Category: Resources


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.


Do you have the POWER?

When and how a power of attorney for a spouse works in a real estate transaction.

 

Wooden figures hugging

Contrary to popular belief, a marriage license doesn’t necessarily give a spouse automatic power to make decisions on the other spouse’s behalf. While spouses may have rights to things like joint bank accounts and medical records, property rights can be restricted. To conduct a real estate transaction on behalf of a spouse or other person, an approved power of attorney is necessary.

 

 

WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A power of attorney is a document which gives a person, called an “agent”, legal authority to act and make decisions on behalf of the spouse. The amount of power given to the agent can be limited, depending on what is agreed upon.

For real estate transactions, a power of attorney would need to specify the agent is authorized to make the specific decisions for the buyer or seller’s spouse.

 

WHY DO I NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

Most real estate transactions will not need a power of attorney. However, if your spouse is unable to sign the mortgage or the deed or any other documents needed for various reasons, you will need to have an approved power of attorney.

If there is a power of attorney already created, it’s best to get that over to your title company and lender, if applicable, as soon as possible. That way, your closing team and lender has time to review and make sure the power of attorney is approved and ensuring your closing goes as smooth as possible.

 

WHAT ARE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

If you’re closing with any title brand in The Florida Agency Network and it involves the issuing of your title policy, there is no charges to you for drafting a specific power of attorney for the real estate transaction.

If you need a power of attorney drafted for other reasons or you’ve made arrangements directly with an attorney, there are possible charges for this. Fees may vary, based on the attorney or law office you and your spouse do business with.

 

Before starting your real estate transaction, where a power of attorney is needed, make sure the power of attorney is ready or there is a plan in place to get one drafted. Contact any of our offices for more information on how to get the processes started for your closing.


5 Ways Title Insurance Protects You after a Home Purchase is Completed

Family moving into a new home

As a new homeowner, protecting your investment is at the top of the “to-do” list. From buying security systems to obtaining homeowners insurance, there are countless ways to protect your investment. Obtaining title insurance through an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy, insures your homeownership rights aren’t affected after you’ve purchased your home.

Here is a list of a few examples that can come up after your home purchase.

  1. Boundary and Survey disputes:
    When closing with a title agency, request a survey of your property. This shows the boundary lines, easements and encroachments of the property. With this information, you will better understand your property and protecting you from anyone making claim to portions of your property.
  2. Errors in closing documents:
    Clerical errors beyond your control can affect the Deed and/or Mortgage on your property.
  3. Unknown liens:
    Prior owners of your property may have “overlooked or forgotten” certain bills pertaining to your new property. While this isn’t your own debt, or your fault, financial institutions can place liens on the property for unpaid debts, even after you’ve closed.
  4. Missing heirs or undiscovered wills:
    There are cases where heirs go missing or are unknown at a person’s time of death. Other times, family members may discover, or challenge, a will for property rights long after you’ve purchased your home.
  5. False Impersonations & Forgery:
    Common or similar names make it easy for a person to impersonate a property owner and putting you at risk. If you purchase your property from a person not the rightful owner, your ownership rights are in jeopardy.
    The same goes for forged or fabricated documents filed with public records. If a previous “owner” has no rights to the property, you risk losing your property.

For buyers, one of the most important ways to protect your property rights is getting an owner’s title insurance policy, or title insurance. Agencies within The Florida Agency Network provide homeowners with the peace of mind and the smooth closing they deserve.

Contact any of our offices for more information on our closing services and how we can help you during the closing process.


Welcome to Florida: Buyer Pick or Seller Pick?

Here’s a little disclaimer Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network, likes to give when speaking on title insurance in Florida.

“Florida, where a judgment can attach to a piece of property simply by filing a document with the clerk, and the name doesn’t even have to be spelled correctly.

Florida, where the county may or may not have to actually FILE an enforcement action on a property for it to attach, as long as they were thinking about doing it at some time.

Florida, where an unlicensed contractor can pull a permit on a house to put on a new roof, not close a permit, and 10 years later you have to hire a licensed contractor to go back, fix the prior’s work, and close the permit.

Florida, were the seller picks the title agent or attorney, and pays for title insurance, but only depending on the county you are in. Or, even depending on what PART of a county you’re in.”

Across the country, there are 37 states where the buyer picks/pays for title and 12 states where it’s customary for the seller to do so.

Then there’s Florida.

Where the Buyer picks in:

  • The Panhandle
  • Sometimes around the beach areas in Sarasota
  • South Manatee County (but only to the Manatee River, where North is customary for seller to pick)
  • Miami-Dade County
  • Broward County
  • Collier County
  • Some of Palm Beach County, but not North…..

Then, seller picks in the majority of the other areas…

HUH???

Title scholars, settlement experts, underwriting counsel, and others  who still say things like “HUD statements, policies in triplicate, dot matrix printers, and white out,” have contemplated WHY this occurs in Florida.

Well, Aaron has figured it out!  We can blame two men named Henry. (Of course, it’s a man’s fault.)

Henry Plant and Henry Flagler

These two gentlemen were railroad tycoons who ventured deep into Florida. The areas they ended up in became tourist destinations, with great beaches, water access, and lots of construction opportunities. Plant’s rail line landed in Sarasota, and Flagler’s line had a few stop down the East coast of Florida, landing in Palm Beach and Miami.

With all those tourists and construction came the attorneys who handled those transactions, several of who previously resided in New York. And in New York, you guessed it – it’s customary for the buyer to pick and pay for title.

As for coastal areas, well, those buyers are typically wealthy, so we guess they just get stuck with the bill.


Are You Helping the Bad Guys?

photo-1461749280684-dccba630e2f6-small

You may not know it, but your email and web browsing habits may be inadvertently helping the “bad guys” take your personal information, or nonpublic private information (NPPI). Hackers are targeting the real estate industry by utilizing sophisticated techniques and technology to hack into existing email threads and redirect the communication, and far worse, the funds, elsewhere. For real estate agents and their clients, this could mean a big payday for hackers, as well as an enormous headache, and possibly legal action, for agents and their clients.

To protect you and your clients, Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network (FAN), has compiled a list of actions agents should take to help prevent exposing themselves and their clients to a potential hacking situation.

  • Make sure your title agent only sends encrypted wire instructions directly to the buyer and does not copy the real estate agent. (Many like to include the agent as a means of notification, but this puts the transaction at risk.)
  • Advise your clients that they will only receive the wire instructions ONCE from your title company, and then call to confirm, at a phone number you know to be authentic, prior to sending a wire.
  • Hackers use keyword searches when seeking out fraudulent misdirection opportunities. Stay away from using words in the subject of your emails like “WIRE”, “FUNDS”, and “FUNDING”, as these terms are what hackers are looking for.
  • Change your email password(s) once per month.
  • If you click on a suspicious email link or document, immediately change your password.
  • Invest in antivirus software.
  • Make sure you update your computer patches. Antivirus patches and cell phone updates should be applied immediately upon release, as most are released to address security flaws.
  • Educate your clients on industry scams. Forward this link to clients for further information: https://www.ic3.gov/media/2016/160614.aspx

Hackers have infiltrated our industry and figured out how to create chaos. The most effective way to fight back is to educate yourself and partner with companies that monitor and secure their networks.

Through FAN’s partner, Premier Data Services, agencies within the Network stay up-to-date on compliance initiatives and policies. Each agency hosted by Premier Data Services is SOC 2 compliant, and is audited and verified by a third-party specialist organization, 360Advanced. FAN and its agencies gladly take on the responsibility of not only insuring the title to your home, but also in safeguarding your NPPI.

 

 

Have questions? Get answers, and get social with us. Follow us on Facebook and stay up-to-date with valuable resources and information.

Darn that DODD-FRANK!

Cropped image of businesswoman writing on checklist

Just imagine, after years of struggling to complete college, your son, little Johnny has finally has his head on straight. He graduated, he’s worked for the family business for two years and is doing well. He met a nice girl and they have married.

He wants to buy a home. Unfortunately, Johnny has not always made the best decisions. His credit is not where it needs to be. Based on the fact that he is now making better decisions, you decide to loan Johnny the money to buy the home. The title company you’re working with will prepare a note and mortgage to secure your loan, what could be easier, right?

That Darn Dodd-Frank! Your loan is probably in violation of this Act. Based on this violation, your note and mortgage may not be enforceable.

Dodd-Frank is federal legislation that came about as a result of the real estate crisis of the last decade. The Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and other laws that regulate all consumer loan transactions.

One of the other laws is the Loan Originator Rule. In general terms, if the borrower will use the home for residential purposes (whether a primary residence, a second home or a vacation home) then the person arranging the loan is defined as a “loan originator.” A loan originator must have a mortgage originator’s or broker’s license. Pursuant to the Act, any person who offers and negotiates terms of a residential mortgage is deed to be a mortgage loan originator. Unfortunately, for mom and dad above, there are no exceptions for a person, who is not a Seller, to secure a mortgage with a residential property.

The Act does provide for certain exceptions. Namely, Seller financing, these exceptions are as follows:

One property exception: A Seller may extend credit, secured by a mortgage encumbering residential property and is not considered a loan originator if:

(a) they are a natural person, estate or trust;

(b) they provide financing for only one property in a 12 month period;

(c) they own the property securing the mortgage;

(d) they did not construct or act as the contractor for the construction of a residence on the property;

(e) repayment of the loan must not result in negative amortization;

(f) balloon payments are allowed, however the term of the balloon is not clear. Most practitioners believe that no shorter time period than 5 years should be used.

(g) while the Act does not prohibit adjustable rates, a fixed rate is suggested. The Act has restrictions, limitations and caps on rate charges.

(h) the seller is not required to investigate the buyer’s ability to repay the loan.

Three Property Exception: A Seller may extend credit, secured by a mortgage encumbering up to three residential properties and is not considered a loan originator if:

(a) they are a natural person, estate, trust or an entity;

(b) they provide financing for three properties or less in any twelve month period;

(c) they own the property securing the mortgage;

(d) they did not construct or act as the contractor for the construction of a residence on the property;

(e) the loan must be fully amortizing and there are no balloon payments or structures allowed;

(f) while the Act does not prohibit adjustable rates, a fixed rate is suggested. In this context, limits and caps are required’

(g) the Seller is required to make a reasonable investigation regarding the Buyer’s ability to repay the loan. Although formal documentation is not required, the investigation should be done in good faith and the results should be maintained.

While other exceptions exist, they are very complicated and are not practical for ordinary Seller financers.

Good news is Dodd-Frank does not apply to every loan. First, it only applies to residential loans. So, if you’re dealing with vacant land, commercial properties, rental properties or properties used solely for investment purposes, Dodd-Frank simply does not apply. Moreover, Dodd-Frank does not apply to non-residential buyers. So, if the buyer is a corporation, limited liability company or partnership etc., Dodd-Frank will not apply and the loan can be made without consideration to its restrictions.

So, now that we know that mom and dad have a problem trying to help little Johnny buy his home, what are we to do?

One solution would be for the mom and dad (the lender) to purchase the property from the underlying Seller first. Then mom and dad as the Seller could sell little Johnny the home and take back the note and mortgage under the one property exception. Yes, the transaction costs would increase, but the creative closers at the Florida Agency Network will work with you to keep these costs down.

Another solution would be for mom and dad to work through a mortgage broker. The mortgage broker will be required to comply with all of the various lending laws and regulations. While the broker will likely charge a fee for this service, it is another option that will allow the transaction to go forward.

How Can I Improve My Home’s Value?

Buyers generally seek the least expensive home in the best neighborhood they can handle. Like the guy in the video says, you want to present a home that fits in the neighborhood but doesn’t stand out too much.

For example if neighbors are all 4 bedrooms, 3 baths and 3000 square feet additions that make your home 5, 4, and 4000 will make yours harder to sell.

Improvements should make it show well and fit well in the neighborhood. Last-minute capital investments in large structural changes aren’t likely to pay off.

But cosmetic upgrades like paint and landscaping help a home “show” better and often do pay off.

Of course, all systems and appliances should work to get a top price. To make your home competitive and attract buyers and bids work with a professional real estate agent and start early.

How Is A Home Marketed?

As you’ll see in the video, every home and market is a unique situation. Good marketing plans are specific to both. But every plan will include: Preparation Pricing and Marketing Activities.

Preparation takes time – typically, months. Homes must be in “show” condition all repairs and upgrades complete and all photos and video completed before the home goes on the market.

Pricing, likewise, should be planned in advance. Your broker will advise on both the best price and the best TERMS things like closing costs and seller credits to balance sales speed with sales price. Once the home is on the market it will quickly be entered in the MLS and will show up in Internet searches by agents and buyers.

Your broker will advise other marketing activities including advertising, signage, showing and open house events so make the best of your situation. Their aim is to get negotiable offers, and then take the offer you accept through the closing process.