Southwest Florida Title Insurance & Real Estate Blog -

It’s All About the Kids This Summer

Posted by Chris On June 12

Since November of 2014, your real estate closings have generated $3,000 for local charities. This summer, the Winged Foot Title team has chosen to support the Children’s Home Society of Florida. Take a few minutes to watch this video about CHS’s impact on kids.

We hope that you will join us this summer in support of CHS and help to bring children “healing, homes and hope.” A portion of every closing will be donated to this worthy organization and the children it serves. In the meantime, you can connect with CHS directly through Twitter and Facebook. Thanks all!

We get this question a lot. And we often get it laden with defensiveness from buyers’ real estate agents who are surprised by the demands of FIRPTA on their clients. Because FIRPTA is superficially understood as a tax on the seller, the surprise is understandable. So let’s discuss WHY this is an important issue for buyers and their agents to consider and HOW they can set expectations and prepare better for a deal that involves FIRPTA.

What is FIRPTA?

We have written extensively about FIRPTA on our webpage. “FIRPTA stands for the Foreign Investment in Real

FIRPTA navigation made simple.

Property Tax Act, which is found in Section 1445 of the IRS Code. In a nutshell, the Act provides that a transferee (i.e., buyer) of U.S. real property must withhold tax if the transferor (i.e., seller) is a foreign person. When FIRPTA applies, 10% of the gross sales price must be withheld and remitted to the IRS . . . .”

Why Should the Buyer Care about FIRPTA?

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A seller wrote to us recently and wondered the following:

“I paid the taxes from my escrow account for this year, how do I get my prorated money back? I paid my homeowner’s insurance through my escrow account, who handles cancelling the insurance and how do I do that? What will I need to provide to them showing proof that I no longer own the home?”

We’re sure she’s not the only one who wonders about these things, so let’s look at her situation and explain how the credits and reimbursements are likely to work at and after closing.

What is an escrow account?

Our client mentioned that she had paid taxes and insurance from her “escrow account.” She is referring to an escrow account which her mortgage lender required her to establish and fund so that the lender may ensure the payment of  lien- and risk-wielding items (like taxes and insurance!). Lenders often require borrowers to pay a monthly amount for “escrows” in addition to their principal and interest payment. The lender keeps those funds over the course of the loan and pays for the escrowed items from the escrow account when they become due.

In our customer’s case, her lender had paid both her taxes and insurance for the current year prior to the closing of her sale. For the sake of example, let’s say that her lender made these payments on November 15, 2014 (these would not normally be paid at the same time but we’re trying to keep it simple) and her closing was scheduled for December 1, 2014. At closing, she would have paid for an annual insurance policy through November 14, 2015 and for 2014 property taxes through December 31, 2014. So how does she get her money back since she won’t own the property after December 1?

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3 Real Estate Tips from The Masters

Posted by Chris On April 21

We are 2 weeks removed from Jordan Spieth’s impressive victory at this year’s Masters Tournament (What were you doing when you were 21???). The #Masters is not trending. But we in the real estate business sure can learn a few things from this very special tournament.


The beauty of the golf course and the tournament’s rich rich history are enough to distinguish the Masters Tournament from other high profile golf tournaments. But it’s a myriad of other things that make the Masters . . .

Par 3 Scoreboard from 2013 Masters Tournament.

Par 3 Scoreboard from 2013 Masters Tournament.

well, the Masters. Take the Masters lexicon, for example.

At the Masters, “fans” don’t sit on “bleachers.” Instead, “patrons” sit on “observation stands.” The distinctions may seem immaterial, but they are Masters distinctions and are known as such in the golf community. So what can we real estate professionals do to be different? Taking the lead from the Masters, how about a fresh new lexicon? Could you call your “clients” something besides “clients” that may make their experience with you more memorable? I bet you could.

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Help Us Support Fort Myers Relay for Life!

Posted by Chris On April 2

Winged Foot team gives donation to Boys and Girls Clubs of Lee County representative.

A month or so ago we rolled out our #closingwithacause campaign. In a nutshell, team members get to select a favorite charity or cause which we support by donating a portion of our revenue from every real estate closing we handle. First of all, we want to send a huge THANK YOU to everyone who did business with us this first quarter. We were able to donate $1,380 to two very deserving local groups – The Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County & Operation Inasmuch United Fort Myers.

Our efforts continue into spring as we commit to supporting our very own Kristen Flora and her Fort Myers Relay for Life team – Purple Haze!

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Wiring funds when buying a home

Posted by Chris On February 13

By Chris Black, Esq.

During the closing process, who doesn’t want to reduce costs and shorten steps whenever possible, right? To this end, many of our customers ask us about wiring funds for both escrow and total closing costs together. This is a great question that likely results from people’s interest in avoiding multiple wire fees or in wanting to avoid multiple trips to the bank. We get it.

Ordinarily, if a consumer wires funds to us, they are charged a fee for that service by their bank. (Note: Winged Foot Title’s current bank does not charge for incoming wires so we do not need to pass along such a charge to the consumer.). And, in most cases, consumers must be physically present at a bank branch in order to initiate the wire. So, we totally understand the desire to avoid additional fees and trips to the bank. From our perspective, a buyer client who is paying cash for real property in Florida could certainly wire their earnest money simultaneously with what they estimate to be the required amount due at closing. Here are a couple of things to consider when doing so.

First, please notify us of your intent to wire the funds together so that we may account for them properly. Along those same lines, your notification should specify the amounts and their intended use. For example, if your earnest money requirement is $1,000 and you wire $125,000, please make sure that you communicate to us how the wire should be applied.

Second, it will be difficult or impossible to have an exact amount required for closing at the time your earnest money is due under the terms of your contract. That would require you to send an estimated amount, which if more than necessary we would refund or if less than necessary would require an additional wire transfer for the amounts outstanding.

Lastly, you should discuss your intent with your legal counsel or REALTOR®. There are potential issues with wiring all of your funds at one time and they may advise against it.

Want more tips for making your closing process a snap? Sign up for invitations to our free event series, #WFTLearn. Even if you have to miss one, we’ll send you a recap afterward!

Making community connections is a part of the Winged Foot Title company philosophy. For them, business is about more than closings and real estate; it’s about making a difference. In the winter of 2014, Winged Foot Title actively participated in this mission.

Closing with a Cause

making a donation to HCFB

Winged Foot Title staffers Kristen, Johanna, and Jared delivered the company’s November and December 2014 donation to Harry Chapin Food Bank.

This holiday season, Winged Foot Title, LLC raised awareness and gave back to the community through a campaign benefitting Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. For every closing in November and December 2014, the company donated a portion to help feed the hungry in Southwest Florida. They raised $520 in just two short months. Through its resources, Harry Chapin Food Bank can multiply every $1 in cash donations into $6 in food value.

“Many families and children will benefit from this partnership, through this holiday season and beyond.” Sam Kelly of the Harry Chapin Food Bank said.

Winged Foot Title Owner Chris Black says they will continue Closing with a Cause into the new year, next benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Florida.



Bells were ringing

Bell Ringers snap shot

Kristen and Jillian participate as Salvation Army Bell Ringers for Winged Foot Title.

Winged Foot Title staffers volunteered as a group during the holiday season as Salvation Army Kettle Bell Ringers on December 10, 2014. photo from Facebook

90¢ of every dollar raised by the Lee, Hendry, Glades Counties Command supports its programs. The Salvation Army assists more than 33 million individuals throughout the year in the United States – over 6 million of those during the holiday season alone.




Let’s all go to the movies

Since the series began in 2010, Winged Foot Title has been a dedicated sponsor of Family Movie Nights at the Alliance for the Arts. All funds collected for Family Movie Nights supports the organization’s extensive children’s programming.

This season began with a screening of The Life of Pi on January 9, and continues Friday, February 6 at 7 p.m. with Charlotte’s Web, Friday, March 6 at 7:30 p.m. with Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and concludes on Friday April 10 at 8 p.m. with Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest.

The Alliance for the Arts proudly supports artists and art organizations in our area as the state designated Local Arts Agency for Lee County.

LCAA Movie Night poster

Bill Steinke

Bill gives us flying lessons for our businesses!

We all know how important goal setting is to our long term success, both personal or professional. So why aren’t we more disciplined about it? Interference abounds, of course, which gives way to excuses for either not setting goals at all or for not following through on the actions that will help us to achieve the goals we have set.

At our November ’14 #WFTLearn event, Bill Steinke of Sellstate Achievers Realty in Fort Myers shared with us what he calls the “foundation” for successful business planning – The 5 Profoundly Simple Steps to Achieving Goals. Here they are in just over 4 minutes.

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Ft. Myers Title Company Listening Lesson

Posted by Chris On November 21

Listening is such an integral part of a title company’s continuous improvement. We have to know what is important to our clientele in order to meet their needs, their wants, their pain points. And the only way to figure that out is to ask and listen.

Happy Buyers!

We survey our consumer clients – real estate buyers, sellers and homeowners who are refinancing – and our real estate professional clientele at the beginning and end of every transaction. And every Friday morning during our daily huddle we review the data as a team in order to better understand our customers’ perspectives. Today we thought we’d share some consumer feedback from the last week.

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One of the things we learned from our 16th #WFTLearn series was that successful people, REALTORS® or otherwise, perform well because they are passionate about what they do.  Listen to Michael & Denny describe their passion:

So what are you passionate about in your real estate business?  What moves you?

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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.