I received a call from the wife of one of our clients.  She and her husband purchased a lot and built their home on it.  Her call was to ask if she needed to change her deed because they now have a house on the lot …

How would you handle this question?

A. “Whew, an easy call.”  Just let her know that she doesn’t need to do anything … and done!  On to the next task.  You did enough to resolve the situation.

B. “Oh boy, she doesn’t know much about this.”  Let her know how a deed works; how it grants an interest to real property (which includes air and surface rights, because that’s a cool way to illustrate it), and how that interest includes any structures that are permanently attached to the land.  Yes, it took a little more of your time than you had to spare, but you helped someone understand something they didn’t.  You did a good job.

C. “I have been waiting for this call!  Let me try something…”  Of course, you go through all of B, as mentioned above.  THEN, you talk to her about taxes; you direct her to the tax assessor to get information about how the tax assessor will value the property with the structure and how her taxes will increase accordingly.  THEN, you talk to her about title insurance; you remind her that when she bought the land, she likely purchased an Owner’s title insurance policy and you briefly explain the coverages afforded by this policy, and how she may want to consider increasing her owner’s policy coverage to an amount parallel to the value of the property with the new structure on it.  THEN, you follow up with an email and you attach 3 or 4 informational flyers (what is title insurance?; differences between standard and enhanced owner’s coverage; about the title search process; why do you need title insurance? … these are the ones I sent) and you send her your fees.  She replies asking you to proceed to order the title search because she wants to have full owner’s title insurance coverage.  You did a great job and you are a true title insurance agent.

We were taught that we sell our product through a home purchase or loan transaction.  That’s how we’ve always done it, right?  Well, those words are dangerously crippling.  We can see by trends, statistics, articles, etc., that there are many people who build their own houses.  If they happen to pay cash – which many do – how do we get them their owner’s policy coverage?  What about people who add on an addition – do they have someone who knows to call them to let them know they can increase their coverage if their property now appraises for a higher amount?  And let’s not forget the home remodelers – many times getting financing from non-banking lenders such as Home Depot or Lowes.  Kitchen upgrades are the most common, many times increasing the home’s value by tens of thousands of dollars – these are potential coverage dollars!  So, I invite you to be a true title agent at heart and think outside the box … because the possibilities are endless.


Celebrate National Homeownership Month … “Dare to Own the Dream”

Logo released to acknowledge National Homeownership Month

Our home is our sanctuary.  Our home is where we create memories with our loved ones.  For many of us, owning our home is our dream!  We celebrate and observe June as NATIONAL HOMEOWNERSHIP MONTH to ensure that the dream of home ownership remains a reality for all Americans.

Earlier this week, the White House issued this proclamation in support of National Home Ownership Month, “During National Homeownership Month, we recommit to ensuring more of our people can reach for this fundamental piece of the American dream … This month’s theme, ‘Dare to Own the Dream,’ emphasizes the importance of ensuring borrowers have the ability to purchase a home that serves them and their families well.

At RSO, we wholeheartedly and enthusiastically believe in the dream and are always pleased to service those who “Dare to Own the Dream.”

Visit the RSO Website , call or visit one of our branches if you need more information or have questions about how you, too, can “Dare to Own the Dream!”


Interview with Cliff Mann – What is the biggest mistake new homeowners make?

We had a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with Cliff Mann, Tax Assessor for Madison County, Alabama.

One of the items we discussed was the requirement for new homeowners to change their driver’s license to show their new address before claiming homestead on the property. This requirement, although not statutorily prescribed, is being enforced to minimize fraud with the claiming of the exemption. Unfortunately, there have been instances of people claiming homestead on property that was being used for rental or commercial purposes. By providing the Tax Assessor with an updated driver’s license with the homesteaded address, new homeowners qualify for the homestead exemption.

If, for some reason, a new homeowner will not or cannot change their driver’s license, the Tax Assessor will still be able to change the tax rate to the 10% rate as long as the homeowner provides: (1) a utility set date letter showing that the utilities were placed in the owner’s name prior to October 1 and that they are current, and (2) proof of insurance coverage, again, dated prior to October 1. It is important to note, however, that this documentation would have to be provided annually in order to maintain the 10% rate.

Obviously, the best option for new homeowners is to change their current driver’s license. As Mr. Mann mentioned, “Failure to claim homestead on eligible property is the number one mistake homeowners make“. By providing an updated license with their new deed, homeowners can claim the exemption, obtain the additional $48.00 exemption, and not have to worry about it each year!


RSO Website Announcement


We are happy to announce the launching of the RSO Website. We invite you to visit our new site, get to know more about us, and discover the many ways we can help make your real estate transaction go smoother.

Some features of the RSO Website: