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RECENT BLOG POSTS:

  • New ALTA Closing Protection Letter With Florida Modifications Corrects Unfortunate Case Law

    New ALTA Closing Protection Letter With Florida Modifications Corrects Unfortunate Case Law

    BY MARTY SOLOMON
    CLE Presented to FLTA Roundtable, April, 2018

    The new American Land Title Association (ALTA) Closing Protection Letter (CPL) form recently took effect in Florida.

    The new form both streamlines the previous CPL’s language and addresses and corrects many of the problems created by recent bad case law. It brings the CPL into line with longstanding understandings of CPL’s purpose and scope within the title insurance industry.

    The clear and laudable aim of this new form is to create a better relationship among the contracting parties with clearer language and more sensible limitations on liability. This article summarizes revisions, with particular focus on those areas that address case law that led us astray.

    Go to Blog

  • Hot Topics in Claims Avoidance: Avoiding POA Claims in Florida

    Hot Topics in Claims Avoidance: Avoiding POA Claims in Florida

    BY GARY ROSNER & PAULA LEVY,
    RITTER CHUSID, LLP

    In the title industry, a power of attorney (“POA”) is used when one of the parties to the transaction cannot be physically present at the closing. Transactions involving a power of attorney are ripe for fraud and errors.

    The following checklist can be used to determine whether or not to proceed with insuring a real property transaction involving a POA:

    • The POA must be signed by the principal.
    • The name and signature of the principal should match other documents in the public records.
    • The POA should be free from alterations or obvious corrections (no white-outs or strike-throughs; all provisions have the same font and size; no missing pages or paragraphs).
    • If the POA is transaction specific, it should identify the real property by legal description or address, and enumerate specific powers for the insured transaction (e.g., sell, convey, mortgage, encumber, lease, execute deeds and bills of sale, etc.). Note, however, that a general durable POA does NOT need to describe the real property, as long as it contains the requisite powers.
    • The POA must have two subscribing witnesses.
    • The POA must contain a proper notary acknowledgment (i.e., venue, date, name of principal, personally known or ID provided, notary signature and seal affixed).
    • The agent must not be a party to (or benefitted by) the proposed insured transaction.
    • The agent should be in possession of an original POA, capable of being recorded (pursuant to §695.01 and §695.03, Florida Statutes, the original POA must be recorded in the public records of the county where the subject property is located). If the original is not available contact underwriting.
    • Pursuant to §709.2106(3), Florida Statutes, a POA to convey or mortgage real property executed in another state, which does not comply with the execution requirements set forth for POAs executed in Florida, will be valid in Florida if, when it was executed, the POA and its execution complied with the laws of the state where it was executed. Agents must satisfy the requirements set forth in Florida’s Uniform Power of Attorney Act, when dealing with out-of-state POAs, and must be sure to adhere to company guidelines from its underwriter. However, if the property is the homestead of the principal, the power of attorney must meet the execution requirements set forth for POAs executed in Florida.

    Of course, this article does not replace your underwriter’s requirements. Any questions or issues concerning the use or validity of a power of attorney should be discussed with underwriting counsel, prior to closing and the issuance of a title policy.

    Go to Blog

  • Garner Local Media Attention for Your Business: Part Two

    Garner Local Media Attention for Your Business: Part Two

    This is Part II on how you can get local media attention for the things you likely already do on a daily basis for your business. Getting positive media attention is easier than you may think.

    By understanding the basics of creating a press release, knowing your local reporters and being aware of all activities taking place at your agency, you can create positive media attention for your business.

    How many sports teams has your agency sponsored in the past year? Have you conducted any pancake breakfasts to support a community cause? Did you make any charitable donations? Did your employees take paid time off of work to volunteer in the community? Did any employees run a marathon or celebrate milestone anniversaries? Did any employees retire? Did you hire anyone?

    Here’s how to turn these everyday occurrences into news that your community reporters will want to know and report.

    Go to Blog

  • Celebrating the end of a career, Congratulations Janet Minke!

    Celebrating the end of a career, Congratulations Janet Minke!

    Alliant National Title Insurance Executive Janet Minke Retires

    Well-known industry veteran also retires from her industry leadership roles, and will focus on philanthropic endeavors

    FORT Worth, Texas – Janet Minke recently retired as vice president, underwriting support services for Alliant National Title Insurance Company, the nation’s largest title insurance underwriter with no direct or affiliate operations. Alliant National is headquarted in Longmont, Colorado and Minke was based in the company’s Fort Worth, Texas office.

    Minke’s career spanned nearly 50 years, including almost a decade with Alliant National. Alliant National hosted a retirement party in her honor, and as part of the celebration, Alliant National’s leadership team, employees and independent agents pooled funds together, totaling $20,000, to donate to the of charities Minke’s choice.

    Texas Land Title Associaion (TLTA), offered Minke its congratulations and a thank you for her service: “TLTA is deeply grateful to Janet for all she has done over the years for TLTA and our industry. She will be greatly missed, but we wish her all the best in retirement. She leaves a true legacy in the vast body of work that she so generously shared through the gift of her time and talent.”

    In addition to frequent speaking and instructor roles at TLTA educational events, Minke was a long-standing volunteer with the organization. She served on and/or chaired numerous TLTA committees.


    MEDIA INQUIRIES

    Cathie Beck
    Capital City Public Relations
    e : cathie@capitalcitypr.com
    p : 303-241-0805


    Alliant National is the largest title insurance underwriter in the country with no direct operations to compete against its agents and puts the interests of its agents first. Bolstered by financial stability, strong underwriting capability and independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets, the company has established a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced and continuously growing.

    Alliant National’s CEO, Bob Grubb, can be reached at 303.682.9800 x300 or bgrubb@alliantnational.com. Visit joinalliantnational.com for additional information.

    About Alliant National Title Insurance Company

    The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent® Alliant National believes in putting other people first. The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 400+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 22 states.

    ###

    Go to Blog

  • Garner local media attention for your business: Part One

    Garner local media attention for your business: Part One

    This is Part I in a multi-part series of posts on how you can get local media attention for the things you likely already do on a daily basis for your business.

    And, positive media attention leads to increased awareness of your business. And that leads to more business opportunities. And those lead to business growth and increased sales. And, who wouldn’t want that?

    If you are like most community businesses, you likely hire and promote people, sponsor a local school’s sports team, donate to community charities (food banks, disaster relief, cancer support groups, etc.), celebrate business and employee milestone anniversaries and have employees who have exciting extracurricular activities (marathon running, world travel, tiger-taming, etc.).

    Here are four tips for turning these everyday occurrences into positive, and lucrative, media attention for your business.

    Create a template for press releases. Create a general press release template, to make it efficient and easy for crafting an announcement about your company. You may want multiple templates, such as a “new hire” announcement, a “charity support” announcement, etc.

    Press releases have general guidelines you should follow. Creating a template assures you’re following those guidelines without re-creating the wheel each time you make an announcement.

    And, bonus! Your team at Alliant National can guide you in creating templates.

    Know your local reporters and build relationships with them. Make it a point to know the editors and reporters of your local news media team.

    Depending on the size of your community, this team may include a news or radio station, small community/neighborhood paper, or your area’s main publication. Get to know this team, send all press releases to them and invite them to cover your company’s special events, such as celebrations and charity fundraisers.

    Send them pictures, too. Reporters love pictures.

    Be mindful of opportunities. Be mindful in your daily activities by always thinking, “Is this something of interest in my community that the media would cover, and would it help portray my business in a good light, potentially creating more opportunities for my company?”

    Make these practices a habit. Don’t be a “one and done” press release company. Designate a responsible and detail-oriented person on your team to manage press releases/media relations (it’s not as complicated as it sounds) for your business.

    You should be sending press releases for newly-hired employees, milestone events, charitable endeavors and other newsworthy events.

    One additional note: Keep in mind Alliant National can be a tremendous resource to you in getting started and staying active with your local media relations.

    We’re here to help our agents grow. To schedule a digital marketing consultation, please email us.

    Go to Blog

  • Hot Topics in Claims Avoidance: Avoiding HELOC Claims in Florida

    Hot Topics in Claims Avoidance: Avoiding HELOC Claims in Florida

    BY GARY ROSNER & PAULA LEVY,
    RITTER CHUSID, LLP

    Often, sale and refinance transactions necessitate the payoff and satisfaction of revolving lines of credit, also known as home equity lines of credit (“HELOC”).

    These mortgages are loans secured by the debtor’s real property which generally allow the borrower to access the equity in their property utilizing credit devices including checks, ATM cards and credit cards.

    The ease by which these accounts may be accessed, drawing up the outstanding principal balance right before, or after, the closing, may leave the agent and underwriter vulnerable to claims.

    The recommended practice concerning satisfying HELOCs, and insuring without exception, are as follows:

    -Prior to closing, the agent should provide lenders with adequate notice of the intended conveyance or refinance, review the mortgage for, and comply with, any specific requirements pertaining to payoff information and satisfactions which may differ from traditional mortgages.

    -The agent must request an estoppel letter from the lender for all outstanding amounts due, with language in the estoppel request:

    • (a) instructing the lender to immediately freeze the account upon issuance of the estoppel;
    • (b) advising the lender that any amounts advanced subsequent to the payoff made pursuant to the estoppel will not be secured by the property; and,
    • (c) that upon payment the lender must execute and record a satisfaction of the mortgage and written authorization by the borrower for (a) through (c) must be provided to the lender.

    -The agent should verify with the lender, on the day of closing, the amount outstanding and document the same; and if the amount outstanding is different from the lender’s original estoppel letter, a new, revised estoppel letter must be obtained prior to closing and disbursing.

    -The agent should obtain an affidavit referencing the loan number, address of the property, borrower’s name, and the current amount due under the loan (as evidenced by the attached estoppel letter). The affidavit should include affirmations by the borrower that:

    • (a) the account is closed;
    • (b) no advances or withdrawals of funds have been made within the 30 days prior to the closing which would change the current amount due;
    • (c) all lender’s documents pertaining to paying off and closing the account have been executed; and,
    • (d) all credit and/or ATM cards, checks, or other credit devices attached to the account have been destroyed or surrendered to the agent.

    -All checks, credit and/or ATM cards or other credit devices for obtaining additional equity advances or withdrawals from this credit line that have not been previously destroyed should be surrendered to the agent, and if the payoff is not being wired to the lender, the agent should forward the payoff via overnight mail together with the aforementioned affidavit, and a letter, executed by the borrower:

    • (a) instructing the lender to immediately close the account and provide confirmation thereof;
    • (b) advising the lender that any amounts advanced subsequent to the payoff made pursuant to the estoppel will not be secured by the property; and,
    • (c) advising the lender that, upon payment, the lender must execute and record a satisfaction of the mortgage.

    Any other requirements that the lender imposes should also be attached.

    If an agent is unable to comply with all of the guidelines set forth herein, he or she should not insure without exception for the HELOC and should contact underwriting counsel. Naturally, should a superior mortgage lien be refinanced and the borrowers do not wish to close the HELOC, it will be necessary to obtain a subordination of the HELOC to the superior mortgage lien.

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  • What does my Facebook page say about my business?

    What does my Facebook page say about my business?

    Your business is a success. Congratulations! And why wouldn’t it be a success?

    You’ve worked hard, faced and overcome many challenges, added some blood, sweat and tears, and worked many nights and weekends to ensure success.

    You have professionally-designed ads throughout the community that promote your business. But, what does your personal Facebook page say about your business?

    If you have crazy spring break pictures, online gaming stats, political messages and/or colorful language and extreme opinions posted on your public Facebook page, it’s likely to damage that business reputation you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

    Here are some best practices for your personal Facebook page:

    Utilize the privacy settings. If you haven’t done so lately, take a tour of Facebook’s privacy settings. You can choose who can view your page, as well as your posts, comments and images.

    Would you want current or prospective customers to see each post, comment and picture on your page? If not, make the appropriate changes. Use the privacy settings wisely.

    Know what your kids are doing on your page. Do you allow your kids to play games through your Facebook page?

    Or, perhaps you are playing all those farming, candy-gathering and other trendy games on Facebook. If so, update your settings so that Facebook doesn’t notify and invite all of your friends to play, too.

    And, sorry folks, your Facebook friends don’t care that you plowed a new field in FarmVille.

    Chain letters are still frowned upon. Don’t. Just don’t. On behalf of all your Facebook friends and future Facebook friends, please don’t send out requests for people to “share this post to 10 other friends to avoid extreme misfortune.”

    Think how your clients would feel receiving all those messages from you.

    Be mindful of the opinions you share. It’s true. You don’t have to share your political beliefs, Vegas trip pictures and current mood on your Facebook page.

    You can also disagree with someone else’s post without actually commenting on that post. Again, keep in mind the message these posts are sending to your wide range of clients, and use the privacy settings sensibly.

    One additional note: Keep in mind your employees likely have personal Facebook pages that may pose a danger to your business reputation. You should ask them to read this article.

    Don’t let your personal Facebook page scar your business reputation.

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  • The only title insurance underwriter in nation to obtain ISO27001 certification

    The only title insurance underwriter in nation to obtain ISO27001 certification

    Alliant National Achieves ISO27001 Certification

    Alliant National is the sole title insurance underwriter to achieve this information assets security certification

    LONGMONT, Colo. – Alliant National Title Insurance Company, the nation’s largest title insurance underwriter with no direct or affiliate operations, today announced another successful completion of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 certification for information assets security controls.

    ISO 27001 is a specification for an information security management system (ISMS), while an ISMS is a framework of policies and procedures that includes all legal, physical and technical controls involved in an organization’s information risk management processes.

    The purpose of Alliant National’s ISMS is to consistently and effectively manage and protect the non-public information (NPI) it receives and processes in the course of providing title insurance underwriting services. NPI is received from Alliant National’s agents and employees, processed and then stored with a third-party co-location.

    Alliant National earned its first ISO27001 certification in March 2015 and completed successful surveillance audits conducted by an independent party affiliated with ISO in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to maintain the certification.

    “Alliant National is the only title insurance underwriter in the nation to obtain an ISO27001 certification,” said David Sinclair, Alliant National’s chief operating officer. “For the fourth consecutive year, Alliant National is proud to achieve this validation that we adhere to rigorous ISO requirements.”


    MEDIA INQUIRIES

    Cathie Beck
    Capital City Public Relations
    e : cathie@capitalcitypr.com
    p : 303-241-0805


    Alliant National is the largest title insurance underwriter in the country with no direct operations to compete against its agents and puts the interests of its agents first.

    Bolstered by financial stability, strong underwriting capability and independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets, the company has established a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced and continuously growing.

    Alliant National’s CEO, Bob Grubb, can be reached at 303.682.9800 x300 or bgrubb@alliantnational.com. Visit joinalliantnational.com for additional information.

    About Alliant National Title Insurance Company

    As The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent®, Alliant National believes in putting other people first. The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 400+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 22 states, with annual revenues exceeding $120 million.

    ###

    Go to Blog

  • Our favorite free digital real estate marketing tools: Piktochart

    Our favorite free digital real estate marketing tools: Piktochart

    Everyone’s heard the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, but unfortunately not everyone is blessed with the artistic ability to create an eye-catching graphic.

    While you could hire a graphic designer to overcome any artistic shortcomings of your own, as a small business owner this may not be a financially feasible option for you.

    We love infographics around here, and we wanted to start incorporating more of them into our blogging routine. But we were faced with the challenge of limited graphic design resources, which led us to investigate online tools for creating infographics.

    That’s how we found Piktochart. It’s free to create a Piktochart account, and a free account grants you access to a number of templates, icons, shapes and basically anything you would need to create your own compelling infographics.

    Once you choose a Piktochart template to start, it’s easy to drag and drop elements into your design. The interface is intuitive, and formatting works similar to a MS Word document – including an CTRL + Z function to undo your mistakes.

    You can also upload your own images into the Piktochart platform to give your infographics a more personal touch.

    Once you’ve finished your Piktochart infographic, don’t limit yourself by sharing it just once. Think of how you can share your new content on all your digital marketing platforms.

    Social Media

    For sites like Linkedin and Facebook, it’s probably best to limit your shares to just one each. But with Twitter, you might consider pulling several take-aways from your infographic and tweeting them out along with your image at various times throughout the day and week.

    If you have followings on Instagram or Pinterest, where content works best when it’s square in design, you might look for ways to crop your infographic into a series of square posts for greater impact.

    Email

    You should be maintaining an email database of current and prospective clients, and if you’re not, check out our article on how to harness the power of your email database.

    Blog

    Use your infographic to illustrate multiple blog posts around your topic. Just be sure to space out your posts so you don’t saturate your blog’s home page with the same image.

    Do you know about a super cool digital marketing resource and want to share? Let us know in the comments section!

    We’re here to help our agents grow. To schedule a digital marketing consultation, please email us.

    Go to Blog

  • How to harness the power of your email database

    How to harness the power of your email database

    Pretty much everybody communicates via email these days. Chances are your business has built up quite a repository of contacts over the years. But now that you’ve amassed a database of contacts, what do you plan to do with them?

    If you’re not keeping in regular touch with past business contacts, you’re not taking advantage of a great digital marketing opportunity. Because despite all the advances in digital communication, email remains one best ways to communicate with today’s distracted consumer.

    It makes sense when you think about it. We typically only let brands and individuals we know into our inbox, and we very quickly unsubscribe from content that doesn’t keep our interest.

    The first step to harnessing the power of your email database is to make sure your database is organized. Are you contacts still accurate? Are your entries complete?

    At minimum, you’d like to have a complete name to go along with each email address. Add an identifier such as zip codes to your database and produce campaigns that target specific cities or regions.

    A platform such as MailChimp or iContact will help you sort contact database into marketing lists. They can help you add a customized greeting to each email you send, too, such as including the recipient’s first name. An email marketing platform can also help you track the behaviors of your recipients, such as how many people opened your message or how many clicked on a particular link.

    Now that you have your organized database, you can prepare to send them your first email. Ideally, each email you send should offer added value to the recipient in some way. Otherwise, your content will quickly be deemed spam and you’ll be shut out of the inbox, possibly forever.

    What are some ways to add value to your recipient’s inbox? Whether your audience is a consumer or another business, will determine the best approach. Ideas to consider:

    • Education
    • Important announcements
    • Networking opportunities
    • Special promotional offers

    As you’re developing your email content, it’s also good to consider how you will measure the success of your email campaign. Are you trying to drive your recipient to take a specific action such as downloading a new white paper or registering for your upcoming event? Do you simply want to keep in touch and stay top of mind with your contact?

    By knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time, you’ll be able to identify some key performance metrics to determine your success and tailor an email marketing campaign that resonates with your audience. The more emails you send, the more data points you’ll acquire, allowing you to fine tune your strategy over time.

    Now that you’ve got your list of contacts, a draft of your first message and a couple metrics in mind that will help you measure your success, you’re ready to take your email marketing to the next level.

    We’re here to help our agents grow. To schedule a digital marketing consultation, please email us.

    Go to Blog

  • Florida Association Foreclosure, Part 2: The anatomy of a foreclosure by a homeowners or condominium association

    Florida Association Foreclosure, Part 2: The anatomy of a foreclosure by a homeowners or condominium association

    In many respects an association foreclosure mirrors a bank foreclosure, with some minor differences.

    Once an account is delinquent, the association is permitted under Florida Statutes to place a lien on the subject property for nonpayment of assessments.

    Prior to recording this lien, the association is required to send the offending homeowner a Notice of Intent to Lien and to provide a period of time with which to bring the account current (30 days for a condominium association, 45 days for a homeowners’ association).

    If the account is not brought current during this time period, the association is permitted to record its lien and institute a foreclosure action in the subject property and against the offending homeowner.

    Prior to filing the lawsuit, however, the association is required to offer the offending homeowner one last chance to bring the account current.

    This is achieved by sending a Notice of Intent to Foreclose which includes a period of time with which to bring the account current (again, 30 days for a condominium association, 45 days for a homeowners’ association).

    If no payment or other arrangement is made, the association is free to file a foreclosure action with the court.

    Once a foreclosure action is filed and served, the homeowner has 20 days to file a response, otherwise the association may default the homeowner out of the lawsuit and immediately move for final judgment of foreclosure.

    In this regard, it is very important for the homeowner not to ignore the lawsuit because, just like in a bank foreclosure, the homeowner will end up losing title to the property if nothing is done.

    In the event a final judgment is entered in favor of the association, the court will set a foreclosure sale date for approximately 30 days out for the subject property.

    A foreclosure sale is a public auction traditionally held on the courthouse steps (but now many counties conduct foreclosure sales online by using the service realforeclose.com).

    Once the foreclosure sale is held, the clerk of court will wait 10 days before issuing a Certificate of Title to the high bidder. Once a Certificate of Title has been issued by the clerk, title to the property is considered to be transferred.

    Don’t Let an Association Foreclosure Sneak Up

    An experienced attorney can help a homeowner navigate the murky waters of an association foreclosure.

    Even during the pendency of an association foreclosure, an attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement agreement (and many times may include a waiver of interest and late fees).

    In addition, an attorney may be able to help defend against the association foreclosure to allow the homeowner to explore other options, such as a deed in lieu of foreclosure or short sale.

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  • Florida Association Foreclosure, Part 1: Understanding the terms of your purchase into a homeowners or condominium association

    Florida Association Foreclosure, Part 1: Understanding the terms of your purchase into a homeowners or condominium association

    Because of Florida’s boom in development during the 1990s and early 2000s, many properties are included in planned unit developments, more commonly known as homeowners’ and condominium associations.

    If a property is located within one of these developments, activities conducted on and uses of the particular property are governed by the association charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the development.

    Although we tend only to notice the activities of the association as they relate to aesthetic matters (landscaping, trash disposal, pool maintenance, etc.), much of the association’s duties relate to community finances and enforcement of the association’s governing documents.

    While the legal principles involving associations is vast, this blog will focus on one small aspect of the association puzzle: association foreclosures for nonpayment of assessments.

    Governing Documents

    All associations are governed by a set of documents, most commonly referred to as the declaration.

    This comprehensive document sets forth all rules, regulations, and restrictions to be enforced within the bounds of the association, including restrictions on use of the property and setting forth the assessments to be paid by each lot or unit owner.

    The declaration for any given association is a recorded document and can be found in the public records of the county where the development is located. The declaration can be amended from time to time, and each amendment is typically memorialized by the recording of a document outlining the changes made to the original declaration.

    If a dispute ever arises regarding use of the property, or assessments owed on a particular property, the declaration is the first place to look in determining the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the dispute.

    Assessments

    As outlined in the declaration, assessments are the amounts paid to the association by each person or entity holding title to property within the association.

    Although assessments are most typically paid on a monthly basis, some associations collect payment of assessments on a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis (be sure to check the governing documents for this information).

    Payment of assessments by the owners is essential to the association’s ability to maintain the grounds and perform all the duties placed upon it in the governing documents.

    Owners in an association should be aware that payment of assessments is an obligation that comes with owning a property governed by an association (and is not included in a mortgage payment).

    In other words, payment of assessments is the price for enjoyment of all the amenities association living can offer.

    Nonpayment of Assessments and its Consequences

    Unfortunately, as is all-to-common these days, situations can arise which place a strain on one’s ability to keep current on all financial obligations.

    When financial pressure mounts, it may be easy to stop making assessment payments to the association; however, this is a very perilous decision.

    Many owners are not aware the association has the right to foreclose (or take) a property for nonpayment of assessments, and it can even obtain a monetary judgment against the offending lot or unit owner.

    As many homeowners have discovered, it can be very difficult to escape an association foreclosure because once an assessment payment is missed, many declarations permit the association to tack additional fees on to the homeowner’s account (such as interest, late fees, collection costs, and other fees).

    Check back next week when we examine the anatomy of an association foreclosure.

    Go to Blog

  • Claims Stories: A Naked Release Should Trigger a Red Flag

    Claims Stories: A Naked Release Should Trigger a Red Flag

    In our continued effort to keep our agents and escrow officers apprised of trends in the title industry, our claims counsels and administrators have provided the following claim summaries. It is our goal to share these stories and help you avoid similar scenarios in the future.

    In this story we describe a scenario where a naked release was used by a couple in an attempt to defraud a title agent.

    A naked release is a release of a lien or mortgage that is not done in connection with a sale or refinance transaction. These releases are a red flag and merit further investigation. Naked releases often involve forgery which are expensive to resolve and cause significant losses.

    Here’s how it played out:

    Annie conveys to Billy and his Wife Sally in 2015. Billy and Sally take out a $1.5 million dollar purchase money mortgage. In 2016, a release (satisfaction) is recorded. There were no refinances or sales of record.

    Billy and Sally send the title agent a contract to sell the property. In this scenario the release was a naked release, and it was forged by Billy and Sally.

    The title agent commented that Billy and Sally appeared to be very wealthy and credible. While in rare instances borrowers will pay off their loan prior to the sale, it is not common. If you see a naked release of record, contact the bank that released the mortgage for the payoff.

    If the borrowers do not want to give you authorization to contact their bank, stop the transaction and contact Underwriting.

    For more information, please see Alliant National Underwriting Bulletin # 15-01.

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  • Third party independently validates our rigorous standards, processes with SSAE 18 Certification

    Third party independently validates our rigorous standards, processes with SSAE 18 Certification

    Alliant National’s Agent Verification Process Achieves SSAE 18 Certification

    Fourth consecutive year of compliance certification independently validates underwriter’s rigorous standards and procedures

    LONGMONT, Colo. – The nation’s largest title insurance underwriter with no direct or affiliate operations today announced its successful completion of the Service Organization Control (SOC 1) Statements on Standards for Attestation Engagements 18 (SSAE 18) Type II examination. The certification, endorsed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), means Alliant National has maintained effective controls over its Agent Quality Management System.

    The successful SSAE 18 Type II examination independently validates Alliant National’s rigorous standards and processes for approving, monitoring and reviewing its independent agents, which results in its agents being designated as Authorized Service Providers or Certified Service Providers of Alliant National.

    “Alliant National was the first title insurance underwriter in the nation to obtain an SSAE18 Type II compliant status and is the only title insurance underwriter to achieve compliant status for four consecutive years,” said David Sinclair, Alliant National’s chief operating officer. “This certification provides unmatched independent assurance of our agent oversight systems to lenders and all stakeholders.”


    MEDIA INQUIRIES

    Cathie Beck
    Capital City Public Relations
    e : cathie@capitalcitypr.com
    p : 303-241-0805


    Alliant National is an industry pioneer that distinguishes itself from competitors by putting the interests of agents first. Bolstered by financial stability, strong underwriting capability and independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets, the company has established a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced and continuously growing.

    Alliant National is the largest title insurance underwriter in the country with no direct operations to compete against its agents, with agents holding more than 50 percent of ownership in the company. Alliant National’s CEO, Bob Grubb, can be reached at 303.682.9800 x300 or bgrubb@alliantnational.com.

    About Alliant National

    Alliant National is an industry pioneer that distinguishes itself from competitors by putting the interests of Independent Agents first. Bolstered by financial stability, strong underwriting capability and Independent Agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets, the company has established a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced and continuously growing.

    Alliant National’s CEO, Bob Grubb, can be reached at 303.682.9800 x300 or bgrubb@alliantnational.com.

    Visit joinalliantnational.com for additional information.

    About Alliant National Title Insurance Company

    The Independent Underwriter for The Independent Agent® Alliant National believes in putting other people first. The company partners with 400+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 22 states, with annual revenues exceeding $120 million, and protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance.

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  • When in Doubt, Shout it Out:  Disclosure of Defects in Residential Resales

    When in Doubt, Shout it Out: Disclosure of Defects in Residential Resales

    How many times have you looked around your home and thought, “Wow, that stain on the ceiling is huge. I need to fix that water leak.”

    How about, “I’m so glad those termites haven’t come back.” Or, have you moved that potted plant to cover the water stain that seeped up through the hardwood floor?

    While these are things we’ve probably all done or thought at one point or another, these instances can have big effects if not properly disclosed during the sale of your home.

    Even something as minuscule as a bump in the floor can signify a larger structural issue and cause you a massive headache months or years after the sale of your property. Sometimes there can be confusion about which defects warrant disclosure.

    In Florida, disclosure is required for all known material defects affecting the value of the property.
    Luckily, a “material defect” is fairly easy to spot—they are those visible to the eye. Given this broad definition, any material defects known to the seller must be disclosed to the buyer (for example, that annoying water leak in the ceiling).

    Of course, these issues are not surprises to most potential buyers because they are visible to the eye. Even so, sellers should tell the truth when asked about visible material defects because lying about, or minimizing the extent of, a defect, can open the seller to liability for nondisclosure in the future.

    Aside from material defects visible to the eye, sellers also have to disclose the existence of non-apparent defects (like that water stain under the plant).

    Remember, any defect affecting the value of the property needs to be disclosed to potential buyers. Also, be sure to avoid withholding information from buyers when responding to questions about potential defects.

    Even if you had your home treated for termites last year, and have had no active infestations since, you must still disclose the existence of the prior termite issue to avoid being saddled with liability down the road.

    There are, however, certain classes of defects deemed nonmaterial by statute, even though their existence can have a major impact on the perceived value of the property.

    Under Florida law, whether the property was the actual site, or even a suspected site, of a homicide, suicide, or death, it need not be disclosed to potential buyers.

    The Charles Mansons of the world can relax since they won’t have to confess their gory misdeeds to potential buyers – they just shouldn’t expect the court of public opinion to be so kind. Also included in the nonmaterial-by-statute category is whether someone living in the property is infected with AIDS.

    In sum, it is important to accurately and completely disclose to all potential buyers any defects visible to others, and those secret gems hidden under pots, rugs, and couches.

    Most defects can be cured during the inspection period outlined in the purchase contract and will not derail a closing. Plus, it is better to sell your home without the specter of a future lawsuit looming over your head. (And as for specters, ghouls, and goblins – their existence does not have to be disclosed either, at least under a strict reading of Florida law.)

    When in doubt, a good rule to live by is disclose, disclose, disclose.

    The law regarding identification and disclosure of defects can be confusing, especially when it comes to those that appear to be mainly cosmetic in nature. The advice of a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the law regarding disclosure issues.

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  • Claims Stories: Be Skeptical of a Recently Recorded Quit Claim Deed

    Claims Stories: Be Skeptical of a Recently Recorded Quit Claim Deed

    In our continued effort to keep our agents and escrow officers apprised of trends in the title industry, our claims counsels and administrators have shared the following claim story. It is our goal to share these stories and help you avoid similar scenarios in the future.

    In this story we describe a scenario involving a Quit Claim Deed and an attempt to defraud a title agent. Here’s how it played out:

    The agent received a contract from a seller for a closing. The deed into the seller was executed in 2010 and recorded in 2017. A title claim was received when the rightful heirs of the grantor on the deed came forward and alleged the grantor had died in 2017. The deed had been backdated to a date prior to the grantor’s death.

    The Quit Claim Deed continues to be a source of fraud and forgery. Be skeptical of recently recorded Quit Claim Deeds and Special Warranty Deeds. Contact Underwriting if you see these red flags:

    • The Quit Claim Deed is not recorded in connection with a divorce, a foreclosure, or to clear a title defect
    • The Quit Claim Deed is handwritten
    • The Scrivener is not shown, or the Grantee is the Scrivener
    • The Quit Claim Deed is recorded several months after it is executed or acknowledged
    • The acknowledgment is incomplete
    • The appraiser’s website shows an out of state address for the Grantor, but the deed was acknowledged locally (and vice versa)
    • The Grantor’s address on Quit Claim Deed is out of state, but the deed was acknowledged locally (and vice versa)
    • Witness’s names are familiar (same as grantee, movie stars, cartoons)
    • The Grantee is a current tenant
    • The Notary’s stamp looks fishy, e.g., Commission Number has consecutive numbers “987654” or may be too long or short. (In Florida, for instance, the Commission Number is usually 6 digits).

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  • What Makes Your Title Company Unique: Why You Should Care About Differentiation

    What Makes Your Title Company Unique: Why You Should Care About Differentiation

    Why you? What makes you special? What makes you different? What makes you better?

    When you speak or write about your title company do you bring up what is different and better and trigger immediate interest? Do you elaborate on what is new, unusual and of great value to your customers? Or do you speak and write about what is ordinary and common and trigger immediate indifference to your value?

    There are fundamental principles of economics at work here. The simplified explanation is that people assess value at the margins or edges of common offers. It’s called the Principle of Marginal Utility and Marginal Value.

    For example, when you see an ad for a new smartphone does the ad inform you that you can store telephone numbers and text and email people from it? Or does it focus on things that make the smartphone an extraordinary camera, with face ID, and with uncommon face recognition that allows you to mirror your expressions in 12 Animojis so you can reveal your inner panda, pig or robot?

    Whenever we as human beings are introduced to something NEW we are hardwired to make an assessment of its value. That’s what you want to do with your sales conversations and the content on your website and social media – provide compelling explanations about the extraordinary value of what you offer that your competitors do not offer.

    So are you speaking and writing about your differentiatiors and separating yourself from your competition or are you speaking and writing about what is common and ordinary and triggering people into an assessment that your company is ordinary and should be “priced” (low) to differentiate itself?

    When you are common you are priced. Margins are low. So you have to focus on VOLUME. When you are different and your customers value that difference, margins are higher. You can focus on VALUE instead of volume and think of ways to increase your customers’ willingness to pay a premium by inventing new ways to enhance the customer’s experience.

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ABOUT US

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