Category: Resources


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.


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.

 


Top 4 Real Estate Deal Killers

It’s October, season of carving pumpkins and munching on candy corn. However, there’s something lurking just around the corner or hiding in the front yard creeping up on your customer, and if your customers are not careful – these monsters can jump out and KILL YOUR NEXT DEAL!

To help ensure your customers don’t unwittingly cast themselves as the victims in their own horror movie this season, check out the tips below on some of the biggest KILLERS of a real estate transaction!

Don’t Spend Like a PSYCHO!

After signing the contract for their new home, but before closing, some customers just get into a spending mood! It may be tempting to use a new line of credit to fill the new house with furniture or purchase a shiny new SUV for the driveway, but these transactions can QUICKLY change your lender’s opinion about your credit-worthiness and cause your deal to go down the drain!

Avoid the Home of FRANKENSTEIN.

Some homes look great on the outside and even through the buying process, only for the future homeowners to find out the home has not been properly upgraded throughout the years and is, instead, a mishmash of a lot of parts like Frankenstein’s monster. That home may not pass inspection, and when that happens, the sale is gone. Don’t let your buyers be sad. It’s a good thing to keep their family safe from plumbing, foundation, or electrical issues… as Frankie says – FIRE BAD.

Steer Clear of the INVISIBLE ZOMBIE.

A surprisingly common issue when someone is selling their home is that their legal spouse has gone as invisible as Claude Raine. When people move away from each other without filing the correct legal documents, they may forget that technically BOTH parties still own the home, and there’s been instances where the former spouse cannot be found in time – bringing the closing to a screeching halt.

Don’t Let Liens Drain You Like DRACULA.

Imagine getting excited about your new home, only to find the solar panels that you thought were a nice addition come with a $20,000 lien on the property. Just like Dracula – that sucks! Make sure you ask your title company for a comprehensive title search so that these kinds of liens don’t suck the life out of your customers’ bank accounts!

As you can see, it may seem like there’s danger lurking around every corner, but with a little bit of preparation – and choosing a title company backed with the power of Florida Agency Network – you can help your customers avoid turning their experience into a horror film!

To share this information with others, we have a downloadable PDF.

Happy Halloween!

 

 


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.

     

     


    Don’t Get Bit – Prevent Online Vampires from Sucking the Life from Your Meetings

    cartoon comic vampire

    One side effect of the COVID crisis has been an increase in the use of online based video chat services like Zoom. Unfortunately, this also has created a new type of online cyber-criminal… the ZOOMPIRE!

    This “vampire” isn’t after your blood but, instead, specializes in sending fake zoom meetings to users to steal their personal data with specialized links used to fool the person into believing they’ve been invited to an online meeting.

    Researchers at INKY say that these new attacks are even fooling some Secure Email Gateways (SEGs), making them harder to catch.

    In addition, they can send a direct link, preventing your browser’s fraud prevention, as well. “If the hacker includes a fake attachment, it leads to a fake login page that’s locally hosted on the recipient’s computer, not the internet,” the researchers write.

    The solution here may be a low tech one. By texting or calling to confirm any meetings you didn’t set up yourself, you can be sure you’re only joining meetings you’re supposed to join – and prevent the ZOOMPIRE!

     


    FAN introduces Alanna.ai, Virtual Closing Assistant

    alanna graphicFlorida Agency Network (FAN) launches “Alanna.ai”, a new virtual closing assistant to further bolster FAN’s customer closing experience. This free service provides immediate answers to closing transaction questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alanna.ai is composed of world class artificial intelligence that integrates seamlessly with FAN’s title production software, , capable of providing dedicated and private responses to common questions related to closing transactions.

    FAN’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike LaRosa explains further: “In today’s environment where the demand to provide multiple options for client communication continues to grow, we are excited to offer such a robust and intuitive solution. Alanna.ai offers the ability for text updates, both outbound from our live staff if they need to interject, and also triggered responses from Alanna.ai directly based on the particular query. Too often we found our staff either utilizing personal devices, or text features generated by our VOIP phone systems, and none of those correspondences would tie back into the closing software database, allowing us to properly capture and record all communication on a file. Alanna.ai was able to solve that problem for us through a cool, mobile solution that is simple to use.”

    FAN’s commitment to constantly improving upon the customer experience drove the company to this partnership with Alanna.ai, the software company that is leading the industry in artificial intelligence- based communication for title companies by providing smart and “trainable” software that integrates with title insurance closing software platforms.

    “Adopting a solution such as Alanna.ai was the next logical step in the progression. Automated workflows, portal solutions, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and now an A.I. based solution to improve the consumer experience and operational efficiencies,” stated Aaron M. Davis, CEO for FAN.

    Alanna.ai’s CEO, Randall Nelson stated, “We are thrilled that FAN launched Alanna.ai in Florida. We feel with FAN’s industry experience and footprint, it will take Alanna to the next level, and we are already seeing benefits for Alanna.ai.”


    Have You Met Alanna?

    Have you heard about Alanna, Florida Agency Network’s new virtual assistant?

    She helps answer all your closing questions day or night, right from your text messages. The service is free to all our clients when they close with any of the offices in The Network.

    Visit the homepage and talk with Alanna in the chat box at the bottom right-hand corner, or contact her via text 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

    via GIPHY

    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

    via GIPHY

    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

    via GIPHY

    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!