Notarize has had on the real estate industry, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the next chapter.”

Backed by Notarize training, support, and technology, Florida Agency Network will work closely with Notarize on the development of a platform that both empowers its agents to close completely digitally, while still leveraging Notarize’s staff and notaries during off-hours, weekends, and for added assistance during heavier volume closing days.


Common Ways to Take Title When Purchasing a Home in Florida

certificate of title

Closing on your new home can be both exciting and confusing. There are many factors to consider throughout the process. One item to consider is how you’ll hold the title of your new Florida home. Buyers can easily overlook this detail during the closing process, which can be detrimental if you decide to sell your home.

Your title agent can answer general questions or direct you to their real estate attorney to provide more information and answer questions.  Here are the ways for you to hold title to real estate in Florida:

  1. SOLE OWNERSHIP

For a single, unmarried home buyer, this option is the most popular way to hold the title to their home. It’s simple and straight forward. It just means the title will be held solely under their name. Married individuals can hold title as sole ownership as well. For example, with an investment property, one individual may not want any ownership in the property. In this case, that spouse will have the Deed drafted for the property showing only one person holding the title. With this option, you may not receive any special tax breaks or other advantages of holding title in sole ownership. If the sole owner dies, any property held this way may be subject to probate court proceedings, which cost money and takes time.

  1. MARRIED COUPLE

With this option, each spouse owns an equal portion of the property for as long as they are both alive and legally married. Each spouse’s interest passes to the other upon death. This option also has some level of protection, in that a judgement against one spouse may not attach to the property.

  1. JOINT TENANCY WITH RIGHTS OF SURVIVORSHIP

Each tenant owns an undivided pro rata share of the property and must take ownership at the same time. Also, each tenant will have a right of survivorship, so if one of them passes away, their share will transfer to the surviving tenant (or tenants). The will of the tenant who passed away has no impact on the joint tenancy property. Joint tenancy also allows the surviving tenants to avoid probate expenses and delays when one of the tenants dies. The surviving tenants need to record an affidavit and provide a death certificate to clear the title

  1. TENANCY IN COMMON

If there are two or more buyers, the individuals can opt to hold title as tenants in common. Tenancy in common is a popular option for individuals who aren’t married or are investors, friends, or family. As tenants in common, each tenant (individual) owns a certain percentage of the property, typically equal shares among the owners.  In the event any owner should pass, their interest will vest in their estate or heirs at law. Their interest will not pass to survivors.  The property will be subject to probate court expenses and delays.

 

Choosing the most beneficial way to take title is often overlooked by buyers. However, this step is critical to your closing transaction and situations later down the road.

It’s crucial to speak with a real estate attorney when deciding how to hold title on your Florida real estate property. We have in-house attorneys with years of experience in Florida real estate. By choosing to close with any of Florida Agency Network’s title agencies, you and your agent have access to those attorneys, and many more resources throughout your closing transaction.

 

Contacts us today to start your closing journey at one of our local offices.


FAN CAO/President, Amy Gregory, Recognized at ALTA ONE with Our Values ­- We Protect Award

At this year’s ALTA ONE conference, Amy Gregory, Chief Administrative Officer/President of Florida Agency Network, was awarded the Our Values ­ We Protect Award.

The award was given during ALTA ONE, the largest annual event for the land title insurance industry, held on Oct. 22-25 in Austin. The award is one of three awards given to industry members who exemplify core ideals adopted within the association:

  • We Lead: ALTA member are the authority in real estate transactions. We innovate for the benefit of our customers.
  • We Deliver: Our customers trust us to do the right thing, the right way ­­ before, during and after the transaction. We sweat the small stuff to assure that land transfer is accurate, swift and secure.
  • We Protect: We protect the property rights of those we serve. We reduce risk so our customers have peace of mind.

Amy Gregory holding awardAmy is always trying to look for ways to help protect our clients from cyber fraud.  She has direct contacts at the U.S. Secret Service to help lend a hand when a case arises and has hosted events where a U.S. Secret Service Agent came in to discuss ways to prevent fraud.  Going one step further, Gregory earned her Certified Anti­Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) designation to help become a strong resource for other customers, and she is one of the few that have this designation in the nation.

“With decades of experience, I have seen a vast amount of change and new threats that did not exist years ago,” Amy Gregory said. “We have made it our mission to protect our clients and company, and to create an environment of continuous improvement and awareness. I am truly honored to receive this award.”

“The ‘We Protect Award’ is a significant award, given the current landscape of threats in our industry,” said Andrea Somers, Compliance Officer for the Florida Agency Network. “Amy is committed to providing a safe environment for customers by constantly challenging our teams to be vigilant and search for ways to improve our processes. She truly goes above and beyond in everything that she does.”

“We Lead, We Deliver and We Protect reflect the universal values of ALTA members,” said Robert J. Grubb, Cofounder of Alliant National Title Insurance Co. and Vice Chairman of Presidio ATC Holdco LLC. “These values are at the core of who we are and how we operate every day. The Our Values Awards recognize the most extraordinary efforts in a profession full of extraordinary professionals who work hard to protect the long-term interests of their customers. The awards allow us to recognize those in our industry who raise the bar, inspiring the rest of us to do the same.”


Channel 10 Interviews CEO Aaron M. Davis on Zillow’s New SELL NOW Feature – Zillow Offers

Channel 10’s Courtney Robinson discusses the pros and cons of Zillow Offers and other iBuyer programs with Florida Agency Network’s CEO, Aaron M. Davis.

While iBuyer programs may offer convenience, it doesn’t equate to more money in your pocket. Consumers must be AWARE.

On Monday, October 21, Zillow launched “Zillow Offers” as a new way for consumers to sell their homes. The technology allows a consumer to go onto the APP, answer some questions about their home, and receive an instant cash offer.

But is it really the best way to sell a house?

10Investigates’ Courtney Robinson spoke to Joe Locicero, owner of 54 Realty and the Zillow agent for the Tampa Bay area. Robinson also had our very own Aaron Davis weigh in on what’s to come of future iBuyer technology.

“While it takes away stress and offers sellers convenience, there is a cost. On average, sellers pay a 7 percent fee. Traditional real estate agents charge between 5-6 percent,” Robinson advises.

To read the full story and learn the pros and cons, click HERE.

 

 

 

 


FAN CEO Educates Title Agents at a Statewide Conference on eClosing

Aaron M. Davis presenting to title agents at Alliant Conference

As technology progresses, title agents must stay up-to-date on trends and advancements – or risk getting left behind. At FAN, we have embraced the digital age and are helping title agents across the State of Florida learn the ins and outs of title closings in this digital era.

Earlier this month, our CEO, Aaron Davis, led a presentation at a conference for licensed title agents at the Gaylord Palms Conference Center in Orlando with the aim of providing resources for title agents to get ahead of the game on upcoming legislation and the changes that will soon sweep the industry.

 

At the conference, attendees enjoyed learning more about the various types of eclosings available. They were also educated on the different types of eClosings, including hybrids, in person, and RON, or Remote Online Notarization, and discussed numerous digital closing topics, such as:

  • Ethics, Laws & Rules Governing RON
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Securities of the Paperless Closing
  • Effects of eClosing on the Industry
  • The digital Closing Room Experience
  • and More!

The attending agents were able to earn CE credit as a result of their participation and are now better prepared to transition into the era of eClosings and remote online notarization.

How are you and your team preparing for the upcoming legislative changes? Are you prepared to offer eClosings and accommodate closers who wish to utilize RON during their closing process? If not, you can now request a course from FAN to better prepare you and your agents before the New Year. Email us now to find out more information or to schedule your course.


5 Safety Tips for Every Real Estate Agent

Picture of a woman being followed

As a real estate agent, leads never take a day off. September is Realtor Safety Month, and we want you to keep safety a priority when meeting with potential leads & clients. According to the National Association of REALTOR® 2018 Member Safety Report, 33% of real estate professionals experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety. Do not become complacent with your safety!

Here are 5 safety tips you can use this month, and beyond:

  1. Meet first in public. While real estate agents are becoming more and more mobile, it’s important to set your initial meeting somewhere public like your broker’s office where you can confirm their professionalism and introduce your potential customer to a few others in your office. If this isn’t available, meet somewhere with lots of activity like a coffee shop or restaurant, and ask for identification as part of your process with all new customers.
  2. Let the client lead the way. During a showing, allow your client to walk in front of you and guide you where they want to see. If you need to lead them to a feature or room, direct them where to go as they walk in front. When leaving open houses have a coworker meet you to check all rooms before locking up together.
  3. Let your smartphone be your safety net. Add your emergency contacts, coworkers and a few family members as favorites in your phone, giving you easier access to the dial them quick, in case of an emergency and research safety apps for further reassurance. Apps like Facebook Messenger, Share My Location, Google Maps and more can share your location with selected friends, while Lifeline Response and bSafe can contact emergency services silently, or even fake a phone call to get out of uncomfortable situations. Find what works for you and your business model.
  4. Keeping it old school. Before the advent of smart phones, the “buddy system” was used to help keep realtors safe. Work with at least one other agent closely to share plans for your day, contact information of new clients, and for hosting events like open houses. Joining networking groups is a great way to make these types of connections.
  5. Automobile maintenance. Be sure to keep up with your car’s maintenance and always keep at least a half a tank of gas. Some agents cover the bottom half of their gas gauge with a post-it note to remind them to fill up sooner. Keeping your car up and running will help prevent breakdowns in areas you might not know very well and get in practice of locking your doors every time you leave the car.

Above all else, trust your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right do not hesitate to cancel a showing, open house or meeting.

 

 


Swipe Right and Match with the Perfect Title Company

Tips on finding the right title insurance company for your real estate transaction.

It's a Match with Florida Agency Network

In a world full of left-swipe worthy businesses, it’s difficult to know which title insurance company to choose for your transaction. Before you swipe right and do business with the wrong title insurance company, here are some things to consider before you choose your perfect match in a title company.

 

Company Longevity

We see it time and time again, a title company seems to pop up overnight and is ready to do business. However, can you trust the work that is being done throughout your transaction? How do you know your private information is protected?

Find out how long the title insurance company has been doing business. A title insurance company that’s been in the industry for a longer period knows the ins and outs and can speak to common questions or issues that come up, with ease. A title insurance company’s longevity shows efficient and effective processes in place. And with experience comes stability and peace of mind for all those experiencing the closing process. That leads to the next point.

 

Company Accommodations

Life can get busy. Going out of your way to get to, or handle anything thing for your closing can become a hassle. Look for a title insurance company that has multiple locations or can accommodate you during the closing process. Do they offer mobile closing or mobile notary services to their clients? Do they offer e-closings or remote online notaries (RON)? These are just a few of the points you’ll want to discuss with your title insurance company.

 

Company Strength & Support

“A great captain is great only if he has a great team.”

Your title insurance company is only as good as the team they provide to their clients. Choosing a title insurance company with a large, experienced, and dedicated staff are the qualities you want in your closing team. It’s critical that your closing team has the correct licensing and educational background to get you through the entire closing process.

Don’t forget to inquire about the title insurances company’s support; Who do they underwrite with? What type of errors & omissions (E&O) policy do they carry? This may all sound foreign to you as a buyer or seller, but this information shows the strength of a title company when difficult situations arise.

 

Company Reputation

A title company with longevity and experience has built a reputation within the real estate industry. You should place your trust in a title company that is the leader in customer and employee satisfaction.

Ask your real estate professional about their experience(s) with the title insurance company. Don’t forget to do your online research. Read through online reviews on their social pages, Google and more. It’s common to have a problem here or there, but is there a trend your finding with each customer experience?

 

There are many points to consider when swiping right on your perfect title insurance company. Florida Agency Network brands not only can close your real estate transaction at any of the many locations throughout the State of Florida, but also close your transaction at any place convenient to you with mobile notaries, e-closing and remote online notarization (RON) partners, FAN brands have the large footprint you want to have on your side.

Our closing staff has many years of experience in title insurance and closings.  We also work with several underwriters which gives us the resources to close deals other title insurance companies cannot.


2019 Christmas in July Recap

This year’s Christmas in July Client Appreciation Event was a huge success thanks to YOU!

Because of our attendees, clients, and friends, Florida Agency Network raised $11,000 for Metropolitan Ministries! Thank you, thank you! We are looking forward to what next year brings!

You can watch a recap video by clicking HERE.

Click the “gallery” button below to browse the photo galleries. Feel free to save whichever pictures you’d like.

Be sure to tag #FANXmas19 on social media so we can see everyone’s photos.

 

 

(Press the back arrow at the bottom, right-hand corner to go back within the galleries.)

Florida Agency Network Executives Receive Elite ‘CAMS’ Anti-Money Laundering Credentials

Amy Gregory (CAO), Andrea Somers (Compliance Officer), and Jay Roberts (CTO), of Florida Agency Network were awarded the widely recognized CAMS® credential by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists® (ACAMS®), the world’s leading organization of professionals in the anti- money laundering (AML) field.

Exec standing and smilingThe CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist) designation is awarded to professionals who successfully complete a rigorous examination demonstrating their aptitude and expertise in anti-money laundering detection and enforcement. The examination covers money laundering and terrorist financing methods, the best practices to stop these and other financial crimes, as well as key related legislation in place worldwide, global AML standards and developing defenses for financial institutions to stop terrorist financing and money laundering.

“Earning the CAMS credential places the successful candidate in an elite group of AML professionals and assures employers in the private and public sectors that they are working with someone with the essential knowledge and background in this crucial and challenging field,” said Timothy D. McClinton, President & Managing Director of ACAMS.

“With more FinCEN geographic targeting orders coming on a regular basis now, we thought it was incredibly important to stay ahead of the curve and be one of the first Title Agencies in the country to achieve this. This credential, along with our SOC 1 and 2, also helps us meet our company goal of providing clients with security to close with any of our brands,” stated Aaron Davis, CEO for Florida Agency Network.

“Achieving this credential is a major accomplishment for us. It further solidifies our company’s commitment to not only providing a safer environment for our customers but also helping to provide a more stable financial landscape in the industry,” said Andrea Somers, Compliance Officer for Florida Agency Network.

Money hanging our on a laundry line

Founded in 2001, ACAMS is the largest international membership organization dedicated to enhancing the knowledge and expertise of AML/CTF and financial crime detection and prevention professionals. ACAMS’ mission is to provide a global platform for career development for leading professionals in the AML field. ACAMS gives members the insight, information and inspiration they need to protect their institutions against the threat of money laundering, terrorist financing and related financial crime, and the tools to advance their skills and keep the AML professional ahead of those that engage in these criminal activities. CAMS is the most widely recognized AML certification among compliance professionals worldwide.

For more information, please visit www.acams.org.