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Title Insurance Agents/Agencies and Real Estate Open Houses
Our Department receives a high volume of questions from the title insurance industry. Unfortunately, these questions do not always use consistent terminology making it difficult to determine the true situation and resulting question. It is very important when we communicate with each other that we know what the other is talking about so we can assist the other. Sometimes taking time to describe the term or situation you have a question about will assist the Department with answering your question. This is particularly true when it comes to compliance questions. An example of the areas in which we often get ambiguous questions are real estate open houses. With this situation in mind, here is some guidance that we will try to keep as simple but still provide helpful guidance.
· Brokers Open/Brokers Open House: When a real estate broker shows homes they have listed to their realtors or other realtors. Realtor caravans would be an example. (non-public)
· Open House: When a Realtor holds an open house for a home which they have listed to promote the home for sale to consumers. (public)
· Builders Model Homes: Open House/Parade of Homes Event: When a builder hosts an event in a model home to promote the home to Realtors and/or consumers.
A Brokers Open, Brokers Open House, and certain Builders events are times when a title agency should be extra cautious of violating the Florida Insurance Code and RESPA. No members of the general public, no sellers, and no buyers are in attendance. A byproduct of this meeting will be the discussions the brokers have with each other where they let each other know about the inventory each one has available for sale. The thinking is that one of the other brokers may have a buyer that will be more receptive to paying the full asking price.
An Open House to the public is different than those detailed above because this is an opportunity for the title agent/agency to take full advantage of their audience to explain what they do and why they are better at doing it than any other title agent/agency.
Regardless of the event type, the title agency may only advertise its own services and not perform any of the duties or functions of the broker selling the home. The title agency may have food and beverages, but that must be accompanied by materials showing what the title agency does and can do
for the consumer. A title agency may NOT just drop off food or solely provide food/beverages for these events. A title agency MUST attend the event and promote its agency during the event. The title agency cannot describe the home, give tours to people visiting the home, distribute flyers about the home, "man the event" without a Realtor or builder sales associate present, promote any broker listings, etc., as these are duties and functions of the real estate broker, Realtor or builder sales associate.
Marketing these open houses and others' events by the title agent/agency are prohibited. Licensees and persons subject to the Florida Insurance Code should refamiliarize themselves with it for compliance. Specifically, Rule 69B-186.010, F.A.C., regarding guidance in this area should be reviewed prior to any title agent/agency considering promoting open houses on their Facebook or other social media or other types of solicitation at the title agency's own time, resources and expenses, no matter how quick and inexpensive.
Any licensee of the Department of Financial Services found to have conducted these acts is subject to discipline for violation of the Florida Insurance Code. Any other person will be referred to the appropriate state or federal agency/board, etc.
Violations by the title insurance industry can be reported to Title@MyFloridaCFO.com. Please email or forward as much information as you can. Please note that this guidance is not all-inclusive and any person subject to the Florida Insurance Code and/or RESPA should seek legal advice or contact their association prior to proceeding with any regulated activity.
2019 PASSED LEGISLATIVE LAWS
Electronic Legal Documents
HB 409 by Rep. Perez (R-Miami) and SB 548 by Sen. Brandes (R-St. Petersburg)
Authorizes online notarizations; specifies requirements & standards for performance of such online notarizations; requires DOS to adopt rules by specified date. Effective Date:January 1, 2020
HB 409 passed the House by a vote of 87-28 and the State Senate by a vote of 39-0 and will now head to Governor DeSantis for his consideration.
Taxation - Interspousal Transfer of Homestead Property
HB 7123 by Rep. Avila
This bill is tax relief legislation that includes language eliminating DOC stamps for interspousal transfer of property.
HB 7123 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 81-25 and the State Senate by a vote of 23-17. The bill will now head to Governor DeSantis for his consideration.
HB 447 by Rep. Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) and Sen. Perry (R-Gainesville)
Authorizes counties & local government to provide notice to certain persons; authorizes counties & local governments to charge person one search fee in certain amount; provides exemptions to certain contracting requirements; authorizes local enforcement agency to close permit; provides that contractor is not liable in certain circumstances; prohibits local enforcement agency from penalizing certain purchasers of property.
HB 447 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 109-0 and the State Senate by a vote of 40-0 and will now head to Governor DeSantis for his consideration.
SB 1024 by Sen. Gruters (R-Sarasota) and Rep. Santiago (R-Deltona)
Establishes Florida Blockchain Working Group in DFS; provides for membership & duties of working group; requires working group to submit report to Governor & Legislature & make presentations; requires department to provide support staff & other assistance to working group; provides for termination of working group.
SB 1024 passed the Senate by a vote of 39-0 and the House of Representatives by a vote of 113-0 and will now head to Governor DeSantis for his consideration.
Public Records Exemption Expansion – Law Enforcement Home Address
CS/CS/CS/SB 248 by Sen. Hooper (R-Palm Harbor) and Rep. Zika (R-Miami)
This legislation expands a current public records exemption for law enforcement personnel’s home address and removes information critical to the title industry, specifically the legal property description, parcel identification number or any other property information that could reveal the home address of the law enforcement personnel. Both bills include language to authorize the protected employee to waive the confidentiality so the title industry can complete their work.
SB 248 passed the State Senate by a vote of 39-0 and the House of Representatives by a vote of 116-0. Governor DeSantis has approved this legislation as Chapter Law 2019-12.
Representing the real estate title insurance services and title abstract industries since 1914.
JOIN TODAY AND DON'T RENEW UNTIL JANUARY 2021
During a recent FLTA Lunch-and-Learn, Ft. Myer’s affiliate WINK News produced a story on the severity of Business Email Compromise and spoofed email accounts. A real threat to the real estate industry. It is recommended that you verify wiring instructions with the original contact information of your closing agent and over the telephone.
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Beginning January 1, 2014, all agents are required to comply with its requirements. To learn more, choose "Getting Ready for the Data Call". Click HERE for Data Call Info and FAQ's.
Data Call is due May 31, 2019
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