Claiming Your Tax Deed Surplus Funds in Florida

If you are reading this article, you may have recently lost a property at a Tax Deed Sale. You may even be receiving a flood of solicitations telling you that there is or could be money owed to you as a result of a “surplus” or “overbid”.

In Florida, if a property is purchased at a Tax Deed Sale for an amount in excess of the amount owed to the Tax Certificate Holder, the surplus, after payment of any other government liens of record, must be paid over and disbursed by the clerk to, among others, the following person(s):

  1. Any legal title holder of record;
  2. Any mortgagee of record;
  3. Any vendee of recorded contract; or
  4. Any person whom the property was assessed on the tax roll for the year in which the property was last assessed.

For some claimants, there is a 120-day timeframe during which you must file your claim for surplus. If you recently lost a property at a Tax Deed Sale, it is imperative that you act quickly.

Call our office for a complimentary assessment of your overbid claim.

Title Commitments And Exceptions | The Metka Law Firm

Reviewing Title Commitments: Pay Attention To Those Exceptions

The title commitment is a document that is issued by the title insurer; it discloses all liens, defects, burdens, and obligations that affect the property in question.

The title commitment reveals important information about who owns, owns a piece of, or can use the property and under what conditions the title company is willing to issue an insurance policy. It spells out what will be covered by the title insurance policy and what will not be covered. Title insurance protects homebuyers from claims of property ownership by other parties. The title commitment comes before closing; the title policy is issued after closing.

It is very important to review the title commitment so you understand what, if any, limitations there may be on your use and enjoyment of the property.

Common exceptions include:

  • Easements
  • Use restrictions
  • HOA covenants or requirements
  • Survey issues, problems, concerns
  • Leases

In this post, we’ll take a look at the parts of the title commitment so you understand where to look for those exceptions.

Parts of the Title Commitment

The title commitment is broken down into three Schedules: A, B-I, and B-II. Here’s what they contain:

  • Schedule A. This section lays out the basic facts of the transaction such as: the effective date of the policy, the proposed insureds (purchaser and lender), policy types and liability amounts, the legal description and address of the property and the estimated title insurance charges.

In Schedule A, you’ll want to carefully review the information for accuracy including names, addresses, policy coverage, purchase price, etc.

  • Schedule B-I. This section lists the requirements that must be met before a title policy can be issued. Common requirements include: a deed from the Seller to the Buyer, a Mortgage from the Buyer to the Lender, releases of liens, entity or estate documentation, releases of judgments, corrective deeds, and any other documentation required to ensure marketable title at closing.

All items listed on Schedule B-I are items that our office diligently works towards satisfying prior to closing.

  • Schedule B-II. This section lists items that are not being insured by the title company. This includes several standard exceptions as well as specific exceptions. Standard exceptions include things like encroachments and unrecorded easements, municipal liens, and rights of parties in possession (tenants’ rights). Specific exceptions include association restrictions, easements of record, utility agreements and any other matters of record that are attached to the property.

All items listed on Schedule B-II are items that will be exceptions to your Owner’s Title Policy, unless your Title Attorney is able to have them removed after receipt and review of the municipal lien search and survey.

Dealing With Exceptions

All title commitments will reveal exceptions. It’s up to the buyer and his/her real estate attorney to review these exceptions and determine if they are acceptable or unacceptable. If they are unacceptable, your attorney can ask to have certain exceptions corrected by the seller, removed, and/or covered by the policy by purchasing endorsements or an extended policy.

At The Metka Law Firm, we work closely with buyers to help them understand the title commitment so there are no surprises once they take possession of the property. Our services include negotiating exceptions and coverage with title companies and sellers’ attorneys to guarantee your use and enjoyment of the property.

To learn more about our buyers’ services and/or title commitments, contact us at 407-826-1952 or online.

Buyers' Counsel Services For Homebuyers | Metka Law Firm

Why All Homebuyers Need Buyers’ Counsel

The internet is full of websites and resources that can make anyone think they can handle buying a house on their own with ease. But that is not a risk you want to take.

Although Florida does not require homebuyers to have legal representation, it’s important to hire a buyers’ attorney, also known as buyers’ counsel. Buyers’ counsel has the job of looking out for the buyer’s best interests. This is critical when the biggest financial transaction of your life is at stake!

Buyers’ counsel provides three important benefits and services to Florida homebuyers:

1. Protect the homebuyers’ interests. Lenders have their own attorneys to review documents as well as policies and procedures that ensure their interests are well-protected. Sellers may have an attorney or real estate agent representing them to do the same. The title agency is required to be an impartial party; meaning they cannot provide any advice, legal or otherwise, to buyers or sellers, they merely facilitate the transactional paperwork. That leaves the buyer with no one to turn to if they have questions or when things get complicated. Buyers’ Counsel fulfills this critical need.

2. Ensure homebuyers understand the paperwork and their financial obligations when buying a home. You are embarking on the biggest financial investment of your life. It’s vitally important that you understand what you are signing and what your rights and responsibilities are. As Buyers’ Counsel, your attorney will go through all of the paperwork with a fine-toothed comb and will make sure you understand every document that you sign. 

3. Ensure the home is free and clear of liens or other encumbrances. Sometimes, properties have liens against them or easement requirements that might restrict your use of the property. In rare cases, the seller might not even have the legal right to sell the property! As Buyers’ Counsel, your attorney, will look for these title problems and alert you to them before you take ownership of the property. In many cases, they can even help you resolve the issue before closing.

The Metka Law Firm Buyers’ Counsel Services

The Metka Law Firm buyers’ counsel attorney provides many services that help ensure homebuyers are well-informed and prepared to purchase a home.

Your buyers’ counsel attorney will:

  • Review the Survey, Title Commitment, and Municipal Lien Search for accuracy.
  • Review all supporting title documents and recommend needed changes and deletions to ensure buyers receive maximum coverage with their owner’s title policy.
  • Review and explain all documents to be signed at closing (even those for the seller) to ensure accuracy and to ensure you understand the documents.
  • Review and explain the settlement statement to ensure accuracy and to confirm that you are not being over charged for services rendered by the title company or other vendors. This can and does happen. On average, The Metka Law Firm attorneys are able to save clients between $200.00 and $600.00 because title companies will try to inflate settlement fees and lender title policy rates.

Buying a home is a complex process that can be confusing even when everything goes according to plan. Having a trusted legal advisor on your side will ensure that you fully understand what is going on and that your rights are protected. Let The Metka Law Firm be that trusted advisor.

Contact us at 407-826-1952 or online to learn more about our buyers’ counsel services.

Young woman is signing financial contract with male realtor.

What are Closing Costs?

Closing Costs

What are closing costs?

Closing costs are the fees and expenses involved in a real estate transaction. Depending on contract details and lender fees, they can vary widely.

Buyer’s closing costs

  • Closing costs for homebuyers typically range from 2% to 5% of the sale price. Buyer’s closing costs may include, but are not limited to:
    • Loan origination fee – a fee charged by a lender for processing the loan documentation
    • Underwriting fee – a fee charged by the lender for verifying all the documents to finalize the loan
    • Discount points – (optional) a fee charged by the lender if you choose to purchase a lower interest rate for the life of the loan
    • Appraisal fees – the cost to have an appraisal completed (An appraisal is required to verify the market value of the home.)
    • Credit report fees – expenses a lender incurs when checking your credit, so you can qualify for a mortgage
    • Inspection fees – costs for home and/or pest inspections a lender may require for mortgage approval
    • Lender’s title insurance – the fee for the policy that protects the lender in the event of any title issues
    • Survey fees – the cost to have a survey of the property completed (Surveys confirm the size and dimensions of the land and verify that the property is free of encroachments.)
    • Settlement fees – Real estate closings are usually facilitated by Attorneys or Title Agents. This fee covers their costs.
    • Escrow deposits – an initial deposit to fund your escrow account. (The amount is calculated based on how much will be needed to pay for property related costs such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance to be paid from the escrow account.)
    • Recording fees and transfer taxes- fees paid to the local authorities for recording your purchase and mortgage in the public records
    • Prorated taxes & HOA assessment dues – Prorated credits are given for prepaid taxes and HOA assessments. (The buyer reimburses the seller for the taxes and HOA assessments paid for in advance.)

Seller’s closing costs

  • Sellers responsibilities include just a few items, but they are significant items.
    • Recording fees and transfer taxes- fees paid to the county for recording the transfer of the deed
    • Prorated taxes and HOA assessment dues – Prorated credits are given for unpaid taxes and HOA assessments. (The seller pays the buyer for the taxes and HOA assessments owed during the time they owned the home.)
    • Title insurance premiums – It is standard practice in Central Florida that sellers are responsible for the expense of the owner’s title insurance, which protects the new owner in the event that title issues are discovered post-closing.
    • Title search fees – a fee to run a background check on the chain of title to search for title defects or existing liens on the property
    • Home warranty premiums – (optional) Sellers often offer to purchase a one year home warranty to provide buyers with peace of mind.

*Note that these fees and who is responsible for paying them can vary based on your location and contract details. Check with your realtor for details.

4 Reasons Why You Need Buyer’s Counsel When Buying a House

The Benefits of Closing with an Attorney

Buying a home is the single, most significant financial investment you will make in life. Not only can possessing your own home provide you and your family the stability and freedom you deserve, but there are also numerous tax benefits too. Unfortunately, home buying can often be a complex and confusing process that can typically lead to serious financial consequences for buyers who don’t have a real estate attorney’s experience and knowledge on their side. To ensure that your interests and rights as the buyer are protected, here are 4 reasons why you need buyer’s counsel:

Research. When representing a buyer, our attorneys will do preliminary title research on the property to find any obvious issues that may cause last minute problems later in the closing transaction. This can include making sure that the “seller” is the titleholder with the authority to sign documents and sell.

Review. Mistakes and omissions are often overlooked in the purchase and sale contract. To help avoid any major headaches and future expenses, our experienced attorneys will closely review the home purchase and sale transaction to catch all the problems or mistakes.

Communication. As your point of contact during the home buying process, we’ll make sure you understand the meaning of the surveys and inspection reports, advise you on all available options, ensure you are fully comfortable with the end contract you will be signing and answer all additional questions you might have.

Accountability. One of the major benefits to hiring real estate attorneys for buyer’s counsel is the accountability and ethical standards they are held to. Unlike a title company or a real estate agent acting on the behalf of the seller, our attorneys are not permitted to provide counsel or service that could possibly act against the interests of our clients. This is because we are guided by the professional rules established by the Florida Bar Association.

At The Metka Law Firm, our real estate attorneys will work closely with you to provide the best possible outcome. Our primary focus is to ensure that the property of your interest is transferred to you free and clear without any added stress, defects or discrepancies. To learn more how we can help you, contact us or book your free initial consultation today.

Do I Need a Home Survey Before Buying a Home?

If you are reading this article you are probably well on your way to purchasing a home or property. As you may already know, there are dozens of fees and costs associated with the Closing, one of which is a survey. Because surveys are typically not mandatory, (unless your Lender requires one), and because there are so many other expenses that are mandatory, you may be thinking to yourself,

“Do I really need a survey?”

The answer to that question should always be a resounding “YES!”

While you are working with your Realtor and your Lender on the various moving and loan details, the Title Attorney is working hard to ensure that all liens and encumbrances on the property are removed, so that the Seller is able to convey the clearest form of title to you at Closing. Without a survey however, the Title Attorney does not have the information she needs to protect against the potential physical defects that may be present on the property, and consequently, she will be unable to remove the survey exception from your Title Policy. Meaning that, any boundary line disputes, encroachments or easements that would have been discovered if a survey had been provided, will not be covered by your Title Insurance Policy. The following are just a few examples of the types of information surveys provide:

Boundary Lines: Understanding the exact location of your property lines is essential to adequately protecting your interests in the property as well as in any structures or improvements you add to the property.

Encroachments: Once you have the exact legal boundaries, the Title Attorney is able to determine if there are any existing encroachments. For example, if there is a structure such as a house, fence, deck, driveway, or shed encroaching onto the property, it is best to know before you buy, so that you can consult with a Real Estate Attorney to determine whether it is in your best interests to proceed with the purchase at the current contract price.

Property size and exact acreage: This factor is important for many reasons, one of which is the value of the property. The size of a lot is one of the many factors that determine the Seller’s asking price. If you purchase a home based on representations that the lot is a specific size, without obtaining certification by a surveyor, you will not be protected in the future if you try to sell the home and the future buyer discovers that the lot is smaller than you believed.

Easements: It is imperative that you are aware of any easements that may affect your intended use and enjoyment of the property.

Purchasing real estate, whether it is a home or an investment property, is one of the most expensive purchases most people ever make. And therefore, if not for all of the aforementioned reasons, I advise my Clients to spend the extra $300.00 or so on a survey because I believe it is imperative that Buyers know exactly what they are getting before they buy.