Southwest Florida Title Insurance & Real Estate Blog -

Archive for June, 2012

Voice of the Title Agent (VOTA) Panel from the 2012 NSSCS – Part III – Marketplace & Business Improvement

Coming from Southwest Florida – virtually the epicenter of the housing crisis – and starting our business when we did – January, 2007 – gives us an interesting perspective. We struggled mightily at the outset and were fortunately lean enough to survive. We survived long enough to establish a very high quality and well-respected brand, and began to grow our market share by innovating.

Short Sale Orchestration Department
Most of our success and growth over the last two and half years has come from the development of a short sale orchestration department.

We call it lien clearance or title processing on steroids, and we currently employ four full time people whose responsibility it is to work with REALTORs, short sellers, and their lenders to get the lenders in short sales to provide a lien release so that we may issue title insurance.

Our team recently discussed this suite of services and, in light of what we have seen in the market – slight increases in values, e.g. – we would like to see our short sale work comprise a much smaller percentage of our revenue in about one year. We are therefore ratcheting up our sales and marketing focus on more traditional work (settlement and closing services) driven from lenders on the refinance side and from REALTORs on the purchase and sale side.

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Voice of the Title Agent (VOTA) Panel from the 2012 NSSCS – Part II – Outside Fraud

We recently fell victim to online fraud so we can speak with unfortunate authority and experience on this topic. It was something of which we had of course been aware but thought, foolishly, “that will never happen to us.”

One of our escrow officers happened to open an attachment in an email that came from the “Better Business Bureau.” The subject of the email was craftily worded – suggesting that someone had lodged a complaint against our company.

And then we received notice that someone was trying to send unauthorized wire transfers from our escrow account. Fortunately, our bank was able to shut down the efforts and we escaped with minimal damage. The thought of such a theft should strike you as horrific. There are few insurances for your commercial escrow accounts in cases like these. And, ultimately, the monies lost are not yours, which means that they must be repaid by someone.

Needless to say, we learned a lot about what we can do better to prevent this type of theft from happening again. Here are three takeaways for you.

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Voice of the Title Agent (VOTA) Panel from the 2012 NSSCS – Part I

As some of you may know, I was slated to speak at the 2012 National Settlement Services & Compliance Summit last week on June 12th and 13th.

For those of you who were present on the panel with me, I’d like to thank you very much for all of your input and I hope that these notes that I took are helpful reminders for all that we accomplished.

For others who read this blog but who were not able to attend, over the next two days, I’ll share with you many of the talking points that we covered at the NSSCS. In the meantime, you can get a free copy of the VOTA Session Outline.

The first topic we discussed was…

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Tax Consequences

This is the 8th tip of “10 Questions You Should Ask About Florida Short Sales” eBook, which is available as a FREE download.

If a Florida short sale lender cancels debt, there may indeed be tax consequences. The Internal Revenue Service treats cancelled debt as income. The 1099-C Form from the IRS gives a nutshell version of what cancelled debt means to a debtor and taxpayer in its “Instructions for Debtor”:

“If a Federal Government agency, certain agencies connected with the Federal Government, financial institution, credit union, or an organization having a significant trade or business of lending money (such as a finance or credit card company) cancels or forgives a debt you owe of more than $600 or more, this form [i.e., the 1099-C] must be provided to you. Generally, if you are an individual, you must include all canceled amounts, even if less than $600, on the “Other income” line of Form 1040 . . . .”

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NOT LEGAL ADVICE: This information is not to be construed as legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is up-to-date as of the date of publication. It is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area. This information is not intended as legal advice and may not be used as legal advice. It should not be used to replace the advice of your own legal counsel.

Winged Foot Tite, LLC is not associated with the government, and our [short sale orchestration] service is not approved by the government or your lender. Even if you accept this offer and use our service, your lender may not agree to change your loan.