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Title Insurance | Homestead Exemption

Title Insurance

What is Title Insurance?

The purchase of a home is, in most cases, the largest financial commitment in an individual's lifetime.

  • Title Insurance protects you against losses due to defects in the title of the property or expenses in legal defense.
  • Your ownership is authenticated and will be promptly defended against any claims, in court if necessary at no cost to you, whether a claim is valid or not.
  • A title insurance policy will protect you and your heirs as long as you have an interest in the property.
  • If a valid claim is made against your title as covered by your policy, the title insurer protects you by bearing the cost of settling the claim should it prove valid, in order to protect your title and keep you in possession of your property.
What are title defects?

Examples of title defects include unpaid taxes, judgments or liens against the seller (or their predecessor in title), unsatisfied mortgages, and restrictions limiting the use of the land. If you have purchased an Owner's Policy, and if some form of defect is discovered after closing, the title insurance will pay for defending against any lawsuit attacking the title as insured and will either clear up those title defects or pay the insured's losses. Moreover, the Owner's Policy remains in effect as long as the insured, or the insured's heirs, retain an interest in the property, or have any obligations under a warranty in any warranty deed of conveyance of it.

How can there be title defects outstanding if a search and policy has been issued on the property?

Title insurance is issued only after a careful examination of copies of the public records. Even the most thorough search cannot absolutely assure that title risks or defects are not present. There could be other title problems that may not be found in a search. These are called "hidden risks" or defects and can cause loss of title and right to ownership or create an encumbrance on the title. The most common of these hidden risks are:

  • false impersonation of the true owner of the property
  • confusion due to similar or identical names
  • undisclosed or missing heirs
  • defective deeds
  • releases or wills
  • instruments executed under invalid or expired power of attorney
  • mistakes or clerical errors in recording legal documents
  • misinterpretations of wills
  • deeds by persons of unsound mind or other form of mental incompetence
  • deeds by minors
  • deeds by persons supposedly single, but in fact are married (i.e. homestead property)
  • liens for unpaid estate, inheritance, income or gift taxes
  • fraud and forgery
Can a married person purchase property individually?

Yes, in Florida a married person can acquire (purchase) and convey (sell) property individually. However, in the case of homestead property, the spouse must join in the conveyance.

Can I put my minor children in the title?

Yes, you can. However, if you decide to sell, since minors lack the capacity to enter legal agreements, a guardian must be appointed by the court of equity. The guardian could be one or both parents or a third party appointed by the court called guardian ad litem. The court gives to this guardian the authority and responsibility to look after the minor's best interests.

If the note is only in my name, why does my spouse have to sign the mortgage?

If the property is going to be the primary residence of the married couple, then it is necessary for your spouse to sign in acknowledgement that he/she knows that the property is being encumbered and that there is a note that needs to be paid by the borrowers' heirs. In short, someone has to keep on paying the mortgage until it is paid in full.

What are the steps involved with "Closing Day"?

  1. Some of the most common requirements prior to closing are listed below. These items need some time allocated to them and the closing date should not be scheduled until all received and approved. These are usually ordered upon final approval since this expense is payable regardless if there is a closing or not. Commonly these are the buyer's cost.
    • Termite Inspection- if it is not clear, the seller will need time to do the necessary repairs.
    • Survey
    • Hazard Insurance
  2. Coordinate closing date and time with all parties. Be punctual ALL PARTIES MUST BRING TO CLOSING DRIVER'S LICENSE OR ID CARD AND SOCIAL SECURITY CARD.

    IF THE BUYERS NEED TO BRING MONEY TO CLOSING IT MUST BE IN THE FORM OF A CASHIERS CHECK PAYABLE TO THE TITLE COMPANY. Therefore, keep in mind that you have to go to the bank prior to closing when choosing the time for closing.

    The closing may be done as a mail away. This means that either party or both will not be attending the closing and the documents are sent via overnight mail to them. This requires that the title closer or his/her processor have the party's phone number to coordinate the exact address to ship the documents to and the time frame needed to return the documents. Usually the real estate professional will find out the possibility of this situation as soon as they get the contract and will alert the title closer from the moment they send the title order.

    It usually takes between an hour to an hour and a half for closing during which time the title closer will be describing and explaining the documents that you will be signing. Please make sure that you allocate enough time for closing.

Homestead Exemption

What is Homestead Exemption?

Homestead Exemption is a partial exemption from property taxes allowed by the Florida Legislature. If you qualify, you will save approximately $500.00 per year on your property taxes.

IF YOU ARE A NEW HOMEOWNER SEEKING HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR THE FIRST TIME.......

    To Qualify: You must be a bona-fide resident of Florida, have legal title to your home and make that your primary residence as of January 1st.

    To Get The Exemption: If you are a new homeowner, you must apply in person to the Property Appraiser's Office. You will need your Florida driver's license, a copy of the recorded deed to your home and the social security numbers of all owners listed on the deed. You will be assisted in filling out the required forms necessary to obtain this exemption.

    When To Apply: Between January 1st and March 1st for the current year or anytime after March 1st for the succeeding year.

Automatic Renewal

To ease the burden on taxpayers, the Property Appraisers have begun automatically renewing homestead exemption. As long as nothing has changed and the property in question is still your primary residence, your HOMESTEAD exemption will be automatically renewed each year on January 1st. In January, you will be mailed a renewal receipt identifying your home. If you still live in this house, you need to do nothing; your exemption will be automatically renewed. Just keep the card as your receipt.

Are there any other exemptions I may qualify for?

There are several other exemptions available to qualified applicants. Legally blind persons, disabled veterans, widows or widowers and permanently and totally disabled persons may also receive additional exemptions. For more information contact the Property Appraiser's Office.

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER:

    January 1st thru March 1st - Filing of applications for all exemptions for the current year, including Homestead.

    August 1st or thereabouts - Assessment notices are mailed detailing the current assessed value and tax amount based on the proposed millage. Included are public hearing dates for discussion of the proposed millage rate.

    November 1st or thereabouts - Tax bills mailed by the Tax Collector to all property owners.

Where can I get more information and where do I file?

The exemption staff of the Property Appraiser's office is trained to answer all of your questions about HOMESTEAD or any other exemptions. They will also be happy to assist you in filing the appropriate application. If you have any questions, the following link provides you with the addresses and phone numbers of the Property Appraiser's offices in Florida: www.myflorida.com/dor/property/appraisers.html.

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