Category: Buying a Home


Good News Updates with ALANNA

We all could use a little good news now and then, and for everyone closing with a Florida Agency Network we have some… good news!

Using Alanna AI, our state-of-the-art virtual closing assistant, realtors and their customers are automatically signed up for a series of “good news updates” during the process of their closing. Below are some of the notifications you can expect, as we do our part to give you good news!

  1. Upon receiving your contract, you will receive a welcome text message with a link to the welcome package where we collect your contact data and any additional information for }the lifetime of your transaction. It can all be signed and submitted right from your phone.
  2. Once the necessary title work has been completed – from lien searches to surveys – you will be updated to let you know that your title processor is reviewing all documents. Once all of the requirements have been cleared you will be update again.
  3. At this point your tile work has been cleared and your title professionals are now working up closing figures and any remaining details you will need on closing day. You will receive more information very soon regarding your final figures and a closing date and time.
  4. Your closing figures are out for your review! You will receive your preliminary figure breakdown, details on what to expect at closing, and if any remaining information needed to finalize your transaction. The link to your documents is included in this text message for your convenience.
  5. You’ve reached closing day! With this update, you know your transaction has been closed and documents are being filed. You will receive a brief survey link to share your experience with us so we can continue to improve our processes. We aim to keep your experience personal, professional, and streamlined for all of our customers.
  6. Your official documents have been filed in the appropriate county clerk’s office and we have received confirmation of recording! You will now receive a copy of your title policy.

Our goal is to keep you informed automatically about the process of your closing. This way you are ready to take the steps for you and your customer while preparing and finalizing their transaction.

Of course, this also means we get to be the bearer of GOOD NEWS!

Be sure to download the PDF chart of automated good news updates and start chatting with Alanna AI today via text at 813-710-4126, by using the chat feature on our website, or by scanning the QR code below!


Busting RON eClosing Myths

Florida Agency Network boasts its very own network of eNotaries that are all title professionals to handle your RON eClosing. With our network on your side, let’s dispel some of the common myths surrounding eClosings:

With FAN’s title professionals ensuring you have a smooth and thorough closing, you can’t beat the convenience and safety of a RON eClosing, especially when FAN agents are available to communicate and troubleshoot your closing at every step of the way.

Be sure to download the PDF dispelling the RON eClosing Myths and share them with your clients.

For questions about eClosings and requirements, please contact your title professional or visit FANeClose.com.


How to File for Florida Homestead Exemption

house graphic on green background

It’s that time of year again – homestead exemptions are due! If your clients took possession of their homes before December 31st, they are eligible for homestead exemption for this tax year.

We’ve put together a homestead guide so you can help your clients understand what homestead is, who qualifies for it, what’s required to file, and how they can file for homestead exemption.

What is Homestead Exemption?

The Florida Homestead Exemption is an exemption that reduces the taxable value of your home by as much as $50,000, within certain value limits.

Who Qualifies for Homestead Exemption?

  • The property you want to claim the exemption for must be your permanent residence OR the permanent residence of someone you can claim as a dependent on your taxes.
  • You must have lived at the property on or before a specified date of the tax year in question. To claim the homestead exemption on your 2020 taxes, you must have lived at the property in question by 12/31/2020.
  • You cannot have rented the property for more than 30 days in a given calendar year. Renting the property for more than 30 days for two consecutive years or for more than six months is considered an abandonment of the Florida homestead exemption.

What is Required When Filing for Homestead Exemption?

Each county has different required documents, but it’s safe to have the following readily available when filing for homestead exemption.

  • FL Drivers license or State issued I.D. Card
  • Vehicle Registration – at least one of your vehicles must be registered in the state of Florida at the property address in an application.
  • If registered to vote, your voter registration with Voter ID# and issue date.
  • Permanent Resident Alien Cards (if applicable)

Where Do My Clients Go to File for Homestead?

Alachua County: 352-374-5230

https://www.acpafl.org/forms/

 

Citrus County: 352-341-6600

https://www.citruspa.org/_dnn/Exemptions/Homestead-Application

 

Hardee County: 863-773-2196

https://hardeepa.com/general-info/exemptions/#general 

 

Hernando County: 352-754-4190

https://www.hernandopa-fl.us/PAHXApp/(S(noy34wieuv3qryzexzfh05b0))/default.aspx

 

Hillsborough County: 813-272-5519

https://homestead.hcpafl.org/ApplyOnline/WebForm1.aspx

 

Lee County: 239-533-6100

http://leepa.org/Exemption/hxinfo.aspx

 

Manatee County: 941-748-8208

https://ofa.manateepao.com/ApplyOnline/WebForm1.aspx

 

Marion County: 352-368-8300

http://www.pa.marion.fl.us/HXeFile.aspx

 

Pasco County: 352-521-4433

https://www.pascopa.com/exemptions/homestead/

 

Pinellas County: 727-464-3207

https://www.pcpao.org/clik.html?pg=https://www.pcpao.org/searchForHX.php

 

Polk County: 863-534-4777

https://www.polkpa.org/ 

These are the requirements: https://www.polkpa.org/Downloads/Files/HX%20Requirements.pdf

 

Sarasota County: 941-861-8200

https://www.sc-pa.com/applyonline/WebForm1.aspx

 

Sumter County: 352-569-6800

http://www.sumterpa.com/forms/SumterPA_DR-501_2017.pdf


FAN Now Offers An Electronic EMD Delivery Option

Did you know…?

All of your Florida Agency Network brands and locations now offer electronic EMD delivery services! It’s as easy as click-and-send; No downloads, no logins, no account creation.

Have you ever found yourself in the 11th hour with a client needing to deliver their earnest money deposit? We want to provide you and your client with an easy, after-hours, open 24/7/365 solution that will prevent you from running all over town, missing wire cutoffs at the bank, or – worst case scenario – having a contract fall through.

Check out our latest information on the new feature!


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


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!

 

 


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!


Why You Need a Comprehensive Lien Search

You’ve just bought a house. You and your spouse are enjoying your new home, your new neighborhood, and your new back yard. In fact, you’re out back sipping coffee one morning when you open a letter from your city and find that you now owe $34,000 in code violations. The previous owner let the lawn grow too tall and didn’t fix it for months.

This sounds like a horror story, and it is! But, it’s also a true story! This is one of the many dangers in not getting a municipal lien search – an additional search that must be requested.

That’s why Florida Agency Network offers a wide variety of additional comprehensive searches that go above and beyond the typical lien and title searches required by law.

Here are some of our additional searches and the value they hold:

MUNICIPAL SEARCHES

This search allows us to find liens from the local city or town that may be placed for various reasons, such as unpaid taxes, water, or sewer charges. These can come back to the new owners, as the lien is on the property not the person who owned the property.

MERS

This is a national database that tracks mortgage servicers to ensure interests in loans for residential real estate. This ensures that the mortgages have been moved properly and your current servicer is the correct one.

PERMIT SEARCHES

When an owner has open or expired permits left on the home, they can cause trouble for the new owners – especially if they want to do some work that requires a permit. It’s important to get these items resolved before closing.

CODE & CODE ENFORCEMENT SEARCHES

Code violations are the responsibility of the homeowner, regardless of when the violation happened. This means tall grass, pest extermination, or other code violations can come back to cost the new owner.

These are just some of the ways that not doing a comprehensive search for your customers can come back and cost them. Your Florida Agency Network agency is ready to help! To share this information with others, we have a downloadable PDF.

 


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.

 

 


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.