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Burrowing Owls: What Property Owners Should Know About Them

Burrowing Owls: What Property Owners Should Know About Them

Burrowing owls are not only the official city bird of Cape Coral—they’re considered a threatened species and are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Because of their protected status, many Cape Coral residents have differing opinions about one of the smallest owls in the world. On the one hand, they are adorably tiny, non-aggressive, and eat pests like cockroaches, snakes, and rodents. On the other, the presence of these cute little buggers can complicate things for property owners if the birds have decided to take up residence on a piece of Cape Coral property.

Contrary to popular belief, construction can still take place on a property with burrowing owls in residence. There are just a few guidelines that have to be followed or—in a worst case scenario—a special removal permit to be obtained from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

First, a site inspection must be conducted to determine the exact locations of any owl burrows on the property and any surrounding vacant properties, and a burrowing owl/gopher tortoise affidavit must be submitted in order to obtain building permits. So long as your construction plans don’t disturb the area within a 10 foot (33 feet during nesting season) radius around the nest, you have the blessing of the FWC to move forward with your project, so long as you properly mark or rope off the area to avoid having construction equipment encroach on the designated burrow area.

However, it can be problematic if the owls decided to settle down smack dab in the middle of the lot—you can only move a building so far before it ends up on the neighbor’s property. In special cases like these where there’s just no feasible workaround, a nest removal permit can be issued by the FWC, though it can take six to eight weeks to obtain. However, even with an approved permit, the nest cannot be destroyed during nesting season, which runs from February 14th to July 10th. Essentially, you’ll have to plan your construction project around that time period, even if the nest is uninhabited.

If a burrow is destroyed legally in order to make way for a construction project, it’s strongly encouraged to create a new ‘starter burrow’ elsewhere on the property. And let’s be real; once construction is complete, who wouldn’t want to have those feathery little faces pop out to greet them every once in a while?


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: Title Junction’s New Website

Title Junction’s New Website

Title Junction’s New Website

We’re excited to announce the launch of our redesigned website! Not only do we have a new look, but we’ve added exciting new features to enhance the online experience of our clients.

As a leading provider of title and closing services in Florida, our priority is to give our clients the real estate / closing relationship they deserve. Title Junction’s new website reflects this commitment by providing clients with easy navigation and more options to get their questions answered.

Our new FAQ Page provides visitors with answers to some of the more frequently asked questions we receive about title insurance and the closing process, and we’re particularly excited about our newest interactive feature, which we’ve affectionally nicknamed ‘Jenbot.’ When visitors click on the chat icon, Jenbot will be happy to chat with them and answer general questions, while passing on some of the more challenging inquiries to a team member at our office.

We’ve completely revamped our Video Library, which now boasts categories and a grid layout that makes it easier for visitors to find and view helpful videos about a variety of real estate topics ranging from how to choose a mortgage lender to house-hunting tips.

Our new Outreach Page provides visitors with a chance to better understand Title Junction’s values, and it introduces the organizations we’ve partnered with to enrich the local community.

Additionally, we’ve added an accessibility widget that allows visitors with disabilities to navigate our website, granting them access to a variety of tools to change text size, color contrast, and even have the page read aloud, among other features.

And of course we still offer our Net Sheet Calculator, where you can get quick quotes of your closing costs.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: How Necessary Are Title Insurance and Homeowner’s Insurance?

How Necessary Are Title Insurance and Homeowner’s Insurance?

How Necessary Are Title Insurance and Homeowner’s Insurance?

There are many things that happen on a day-to-day basis that can affect you or your home. What can we say? Life happens. So why not be insured for life’s mishaps? Getting both title insurance and homeowner’s insurance covers you on practically every front when it comes to owning a home.

What is title insurance? Can it really help me?

Title insurance serves as protection against any liabilities on the ownership of your property and is are available to homebuyers every time they purchase property. Also known as a risk policy, your policy will cover you from the time of closing to any event that has happened in the past. Unlike most other types of insurance, it’s a one-time fee.

Getting title insurance is one of the most crucial steps homebuyers take when closing on a property. With title insurance, you can rest assured that your claim to the property is protected. Any title company worth their salt will be able to explain what their policies cover so that clients are well-informed before signing.

What about homeowner’s insurance?

A homeowner’s insurance policy is a source of financial protection that insures the home itself and any possessions within from disasters such as flood, fire, and theft. It also serves as protection if you or a family member is legally responsible for property damage or injury to others.

In contrast to title insurance, homeowner’s insurance covers you in the event of something happening in the future, and you have to pay a monthly premium. Additionally, there are many different types of homeowner’s insurance policies. Check with your local agents to compare which homeowner policy best fits your insurance needs.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Is RESPA?

What Is RESPA?

 

RESPA stands for the Federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The act requires lenders to disclose information to potential customers throughout the mortgage process. By doing so, it protects borrowers from abuses by lending institutions. That means, as a potential home buyer or seller, RESPA is working for your benefit.

RESPA mandates that lenders fully inform borrowers about all closing costs, lender servicing and escrow account practices, and business relationships between closing service providers and other parties to the transaction. These RESPA requirements—among others—serve as a way to regulate settlement costs and eliminate abusive practices that could harm home sellers and buyers.

For more information on RESPA, visit HUD.GOV or call 1-800-569-4287 for a local counseling referral.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: 6 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Season

6 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Season

6 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Hurricane Season

Last month we talked about ways to protect houses during a hurricane. However, some people have more property to protect than just their home; they also need to protect their place of business and set up a plan with their employees or coworkers for hurricane procedures. So if you find yourself in a position where you need to prepare your commercial business for an oncoming storm, here are 6 ways to prepare a business for hurricane season.

1) Check Your Business Insurance Plans

Just like with your home, you’ll want to double check your insurance coverage to make sure that any damage sustained from a hurricane will be covered. Business contents insurance is handy to have since it covers damaged or lost furniture, tools and equipment in the event of flood, fire or theft. To prepare for the possibility of having to make insurance claims, take complete inventory of your business. You’ll want to catalog every asset, whether it’s chairs or computers, and take pictures and video recordings to help back up your claims should the need arise.

2) Back Up and Protect Business Records and Data

Records and data are the lifeblood of many businesses, and losing any of it has the potential to be even more devastating than structural damage. If you have digital files, back them up to discs, cloud services, or whatever other secure methods you possess to ensure that you’ll have copies off-site. Backing up your hard drives is also a good idea—you won’t have to reconfigure everything if your computers are damaged. Paper files that can’t be shipped to a safe location off-site should be locked up securely. If there are no digital copies of your paper files, make sure they’re not at ground-level where flooding could destroy them, and place them in water-resistant containers if possible.

3) Protect Electrical Equipment

While losing important data and records can be catastrophic to a business, losing the machines used to access and process the data can also be detrimental. Replacing equipment takes time and money, though how much depends on what kind of insurance coverage your business has. To minimize the likelihood of your equipment being damaged by flooding, lift everything electrical off the floor, and use triple layers of heavy-duty garbage bags or tarps to help protect equipment from any water that might enter the building.

4) Board Up Windows and Doors

If your place of business doesn’t have storm shutters and you don’t have the time or budget to install them, you can purchase thick plywood to board up your glass windows and doors. Measure and cut the plywood to size ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about when the hurricane warnings start rolling in.

5) Establish Employee Communication

It’s important to make sure your employees or coworkers are aware of all hurricane procedures ahead of time. Staying in contact is key to making sure that employees are safe, and it’s also crucial to getting your business up and running again in the aftermath of a hurricane. Set up numerous ways to get in touch with employees, such as the phone numbers of places where they plan to evacuate or alternate emails that don’t rely on company email systems. Even social media can be utilized in a pinch if employees are willing.

6) Make Disaster Recovery Plans

While you can’t prepare for everything, you can certainly make plans for the more common scenarios that can occur after a hurricane. If the power goes out for an extended period of time, will you use a generator to get your business running again? If there’s damage to the property, how will you conduct business until it’s fixed? Are there ways to operate your business remotely if your business location is compromised or an employee can’t make it back due to evacuation or hurricane damage? If so, assign roles to employees accordingly, such as handling client contact.

A good chunk of these preparations can be accomplished before any hurricanes have the chance to form, so we advise getting a head start so you and your employees have less to contend with in the event of a hurricane warning. That way, you can focus more time on your own personal preparations if a hurricane is predicted to hit your area.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Types Of Mortgage Loans Are Available?

What Types Of Mortgage Loans Are Available?

 

When the time comes time to shop for mortgage loans for your new home, the sheer number of options can be downright daunting. While there’s a plethora of different loan types when it comes to financing your home, we’ll focus on the most common types of mortgage loans: Fixed Rate, ARM, Balloon and 2-Step.

Fixed Rate Mortgages: Payments remain the same for the life of the loan, which is generally 15 years or 30 years. Interest rates remain the same for the entire duration of the loan, so payments are predictable.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage, or ARM: ARM payments increase or decrease on a regular schedule with changes in interest rates, though increases are typically subject to limits.

Balloon Mortgage: These mortgages offer very low rates for an initial period of time, which usually runs for 5, 7, or 10 years. When the time has elapsed, the balance will be due. You can also refinance, though you’ll have to do some shopping for refinancing options since it’s not an automatic process.

Two-Step Mortgage: Interest rates adjust only once and remains the same for the life of the loan.

Many other types of mortgage loans are available, including government-insured mortgages and VA loans for veterans. Talk to lenders and real estate professionals to assess your situation and find the right fit for you.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: A Title Company That Comes to You

A Title Company That Comes to You

A Title Company That Comes to You

At Title Junction, we understand that sometimes it can be difficult for our clients to come to our offices. So because our clients are our number one concern, we offer witness and courtesy closing services and come to you! If you are in the Cape Coral or Fort Myers area, a real estate title professional from our office will be happy to come to your work, home, realtor’s office or even mortgage broker’s office. The process of our closings can be as simple as ‘just show up and sign.’

“But what if I live outside of the Cape Coral or Fort Myers area?”

No need to worry! We are also available by phone to assist in making the process of your closing go as smoothly as possible. From picking up the transaction papers to sending the papers to you, we perform all of the necessary leg work, and lenders from across the country have called on us to help their clients. We perform witness closings for clients buying real property in the state of Florida, and we assist Floridians with their real estate deal closings in other states. Even when we are not your closing agent, we can do witness closings for you. At Title Junction, we work to create the real estate / closing relationship that all our clients deserve.

Are you on vacation and waiting to return to close on a property? Wait no longer, let us help you at a time that is convenient for you!

We want our clients to have the most stress-free closing possible and enjoy the exciting experience of purchasing their new home!


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Does My Loan Estimate Tell Me?

What Does My Loan Estimate Tell Me?

 

There’s no getting around it; taking out a loan for a house involves a lot of paperwork. Some of it you have to fill out yourself, while other documents contain vital information that you need to understand to get your loan squared away. One such document is the loan estimate, which is a form you receive from your lender that details the essential facts and terms of your approved real estate loan. It includes:

  • Loan terms
  • Projected payments and loan costs
  • Cash and costs at closing time
  • Services for which you CAN and CANNOT shop in relation to the loan
  • Summary information that can be used to compare this loan to others

Also included are other important details such as appraisal, insurance, late payment, refinancing, loan assumption policy and whether your lender intends to service the loan.

The loan estimate is a dynamic form—meaning that it can be edited and updated—and it will include information that is related to your loan and may leave out information that is not. Because of this, forms from different lenders or for different loans may not look identical, so make sure to read yours carefully.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: 8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

8 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Hurricane Season

As of June 1st, hurricane season has officially begun in Florida and along the eastern seaboard. While these wild forces of nature are massively destructive and potentially deadly, there is one good thing to be said about them: you usually have a few days warning before they hit. During this time—and hopefully well before—preparations can be made to protect yourself and your home. So whether you decide to vamoose to areas calling for less wind and flooding or hunker down and weather the storm with the help of your carefully-crafted emergency kit, here are 8 ways to prepare your home for hurricane season.

1) Double Check Your Homeowner’s Insurance

Check with your insurance agency to make sure you have the coverage you need should the hurricane cause damage to your home. Flood damage is often the most tricky kind to receive compensation for, so make sure you fully understand your policy and fill in any gaps in your coverage.

2) Inspect Your Roof

We’ve all seen the aftermath of hurricanes where neighborhoods are dotted with roofs covered in bright blue tarps for months on end. To better your chances of avoiding this fate, inspect your roof for loose shingles/tiles or any other kind of damage, and make the appropriate fixes well before any hurricanes can form. For extra protection, you can purchase hurricane straps for your roof.

3) Trim Your Trees

Loose branches can quickly become projectiles when the winds pick up, so do yourself a favor and disarm your trees before they become the reason you need to make an insurance claim. Heavy boughs that hang over your roof should also be trimmed back so they don’t come crashing through at an inopportune time.

4) Clean Out Your Gutters

This may sound like nothing more than a menial weekend chore, but when the rain comes pouring down in tandem with howling winds, you’ll want your gutters to be clear of debris so they can do their job of diverting water away from your home and keeping it from splashing up under your roof covering.

5) Install Storm Shutters / Board Up Your Windows

Once you know for sure that a hurricane is coming to your area, it’s time to “batten down the hatches” and make sure your windows are secure. Installing storm shutters is ideal, but if they’re a bit out of your price range then boarding your windows with thick plywood is a sound backup plan. It’s a good idea to purchase plywood and cut it to size well before anything can brew in the ocean—that way you’ll only need to screw them in place once you know a hurricane is impending.

6) Brace Your Garage Door

If you have a garage, it can actually serve as the achilles heel to your otherwise well-fortified fortress. You can purchase a kit for bracing your garage door from the inside or even find DIY instructions if you are so inclined.

7) Secure Your Outdoor Items

Any loose items you have outside, like your grill, lawn chairs, trash cans, etc. can be blown away and potentially become airborne projectiles that will do damage to your house or your neighbor’s. Bring these items inside or strap them down securely to keep them from flying.

8) Use Sandbags for Flooding

While sandbags don’t offer a complete seal against water, they can be used to divert the flow away from your home. If you don’t have access to enough sandbags to encircle your entire house, focus on the doorways. Laying a plastic sheet between a doorway and the sandbags offers a better buffer between the water outside and the inside of your home.

Take advantage of the fact that hurricanes give you time to make preparations and a plan. And above all, be safe! Do whatever you think will best protect your family, and don’t forget the furry members of your household!


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: The Value of the Notary Public to a Title Company

The Value of the Notary Public to a Title Company

The Value of the Notary Public to a Title Company

In order for a property to close successfully, a number of things must happen. First, the buyer and seller must come to an agreement on price and financing must be secured. After that, the title company gets involved and starts the behind-the-scenes work to have the property ownership transferred from the seller to buyer, which includes having a notary public to act as a witness.

Title Company Capabilities

The title company plays a critical role in the transaction: it is the responsibility of the title company to ensure the closing happens. Title companies handle all aspects of real estate closings. At Title Junction, for example, our full-service title insurance agency can serve as an escrow agent, witness courtesy closings and provide notary services in addition to providing real estate title insurance. Title companies research the title to ensure there are no liens against the property or other holds on the title. We also order the survey and prepare the deed for ownership transfer.

The title company coordinates closing instructions between the buyer and seller’s representatives, and the lender. A title insurance agency does not work on behalf of any one party over the other. Rather, the company’s role is to remain completely neutral in the transaction. We are only interested in making everything occur that is needed for the closing to happen.

The Role of the Notary

Title companies also often provide notary services. This is due to the sheer number of mortgage and closing documents that require a notary signature or seal in every transaction. It is not unusual for a notary at a title company to be referred to as a notary-signing agent. This simply means that the notary has had specialized training and experience in signing and acting as a witness to escrow and mortgage documents. In fact, you should feel good about having a notary-signing agent working at your closing because it means they have extensive experience handling real estate property ownership transfers.

Our notary’s role as an impartial witness to the signing plays an important role at closing too. One of the core services provided by a notary is his or her ability to prevent fraud. A notary does this by verifying that the signers are who they say they are, understand what they are signing and are doing so of their own free will.

It is for these reasons that Title Junction employs notaries in our office in Fort Myers. Notary publics on staff means our company can provide a convenient service for customers and facilitate a great number of closings at our office.


At Title Junction we care about helping you stay informed throughout your real estate transaction. Have questions? Give us a call at 239.415.6574.

In case you missed it, check out our last Title Junction post: What Responsibilities Do I Have During the Lending Process?

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