Category: Resources


Still Not Sure What Alanna Can Do for You??

At Florida Agency Network, we are always looking to improve communication between all parties during the closing process. Traditionally, this has been via phone or email, which limits the response time of receiving information and updates.

As a member of the Florida Agency Network, we are proud to announce our virtual closing assistant Alanna, which allows you to text or web chat questions and receive updates during the closing process.

Alanna is available 24/7 to answer all your closing-related questions such as:

  • When is my closing?
  • How can I get my deposit to you?
  • What do I need to bring to closing?
  • What’s the status of my file?

In need of a little laughter? You can even ask Alanna to tell you a joke!

Not sure how to get started with Alanna? As soon as your transaction starts, Alanna will reach out via text to give you an update. From there, ask any questions, day or night, to get immediate answers. If you accidentally delete the text message, visit any of our title brands’ homepages and start a web chat at the bottom right-hand corner to contact Alanna. Or, you can text Alanna directly at 813-710-4126.

 

 


Have You Met Alanna?

Have you heard about Alanna, Florida Agency Network’s new virtual assistant?

She helps answer all your closing questions day or night, right from your text messages. The service is free to all our clients when they close with any of the offices in The Network.

You can read more about Alanna, visit the homepage and talk with Alanna in the chat box at the bottom right-hand corner, or contact her via text at 813-710-4126. Also, we’ve created a downloadable PDF for you to share with colleagues and clients.


The Buyer’s Closing Process as Told By The Office GIFs

You’re doing it. You’re buying a house! Since the process can be overwhelming and confusing, we’ve simplified it in the best way possible. What better way to explain each step than to use GIFs from one of our favorite TV shows, The Office?

1. The Contract is Signed & Sent to the Title Insurance Agency

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Congrats on finding “The One!” At this point, your real estate agent has drafted your official contract, and the title insurance agency is starting the closing process. You’re on your way to owning a new home!

 

2. Sending Your Earnest Money Deposit

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Think of your earnest money deposit, or EMD, as a “good faith” deposit. It shows the listing agent and seller how serious you are about the home and getting the transaction closed. The dollar amount of your EMD is stated in your contract when it’s signed. Be sure to discuss what you’re comfortable putting upfront with your real estate agent. Depending on how much you agree on, it can seem like an expensive upfront cost. Your real estate agent is an expert and can advise you on the amount of money they think you should send. Take comfort in knowing the EMD will be held in your escrow account and used towards closing costs or the down payment.

 

3. Your Title Search is Ordered

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Your title insurance agent will order a title search to ensure the title to your property is clear of any liens, back taxes, or other claims. To get a thorough search completed, ask your agent to request the title insurance company conduct a municipal lien search, permit search, and code enforcement search. With Florida Agency Network’s offices, we offer this to each buyer via the buyer’s agent.

 

4. Time to Schedule Your Home and Pest Inspection

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Shortly after your offer is accepted and sent in, your agent will discuss scheduling a home inspection. You’ll need to complete the home inspection quickly. Doing so will allow as much additional time possible for any follow-up inspection.

 

5. The Title Commitment is Completed

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You’re one step closer to closing on your home! The title commitment tells a buyer they’re able to obtain a title insurance policy with that agent. The commitment contains the terms, conditions, and exclusions that will be in the owner’s title insurance policy.

 

6. Appraisal is Completed

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The home appraisal should come back at or above the contract price. The appraisal protects a buyer from paying more than the home is worth. If your home appraisal is lower than the purchase price, don’t worry! Discuss your options with your real estate agent.

 

7. You Get the Clear to Close

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You’ll begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel once you and your agent receive the clear to close. “Clear to Close” means the underwriter has signed-off on all documents and issued final approval on your closing.

 

8. Your Closing Date is Scheduled

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Once your closing date is scheduled, don’t forget to double-check for the required documents, identification, and time deadlines. The last thing you want is to forget to bring an item or sign an eDoc and have to reschedule your closing.

 

9. It’s Time for a Final Walkthrough

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The final walkthrough is your opportunity to do one last visual inspection to make sure everything is in order. At this point, your closing starts moving much faster, and the finish line is right ahead!

 

10. Signing Your Closing Docs

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We hope you’re ready to sign, sign, and sign some more! While it may be exhausting and overwhelming, don’t be afraid to pause and ask questions. At the closing table, your title closer and real estate agent are available to answer any questions you may have. Don’t forget, this is your moment, and you can go as quickly or slowly as you prefer. You’re allowed to get ice cream afterward, too!

 

11. Receive Your Keys

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You may or may not receive the keys to your new home at the closing table. In order to get those, the funds have to be wired to the seller. However, once they are received and confirmed, you have a new home!

 

You’re officially the owner of a new home, and we think that is Perfectenschlag!


Why Do You Need a Survey When Purchasing a Home?

Surveys, also called boundary or land surveys, map out your real estate property, show its boundary lines, improvements made to the property, and all access to the property.

FIVE GREAT REASONS TO PURCHASE A SURVEY

1.  UNDISCLOSED RIGHTS AND EASEMENTS
You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but someone else might have a right to use a portion of your property. A survey will show physical evidence of the rights of others to use your property for access, parking, utilities, and other situations.

2.  UNDISCOVERED ENCROACHMENTS
A survey may be the only way to tell if a third party holds a claim to part of your property because their improvements, such as a garage, fence, or swimming pool, are on your land.

3.  IS THE PROPERTY BUILT ON THE CORRECT LOT
It may seem impossible, but sometimes a house is built on the wrong lot. A survey provides peace of mind by showing the exact location of the house you are buying.

4.  KNOWING THE SIZE OF YOUR PROPERTY
A survey shows the exact dimensions of the property’s boundary lines and how much land is included within those lines.

5.  FUTURE ADDITIONS
Many residential plotted lots can have building restrictions, which could prohibit you from building close to the boundary lines. If you are thinking of building future additions on your property, a survey can help determine if the lot is right for both your current and future plans.

These are a few reasons why you should purchase a survey when making one of the largest investments in your life. We’ve created a downloadable PDF of this information for you to keep or share.

At Paramount Title, we are always available to answer questions about your survey or your closing. Feel free to contact any one of our offices with any further questions you may have.

 

 


Facebook Messenger Rooms Help You SELL Homes

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Facebook has introduced its newest feature, Messenger Rooms, to help people get together digitally while social distancing. While this feature is a great option to connect with friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also has the potential to help real estate professionals’ businesses – during and even after a pandemic.

How Do Facebook Messenger Rooms Work?

To get started on Messenger Rooms, create a room in the Messenger App or on your Facebook feed. You’re given a link to share with anyone you wish to invite into the room – even if they don’t have a Facebook account! Since Facebook is always improving its features, Rooms will soon be able to hold up to 50 people with no time limit. Each Room can be shared on your feed, in events, or with Facebook groups.

How Can Messenger Rooms Help SELL Homes

Showcasing a House to Potential Buyers

Creating a Messenger Room for showings cuts down the number of people going in and out of a home. Not only is this useful in preventing the spread of germs during a pandemic, but it also helps ease the concerns of sellers who are careful to prevent damage to their homes. Also, this is an excellent option for out-of-state buyers looking to see a home soon.

Hosting Virtual Meetings with Current and Potential Clients

We’ve learned connecting with people can be easier than we imagined. If you have clients out of your area or with a busy schedule, set up a Messenger Room and connect virtually!

Meeting With Other Real Estate Professionals

Beyond having virtual happy hours, you can utilize Messenger Rooms to meet one-on-one with other real estate professionals. Take your monthly conference calls and virtual meetings up a notch by creating a Room for your team. Then, invite everyone to your Facebook Room and network any time – day or night.

Conducting Exclusive Training

Want to hold an exclusive online training event? First, create a private Facebook event. Next, create a Messenger Room in that event. Those who have been invited to the group will be able to access your Room, and ta-da! You have your very own exclusive event in a matter of minutes!

 

With an estimated 2.6 billion users, Facebook is the largest social media network in the world. There’s a high probability that your current and potential clients, colleagues, friends, and family are Facebook users. As a real estate professional, take advantage of Facebook’s size and features for your business.

 

 


7 Ways to Utilize Video in Your Real Estate Marketing

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

Photo of a woman using a video camera

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

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

#1 Tell Your Story

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

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

# 2 Show Off Your Listing

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

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

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

#3 Introduce Your Team

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

#4 Talk About Industry Updates & News

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

#5 Educate Your Audience

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

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

#6 Collaborations

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

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

#7 Testimonials

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

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


Must-Know List Before a Hurricane Strikes

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

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

10. Know Your Closing Options

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

9. Trim Your Landscape

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

8. Stock Up

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

7. Think About Your Outdoor Items

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

6. Take Photos

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

5. Secure Important Documents

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

4. Consider Flood Insurance

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

3. Bind Your Homeowners Insurance Early

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

2. Don’t Host the Hurricane Party

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

1. STOCK UP ON TOILET PAPER!!!

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

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

Stay safe this hurricane season!

 

 


Marketing in Our New (Temporary) Normal

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Covid-19 has been a challenge for every American, and while we are dealing with an ever-evolving landscape of quarantine and modified stay-at-home orders still, the real estate industry continues to chug along. That means your potential customers are still thinking about buying their first home, upgrading to a bigger home, or selling their starter home, and they’re going to be looking for real estate agent to help them.

The good news? We know where your customers are probably spending most of their day – at home. And, if they’re anything like us (don’t worry, they are), they’re also spending a lot of that time on their phones and computers. 32% of Americans have admitted to spending longer online since the beginning of this crisis, and that number is only climbing.

That means it’s time for some online marketing! Getting in front of your customers may be easier than ever, so here are 5 tools to help you beef up your marketing game:

  1. Create Cute Content on Canva. If you haven’t heard of Canva before, your competitors have! Canva.com is a platform that allows you to design pictures to post on social media. Pictures produce 650% more engagement when compared to text posts. It only makes sense to turn those words into pictures!
  2. Seamlessly & Safely Stage to Sell. Open houses and walk-throughs may have trickled to all time lows, but buyers still aren’t too keen on buying a house they haven’t seen from the inside. The solution is virtual staging! Check out these virtual staging solutions and post the pictures to your social media platform of choice!
  3. Perfectly Plan Your Posts. Homeschooling, trips to the grocery stores, binging TV shows – life can still be busy when stuck inside. That means you might not be able to post at the best times, and planning ahead could really come in handy. Check out Hootsuite or Post Planner to manage your social media, but remember to put the popcorn down when the customers start calling!
  4. Elevate Your Emails. Email marketing is still one of the most profitable forms of advertising, with an average ROI of $38 to every $1 spent.  Mailchimp is the tried-and-true favorite, but there are alternatives that can be better for some people here. No matter what software you decide to use, check out BombBomb to add a personal touch. This software can add a small video to your email for added engagement.
  5. Tech Up Your Toolkit. If you’ve talked to one of our account representatives, they have probably mentioned FanAgent One as a great tool for fast net sheet quotes, but did you know it’s also a great tool for marketing? Check out the filters for social media and the info sheets that allow you to add your picture and info to send to your customers.

We all hope that we get back to normal in no time, but in the meantime, the above tools can help keep you top of mind for your customers.

 


4 Content Ideas for Marketing Your Real Estate Listing

As a listing agent, sellers depend on your knowledge and expertise to sell their homes as quickly as possible. Since some listings are easier than others to market, we’ve put together 4 ideas every real estate professional can use when selling a house.

1. Lights, Camera, Action!

If you aren’t using video in your listing marketing strategy, you’re missing out. According to Biteable, real estate listings with video receive 403% more inquiries than those without video. Including a walk-through video gives potential buyers a better idea of the home’s layout and helps them imagine living in that home.

Utilizing videos on different platforms, not just in your listing or on your website, can help expand your listing’s marketing strategy. Creating video content for social media attracts even more potential buyers to your listings. There are many different ways to utilize video. One of those ways is by showing off the home’s community. Is there a park? Did a new restaurant open nearby? Is there a festival or farmer’s market in the vicinity? Think of the different features potential buyers might want to see near the property. Does the home offer a beautiful sunrise/sunset view? Are there customized features in the house? You can show potential buyers all of these special differentiators through videos.

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Creating videos doesn’t have to be complicated. We highly encourage hiring a videographer to help create an impressive walk-through video for your listings. However, hiring a professional isn’t always in the budget. There are multiple apps you can use to help create videos. For example, Animoto and Powtoons offer video templates, stock videos/photos, and animations for users to utilize in making customized videos.

2. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Poor listing photos reduces the chances of selling a listing quickly. The longer a home sits on the market, the more likely you’ll have an unhappy seller and lose out on future business.

Again, we suggest hiring a professional to take listing photos. Professional photographers have a large collection of equipment and know the best ways to capture a home’s beauty. However, if you don’t have photography expenses in the budget or would prefer to master listing photography yourself, you have options. With a few keywords in a Google search, anyone can find all sorts of information on real estate photography tips and tricks. And, if you’re in a time crunch or don’t feel like learning Photoshop, you can find apps on your phone like Snapseed or Pixlr to edit all your photos.

3. Show the Data

Create infographics, videos, or pictures with market data and neighborhood statistics that correlate with your listing(s). Sharing this information helps educate potential buyers and make you the neighborhood expert. Sharing market data brings valuable insights to both sellers and buyers and empowers them to make wise investment decisions.

neighborhood pic example4. Discover the Neighborhood!

Another great way to boost traffic to your listing is by showcasing the neighborhood! Is your listing in a dog-friendly area? Does it have a high walkability score? Share that information with a video or picture of the surrounding as you’re walking through the area or visiting the dog-friendly establishments. Do you have a listing perfect for a foodie? Or, in the perfect school district? Create content promoting that information.

You can take it one step further by writing blogs about these property benefits to feature on your website. Doing so helps boost credibility with clients and fellow real estate professionals.

 

 

 


5 Ways to Stay Safe Financially During the COVID-19 Pandemic

woman animation planning her financesWe’re all experiencing an unprecedented time in our history; most of the country and large parts of the world are under some type of stay-at-home orders. While our team members at Paramount Title are working hard to make sure your transaction closes on time, unfortunately, there is an army of unscrupulous people that are using this time to attack you financially.

As the world has turned to online services for financial transactions, 22% of Americans have been the target of fraud attempts in the past few weeks. They hope that you’re too preoccupied with the immediate need of social distancing to notice that the threats of fraud are still quite high.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to stay safe financially during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic:

  1. DOUBLE CHECK YOUR CLICK – At least half of all COVID-19 related websites that have registered during this time are suspected of malicious activity. Be wary of ANY coronavirus specific website and pay attention to your clicks on social media or the internet. Before your click, check that the link is going to the expected website – preferably one you know already and trust.
  2. BE AWARE OF FAKE NEWS – Scammers are creating fake news stories on contaminated websites in hopes that you’ll not only read them, but share them online – all to get you and your friends to visit their malicious websites. While some of these websites may look legitimate, they can hide spyware or be phishing for your data. Check all news stories to ensure they are from mainstream media sources.
  3. VERIFY THE SENDER – The FBI warns of a significant threat of phishing emails relating to economic stimulus payments, charitable and relief contributions, fake cures, vaccines, and testing kits. If you’re not sure, click on the sender’s EMAIL ADDRESS (but not any links in the email) to see if the email matches the sender. If you’re not 100% sure who the sender is and that you were the intended recipient, do not open or forward the email.
  4. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS – While you should always be cautious about your passwords, it’s good practice to change them during times of accelerated fraud activity. Some experts recommend using pass phrases instead of complicated passwords, which may be easier to remember. Also, it’s not OK to share passwords among websites and other places to prevent your passwords being stolen from one website and used on another.
  5. DON’T TEXT BACK – Have you heard of SMISHING? It’s a new form of information phishing that hackers are using to send you text messages that include links or will appear to be from legitimate sources. Remember the same tips from your emails and don’t trust anything unless you’re SURE who the sender is. Delete anything you’re not sure about. Also, no one will ask for your password via text messages, so if you get a text asking for ANY passwords, it’s delete-worthy!

Those are just a few ways to help you stay safe while we all are trying to keep our distance from one another. Remember, while you should always use caution when banking, communicating or shopping online, now is the time to be EXTRA vigilant.