Things to Know about Title Insurance
By Selena Castillo - Sapphire Title & Escrow Company
28 May 2015

REOMAC Fall Update 2015

"Tampa Dinner Meeting: Code Enforcement Challenegs"

8 December  2015


Our very own Michelle Gilbert and Stephanie Stephens were featured in the latest REOMAC Fall Update. The topic of their article was Code Enforcement Challenges with REO Properties. Examples of violations are debris/junk/rubbish, minimum housing, expired/abandoned permits, and securing violations. Read the full article by clicking on the thumbnails below. For the full REOMAC publication, check out their online version here.

Tampa Bay Real Estate

Featured Articles: REOMAC Fall Update 2015 -  TITLE TALK: CFPB Changes and Market Update - Tampa Bay Real Estate​ -  Mortgage Compliance Magazine

                            FL Legislature Kills Proposed Estoppel Bills - Things to Know about Title Insurance


As Tampa Bay housing market recovers, not all homes are increasing in value 

Susan Taylor Martin, Tampa Bay Times 

2 October 2015



Despite the continuing recovery of the housing market, 18 percent of all Tampa Bay homes lost value between August 2014 and August 2015, according to the real estate data collector Zillow. In some areas, including Dade City and eastern Hillsborough County, more than 30 percent of homes were worth less this summer than they were a year ago.

"We're not going in reverse, but we're hitting the brakes a bit in some markets," said Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist. "It's easy to say the recession is over when a third of the biggest markets (in the United States) are more expensive now than ever before, but we're still seeing a number of homes losing value. The reality is there are still areas lagging behind in the recovery."

While Tampa Bay home prices have not rebounded to precrash levels, the area is much better off than Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., where more than 40 percent of homes lost value. But it's not nearly as well off as Denver and Dallas-Fort Worth, where less than 5 percent of homes dropped in value.

Nationally, more than a quarter of U.S. homes were worth less in August this year than a year earlier?

Zillow based its report on actual home sales and the estimated value of homes in the same geographical area that were not on the market. It broke down the data by ZIP code to give a more detailed picture of each metro area, which in Tampa Bay consists of Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Hernando counties.

The hardest-hit area was Thonotosassa in eastern Hillsborough, home to million-dollar lakefront estates, as well as much more modest houses. There, 47 percent of homes with the ZIP code 33592 dropped in value.

The area with the lowest percentage of homes whose values declined was ZIP code 33605, which includes Ybor City. Less than 8 percent of houses there lost value.

Other areas that fared well included downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa's Davis Islands, two of the bay area's most desirable housing markets.


Read full article here.


Mortgage Compliance Magazine: Emerging Women Compliance Lawyers

15 September 2015



We are pleased to announce that Michelle Gilbert will be appearing in September’s issue of Mortgage Compliance Magazine, Emerging Women Compliance Lawyers. You are able to view her profile at http://www.mcmag-digital.com/mcmag/september_2015?pg=1#pg1 on page 26.



Florida Legislature Kills Proposed Estoppel Bills

By Jaclyn Palazzolo, Esq. - Sapphire Title & Escrow Company

1 June 2015


Florida Statutes §718 and §720 regulate Florida condominium associations and homeowner associations, respectively. Pursuant to these statutes first mortgagees in Florida who name and include a homeowner association (HOA) or condominium association (COA) are entitled to a safe harbor amount of past assessments due. However, anyone who has tried to obtain an estoppel certificate after a foreclosure knows that the estoppel certificate alone can range in costs from as little as $100.00 to over $1,000.00 in some Florida counties.

Florida Senate Bill 736 sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel, and corresponding House Bill 611 sponsored by Representative John Wood, was initiated at the beginning of the 2015 legislative session in order to limit these extremely high estoppel fees. The proposed bill would have revised the requirements relating to the issuance of an estoppel certificate.

Highlights of the proposed bills included shortening the amount of time that an HOA or COA had to issue an estoppel certificate upon request from 15 days to 10 business days. If the HOA or COA did not comply with this time limit, they waived any and all estoppel certificate fees associated with that request including providing a refund of any fees that were already collected.

Currently, the statutes read that a “reasonable fee” can be charged for preparing an estoppel, but what determines the reasonability of a fee? The proposed statutory changes would have set a cap of $200.00 as a maximum estoppel fee for preparing an estoppel if the owner was current on their dues. If the owner was delinquent on assessments, then the maximum estoppel fee would be $400.00. The association could also charge an additional $100.00 “rush” fee if the estoppel certificate was to be prepared and provided within 3 business days.  If the estoppel certificate was requested in conjunction with the sale or refinancing of a unit, the fee for the certificate wouldn’t be due and paid until the closing or settlement proceeds are disbursed. If the closing didn’t occur, then the fee for the certificate would be the owner’s obligation, and would be collected in the same manner as a regular assessment on the unit. These amounts would have been guaranteed not to increase for at least 3 years and could be evaluated every 3 years after as based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The proposed bills also required that an estoppel certificate be effective for a minimum of 30 or 35 days. If the estoppel certificate is delivered on the date of issuance, it would be valid for a minimum of 30 days. If the estoppel certificate was mailed to the requester then, it would remain valid for a minimum of 35 days due to Florida’s mailbox rule.

Unfortunately, while the legislative session was not set to end until May 8th, the Florida House of Representatives ended its regular session “sine die” on April 29thmore than a week early. By adjourning “sine die” any bill that still required House action was “killed” for the 2015 session, including SB736 and HB611. While this is a setback, renewed interest in legislative changes to these statutes and a renewal of the bills in 2016 is expected.



TITLE INSURANCE 101

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FL Legislature kills proposed Estoppel Bills

Title Talk Recap

20 November 2015


Sapphire Title was proud to join forces with Stewart Title to host our first ever Title Talk at the Pinellas Realtor Organization on November 20th. 35 realtors joined us as Michelle Gilbert, Esq. (Sapphire Title/Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A.) and Victoria Behm, Esq. (Stewart Title) led a presentation about the CFPB changes to the closing process.


For all PowerPoints and documents used, see our Documents page. Look out for our next installment of Title Talk, coming early 2016.

Mortgage Compliance Magazine

TITLE TALK: CFPB CHANGES AND MARKET UPDATE

REOMAC FALL UPDATE feat. Stephanie Stephens & Michelle Gilbert



The homebuying or refinancing process is complex and potentially stressful. There are many factors to consider throughout the transaction including school districts, access to shopping and restaurants, and location, location, location. Typically, title insurance is not on the forefront of a homebuyer's mind although in most cases it should be.

Jeremy Yohe, spokesman for American Land Title Association, a trade group for title companies in D.C., agrees that homebuyer's are typically undereducated on title insurance: "After all, people don’t buy [title insurance] too often — typically, how many times do you buy a home in your life?" he said.


Arguably, the title to a home is the most valuable asset in the home buying process. Obtaining Owner's Title Insurance, also known as an Owner's policy, protects the homebuyer from problems with title that were not found in the public records or were missed in the title search process. Such problems include:


  • Forgery
  • Mistakes in record examination
  • Omissions in deeds
  • Undisclosed heirs
  • Child Support liens


Owner's Title Insurance fully protects the buyer from these and other title problems, is usually given in the full amount of the real estate transaction, and lasts as long as you or your heirs retain interest in the property. Further, an Owner's policy is purchased for a one-time fee at closing which covers the cost for expert professionals to remedy problems with title. Unlike other forms of insurance, title insurance does not charge annual premiums to provide protection for future claims; your title experts will work to prevent future claims while minimizing the stress and complexity of the title insurance process. Licensed title agents provide curative work on title, adding another layer of protection to your Owner's policy.


SAMPLE OWNER'S POLICY


You also have the option of extending your title insurance coverage with what is called the Homeowner's Policy. Ask your local title experts for more details on the Homeowner's Policy so you may back an educated decision on the best policy for you.


There is a second type of title insurance known as Lender's Title Insurance (also known as a Loan Policy). This policy does not protect the  buyer and is typically based on the dollar amount of your loan. The policy amount decreases as the loan is paid off.


SAMPLE LOAN POLICY


Prices and fees vary from state to state. Be sure to ask your title experts for such specifics.