After more than two decades in the real estate business, Bryan Levy, partner and founder of law firm Balleste & Levy, has seen it all. Now, the attorney and Miami native has channeled his real estate knowledge into expanding the real estate services provided by his firm into Title 24-7, a Law Firm. The new service is aimed at giving his clients (and potential new clients) an all-access pass to his brand of attention to detail, reliability, friendliness, and strong values of integrity, competency, and professionalism. “Our mission is to be the leading title and real estate settlement service provider in the Miami area and throughout the state of Florida,” says Levy. Bringing the accessibility and personal touch of his namesake law firm, Levy is working with buyers across the state to ensure they have a positive, smooth and transparent experience when buying a new home. Here are Levy’s top tips for 2018.
- The buyer is in control.
“Who you select as your title and closing agent is extremely important,” says Levy. “After all, this is usually every person’s biggest purchase.” Levy cautions buyers to be aware of pre-existing relationships between realtors / mortgage professionals and title companies they are affiliated with, including some of who have title company branches within their own offices. “When your files get referred to an in-house or affiliated title company, you lose your right to ensure you have selected the right company, and the right to an unbiased company representing your interests,” he says. “You have the right to choose who will hold your money in escrow, who will examine all legal and title aspects of your purchase, and who will handle your closing.” Levy suggests doing research and having an introductory consultation with that title company prior to your file being processed by them.
- Be sure the company is attorney owned and operated.
Levy says that though many companies claim they have in-house attorneys or employ attorneys, it’s imperative to be sure the title company is owned and operated by attorneys. In today’s real estate world, there are many title company options, with different degrees of knowledge, experience and dedication. “Don’t settle for anything less that an attorney owned and operated company to act as your title and closing agent,” he says.
- Don’t put your money at risk.
“After being in this business for over 20 years, and handling thousands of closings, it’s unfortunate that we have encountered title and closing agents that do not place such an importance to holding money in escrow and ensuring those funds are protected and disbursed according to the buyer’s instructions,” says Levy. Unless process is followed the correct way, Levy cautions that deposits can be at risk, and the closing placed in jeopardy. “Don’t let any referral, or relationship dictate who holds your hard-earned money,” he says.
- Avoid the “quicker and cheaper” myth.
According to Levy, buyers will always hear that it’s quicker and cheaper to use an in-house title company. “That’s just not true,” he says. “Nowadays, prices are comparable between companies, and technology allows us to initiate a transaction within seconds via your laptop, tablet or smartphone.” With Levy’s new venture, Title 24-7, buyers are able to upload contracts through their secure website, instantly calculate net obligations on the buying or selling side, or contact Levy directly to assist at any point during the closing process. “Your real estate transaction is too important to settle for a company simply because it was referred to you, or because they claim it’s cheaper or quicker,” he says.
- Don’t accept incomplete lien searches.
Lien searches are essential to any purchase. The search, if done correctly, will provide vital information as to the existence of any open permits, violations, liens, debts against the property and more. “Many times, due to the diligence required to perform and examine the search, title companies either do not perform the lien search, or do so an incomplete fashion,” says Levy. “This has a direct impact to the buyer, but often times the buyer is kept in the dark until it’s too late under the contract.” His advice? “Don’t settle for incomplete searches, they will almost always lead to additional out-of-pocket expenses, issues with the property, or issues with the title or closing of your property.”
- Value background, knowledge and education.
Levy says too often his office receives transactions after they’ve been previously processed by other title companies — replete with errors. Many times, he says, an outstanding mortgage was missed, the foreclosure case under previous ownership was not examined, or the legal description to the property was not completely accurate. “With so much at stake, it is extremely important to make the right decision in trusting your title and closing agent,” he explains. “Having the education, the experience, and the ability to accurately examine the entire property history cannot be overstated.”
- Expect 24-7 access.
Real estate has evolved into a 24-7 business, where properties are being shown, and contracts entered into, well into in the evenings and over weekends, explains Levy. “Having access to a firm that can provide buyers with instant title quotes, instant net sheets for the sellers, and provide direct access for any legal or title question via a website, has become an essential part to the real estate process,” he says. Its no longer acceptable to use a referral title company unless they have the facilities, knowledge, experience and dedication to meet and exceed the demands of today’s real estate transactions.
For more information on your home buying experience or Title 24-7 visit title24-7.com or call (305) 275-0652.