More Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program

Now is the time to purchase flood insurance in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season

HurricaneTALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty is alerting consumers to new changes taking effect this Friday, April 1st with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), while also encouraging consumers to consider purchasing flood insurance for the protection of their homes and businesses as they begin making preparations for the upcoming hurricane season. Every person living in Florida is at risk to experience the impacts of flooding.

“Although Florida’s hurricane season has been mild over the last 10 years, it is important that we not forget how easy it is for one storm to cause a great deal of damage and destruction from flooding. Tropical Storm Fay is a good example of a storm that made slow progress through the state leading to massive flooding problems for several Florida counties back in 2008, “ stated McCarty. “Consumers should carefully evaluate their insurance coverage now and have a plan in place for this year’s hurricane season.”

As a result of federal legislative reforms mandated by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (Biggert-Waters) and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA), the NFIP changes taking effect on April 1 will include price and fee increases for all policies and the elimination of some subsidies for certain lapsed and reinstated Pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map (Pre-FIRM) policies.

On average, Floridians with policies on pre-FIRM primary residences could see individual policy increases between 15% – 18%. Certain pre-FIRM policies (including non-primary residential and business properties) may see an increase of 25%. The federal policy fee will increase from $22-$25 for preferred-risk policies and from $45 to $50 for standard-rated policies. The annual HFIAA surcharge, which began last year, will remain at $25 annually for the primary residence of a homeowner and $250 for non-primary residences and non-residential properties. For more information, visit

Flood insurance is not typically covered under a homeowners insurance policy and must be purchased separately. Most flood insurance is administered through the NFIP, but several private insurance companies in Florida are also now offering this coverage at prices similar to or below those of the NFIP, giving Floridians more choices. For flood insurance coverage to be in effect at the start of hurricane season on June 1, homeowners and businesses should make the purchase by May 1, as a typical policy purchased through the NFIP has a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective.

Consumers can purchase flood insurance from the NFIP, usually directly from their existing insurance agent or company. The insurance will cover up to $250,000 in property damage to a home and $500,000 to a business, along with additional contents coverage. Excess flood insurance can be purchased from a private insurance company for homes and businesses valued at more than $250,000.

For information on private insurers writing primary or excess flood coverage in Florida along with resources available on flooding, visit the Office’s “Flood Insurance” webpage. For more information about ways to prepare for hurricane season, to include a helpful list of website and claims numbers for the top property insurance companies in Florida, visit the Office’s “Hurricane Season Resources” webpage.

House Unanimously Passes Condo Bill

mortgage interest puzzleOn February 2, 2016, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3700, “The Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act” with a unanimous vote of 427-0. This legislation sponsored by Reps. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Cleaver (D-MO) includes three major provisions that NAR supports:

1) The legislation solves a number of concerns regarding FHA’s condo rules:

  • Reduces owner occupancy ratio to 35%.
  • Directs FHA to streamline condo certification process.
  • Provides more flexibility for mixed use buildings.
  • Mirrors FHFA rules regarding private transfer fees.

2) The legislation provides permanent authority for direct endorsement for approved lenders to approve Rural Housing Service loans.

3) The legislation makes reforms to federally assisted rental housing programs to streamline the program.

NAR testified last year in support of H.R. 3700 before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. The bill now moves to the Senate.

Read the letter below:

February 1, 2016
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative:
The more than 1 million members of the National Association of REALTORS® urge you to support H.R. 3700, the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.” This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Reps. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Cleaver (D-MO), makes a number of reforms to federal housing programs that will streamline processes and create efficiencies for government and consumers.
H.R. 3700 reforms the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) single family mortgage insurance program and eliminates the current unequal treatment of buyers and sellers of condominiums vis-à-vis those purchasing single family homes. Condos are often the most affordable choice for first-time homebuyers, urban dwellers, and older Americans. Yet FHA places significant burdens on these borrowers, even though FHA’s condominium portfolio has performed stronger than traditional single family homes.  H.R. 3700’s provisions will ease restrictions, opening affordable home ownership opportunities for many American families.
This legislation also makes commonsense reforms to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) rental assistance programs. H.R 3700 would ease administrative burdens for housing agencies and owners, while delivering fairer and more efficient assistance to low-income families. The reforms also provide incentives for self-sufficiency.
H.R. 3700 also permanently authorizes the Rural Housing Service (RHS) use of direct endorsement lenders to approve RHA loans. FHA and VA home loan programs already utilize this approach, which uses approved private lenders and reduces the burden on the agencies.    NAR urges your support for H.R. 3700. This legislation will expand housing opportunities while protecting taxpayers.
Tom Salomone 2016 President, National Association of REALTORS®

Unable to write your name?

When a competent grantor, who is unable to write, executes a deed using a mark, an affidavit should be obtained from the witnesses, stating which of the following:
I. The contents of the deed were read to the grantor.
II. The grantor, by making the mark, consented to the effect of the deed.
III. The mark was made voluntarily.
IV. The mark was made using an “X”.

The answer is I, II, III

For more information on the proper Notarization of someone signing by a mark, please see the attached link

Florida Property Tax Definitions

To assist with terminology for out of state or non US clients.



Ad Valorem Tax: Defined as a tax based on the assessed value of the property. Can be used interchangeably with “property tax”.

Ad Valorem Tax Roll: Prepared by the property appraiser and certified to the tax collector for collection.

Non-ad Valorem Tax Roll: Prepared by a local government and certified to the tax collector for collection, such as a special collection or assessment.

Taxable Value: Is the assessed value of a property minus any applicable exemptions (ie: homestead or senior discounts).

Taxes are collected on an annual basis beginning November 1st for the tax year January through December. Tax statements are normally mailed out on or before November 1st of each year.

The gross amount is due by March 31st; taxes become delinquent on April 1st. The following discounts apply for early payment:

4% discount if paid in November
3% discount if paid in December
2% discount if paid in January
1% discount if paid in February

Please contact us if you would like the handout to use.

Note: No legal advice or suggestions are being given.

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Tax Exemptions-Florida


Tax Tips

List of Tax Exemptions you or your client may qualify for:

Homestead Exemption – Up to $50,000
$500 Widow’s and Widower’s Exemption
$500 Disability Exemption
$5,000 Disability Exemption for Ex-Service Member
$500 Exemption for Blind Persons
Service Connected Total and Permanent Disability Exemption
Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled Persons
Additional Homestead Exemption for Persons 65 and Older
Homestead Property Tax Discount for Veterans Age 65 and Older with a Combat Related Disability
Homestead Tax Deferral
Installment Payment of Property Taxes
Personal Property

Source is the Florida Department of Revenue

Qualifying for Homestead-Collier County, Naples, Florida


Homestead Exemption

What you or your clients need to know about qualifying for Homestead by the March 1st Deadline

You must provide the following items as proof of legal residence:

  1. Evidence of ownership (deed, tax receipt, etc.)
  2. Social Security numbers for all owners
  3. County Voter Registration (if you vote) dated prior to January 1st
  4. Florida Driver License dated prior to January 1st
  5. Florida Vehicle Registration dated prior to January 1st

Optional: Declaration of Domicile filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court prior to January 1st of the year of application.

You must have legal and equitable title to the property and reside in the property as your primary residence as of January 1st.

Additional information may be necessary:

  1. If not a U.S. citizen, a resident alien  “green” card.
  2. If your property is held in trust, a complete copy of the trust agreement.
  3. If your residence is a mobile home, the real property decal number and a copy of the registration or title to the mobile home.

Source is the Collier County Property Appraiser website:

Goal Setting Tip


It’s that time of year when goals should be in place for 2013, but if not, it is not too late! Below are a few tips that we utilize for our business that we thought we would share.

• Break your goals down to their simplest form. Try not to just have annual or monthly goals but weekly or even daily targets. This makes them seem much more attainable and keeps your focus on them timely.

• Do the math (it’s all in the numbers).  4 new orders/clients a month means that you need 1 order/client a week. How many calls, appointments, or meetings will it take to get there? If 10 calls a week result in 3 appointments, that should be your minimum.

• Correlate clients/orders with revenue. Look at average dollars per order or sale to help you visualize the impact this simple process can have on your monthly or annual income.

• Have fun! Place your goals on your computer desktop, post on your bulletin board, tape to the wall, or hang on your fridge. They need to be visible. Countdown as you have success, ring a bell when you get the client, celebrate the wins, and share with someone!

If we can help encourage you or give feedback on your goal setting process, please give us a call! Wishing you all a prosperous and successful 2013!

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Power of Attorneys

Powers of Attorney

Florida Uniform Title Standards govern how title agencies and their Underwriters assess marketable title. Too often when we are provided with a Power of Attorney for a real estate transaction, it has broad, general language and does not contain the specific powers needed to insure the type of transaction.

A gives to B a power of attorney authorizing B “to generally act for me and in my name, place and stead, in any state and in relation to all matters, to do any and all things and to execute any and all instruments which I might or could do if personally present.” Does B have the authority to convey land owned by A? No.

If a Power of Attorney is necessary to accomplish a real estate transaction, the document must reflect the powers being conveyed such as the authority to sell, convey or mortgage.

Note: No legal advice or suggestion is being given. Present a copy of the Power of Attorney for underwriting review as early as possible. The above is an excerpt only from the Florida Uniform Title Standards.


Red Flag Warnings for Real Estate Transactions

Red Flags!

Proceed with Caution!

Underwriting guidelines over the years have continued to caution title agents to be wary of any red flags in closing transactions. Red flags are a warning to alert us to be more cautious or perhaps only to check out a situation further until we have a comfort level to proceed. Just a few of these could be:

1. A buyer wanting to come to closing with excessive amounts of cash.

2. Sellers who are from a foreign country, have you mail documents to yet another country, then have you wire the proceeds to a bank in yet another country.

3. Power of attorneys being used and the unavailability of someone to sign documents.

4. Flip transactions.

5. No acceptable form of personal identification.

6. Requests to not show fees on the closing statement.

7. A seller who brings in a release of mortgage to the property.


Vesting or Taking Title on Deeds


Multiple Party Deed

A few ways in which more than one party may hold title are as follows:

Tenants by the Entirety:  Only a husband and wife may hold title in this manner.  Provided the couple remains continuously married, the surviving spouse becomes the 100% owner of the property upon the death of their spouse.

Tenants in Common:  Title can be held by two or more individuals or legal entities in equal or unequal percentages.  Upon the death of one of the owners, their interest passes under the term of their will and not automatically to the other people with whom they are in title.

Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship:  Title must be held in equal interests (ie:  50/50 or 25/25/25/25) by individuals.  Title passes automatically to the co-owners upon the death of any owner.

Life Estate with Remainder Interest:  Title passes automatically to the holder of the remainder interest upon the death of the holder of the life estate interest.

Note:  No legal advice or suggestions are being given as to the preferable or recommended way to hold title.  Consult with an attorney prior to deciding how to hold title.  The above is an excerpt only from an Underwriting Manual.