Scam Involving Sale of Vacant Lots is Back: Don’t Get Fooled Again!

By Melissa Jay Murphy, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, The Fund

Over the last few months, the Florida real estate industry has experienced an ever-increasing volume of sales and mortgages that have been found to be fraudulent.  Most commonly, the property is vacant with no mortgage and often the lot is owned by a seller whose address shows they live in a foreign country.  The fraudster either forges a deed from the true owner to the fraudster, or just holds himself out as the true owner and then lists the property for sale (often on Zillow), for a very attractive price.  A buyer bites, the closing date is set, and if someone does not figure it out, the fraudster gets away with many thousands of dollars and no one knows until it is too late to recover the money.

In some cases, the fraud has been discovered before closing and the evil-doers were thwarted. 

Whose Land Is It Anyway? Heirs’ Property and Its Impact on Underserved Communities

By: Brenda Ezell, Esq., Jacksonville, Member of The Fund

By now we have all heard the term “heirs’ property,” particularly since Florida’s enactment of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (the “Act”) which became effective on July 1, 2020. This article is not a discussion of the Act, as a very thorough analysis was authored by Jalinda Davis, Senior Fund Underwriting Counsel at Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC, and can be located in the November 2021 edition of The Fund Concept. Rather, this article is meant to serve as an analysis of the issues compelling passage of the Act and my own practical introduction to these issues.

Cyber Fraud Continues to Strike The Closing Process

By: Michael Rothman, Senior Manager, Legal Education, Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC

Read on to learn what real estate agents need to consider. 

Cyber fraud appears in seemingly endless varieties. Consider these two:

Scenario #1. Closing agent’s net proceeds wire is fraudulently diverted. Seller directs listing agent to instruct closing agent not to turn over the keys to buyer until seller’s proceeds are confirmed received. Buyer’s lawyer responds that her client has the keys and taken possession. She further demands that closing agent promptly record the deed. Who is in the right?

Scenario #2: Closing agent’s payoff wire of seller’s mortgage is similarly stolen. However, no one learns of this fraud until weeks later, when seller receives calls from his mortgage company looking for an overdue payment. By then, buyer has long moved into the home and the deed has been recorded. Who will be responsible to pay-off the open mortgage?

Foreign Investment in Florida Real Estate: What You Need to Know

By: Romy B. Jurado, Esq., Partner at Jurado & Farshchian, PL., and a Member of The Fund

The Sunshine State has long been home to a large number of immigrants. Immigrants altogether make up more than a quarter of Florida’s labor force, and one in five residents in the state was born abroad. Additionally, one in eight residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. It is no surprise that Florida is one of the favorite destinations for foreigners who want to invest in real estate. As a Realtor® in Florida, it is crucial to understand foreign investment in Florida real estate and how to do it properly.

My Favorite Uncle Retired to Florida and Here’s How I Helped

By: Michael Rothman, Esq.

I heard from my favorite uncle last week. He’s found a property in Deerfield Beach, Florida, just up the road from where I am, and is ready to submit an offer to purchase.

PROBATE & HOMESTEAD: How Not to Let Them Derail Your Deal

By: Tony Lavargna, Esq., Lavargna Law, PLLC, Stuart, and a Member of The Fund

Probate can be a deadly word for real estate closings, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some initial aspects of Probate that we can help navigate for our clients to make sure that a real estate deal stays on course.

FR/BAR Contracts and Corona: How to Survive your COVID-Closing

By: Jared Gaylord, Esq., of Marc. R. Gaylord, P.A., Hobe Sound, FL and a Member of The Fund

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is here to stay. The global pandemic has touched every aspect of American life. Real estate closings have not been spared. It is imperative to understand how the coronavirus can impact a real estate transaction to adequately protect yourself and your clients.

How Can Digital Real Estate Closings Help Your Business Grow?

By: Jordan Lulich, Esquire at Lulich Attorneys & Consultants and Member of The Fund

Don’t judge a book by its cover. While for many, digital real estate closings seem like a daunting service to offer, I’m here to tell you that it’s quite simpler than you think. 

Let’s face it: In-person real estate closings are enjoyable. However, what if I told you that a digital real estate closing can be as enjoyable, and that they cater to people of all ages. 

Does Paragraph 5(a)of the FR/Bar Contract Always Protect Your Buyer if Lender Is Not Ready to Close?

By: Michael G. Salmon, Managing Attorney at SalmonLaw PLLC and Member of The Fund

Liquidated damages ensure that earnest money deposits are central elements of real estate transactions utilizing the FAR/Bar residential sales contracts – the standard or “as is” contract (the “FAR/Bar Contracts”).

What Happens to the Funds in Escrow if Your Deal Falls Through?

By: Sebastian Jaramillo, Partner at Wolfe Pincavage LLP and Member of The Fund

Even though we are in the business of getting transactions closed and funded; on occasion, the deal falls through and we are left with the question of how to deal with the funds held in escrow. 

Say Hello to RON (and Goodbye to Mailaway Closings)

By Michael Rothman, Esq., The Fund’s Legal Education Manager

Every real estate professional involved in a transaction with an out-of-town seller can relate to the dread of opening a FedEx envelope supposedly containing the fully executed deed, only to find that the seller signed in the wrong place, there are no witnesses, and the notary’s commission expired last month.

The opinions of any particular author are not necessarily the opinions of Attorneys' Real Estate Councils of Florida, Inc., any of the local Real Estate Councils or Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC.