Have you ever had Home Envy? You know, that feeling you get when you have gone over to a friend’s house for the first time and their home is much larger than yours. They have all the new gadgets and sleek new kitchen and you start to feel that green little monster come out in you.
Don’t worry, you are not the only one feeling this way. In a survey conducted by a bathroom retailer QS Supplies of 1,000 people, 56% of them admitted to being jealous of other people’s homes. If it was to be broken down by generation, Millennials take the green envy lead with 60.8%. Gen Xers follow close behind with 53.8%, then baby boomers coming in last with 37.9%. If you were to break it down by gender, it seems the ladies have much more home envy than men. Women ranked 65% whereas men ranked at 45.8%.
Having Home Envy has prompted some homeowners to tackle home improvement projects such as upgrades for kitchens, interior design, furnishings and interior painting. Most of this jealousy comes from friends and family. In fact, 35.2% of respondents made home upgrades due to envy. Many of the respondents also noted they were swayed by influencers. This gives credence as to why so many brands are willing to pay influencers to represent their products.
Platforms Showing Home Envy
Home Features Evoking The Most Home Envy
It seems the bigger the better when it comes to the size of the house, as this feature evoked the most Home Envy. Coming in at a close second was a good-looking kitchen.
Handling the Green Little Monster
There are certain ways of handling jealousy better than others. The data shows that some respondents that felt this envy and were not satisfied with their own home went as far as moving houses entirely. Others were able to take the envy and turn it into inspiration. After experiencing Home Envy, 24% of respondents attended an open house for design inspiration. With this being said, Instagram and Pinterest are great platforms for finding design inspiration.
The time has come to sell your home. You have a fresh coat of paint inside and out as well as all your landscape looking beautiful. You definitely have the sense of sight covered for new homebuyers, but do you have the sense of smell taken care of? Believe it or not, stinky homes sell slower than fresh, sweet smelling homes.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your home kind of smells not so nice. People living in their own home become desensitized to their own surroundings. It is best to always ask someone that lives outside of your home such as a neighbor or friend. Even better, ask your real estate agent! They are in and out of homes all the time and know when something is not smelling up to par. They may also have great ideas as how to get rid of those unwanted smells or vendors that can help you.
If you want your potential homebuyer to love your home as much as you do, below are smells that homebuyers love and hate. Paying attention to all the little details of selling a home will help you sell your home quickly and for the best possible price.
Preventing REO Closing Delays & Diversifying Your Business
An Introduction to Probate
Having vast knowledge of our industry is key for success. Join us for a webinar featuring the basics of probate and how you can incorporate these services into your business.
April 7th, 2020
1:00 PM EST, 12:00 PM CST, 10:00 AM PST
REOMAC Member: Free | Non-Member: $25
Items to be discussed include:
- Access to knowledgeable title agent/lawyer with probate experience helpful
- What is title insurance, what is probate and why do investors target “probate” homes?
- Probate includes residential and commercial properties
- Relatives and heirs often do not know where to turn for assistance in managing properties
- Savvy agent, with a few tools, can develop expertise in estate sales
In addition to Probate and Trusts, we will do a quick refresh on closing delays with REO properties – what the Servicer/Lender, Broker and Attorney/title can do to identify potential issues before they become problems.
- Code violations and code liens – resolutions and mitigation
- Selling properties with code liens/violations in place – best practice
- HOA issues – Safe Harbor Rules, identifying HOA violations
- IRS liens and CC judgments
- MI Insurance
- Junior and Secondary Liens
Michelle Garcia Gilbert, Esquire
Managing Partner, Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A.
Managing Partner, Sapphire Title & Escrow Company
Michelle Gilbert has been admitted to the following practices and courts: Florida Bar, 1986; Middle District of Florida; 1988, Northern District of Florida; 2005, Southern District of Florida, 2006; U.S. Supreme Court, 2000; U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 2003. She matriculated at the University of South Florida (B.A., 1982, cum laude), and the University of Notre Dame (J.D., 1985). She is a member of the following groups: Greater Tampa Association of Realtors; Bay Area Real Estate Council, Inc., Board of Directors; Hillsborough County Bar Association (Real Property, Probate and Trust Law; Solo and Small Firm; Diversity; and Military and Veteran Sections); Florida Bar (Real Property, Probate and Trust Law; Business; and Solo and Small Firm Sections); American Legal and Financial Network; Legal League 100 (Vice Chairperson, 2016-19; Advisory Council Member, 2014-19; Special Initiatives Working Group, 2017- present); REOMAC; Attorney Agent, Attorney’s Title Insurance Fund/ Old Republic; and Westcor Title agent.
She manages Gilbert Garcia Group’s foreclosure, real estate transactional and litigation, probate, estate planning, guardianship, business transactional and litigation, and corporate law practices, and oversees Sapphire Title & Escrow Company. Gilbert Garcia and Sapphire provide training and consulting to their clients, as well as sponsor monthly give back initiatives in their community.
Law Offices of Tyler Gold PA
Has a track record of success in the REO and title industry. Jill has been Office Manager and over seen day to day operations of Tyler A Gold PA for over 10 years. She has successfully resolved and mitigated code violations and code liens in dozens of municipalities through out the state of Florida. Jill is also responsible for the mitigation of association Estoppels for traditional closings and REO closings involving the application of the safe harbor statute. Jill and her office team also work with the IRS and DOJ in resolving federal tax liens and obtaining release from the right of redemption when applicable. Jill and her team have also successfully resolved subordinate liens through mutual indemnity and obtaining a release whenever possible. The office of Tyler A. Gold, has closed 1000’s of transactions in Florida for more than 25 years, and has a long history of satisfied repeat clients as well as long standing REO clients.
In January, the housing industry had the largest drop it has seen in more than four years. Realtor.com notes that the inventory sank by 13.6% compared to January of last year.
Realtor.com compiled a list of housing markets where it is easy and not so easy to purchase a home.
A couple of factors for the list of easiest to purchase is a strong economy such as that seen in a retirement destination or beach area and a tax-friendly location such as Charleston, South Carolina.
Hardest places to purchase a house can be found in the Northeast and tech cities.
Markets where it is easiest to buy a house:
- Cape Coral, Florida
- Bridgeport, Connecticut
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- New York, New York
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Houston, Texas
- Honolulu, Hawaii
Markets where it is the hardest to buy a house:
- San Jose, California
- Buffalo, New York
- Seattle, Washington
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Columbus, Ohio
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Washington, D.C.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
Nowadays it’s easy for home buyers to want to impulsively buy a house that they have fallen in love with because they are afraid that it will be snagged by another buyer with the same sentiments. With housing inventory in short supply, home buyers are quick on the trigger to purchase. A recent Redfin study also supports this with the fact that homes are on the market for less than 10 days before they are sold.
With the housing market being extremely competitive, it is in a home buyers best interest to really determine a home’s value. Using comparable sales, or comps as they are called in this industry, are recently sold homes that are comparable to a home you wish to purchase. This is a critical way to figuring out a home’s worth.
Here are ways of using comps to your advantage:
According to a recent report from WalletHub, the city of Tampa ranks #10, out of 169 other cities in the United States, for wholesale real estate investing. Tampa Bay has undergone some astonishing changes in the past couple of years. In January of 2010, Tampa’s unemployment rate was at an appalling 11.7%. In 2011, Tampa’s GDP per capita, which is a measure of the worth of all goods and services produced, minus the value of goods and services used up in production, was at $38,863. In September of 2013, the median sale price of all properties was $177,500. On the contrary, in 2018: The unemployment rate, as of June, is 3.8%, the projected GDP per capita is $42,047, and the median sale price of all properties is remaining at $239,000. Home values have risen 15.3% in the past year and are anticipated to increase another 7.9%. Older neighborhoods such as Seminole Heights, and properties downtown, especially near Channel Side, are being revitalized and invested in. Since the Tampa Bay Rays announced the potential construction of a brand new ballpark in the Ybor City area, investors have been scrambling to snag properties in the 33605 area code. With all projections pointing upwards, the time to flip is yesterday.
Flipping homes may seem like a simple endeavor, you purchase an old, outdated property, make a few renovations, sell it, and make an enormous profit. Unfortunately, wholesale real estate investing is not as easy as depicted on popular TV shows such as Property Brothers, and in fact, requires more time and money than most people realize. If one is looking to do some flipping in Tampa, there are a few important points to remember. Most professional flippers will stress the importance of expedience. You want to buy and sell a property as fast as possible due to the property maintenance costs, mortgage, and potential property holding costs which may reduce final profits margins. Another major aspect is financing. If you are financing the property renovation and must borrow money, you will have to pay interest which is not 100% tax deductible. It is essential that you find a mortgage lender who offers low-interest rates. You can pay for everything with cash, but you will still be subject to the capital gains tax. When flipping a home, you must understand the amount of time involved. You must invest the time in buying, renovating, ensuring the property is up to code and selling the property.
If you are seeking to flip a home on top of your normal occupational work, you may find it extremely difficult or impossible to accumulate the time required. Inexperienced flippers also find themselves lacking the skills and knowledge demanded in flipping a property. If you have to pay out of pocket for the professional renovation and resale of a property, you will find your profit margins to be extremely slim. In summation, wholesale real-estate investing should not be taken on unless you have done all the necessary research and due diligence. With that being said, the profit potential in Tampa has never been higher. Three years ago a 3 bedroom, one bathroom bungalow in a Ybor neighborhood sold for $25,000 in a foreclosure sale, and today the property will most likely close at $164,900. Like all investments, there are risks involved, but right now, Tampa is a risk worth taking.
Why do investors target probate homes?
- Properties in probate are perfect for investors, because they’re possibly in need of serious updates and repairs, and the Personal Representative doesn’t have the time or money to spend making it ready to sell on the retail market, making it lucrative for real estate investors to buy these homes below the market value.
- A Personal Representative cannot sell estate property without either an order permitting the sale or an order determining homestead status of real property.
• Real Estate Investors – probate leads represent the very best residential real estate-related lead source available today. Within 4-6 months of the probate filing, 40% of the properties found will be sold.
- Realtors will find that many of the residential properties in probate will be listed within the first year after the filing.
- Wide Range Of Properties – Commercial, Acreage, Duplexes, Condominiums, Apartment buildings, Strip malls, Office buildings, Ranchland, Farms. These are not rundown foreclosures, bankruptcies, or condemned properties that are complex deals and need costly repairs. These can be beautiful homes with no mortgage or debt attached, making them some of the cleanest and easiest of all real estate to buy low and sell high quickly.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal procedure in which the probate court assumes jurisdiction over the assets of someone who has died. The court supervises the payment of debts, taxes, and probate fees, then supervises the distribution of the remainder to the person(s) named in a will, or to the heirs if there is no will.
Florida probate law varies depending on the type of property. It is important to get guidance from an experienced Florida Real Estate Probate and Homestead Property Attorney.
A Florida probate can include:
- Proving to the Florida probate court that the deceased person’s will is valid.
- Identifying and preparing an inventory of the deceased person’s property.
- Determining the value of the deceased person’s property.
- Paying all debts and any taxes due.
- Distributing the remaining property as the will or the law directs.
- Attorney and court fees which are typically paid from estate assets.
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES are under no obligation to use the same law firm that wrote the will. Nearly all probate procedures in Florida involve paperwork drafted and filed by probate lawyers. Unlike some other states, Florida law generally does not allow “do-it-yourself” probate except in some cases involving very small bank accounts, refund checks, or similar assets.
Types of Probate Administration in Florida:
- Formal Probate Administration – The Normal Probate Process
This is Florida’s traditional form of probate administration. It requires APPROXIMATELY 12 months to complete. It is usually used for complicated issues such as challenges to the Will, disputes between beneficiaries or heirs, or supervision of the Personal Representative.
The following is an over-simplified description:
The process starts with a petition for administration and the appointment of one or more personal representatives (executors). After that, a Notice to Creditors is published in a local newspaper, and creditors generally have three months in which to file their claims.
Once the period of time for creditor claims has passed, the personal representative can pay the debts (in a certain order) and distribute the remaining estate. Once all debts are paid and the remainder of the estate has been distributed, a petition for discharge is filed, and the Florida estate is closed upon entry of an order of discharge.
While this may sound simple, probate is a fairly complex system of required and optional tasks by the personal representative, the attorney and sometimes a tax consultant (often a CPA). Of course, the simpler the assets and the deceased’s plan of distribution, the simpler the Florida probate will be.
- Summary Probate Process for Small Estates
The state also provides a “short form” of probate for certain smaller or older estates, which is quicker and cheaper than the “formal administration” used for most Florida probate administrations.
Summary probate administration is available for estates with “non-exempt” property of less than $75,000 and the decedent has no outstanding unpaid debts, or in cases where the decedent passed more than 2 years ago. The value of “homestead” real property is not counted in totaling the value of the estate, nor is any other proposed exempt property. Summary administration can also be used in any size estate if the deceased has been dead FOR more than two years. Summary administration does not work in certain cases, such as those with minor or missing heirs, or where the assets or debts of the deceased are unknown.
FLORIDA HOMESTEAD PROPERTY PROBATE RULES
If the deceased’s real estate is considered their “homestead,” the state of Florida applies certain unique rules to the transfer of the property. The homestead property exemption was created to protect families from being displaced from their home; however, there are many special rules to this probate property law.
Home features that boost the selling price and number of days on the market.
In a study done by Zillow, Home Features that Sell, 4.6 million home sales across the country were analyzed in 2017 and 2018 for sales price and number of days listed on Zillow. The analysis stated that the for-sale listings mentioning certain home features sold for more and were on the market less time than those homes that did not list these certain features.
What are these features you ask? Well having luxurious items such as a steam oven or shower, heated floors, or a wine cellar can boost your home sales price up to 34 percent more. The Director of Economic Research at Zillow, Skylar Olsen, notes that “If you have these features, flaunt them.”
These types of luxurious features that are mentioned in property listings are appealing to first-home buyers and sell for more than expected. This type of trend seems to reflect the type of lifestyle that a millennial homeowner or a young family are trying to live by or achieve, according to Zillow.
Another luxurious home feature that bumped up pricing on a home and was included on the listing was an outdoor kitchen. A home with this feature sold for 24.5 percent more than a listing of a home that did not. Outdoor dining goes well with this feature, a pergola. When mentioned in a listing, the home sold 11 days faster and for 7.2 percent more money. Other items that gave homes a boost in prices and less days on the market are waterfall countertops, open shelving, exposed brick, and subway tile.
Zillow does point out that they are not “saying you should build or add these things to your home just to help it sell. However, listings that mention these features do sell for more—sometimes a lot more.”
At the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Fannie Mae exhibited “Making Room: Housing for A Changing America” as it highlighted many of the issues that face today’s shortage of quality affordable housing. In a blog by Maria Evans, VP for Sustainable Communities at Fannie Mae, she notes that “When affordable housing is part of a mixed-income community with good schools, health and wellness opportunities, and good-paying jobs, it is much easier for those communities to address longstanding disparities in educational or health outcomes of low-income residents.”
It was noted at the exhibit that the housing industry has failed to keep up with the ever changing demographics. The demographics show that 11.63 percent of the total housing stock was for single adults who preferred one bedroom homes. Three and four bedroom homes made up 39.82 and 16.66 percent of the housing stock with two bedrooms composing 26.54 percent.
This thought provoking idea is now one of the many projects that Fannie Mae has launched under the Sustainable Communities Innovative Challenge. Under this challenge, Fannie Mae makes a $10 million commitment to generate affordable housing solutions to sustainable communities that provide residents integrated opportunities for employment, health and wellness, and education. Anyone inside or outside the housing industry can submit their ideas and innovations. One example that has come out of this challenge is the West Denver Renaissance Collaborative that came up with the idea of an accessory dwelling unit(ADU) program where a detached residence approximately 450-870 square feet is placed in the backyard of primary homes and can serve as a rental unit, creating a new source of income for the homeowner. This ADU not only raises the property value but also adds to the affordable housing supply that is very much needed.
Are you ready for the Silver Tsunami? Wikipedia describes it as a metaphor used to describe population aging. The silver tsunami metaphor has been used in popular media and in scholarly literature to refer to the late-twentieth century demographic phenomenon of population aging in major media platforms including The Economist, Forbes.com, and multiple news outlets.
In real estate, we see that the millennials are the demographic group that is trending now for home purchases, but millions of baby boomers aka Silver Tsunami could seek to downsize in the coming years as they approach their 60s and 70s. It is expected that by the year 2050, the seniors 65 and older will make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population compared to the 15 percent today. Not only will the demand for senior living increase, but the style and manner will as well. With the large increase in this demographic market, you can expect to see senior living communities popping up everywhere, especially in Florida. These types of communities are expected to rise in in both rural and urban settings alike.
Today’s baby boomers, now the Silver Tsunami to come, look at life a little differently in regards to aging. They expect accessibility and convenience with personalized care and amenities. These future seniors reflect a change in the way our older generation currently resides. They are active, empowering, and believe that senior living should not be institutional.
Then we have the seniors of today that were born between 1931 and 1947, who are staying in their homes longer and aging in place, the result being higher homeownership rates than the previous group of seniors. It is estimated that 1.6 million existing homes were held off the market in 2018 due to the aging in place occurring. The trend of these seniors aging in place is only expected to grow as the number of seniors increase with the impending Silver Tsunami. To put this in perspective, the 1.6 million existing homes that are being held off the market due to aging in place, the Urban Institute estimates that 3.4 million millennials are missing out on homeownership.
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, stated in Freddie Mac’s February Insight “We believe the additional demand for homeownership from seniors aging in place will increase the relative price of owning versus renting, making renting more attractive to younger generations.” “This further highlights the importance of addressing barriers to the production of new housing supply to help accommodate long-term housing demand,” he added.
Make way for millennials! According to the Dave Ramsey website, in 2019 millennials will lead the way in number of mortgages, accounting for 45% of the market. As the millennial generation reaches adulthood, they are moving into the housing market looking for a place to call home. However, it is not in the (credit nor debit) cards for most to be living in the city like modern TV drama would have you think. Because of historically high student debt, recession, rising real estate costs, and a challenging and stratified job market, ‘frugal’ is the word to live by. So, most millennials are looking into moving into single family suburban homes on the outskirts of
In their quest to save money in their new homes, millennials are keeping an eye out for space with a multiplicity of use and amenities built for efficiency. No longer is it the size that matters, but how it is used. While they desire the life of suburbia, they also want to integrate some elements of urban life such as walk-ability to shopping & dining and open options for transit. Many attribute this millennial propensity toward convenience to the modern technological era: everything is now available at the click of a screen.
Regardless of the why, there is a huge disconnect between the houses which millennials want and the houses which realtors are selling. Part of the issue could be the disconnect in age. According to National Association of Realtors the average age of a realtor today is 57, and home-builders are building homes with Baby boomers and Gen X in mind. Generations before wanted mansions, but a millennials only desire is a comfortable and adaptable kind of space. Pardee Homes interior designer , Bobby Berk, summarizes the shift for millennials : “ I think we grew up around an older generation of excess, and saw what it did to everyone and the economy. It made us more of a less is more generation.”
It’s safe to say that as this new generation grows up, it’s in real estates best interest to grow with it.
Title insurance agents might have a new competitor entering the title and escrow arena.
Title insurance agents might have a new competitor entering the title and escrow arena. A startup company from Seattle named Modus opened early this July. Modus allows real estate agents to use its resources as a title and escrow workshop, bypassing a traditional title firm altogether. Both agents and clients can log onto the company’s platform to track every step of the closing process. By using a shared platform, the service reduces the potential for fraud and speeds up closing by eliminating the back-and-forth of personal and financial information via email. Agents also will have the ability to outsource manual data entry, cutting down on time for closings once more.
Modus is not the only start-up offering such services. The fledgling company is joining names such as Spruce and JetClosing, startups which offer similar services for the sake of simplifying the title and escrow process. The increasing popularity of such companies raises concerns among title companies- will existing firms have to provide more to compete with these young startups?
Or does this sound like these companies are trying to offer a solution that is looking for a problem? If someone had a problem at a closing it could have either been a bad real estate agent or an escrow agent. Typically it is the buyers that pick the escrow, but in today’s market it seems to be this responsibility has fallen on the listing agent, whose primary job is first and foremost a marketing one. The listing agent does not directly sell your house, but they should be the reason your house sells. Thus being knowledgeable in escrow is not a primary responsibility for them.
Then there could also be issues with banks accepting electronic signatures when it comes to payoffs on the seller’s mortgage and getting new loan documents on the buyer’s loan. When it comes to real estate transactions, electronic signatures are enforceable, however certain documents (e.g. mortgages and deeds) will require original signatures for recordation. Borrowers and lenders continue to require originally executed notes to maximize their comfort level that there is only one negotiable instrument.
In 2018, it seems the most promising, and yet most horrifying frontier is artificial intelligence, or (AI). The potentials for computing ability, in short increments of time, are almost unfathomable, while the ethical implications in creating an entity with such a supreme nature are grounds for insomnia. Regardless, even if its potentiality keeps you up at night, artificial intelligence is being incorporated into almost every sector of the market, including real estate; it’s the biggest thing since sliced bread. The effects this technology could have on the traditional methods of real-estate business are still obscure. Companies like REX Real Estate Exchange are offering the consumer an artificial intelligence-driven service that essentially replaces the human agent, and charges less in commission. In this service, the computer runs through hundreds of thousands of data points to identify potential buyers. To accomplish this, the AI extracts and scrutinizes mountains of personal browsing data and flags the individual users who are satisfying the criteria of interest. Once a user is identified, the system advertises the properties, to the potential customers, on their preferred social media platforms, as well as the websites they visit which allow some form of what I would call advertisement metamorphosis.
Artificial intelligence isn’t just the foundation of new startups, it’s being implemented into pre-existing real-estate tools that have been transforming the market for years. ATTOM data’s AVM is a tool which analyzes previous property purchases. The system breaks down property characteristics, compiles them and assigns values, and uses them to set a market value scale. This same process can be applied to a buyer. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to scrutinize personal data and, consequently, base property value on the desired home qualities, income, and personality traits of buyers, not just the characteristics of properties. Even services, like Zillow, will need to adapt greater AI capability. The consumer today shapes their life according to recommendations. Video streaming and food services use AI to suggest future choices to people based on prior activity. It’s a fundamental tenant of psychology that most people desire to be instructed and managed. This same concept applies to how AI is incorporated. Real estate web services, with the help of AI, will be presenting recommendations, to the consumers, based on extrapolated data trails. Has this individual posted about having children? Add a spare bedroom qualifier to their home criteria. Do they like barbeque? Advertise a property in close proximity to something finger-lickin’ good. Do they like reading? Propose a property with abundant natural light.
The future of real estate, with the help of AI, is consumer personalization. The average person, according to a Nielsen Company audience report, spends 10 hours a day consuming media online. That amounts to 3,650 hours, and 41.6% of the average person’s year spent online. This activity produces an incomprehensible mass of data trail to be scrutinized and expressed in your next home purchase. How AI will ultimately transform the real estate business is unknown. Who knows, perhaps one-day artificial intelligence will purchase property for itself. All one can be utterly sure of is that the phrase, “I’ll be back,” will not be vocalized because AI isn’t terminating anytime soon.
With the existence of tens of thousands of farms in the state of Florida, as well as hundreds of thousands of privately-owned residential properties, land boundaries are a frequent point of contention between neighbors. The state of Florida has edicted several laws regarding the legality and construction of fences around properties.
There are two primary bodies of legislation regarding fencing: the encroachment or overlapping of the ownership of two adjoining landowners, and laws regarding the construction of fences on individual properties. An encroachment of land occurs when an individual occupies a part of land above or below the service that is not described in the land’s deed. Specifically, an encroachment occurs without the consent from the owner of the encroached land. Encroachment problems can get a bit trickier, though: two subtypes of encroachment are boundary by agreement and boundary by acquiescence.
A boundary by agreement has three important aspects: uncertainty to the true boundary line, an agreement that a certain line will be treated by the parties as the actual boundary line, and occupation by the parties for a period of time adequate to show a recognition of the line as a permanent boundary. For example, if John erects a fence that encroaches on Jane’s farmland by twenty feet, but neither party is aware of the fact that this fence encroaches on Jane’s farmland, and the fence has been maintained by both parties for at least five years, a boundary by agreement has been entered. Thus, if Jane conducts a survey to reveal that the fence is encroaching on her land, she can no longer request to have the fence removed, because both parties have made a de facto boundary at the fence. A boundary by acquiescence requires a dispute from which it can be implied that both parties are in doubt of the true boundary line, and continued occupation in a line that is not the true boundary for more than seven years. In short, it means that any action brought to undo encroachment will likely be denied if it is after seven years of encroachment.
There are also several Florida regulations regarding the ownership and construction of fences on private, residential properties. Fences must be constructed to not impede the flow of water through any drainage way, and must have sound and sturdy construction. Front yard fences cannot be any taller than four feet, while backyard fences can be no taller than six feet. Hazardous materials that may harm people or animals are not allowed in fence construction.
GOT CIVILITY? There are numerous panels addressing civility in the legal profession and “GOT CIVILITY?” is the tag line. It’s cute but kind of sad that it has to be “a thing”, especially in the transactional world of the purchase and sale of real estate.
In researching this article, I discovered that there is a Florida Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and Civility. Is it really that bad out there? The short answer is, yes. Since I started practicing law in Florida in 1989, I have witnessed professionalism and civility deteriorate.
In a real estate transaction, presumably, the end goal is the same for all involved, the transfer of property. When the property is transferred, everyone wins. The thing is that over my almost 30 years in the business, I have seen the unnecessary arguments and push to get things done fast, rather than correctly, increase. The path to the closing table has changed and it seems that some of that change has resulted in lack of civility.
Perhaps because most professionals involved in a real estate transaction do not get paid unless and until the transaction closes, perhaps because people just like to argue, perhaps because technology has sped up all of our lives, perhaps because people want the best deal possible, perhaps because the process has generally been heavy in negotiation. (Always ask more than you want, never pay list price, the dance is that 3-5 offers get passed along before the parties get to a number that they really wanted from the beginning)…that custom of negotiation has somehow seemed to morph into an argumentative stance.
Background of the transfer of real estate:
Delineation: Somehow, sometime, humans started delineation of land. It was no longer to be shared. We somehow came to mark and own and defend “our property”. We built rock walls, fences, planted stakes, engaged in war, created survey lines and became territorial. The earth was no longer shared by all of us.
Feoffment and seisen: One of my favorite professors in law school taught this concept. It was the process of transferring possession and ownership of land. It was often a transfer from the Feudal Lord to his Servant after the Servant earned it. I also remember that the Ceremony of Feoffment involved the transferor picking up a handful of the dirt and placing it into the hands of the transferee. The image of that ceremony has always stuck with me. It seems such a romantic and significant way to fully and ceremoniously represent the transfer of the use of the earth.
Changes in use: From cooperative to separatist. From rural to urban, and then suburban sprawl, then to gentrification and there has always been a small movement back to cooperative living. In the 60s, they were hippies in communes. Now they are scholars and scientists studying and experimenting with sustainability of our natural resources. They are residents of condominiums and cooperative apartments. I suppose the changes in use have been human reaction to our harsher demand that we make on the earth. We didn’t always have electricity, running water, and packaging, to name a few. These comforts create a need for more space and have created waste. With electricity, more humans move about the planet 24 hours a day. Running water and indoor plumbing requires a sophisticated infrastructure, from getting the water to the people to taking away the waste. The shopping that we do and the fungibility of goods and anti-theft and anti-fragile packaging has created a ridiculous amount of waste.
We have one earth, no more is getting made. In fact, some would say that we are actually losing it (erosion, global warming, and flood projections). The earth is precious. We transfer little bits of it to each other every day, not with the respect that it deserves and as the caretakers that we should be, but as a disposable commodity, to make money.
There is no longer the ceremony of Feoffment. I do not even think that the ceremony made its way to America. We rarely even sit at a closing table anymore. The sellers and buyers rarely ever meet each other and sometimes never speak to each other.
When I started, in the late 80s, realtors, lawyers and the parties still worked together to do their best to make sure that the property was well suited for the customer and that title was clear. The days between contract execution and closing were utilized to make sure that the details of the transaction were attended to and all “Is” were dotted and “Ts” were crossed…..that the parties were protected on the largest monetary investment that people make in their lives. That we would have a CLOSING and move on. Now, lawyers are brought in when things go “sideways” unless one of the parties insists upon their lawyer’s representation. Most transactions utilize form templates obtained through various organizations and the internet, title searches, municipal searches, surveys, appraisals and more are obtained online. Documents are executed online or via email, documents are recorded via electronic means. All of these advances are amazing and have created immense efficiency but we have lost the ceremony for the customer. The players making the deals happen just want to get to the finish line fast! Close the deal, send the wires and move on. The parties are often dealing with faceless realtors, title companies and lenders. This creates a hard bargainer attitude and sometimes an air of distrust. It is much easier to be less civil to a faceless entity than it is to another person. It is much harder to trust a faceless entity than a person.
Vestiges of my father’s days as a real estate attorney remained, but not for long. The things that I used to enjoy about a closing, watching it unfold, watching the people enjoy the process and having a pot of coffee or tea at a morning closing or a bit of scotch or champagne at an afternoon closing are almost gone as well. These moments at the closing table made the people in the transaction feel better able to move into the new responsibility and out of the home that they lived in, often for years. We must all remember, a house is more than that, it has been home for the seller, perhaps the place where they raised their children and had other happy moments. For the buyer, the house represents a place to make a new home, a place to create memories and dreams.
Through all of our haste and all of the wonderful technology, don’t forget about the human element, for the buyer and seller most of all, but also for each of us in the industry. We are not in the industry to make people feel distrustful or look greedy due the high volume and lack of personal contact. We do not intend to offend. Just be mindful that in our haste, we can be perceived as that faceless uncaring entity. With all of the time that technology has allowed us to save, let’s focus on the human connection.
Do it right, utilize technology and every resource available to conclude this expensive and sometimes complex transaction, but remember to keep it simple and keep it civil. In fact, make it joyous. We are all participating in the temporary exchange of the earth.
Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
—Ancient Indian Proverb
Written by Amy McGrotty, Esq.
Because of their “super” status, Homeowners Association liens are a particular form of confusion and frustration for Mortgage servicers and their attorneys. The content covers legal and process issues that affect a servicer’s ability to assert their position in a property and any other relevant subtopics.
Super-priority is more or less the circumvention of the traditional legal concept of “first in time, first in right,” meaning first to notice, file, or record is first in right, meaning that an association’s lien has higher priority over previously recorded liens. Currently, twenty-one states require the foreclosing lender to pay between six months and twelve months, or some variation of periodic assessments to the association at some point during the lender’s foreclosure process.[i] Depending on the state, the beneficiary of the super-priority liens are either condominiums or homeowners associations, or both. As of November 2017, four out of the top five states with the highest foreclosure rate have super-priority HOA statutes.[ii]
In Florida, associations must be named in the foreclosure process as a subordinate lienholder and interested party[iii] and the foreclosing lender cannot assign the bid to a third-party before the sale[iv] in order to qualify for the allowable statutory “safe harbor” provisions.[v] The 2008 Florida statutes were amended to allow an association’s lien to “relate back to the date on which the original declaration of the community was recorded”[vi] reserving a caveat for pre-2008 mortgages.[vii]
Nevada has recently disrupted the lending industry with a shocking decision in SFR Investments Pool 1 v. U.S. Bank.[viii] In this 2014 decision, the court clarified the differences between “true lien priority” and “payment priority” and held that associations hold a “true lien priority” which can unequivocally extinguish a first mortgage upon following the proper foreclosure procedures. [ix]
In Washington, a COA’s lien maintains a limited priority over a mortgage, subject to a relatively recent statute.[x] That limited priority mandates the lender to pay six months of assessments to the COA prior to the foreclosure sale date.[xi]
- While not a designated “super” priority state, Arkansas recognized that a first mortgage does not entirely extinguish an association’s interest in delinquent assessments.[xii]
- The District of Columbia[xiii] and Rhode Island[xiv] held that a first mortgage is subordinate to an association lien and the association could extinguish the first mortgagee’s interest.
- On the more extreme end of the “super” priority spectrum, Massachusetts allows for multiple successive liens (every six months), all of which can be contemporaneously enforced.[xv]
- Vermont extends its super priority status to assessments that have accrued during the first mortgagee’s foreclosure action plus the prior six months of assessments.[xvi]
In order to preserve the first mortgagee’s lien enforcement rights, some options include: (i) paying off the association’s lien, (ii) keeping the borrower’s account current with the association, (iii) redeeming the property in the association’s foreclosure, (iv) reviewing potential lien priority issues at the loan origination stage, (v) including language in mortgages requiring escrow of association assessments to ensure timely payment, (vi) timely participation in association lien enforcement actions, (vii) referring lien priority determination files to their foreclosing attorneys in each jurisdiction, (viii) requiring an assignment or proxy designation of borrower-owner association voting rights, (ix) requiring assessment invoices, billing statements, and periodic notices be sent to the lender to ensure timely payment or, at least, to allow the lender to monitor the status of an account, and (x) revising the terms of a mortgage to include non-payment of super-priority eligible associations’ assessments be considered a default under the terms of the mortgage.
Overall, lenders and associations must jointly navigate the same laws. While super priority may not be the fairest or the easiest resolution to the problems legislatures face in protecting all interests in real estate properties, it is certainly one solution. In order to properly and effectively navigate these complex laws, lenders should consult with their relevant jurisdiction’s attorney for a case-specific strategy on (i) how best to enforce the terms of the mortgage in case of a default and (ii) how best to preserve its lien in the case of an association foreclosure.
[i] Priority Lien for Collecting Delinquent Assessments. https://www.caionline.org/Advocacy/StateAdvocacy/PriorityIssues/PriorityLien/Pages/default.aspx (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia)
[ii] U.S. Real Estate Trends & Market Info: Foreclosure Trends. http://www.realtytrac.com/statsandtrends/foreclosuretrends (Alabama 1/2286, Alaska 1/4259, Colorado 1/4170, Connecticut 1/1391, Delaware 1/875, District of Columbia 1/1876, Florida 1/2361, Hawaii 1/3626, Illinois 1/1196, Maryland 1/981, Massachusetts 1/1862, Minnesota 1/3772, Missouri 1/2226, Nevada 1/1407, New Hampshire 1/3894, New Jersey 1/734, Oregon 1/3135, Pennsylvania 1/1723, Puerto Rico (unknown), Rhode Island 1/2324, Vermont 1/7176, Washington 1/5206, West Virginia 1/9372)
[iii] Fla. Stat. 720.3085(2)(c)(2)
[iv] Bay Holdings, Inc. v. 2000 Island Boulevard Condominium Association, 895 So.2d 1197 (Fla. 3d Dist. App. 2005) (holding that a title holder by virtue of a Certificate of Title whom was an assignee of a foreclosure final judgment did not qualify as a first mortgagee, successor, or assignee under Fla. Stat. 718.116(1) and therefore did not qualify for the safe harbor protections.)
[v] Under this statute, the foreclosing lender only has to pay the super-priority portion of the HOA’s lien to a certain degree – the lessor of (i) the past twelve months of regular assessments or (ii) one percent of the original mortgage debt. This statute is still triggered if a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is utilized as an alternative to a traditional judicial foreclosure.
[vi] Fla. Stat. 720.3085(1) (2008-2017)
[viii] SFR Investments Pool 1 v. U.S. Bank, 334 P.3d 408 (Nev. 2014); Prior to this decision, Nevada’s prior version of the controlling statute was found to have violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. See Bourne Valley Court Trust v. Wells Fargo Bank, 832 F.3d 1154 (9th Cir. 2016)
[ix] NRS 116.3116(2); This was later adopted by the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (UCIOA) (2014) §3-116 cmt. 2
[x] The Washington Condominium Act of 1989 governs the rights of condominium associations, including the lien priority over lender’s mortgages. While it is effective only for condominiums created after July 1, 1990. A COA lien is considered superior to a mortgage, unless the mortgage is recorded before the declarations of the condominium or before the assessments become delinquent.
[xi] Only periodic assessments for the annual COA’s budget for common expenses are specifically granted the limited super priority over mortgages, while capital improvement assessments and attorney fees and costs from collection efforts are examples of the limitations to the COA lien’s super priority status. See Summerhill Village Homeowners Association v. Roughley, 289 P.3d 645 (Wash. Ct. App. 2012)
[xii] First State Bank v. Metro.District Condos Property Owner’s Association, Inc., 432 S.W. 3d 1 (Ark. 2014)
[xiii] Chase Plaza Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. 98 A.3d 166 (D.C. 2014)
[xiv] Twenty Eleven, LLC v. Botelho, 127 A.3d 897 (R.I. 2015)
[xv] Drummer Boy Homes Association, Inc. v. Britton, 47 N.E. 3d 400 (Mass. 2016)
[xvi] Bank of America, N.A. v. Morganbesser, 2013 WL 9792479 (Vt. 2013)
Written By: Jessica Skoglund Mazariego, Esq., Attorney Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A., a Florida Law Firm
Design elements are vital when selling your home to the millennial demographic.
Millennials are quickly becoming the largest segment of homebuyers. It’s vital for homesellers and their real estate agents to know their design preferences when purchasing a home. Thanks to the 2017 Taylor Morris Consumer Survey, the infograph below shows what recent and prospective millennial homebuyers are into.
Written By Ashley L. Hobson, Esq.
One of the most recent movements in real estate is the concept of the “tiny home”. We’ve had many Realtor friends ask about how to consult their clients when it comes to buying the perfect home. There is a lot to be said about changing your lifestyle to fit a new environment- it shouldn’t be a decision made lightly. It is important to consider certain issues before jumping into the tiny house movement. Below we take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of the tiny house fad.
Ownership and Investing in your Future
Home ownership can be both rewarding and draining. In today’s market, millennials are projected to be the next big target for home buying. Having equity in your home is one of the best ways to invest in your future. Additionally, the tax benefits of owning a home are beneficial as well. On the other hand, while renting might be an appealing option- it doesn’t have monetary return. In a time where the market is finally becoming more stable, the opportunity to own a home is becoming a more attainable goal.
While owning your own home is surely an investment, you will reap the benefits of this investment when it comes time to sell. Where Tiny Home are proving to differ from standard residences is in resale value. According to an article in Forbes Magazine entitled “5 Reasons Buying a Tiny House Is a Mistake”, tiny homes are actually less marketable. There is a small concentration of individuals that a tiny home would actually work for. It seems that you would be hard pressed to find a buyer who didn’t want to entertain house guests at some point. The pool of individuals truly interested in tiny homes shrinks even smaller due to lending institution restrictions. In the same Forbes Magazine article, the author notes that lenders often have square footage requirements that must be met. This means that buyers have to be ready to pay with cash. It might be easy to make an “in the moment” decision, but you really should consider the long term value of your investment.
Since millennials are a large target for home buying- it is likely many may consider “going tiny”. In a time where we can’t go five minutes without checking our texts, or social media and email accounts- the thought of cutting out clutter and living cleaner can be appealing. The idea of being mobile and picking up and moving whenever you want might appeal to those who love to travel. For those who don’t want to be tied down to one location forever, but still want to invest in real estate- this concept may work for you. Making the “tiny home” purchase has taken the hassle of shopping for a home away- it’s now as easy as clicking a button on Amazon. Student loans do not make the idea of owning a home appealing to many millennials; debt often gets in the way of getting loan approval. The tiny home movement does have its appeal when it comes to targeting the millennial crowd.
Space- is it really feasible?
While living simply might appeal to you in theory- it might not actually work in practice. Can you really part with 75% of your possessions? If you have a bike, cooking equipment, or shoe collection- this could prove to be difficult. Individuals interested in tiny homes should really consider what they can truly part with before going through with the purchase. If there are big items you can’t part with- will they fit in your tiny home? If you cannot answer this for certain, maybe hold off on the purchase.
By: Ashley Hobson, Esq.
Buying or selling a home can be both a stressful and exciting time. Many individuals may have no idea what to expect as they are entering into this process for the first time. The closing process can be confusing or overwhelming since there are many moving parts and documents with unfamiliar legal terms and conditions.
Sapphire Title has attorneys on staff to oversee the entire closing process and handle whatever legal issues may arise during your transaction, many times without any additional fees. Having an attorney review title searches, lien searches, surveys and closing disclosures eliminates much of the risk for items being missed or overlooked. If an issue does arise, whether it be with a party to the transaction or on the title and lien searches, it can be resolved on site and monitored closely by our team. An additional benefit to having attorney oversight is that issues can be resolved through dispute resolution, mediation, or court action if necessary. Attorneys can handle legal matters through avenues that other individuals do not have access to. The ability to simultaneously resolve legal issues and clear title in order to close on time or with as little delay as possible is a huge benefit to agents and their clients.
Many agents admit that they are not equipped to handle legal matters or settle any disputes that can arise and come to us for assistance in resolving issues for their clients. We strive to be a positive and reliable resource for our Real Estate Agent clients- this is a professional relationship that we value. Individuals sometimes find that they have to deal with an unforeseen issue prior to closing.
While the closing process can be intimidating- it doesn’t have to be. You quite literally place all of your trust in your selected title company. With our trusted closing team and attorney oversight, we are happy to be your guide through this time.
What is Title?
Title is the legal ownership to a piece of property. Title is also considered evidence of possession of a property.
What is escrow?
Simply put, escrow is a deposit of funds in an account held by a third-party to a transaction. Title companies or attorney offices are the major escrow account third-parties used in real estate transactions. All funds are deposited in escrow at a title company and then dispersed according to the escrow instructions. In a real estate sale, the escrow instructions are the HUD Settlement Statement or the Closing Disclosure Statement.
What are Recording Fees?
Recording Fees are county fees and taxes that are required on every sale. When a real estate property is sold, a Deed needs to be recorded. When a buyer purchases a property using a mortgage, then recording fees and taxes are also due to the county. Both the recording fees and taxes must be collected by Sapphire Title Company and then paid directly to the county.
What are E-Recording Fees?
E-Recording is shorthand for Electronic Recording. About 20 years ago, every title company needed to mail in the original deed to the county where the property lies for recording. The county would then mail it back to the title company, who would then forward the original “stamped” recorded deed to the owner. Since the technology boom, counties have become more tech-savvy and have allowed for e-recording. E-recording typically costs $5 per document to be recorded. The $5 fee is convenient to both sellers and buyers in the real estate sale because it cuts down the costs and time to mail the documents back and forth from the county. A typical turn-around time for a “manual” or “mailed” recording ranges from 7 to 14 days. E-recording typically allows for the county to record within 24-72 hours.
Example Breakdown of Fees:
Recording fees are based off the number of pages in the recordable document. A special warranty deed is typically 2 or 3 pages and generally costs about $27.00 to record. The taxes (known as documentary state taxes) on the Deed are based off the amount the property was sold for. So, if the property was sold for $100,000.00, the taxes would be $700.00. Taxes are determined by rounding up the sales price to the nearest hundred and multiplying that amount by $0.007 (or $7 for every $100). The same formula is used for mortgages. Typically mortgages range from 18-26 pages or about $150.00 to $225.00 to record. If the mortgage is for $100,000, the documentary stamp taxes would also be $700.00. One difference between mortgage and deed recordings is an additional tax known as intangible taxes. Intangible taxes are collected on every mortgage recording except credit union lender mortgagees or other exempt lender banks. Intangible taxes are determined by rounding up the loan dollar amount to the nearest hundred and multiplying that amount by $0.002 (or $2 for every $100).
The combination of the deed recording fees, the deed’s taxes, the mortgage’s recording fees, the mortgage’s documentary taxes, the mortgage’s intangible taxes (if not exempt), and the e-recording fees total the recording fees.
What are Intangible Taxes? What are Transfer Taxes?
Intangible taxes are imposed by the State of Florida on obligations for payment of money which are secured by mortgages or other liens, as defined by §199.133 Fla. Stat. It is a nonrecurring tax on the note or debt instrument.
Transfer taxes are commonly referred to as documentary stamp taxes in Florida. These are imposed by states, counties, and cities on the title of real property from one person to another within that jurisdiction. Transfer taxes are often confusing to first time homebuyers because they are a combination of a few taxes.
Why do I need a Survey?
Surveys are always suggested and are used to determine if there are any encroachments on the property you own or wish to purchase. A survey details the structures (otherwise known as the improvements) and the boundaries of the property. Generally, on real estate sales involving a lender, the lender will require the Alta Form 9 insurance endorsement. If the lender requires the title company to issue this endorsement, then a survey will be required. Note, however, in most cases, a survey is good for 7-10 years and can be recertified and is often a much less expensive option than ordering a new survey, which can add between $300 and $500 to your closing costs.
June 15, 2017
A three-year legal battle came to an end on April 28th, when HB483, estoppel reform legislation, cleared its final legislative hurdle. An estoppel certificate or letter is required on each real estate closing involving a homeowner’s or condominium association and is intended to provide a full breakdown of expected and delinquent dues or assessments, special assessments, late fees, and violations.
As of yesterday, June 14, 2017, when Governor Rick Scott signed this into law, property owners with homeowners or condominium associations now can rest easy with mandatory caps on estoppel costs. In the past, associations were charging hundreds of dollars for estoppels which hiked up loan amounts, closing costs, and frustrations with everyone involved in the closing. In addition, title companies, realtors, brokers, closing agents, and mortgage brokers can now provide more accurate quotes to their customers.
The law goes into effect on July 1st and requires estoppel certificates to be provided within 10 days of the initial request and be valid for a minimum of 30 days. For owners who are current on their dues, the estoppel fee cap is $250. For owners who are delinquent on their dues, an additional fee of $150 can be charged. For rush estoppels, the fee cap is $100 for rush deliveries within 3 days.
For an example Estoppel Certification, please see Sapphire Title & Escrow’s Guidelines
We will be attending the Nov. 5th BAREC Luncheon/Meeting where the topic focus will be on Drone Law.