All posts by Frances


Florida Agency Network Introduces Electronic EMD Delivery

Florida Agency Network (FAN), announces the release of a new Electronic Earnest Money Deposit (“EMD”) program. This program is part of FAN’s continued effort to keep everyone safe and secure, streamline the closing process, and move that much closer to a true paperless closing.

Customers buying homes are now able to send their EMD electronically, allowing for a fully-digital transfer of funds, and eliminating the need to visit any of FAN’s multiple office locations throughout the state. In addition, it allows for the added benefits of protecting sensitive information, enabling out-of-town closings, and it allows customers to receive a verified and automated receipt for their records.  The service does NOT require the client to create an account, or download an app, to send the EMD electronically.  It simply requires the click of a button from any of FAN’s websites where homebuyers are directed to Earnestly, Payload’s platform for secure electronic real estate payments.  “We’re excited to partner with FAN to enhance the home buying experience across the state of Florida,” said Ryan Rybolt, CEO of Payload.

“One of the items that is a consistent burden to our clients is the handling of EMDs. We live in a world of technological innovation, digital movement of funds, and less dependency on checks and paper currency. This new service offers convenience to our clients, and a more efficient solution for receiving funds. The days of racing to the title office within 72 hours of signing a contract, mailing or overnighting funds, or waiting hours for wiring instructions are history,” said Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network.

 

About Florida Agency Network

The Florida Agency Network (FAN) is a statewide alliance of title agencies that share services, resources, and technology. FAN has formed a strategic alliance amongst members and vendors, in addition to creating proprietary technologies, to better serve its clients, allowing it to provide customized solutions to protect and streamline the closing experience. Members share back-office services, pooled resources, access to industry-leading technology, improved efficiencies, and the ability to offer their clients greater geographic coverage throughout Florida with SOC 1 Type 2 and SOC 2 Type 2 security compliance solutions available.

For more information, please visit www.FLAgency.net

About Payload

Payload is a powerfully simple, yet robust, financial technology (fintech) platform to securely process credit card and ACH payments. The platform was built for developers, software platforms, and merchants who want to accept secure payments without the burdens often associated with card acquiring.

Earnestly is Payload’s solution for processing secure, electronic real estate payment transactions.  Earnestly replaces manual check payments or costly wire transfers associated with Earnest Money, Agent Fees, Commissions, and other Real Estate transactions.

For more information, please visit www.payload.co  or https://payload.co/earnestly


Are Appraisals a Deal Killer? Know How to Avoid or Handle a Low Appraisal?

Bye, 2020! There are certainly things we won’t miss about this past year. Looking back, however, one of the things we are thankful for is the real estate boom. In many parts of Florida and throughout the country, the real estate market has been hot!

That’s been due to record low mortgage rates, but inventory is lower than what is needed to keep up with demand. This means prices are moving up sharply, and many buyers are willing to offer more than the asking price.

This sounds like a great thing for sellers, but there’s a step that can be forgotten until it’s too late – *dun dun dun* – the appraisal.

Unless you’re paying in cash, the bank needs to ensure that they’re not giving too high of a loan for the property. Just because a buyer really wants to buy it for $15,000 more than asking doesn’t mean the bank does.

Ways to Avoid a Low Appraisal

1. Don’t Be Zillowed – Price the home correctly. Avoid the urge to overprice because of the market. Find a comfortable price that has some room for negotiation – up or down.

2. Consider Upgrades – According to a local appraiser, the usual upgrades are always great ways to increase your appraisal value:

  • Upgraded Kitchens
  • Renovated Bathrooms
  • New Windows

3. Prepare the Home for Occupancy – A home that’s ready to live in will likely earn a higher appraisal. Touch up walls and base boards with paint, pressure wash the exterior of the home and driveway, declutter every room, mow the lawn, and finish any incomplete projects.

 

“I Did All That, but My Appraisal Was Still Low! What Now?!”

Receiving a low appraisal can be stressful for the seller and buyer. The buyer thinks they are going to get a better deal, but they might actually lose the deal by staying with the original appraisal. The seller is not happy since they believe their property is worth more. So, how do you save the sale?

  • Negotiate a Lower Sales Price
  • Dispute the Appraisal with the Original Lender
  • Request a New Appraisal from a New Lender

Our final piece of advice when dealing with an appraisal is to relax and let the system work. It’s in place to make sure everyone has a safe transaction.

For any additional questions about appraisals and staging, please call any of our offices to speak to our team.


Our 2020 Wrap Up

Hey guys, 2020 is finally almost over, and Aaron Davis from the FUTURE, is here to tell us why 2020 really wasn’t all that bad!

1. Remote Online Notarization, or RON, has been one of the most successful additions to 2020. The customers love that we were able to bring a secure digital closing to anywhere in the GALAXY… err, sorry, anywhere in the world.

2. We also introduced ALANNA this year, the virtual closing assistant! Our clients love being able to get answers to their questions day or night. Alanna is always available and provides quick answers to common file-based questions using text or on the web, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

3. AND we’ve starting rolling out electronic EMD delivery! Now home buyers are able to deposit their earnest money deposit digitally without coming into one offices, even though we do have most of the GALAXY, I mean STATE covered with over 40 offices!
We added a lot of new technology for 2020, and we’re glad that our customers have been able to take this journey with us. Future Aaron would LOVE to tell you what 2021 has in store, but that would blow up the time-space continuum– there are rules about these sort of things.

We can’t wait for you, and those of us that can’t time travel, to find out!

Enjoy 2021 – Future Aaron says it’s gonna be greeeeeeeat!

 

 


Giving Thanks in a Digital World


Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is around the corner. That means it’s a perfect time to tell the people you appreciate the most those two simple words – thank you.

Gratitude is a powerful message to send your customers, co-workers, and friends to show how much they mean to you. Not only is it the right thing to do, but studies show that recognition can lead to more customer retention!

Here are four effective ways to be thankful:

  1. Write a physical thank you note. This timeless, yet nearly forgotten, art form has the bonus of being 100% customized per person. You’ll be remembered in 2021 if you take this route.
  2. Shoot a quick video. Everyone has the technology in their pocket to take a quick video to send to your customer to show some well-earned gratitude.
  3. Write on their wall. Find their social media profiles and send them a quick public message that tells them how appreciated they are. This has the added benefit of being easy to share on social media.
  4. Give thanks in your head. This one may seem to have no effect on your future business prospects, but evidence exists that merely thanking someone in your mind can bring you some of the mental benefits of gratitude, like increased happiness.

At FAN, we also want to give gratitude to every customer of ours for all that you do to make the FAN community what it is and to all those who have given us invaluable feedback on our newest programs, such as Remote Online Notarization, our Fan Agent One App, and Alanna – your new virtual assistant.

And, since we’re in the thanking mood, we have a special thank you to everyone that reads our blogs, too, so if you’re reading this message, simply put – thank YOU.

We’ve created a downloadable PDF version of our list of ways to show your gratitude.

 


Still Not Sure What Alanna Can Do for You??

At Florida Agency Network, we are always looking to improve communication between all parties during the closing process. Traditionally, this has been via phone or email, which limits the response time of receiving information and updates.

We are proud to announce our virtual closing assistant Alanna, which allows you to text or web chat questions and receive updates during the closing process.

Alanna is available 24/7 to answer all your closing-related questions such as:

  • When is my closing?
  • How can I get my deposit to you?
  • What do I need to bring to closing?
  • What’s the status of my file?
  •  
    In need of a little laughter? You can even ask Alanna to tell you a joke!

    Not sure how to get started with Alanna? As soon as your transaction starts, Alanna will reach out via text to give you an update. From there, ask any questions, day or night, to get immediate answers. If you accidentally delete the text message, visit any of our title brands’ homepages and start a web chat at the bottom right-hand corner to contact Alanna. Or, you can text Alanna directly at 813-710-4126.

     

     


    A Special COVID-19 Update from Florida Agency Network’s Amy Gregory

    We know there is a growing concern as the outbreak and impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve. Ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of the communities we serve across the state of Florida, our clients, and our company is our main concern.

    We are open and fully operational to handle your transactions. We have invested heavily in our IT infrastructure, cloud working environment, paperless closing, and remote capabilities to allow our staff to continue operating.

    Most importantly, we’re prepared to take care of you and your clients! We’re offering multiple closing options to ensure our clients and staff stay as safe as possible.

    If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact any of our offices!


    The Buyer’s Closing Process as Told By The Office GIFs

    You’re doing it. You’re buying a house! Since the process can be overwhelming and confusing, we’ve simplified it in the best way possible. What better way to explain each step than to use GIFs from one of our favorite TV shows, The Office?

    1. The Contract is Signed & Sent to the Title Insurance Agency

    via GIPHY

    Congrats on finding “The One!” At this point, your real estate agent has drafted your official contract, and the title insurance agency is starting the closing process. You’re on your way to owning a new home!

     

    2. Sending Your Earnest Money Deposit

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    Think of your earnest money deposit, or EMD, as a “good faith” deposit. It shows the listing agent and seller how serious you are about the home and getting the transaction closed. The dollar amount of your EMD is stated in your contract when it’s signed. Be sure to discuss what you’re comfortable putting upfront with your real estate agent. Depending on how much you agree on, it can seem like an expensive upfront cost. Your real estate agent is an expert and can advise you on the amount of money they think you should send. Take comfort in knowing the EMD will be held in your escrow account and used towards closing costs or the down payment.

     

    3. Your Title Search is Ordered

    via GIFER

    Your title insurance agent will order a title search to ensure the title to your property is clear of any liens, back taxes, or other claims. To get a thorough search completed, ask your agent to request the title insurance company conduct a municipal lien search, permit search, and code enforcement search. With Florida Agency Network’s offices, we offer this to each buyer via the buyer’s agent.

     

    4. Time to Schedule Your Home and Pest Inspection

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    Shortly after your offer is accepted and sent in, your agent will discuss scheduling a home inspection. You’ll need to complete the home inspection quickly. Doing so will allow as much additional time possible for any follow-up inspection.

     

    5. The Title Commitment is Completed

    via GIPHY

    You’re one step closer to closing on your home! The title commitment tells a buyer they’re able to obtain a title insurance policy with that agent. The commitment contains the terms, conditions, and exclusions that will be in the owner’s title insurance policy.

     

    6. Appraisal is Completed

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    The home appraisal should come back at or above the contract price. The appraisal protects a buyer from paying more than the home is worth. If your home appraisal is lower than the purchase price, don’t worry! Discuss your options with your real estate agent.

     

    7. You Get the Clear to Close

    via GIPHY

    You’ll begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel once you and your agent receive the clear to close. “Clear to Close” means the underwriter has signed-off on all documents and issued final approval on your closing.

     

    8. Your Closing Date is Scheduled

    via GIPHY

    Once your closing date is scheduled, don’t forget to double-check for the required documents, identification, and time deadlines. The last thing you want is to forget to bring an item or sign an eDoc and have to reschedule your closing.

     

    9. It’s Time for a Final Walkthrough

    via GIPHY

    The final walkthrough is your opportunity to do one last visual inspection to make sure everything is in order. At this point, your closing starts moving much faster, and the finish line is right ahead!

     

    10. Signing Your Closing Docs

    via GIPHY

    We hope you’re ready to sign, sign, and sign some more! While it may be exhausting and overwhelming, don’t be afraid to pause and ask questions. At the closing table, your title closer and real estate agent are available to answer any questions you may have. Don’t forget, this is your moment, and you can go as quickly or slowly as you prefer. You’re allowed to get ice cream afterward, too!

     

    11. Receive Your Keys

    via GIPHY

    You may or may not receive the keys to your new home at the closing table. In order to get those, the funds have to be wired to the seller. However, once they are received and confirmed, you have a new home!

     

    You’re officially the owner of a new home, and we think that is Perfectenschlag!


    Florida Agency Network Appoints Chief Administrative Officer

    head shot of amy gregory

    Florida Agency Network recently appointed Amy Gregory as the Chief Administrative Officer.

    Gregory began her career in title insurance in 1995 as a receptionist at an independent title agency in Brandon, Florida. Amy then joined Hillsborough Title (FAN’s flagship company) in 2007 where she directly assisted Aaron Davis in opening the company’s second office in Florida, which has now grown to over 30 offices statewide, in addition to multiple ancillary service companies.

    As a licensed title agent, Gregory’s career progressed quickly from Branch Manager, to General Manager, to President of Title Operations, and now she has added the title of CAO to her resume. She oversees all title personnel and production, and the ancillary services divisions. Gregory regularly handles all types of real estate closing transactions, including residential, commercial, and construction. She has become an expert in streamlining and improving processes and procedures, and she is focused on mentoring and training staff in outstanding customer service. In 2019, Gregory won the “We Protect Award” from ALTA, and she obtained her ACAMS Certificate (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists).

    Aaron M. Davis, CEO stated, “It is with the greatest honor that we name Amy as our CAO. She has been here from day one of my ownership, and I can’t imagine a better and more qualified person to lead us forward. Her dedication, knowledge, and loyalty are unmatched in the industry.”

     

     


    Why Do You Need a Survey When Purchasing a Home?

    Surveys, also called boundary or land surveys, map out your real estate property, show its boundary lines, improvements made to the property, and all access to the property.

    FIVE GREAT REASONS TO PURCHASE A SURVEY

    1.  UNDISCLOSED RIGHTS AND EASEMENTS
    You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but someone else might have a right to use a portion of your property. A survey will show physical evidence of the rights of others to use your property for access, parking, utilities, and other situations.

    2.  UNDISCOVERED ENCROACHMENTS
    A survey may be the only way to tell if a third party holds a claim to part of your property because their improvements, such as a garage, fence, or swimming pool, are on your land.

    3.  IS THE PROPERTY BUILT ON THE CORRECT LOT
    It may seem impossible, but sometimes a house is built on the wrong lot. A survey provides peace of mind by showing the exact location of the house you are buying.

    4.  KNOWING THE SIZE OF YOUR PROPERTY
    A survey shows the exact dimensions of the property’s boundary lines and how much land is included within those lines.

    5.  FUTURE ADDITIONS
    Many residential plotted lots can have building restrictions, which could prohibit you from building close to the boundary lines. If you are thinking of building future additions on your property, a survey can help determine if the lot is right for both your current and future plans.

    These are a few reasons why you should purchase a survey when making one of the largest investments in your life. We’ve created a downloadable PDF of this information for you to keep or share.

    At Florida Agency Network, we are always available to answer questions about your survey or your closing. Feel free to contact any one of our offices with any further questions you may have.

     

     


    Facebook Messenger Rooms Help You SELL Homes

    screenshots of Facebook messenger rooms

    Facebook has introduced its newest feature, Messenger Rooms, to help people get together digitally while social distancing. While this feature is a great option to connect with friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also has the potential to help real estate professionals’ businesses – during and even after a pandemic.

    How Do Facebook Messenger Rooms Work?

    To get started on Messenger Rooms, create a room in the Messenger App or on your Facebook feed. You’re given a link to share with anyone you wish to invite into the room – even if they don’t have a Facebook account! Since Facebook is always improving its features, Rooms will soon be able to hold up to 50 people with no time limit. Each Room can be shared on your feed, in events, or with Facebook groups.

    How Can Messenger Rooms Help SELL Homes

    Showcasing a House to Potential Buyers

    Creating a Messenger Room for showings cuts down the number of people going in and out of a home. Not only is this useful in preventing the spread of germs during a pandemic, but it also helps ease the concerns of sellers who are careful to prevent damage to their homes. Also, this is an excellent option for out-of-state buyers looking to see a home soon.

    Hosting Virtual Meetings with Current and Potential Clients

    We’ve learned connecting with people can be easier than we imagined. If you have clients out of your area or with a busy schedule, set up a Messenger Room and connect virtually!

    Meeting With Other Real Estate Professionals

    Beyond having virtual happy hours, you can utilize Messenger Rooms to meet one-on-one with other real estate professionals. Take your monthly conference calls and virtual meetings up a notch by creating a Room for your team. Then, invite everyone to your Facebook Room and network any time – day or night.

    Conducting Exclusive Training

    Want to hold an exclusive online training event? First, create a private Facebook event. Next, create a Messenger Room in that event. Those who have been invited to the group will be able to access your Room, and ta-da! You have your very own exclusive event in a matter of minutes!

     

    With an estimated 2.6 billion users, Facebook is the largest social media network in the world. There’s a high probability that your current and potential clients, colleagues, friends, and family are Facebook users. As a real estate professional, take advantage of Facebook’s size and features for your business.