All posts by Frances


The Board of Directors for Alanna.ai Announces Its Latest Addition From Florida Agency Network

alanna.ai logo on pink background

McKinney, TX. – Alanna.ai welcomes Aaron M. Davis, CEO of the Florida Agency Network (FAN), as the newest member to the Alanna.ai Board of Directors. Davis has long been considered a leader in the title insurance industry, and he was an early supporter and proponent of the eClosing and Remote Online Notarization initiatives in Florida. FAN utilizes Softpro Select as its software platform for its title and ancillary operations. Davis brings his knowledge of Softpro Select, and familiarity with the other software providers’ products, to assist in further development of Alanna.ai’s product suite. He was introduced to Alanna.ai in 2019 and was immediately impressed by the product’s intuitive querying capabilities and its potential impact on the title and settlement industry.

Alanna.ai’s CEO, Randall Nelson stated, “We are thrilled that Aaron Davis will be joining Alanna. His industry experience along with his passion and energy will help propel Alanna to the next level.”

“I’m excited to join the Board with James Schlimmer of Cottrell Title & Escrow, and the team at Alanna.ai, to assist and advise in development and expansion of its products. I’ve experienced first-hand the technological evolution of the title industry, and I am humbled to be involved in the vision of its future direction,” says Davis.

 

 

 

About Alanna.ai

Alanna.ai is a technology company whose sole mission is to provide innovative technologies to the Title Industry.


New Decade, New Decor – 5 Home Decor Trends to Try in 2020

As stay-at-home orders begin, #QuarantineLife can get mundane and make anyone stir-crazy. In honor of National Decorating Month, we thought it would be a good idea to help you dress up your home! We’ve put together a list of decorating trends to incorporate around the house, bring back joy, and start enjoying your time at home.

Check out 5 of our favorite 2020 decorating trend predictions:

#1 Vintage Accents

Maybe it’s time to throw a little “Granny Chic” into the decor mix? A new decorating style popular with “Grandmillennials” (it’s a thing), the Granny Chic trend mixes the nostalgia of vintage decor like chintzes, scallops, needlework, and everything your grandmother loved with today’s clean, contemporary designs.

Or, if you’d prefer to shy away from a vintage explosion, try mixing a few old pieces with the new. It can make your space feel less big-box-decorating and more customized.

#2 Bold Colors

monochromatic blue room

This decorating trend is not for the faint at heart. It takes a confident person to embrace Pantone’s 2020 color of the year as the driving force in a design concept. However, we love bold colors, and we encourage you to incorporate them into your decor!

Go for a monochromatic color scheme in your space, slap a bold color on your kitchen cabinets, or go crazy with bolder colors in your guest bathroom. These colors are the perfect way to let your personality shine.

#3 Rattan and Wicker Furniture

Rattan and wicker have a special place in our hearts and bring back memories of growing up. (Are you sensing a theme here?) When done correctly, wicker and rattan can bring natural color and texture into a room, making it warm and inviting.

#4 Non-Granite Countertops

While granite is always a beautiful option for your countertops, why not be unique and try something different like a faux marble or even butcher block? Both are stunning alternatives and have minimal upkeep.

#5 Antique Art

antique art

Repurposing art (and any other home decor items) makes us feel less wasteful, and we’d like to think it helps the environment. Another selling point of antique art is the history and stories that come along with it. You can relish in the uniqueness of antique art.

As you can see, 2020 is about making your space feel customized and unique to you. Since you’ll spend much of your time at home, what better time than now to give it a facelift? It’s up to you whether you go all out with your decor choices or simply incorporate a few new ideas.

As always, we urge you to prioritize your safety when deciding what to use when redecorating your space. Shop online, select pick-up options when available, wash your hand often, and make wise choices. If you choose to get started on your new decor, feel free to tag us in your social posts. We’d love to see what new design trends you’re bringing to your home for 2020!


FAN’s Amy Gregory Featured in ALTA’s Monthly “Title News”

Amy Gregory, the Chief Administrative Officer/President for Florida Agency Network, is featured in the February 2020 edition of American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) “Title News.”

In the article entitled “Finding the Diamonds in the Rough”, Jeremy Yohe, Vice President of Communications for ALTA, highlights recruitment in the title insurance industry. Yohe explains how Gregory got her start in the title industry and the progression of her career.

The article goes on to explain what recruits are looking for from future employers and eight characteristics it takes to succeed as a title agent.

 

Click to read the full article – “Finding the Diamonds in the Rough.”


What Every REALTOR Should Know about Title Insurance

woman-wearing-white-top-holding-smartphone-and-tablet

Every real estate agent understands that buying a home is overwhelming for many clients. There’s a mountain of paperwork to sign and different fees associated with the closing process. All of these things can confuse even an experienced buyer.

Title insurance, or an owner’s title policy, is often misunderstood by home buyers at closing. Buyers, especially first-time home buyers, look to real estate professionals as experts in the industry. It’s important to be the advisor to your clients and help them understand the value of an owner’s title policy and the risks that can arise without it.

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance, or an owner’s title policy, is a policy that protects the home buyers’ property rights. For the same reasons that the bank requires a lender’s insurance policy, a home buyer obtains an owner’s title policy to protect their legal rights to the property.

How Does It Protect Your Client?

Here’s an example: Your client purchased a new home from a builder, but the builder failed to pay the roofing company. That roofing company wants to get paid, so it files a lien against the property. Without an owner’s title policy, your client is responsible for paying that debt. This is just one example of how an owner’s title policy protects a home buyer from a variety of significant risks, such as unknown heirs, illegal deeds, forged documents, and much more. With an owner’s title policy, a buyer’s property rights are protected while they own the property.

The Value of Title Insurance

The good news is that an owner’s title policy financially protects home buyers for as long as they own the home. For Florida buyers, the price of an owner’s title policy depends on the sales price of the home. Florida’s promulgated rate is $5.75 per thousand, up to $100,000, and $5.00 per thousand thereafter, up to $1 million.

The party that pays for the owner’s title insurance policy varies from state to state. In Florida, the seller typically picks and pays for the owner’s title policy. However, that can change depending on which county/area the property is located.

Fees can add up during the closing process, but this one-time fee gives home buyers peace of mind. After all, the home may be new to your buyer, but every property has a history.

How Title Insurance is Regulated

Each state regulates its title insurance costs, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulates closing and settlement services to protect consumers from unfair practices. Established in 2011, the CFPB educates consumers about making smart financial decisions and holds companies accountable for any abusive or discriminatory procedures.

 

Title insurance can be confusing and seem like “just another expense” during the closing process. But, what’s the price of your buyer’s peace of mind? As a real estate professional, educating yourself and your clients on title insurance, the protections it provides, and the risks of going without it is vital.

 

 


7 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts for a Home

unique gift collage

It’s the season of love, and what better way to celebrate than with gifts? We’re not talking the boring chocolates and flowers type of thing. No, no, no! Home is where the heart is, so why not focus on a gift for a home?

We’ve come up with a shopping guide that includes unique – and quirky – gifts to get for someone you love, especially if that someone is yourself!

Mistaken Lyrics Coasters

One of our favorite past times is singing the wrong lyrics to songs. Why not spread the joy alongside house guests with these Mistaken Lyric Coasters?

Mistaken Lyric Coasters from Etsy

Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer

Take “Suzy/Sam Homemaker” to the next level with this Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer. Never worry about continuously stirring the sauce and free up your hands to prep other items for your recipe. Or, go ahead and get back to your Netflix binge while the sauce cooks. (We won’t be held liable for any burnt sauces, though.)

Automatic Pan Stirrer with Timer

Florida Botanical Embroidery

Nothing says “I love Florida” more than Florida-themed embroidery. This botanical creation shows others the pride you or your loved one has for the State of Florida. And, it gives the opportunity to explain that not everyone in Florida is like “Florida Man.”

Florida Botanical Embroidery

The Worst Case

First-aid kits? No, you need The Worst Case kit. (Well, keep the first-aid kit too!) This carefully crafted survival kit is everything someone would need if there were ever a zombie apocalypse, an opportunity to be on Survivor, or you find yourself up THAT creek without a paddle.

The Worst Case

The Burrito Blanket

Ever wanted to be wrapped like a burrito and left alone on the couch for a few hours? Well, now you can! Take Taco Tuesday to the next level in a Burrito Blanket. With micro-fiber fleece, this blanket will keep you or your loved one warm and cozy!

The Burrito Blanket

Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park Oil Painting

Because who doesn’t want a shirtless oil painting of Jeff Goldblum contemplating life while surrounded by dinosaurs?

Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park Oil Painting

Swarovski Crystal Master Yoda

Yeah, Baby Yoda is cute and all. But, have you seen a Swarovski Crystal Master Yoda figurine? Step up you or your loved one’s Star Wars collection with this classy Jedi Master.

Swarovski Crystal Star Wars - Master Yoda

 

 

 

 

 


7 Tips For Moving Into Your New Home

Child Moving Boxes into New Home

Congrats on your new home! Now, it’s time to get prepared for your move. While there are many details to prep leading up to the big day, we’ve compiled an essential list of moving tips and things to remember based on our experiences

 

Tips For Moving Into Your New Home

  1. Hire a Good Moving Company – or Enlist Your Friends!

Take it from people who have moved numerous times and hire good movers! If it fits into your budget, we highly recommend hiring a moving company. A professional moving company knows the best way to transport your items as well as how to pack up large items to protect them during the move. However, if a moving company isn’t in your budget, recruit some awesome friends to help.

With both options, make sure to communicate clearly and often about your moving plans. This will make it less stressful for everyone. Also, it doesn’t hurt to help those who are helping you. Everyone loves pizza, right?!

  1. Turn Your Utilities On BEFORE Your Move Date.

This is pretty straightforward. You don’t want to get into your new home and not have any power. Make sure to call the utility companies in advance to schedule every necessity to be turned on before you arrive.

  1. Pack Now – Don’t Procrastinate!

Packing can be daunting and overwhelming, but if you start as soon as you know you are moving, you can chip away at your moving tasks day by day. We’ve even created a checklist to help! We break it down by time intervals to your move date, with tips for 60-, 30-, 15- and 3-days out from your move date. Download our checklist now!

While you’re at the packing stage, we recommend decluttering. This is your opportunity to get rid of things you no longer need or use. You can give those items to friends or donate to people in need. Bonus? You’ve got less items to pack. It’s a win – win!

  1. Prepare a New Home Survival Kit.

Unless you plan on unpacking everything the same day you move, we highly recommend creating a survival kit (or bag). Moving day is exhausting, and the last thing you want to do is search through your boxes to have your essentials handy.

Instead, you can pack an overnight bag like you would if you were traveling. Also, if you want to include some food items and entertainment, you can make sure those are all in one box. What are the things you need to survive in your new home for the next 48-72 hours (or however long you plan on taking to unpack)? Those items are what you need in your survival bag.

  1. Change the Locks to Your New Home Immediately.

Safety comes first all the time. Even if your home is a new build, you should change the locks. You don’t know who or how many people have had access to the keys you were given.

  1. Utilize Your Linens as Packing Supplies

It’s very GREEN and budget friendly to use what you already have as packing materials. You can wrap fragile items in sheets or use them to fill empty space in boxes. Plus, once you’re unpacked, you’ll have less trash to throw away. Just be sure to pack your daily, must-have linens in your survival kit before using them as packing supplies.

And, while we’re utilizing items we already have, how about using your luggage and other similar items as packing receptacles? You’re already taking it with you. This is your time to work smarter, not harder.

  1. Label Everything.

Your movers can’t read your mind and don’t have x-ray vision. Labeling each box, either with color codes or text, can help your movers know where to put your items. This is where communication comes in handy, as well. If yellow notates kitchen items, and your movers know you need all kitchen items in, you guessed it, your kitchen, they’ll know to grab all those boxes and put them together.

 

While your upcoming move might be overwhelming, these 7 tips will help you prepare for the big day! If you need a more in-depth checklist and guide for your move, download our moving guide today. It’s filled with checklists and tips for your moving day.


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.”