Category: Resources


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!

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.

As a member of the Florida Agency Network, 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!

 


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.

You can read more about Alanna, 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. Also, we’ve created a downloadable PDF for you to share with colleagues and clients.


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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 Hillsborough Title, 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

screenshot 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.

 

 


7 Ways to Utilize Video in Your Real Estate Marketing

As a real estate professional, you are the brand. Your top priority as an agent is to help customers buy and sell houses. However, you can’t do that if buyers and sellers don’t know who you are, what you do, or the value you bring to them. One of the best ways to build your brand and showcase your value is by utilizing videos in your marketing strategy.

Photo of a woman using a video camera

According to NAR’s Real Estate in a Digital Age 2019 Report, social media was the tool cited as the best source for generating high-quality leads among REALTORS ®. There are many ways to share content on social media, but social video generates 12 times more shares than text and images combined. As a real estate professional, creating videos beyond social media, such as adding videos to your listings, website, and, yes, a YouTube channel, can help build your brand and generate more leads.

Creating videos may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you don’t know where to start, we’ve put together a list of video ideas to get you started.

#1 Tell Your Story

A great way to start with video content is by telling people your story. You can use the information that’s already in the about section of your website and turn it into a video. If you don’t have an about section to base your video on, here are topics to get you started:

  1. Where are you from?
  2. How did you get started in real estate?
  3. What special certificates or designations have you earned?
  4. What’s your sales history like? Or, what are your specialties?
  5. Is there any professional information you can share?
  6. What type of hobbies or interests would you like others to know about you?

# 2 Show Off Your Listing

If you thought making videos for listings is something every listing agent must be doing, you’re wrong. According to NAR’s Generational Report, sellers reported that only 10% of their agents used video to market their property. By creating videos for your listings, you’re putting yourself ahead of the game.

You can create a walk-through video with full production teams or on your own! Grab your smartphone (or your real estate photographer), take some short videos and pictures of your listing, and then drop those into an Animoto project. With Animoto, you don’t need any video editing skills. All you need is your imagination and the listing information.

For other content ideas to showcase a listing, visit our blog on the different ways to market your listing.

#3 Introduce Your Team

Consumers want to work with people. You can create videos to share on multiple platforms that introduce your team. Your staff can introduce themselves, speak about the history of your brand, or make a video of fun facts about each team member.

#4 Talk About Industry Updates & News

A great way to give value to your clients and colleagues is by sharing videos with short industry updates. Is there a new trend in real estate? Have mortgage rates dropped? By creating this information, you bring helpful insights to your audience and position yourself as an insider and expert. Plus, because you are giving information to people and saving them time (from having to read lengthy articles or search for information), they’ll begin turning to you for future information.

#5 Educate Your Audience

After Google, Youtube is the second most visited website with more than 15% of its visits coming directly from a search engine. Many individuals are searching for how-to’s videos, DIY tutorials, or guides to help them solve a problem. Create videos to answer commonly asked questions or inform clients and colleagues of important information. You can create videos with information like “How to Save for Your First Home” or “How to Prepare for Moving Day.” Also, you can create a series of videos, for example, “Title Tips” or “Real Estate Reminders”, and release these videos daily, weekly, or at whichever interval works for you.

Another idea is sharing advice for fellow real estate agents. Maybe you’ve experienced situations other agents are experiencing (or will eventually) and can advise them on how you handled those circumstances.

#6 Collaborations

Collaborating with other industry professionals can help you grow professionally. By partnering with other professionals, creating the content doesn’t fall to just one person – both parties will bring ideas and value to the table. You’ll get a different perspective out to your clients while bringing them valuable information.

For example, is there an inspector you can team up to discuss their role in the closing process? How about a title agent who can explain the importance of a title search? These are just some of the ways you can create content, bring value to your audience, and grow within the real estate community.

#7 Testimonials

Sharing reviews from previous clients can prove to future clients you’re as good as you say. Reuse the reviews you have on your website already and create videos from those. Why not ask past and present clients to share a quick video of their experience?

When it comes to creating videos for your brand, you must start somewhere – then grow from there. Although having a production company is nice when creating videos, you don’t necessarily need one. Look at all the different video examples other real estate professionals or brands are creating.


Must-Know List Before a Hurricane Strikes

Each year, the country is hit with hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, super storms, flooding, and more. With hurricane season running from June 1st to November 30th, coastal and inland region homeowners must prepare for potential storms annually.  Of course, you have insurance to help you recover. But knowing and doing a few things now—while the weather’s fair—can help you and your family stay safe and help you protect your property if the unexpected happens.

Here are 10 Ways to Prepare You and Your Clients for Hurricane Season:

10. Know Your Closing Options

Know your closing options in case of an evacuation. Our options include, but are not limited to, Remote Online Notarization (RON), Mobile Notary to come to your location, or a Traditional Closing (in-person at the office).

9. Trim Your Landscape

Trim trees and shrubbery to help protect your house in case of a storm. Keep in mind this is a tip if you are about to list your home or have purchased a new home.

8. Stock Up

Stock up on important items such as canned goods, water, pet food, paper goods, flashlights, batteries, and most importantly – adult beverages.

7. Think About Your Outdoor Items

Consider where to store outside items if a storm comes, such as a boat, a trailer, pool chairs/equipment, etc.

6. Take Photos

Take photos of the property, inside and out, prior to the storm.

5. Secure Important Documents

Be sure all important documents are stored in a waterproof safe, in the cloud, or in a secure portal online. These documents should include your Homeowners Insurance policy, survey, marriage
license, wills, social security card, title policy, etc.

4. Consider Flood Insurance

Consider Flood Insurance, even if you are not in a flood zone. Be sure to purchase early – it can take 30+ days for the insurance company to finalize your policy.

3. Bind Your Homeowners Insurance Early

Homeowners Insurance – obtain quotes prior to signing your contract and consider binding the policy early, even before your closing day.

2. Don’t Host the Hurricane Party

Find out who’s hosting the local Hurricane Party… because you don’t want to be volunteered to host it at your new house!

1. STOCK UP ON TOILET PAPER!!!

In addition to these tips, be sure to stay up to date on local news and have a battery-operated radio on hand to stay informed during power outages.

We created a downloadable PDF of our tips for you and your clients. For resources by county on flood and evacuation zones, visit www.floridadisaster.org/knowyourzone.

Stay safe this hurricane season!