Real Estate Law FAQs | Seminole Title Company

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Answers to frequently asked questions

Serving Pinellas County, FL and the surrounding areas


Since 1993, Seminole Title Company has had a successful track record of helping clients with their real estate needs. Our locally owned and operated practice is owned and managed by experienced attorneys. They have used their extensive knowledge to compile a list of frequently asked questions below. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Do I need Title Insurance?

Yes! When you buy a home, you want to be certain it's safely yours. But even the most diligent search of the public records could fail to disclose a number of title defects:

•  A forged will or deed

•  A title transfer by someone under age

•  A married person conveying real estate without his or her spouse

•  Fraudulent impersonations

•  Secret marriages

•  Undisclosed heirs

•  Invalid divorces

•  False affidavits

These are just a few of the potential problems that could suddenly surface. Without the protection of title insurance, you'll be in jeopardy of losing your investment.


What does Seminole Title Company offer buyers?

When you purchase a title insurance policy through Seminole Title Company, you can feel secure in the fact that we will handle your transaction with the utmost responsibility and protect your interests to the fullest extent possible.


Once you have contracted to purchase or sell property, let us handle the entire closing for you. We will provide the following services:

•  Hold the escrow deposit

•  Conduct the search and examination of title

•  Issue a title insurance commitment

•  Prepare all the closing documents

•  Obtain payoffs on any outstanding debts

•  Conduct the closing transaction

•  Disburse funds to all parties

•  File homestead application (Primary residence - Pinellas County)

•  Record all required documents

•  Issue the title insurance policies

Most importantly, we will coordinate the closing with all parties involved, including the buyer's lender.

This ensures a smooth closing and a good experience for everyone!


What are the standard closing costs for a buyer?

There are many variables associated with costs actually charged in a real estate closing. For instance, a cash deal can be much easier to close than one involving mortgage financing on the part of the buyer.


Re-finances are often treated much the same as the sale of property even though the seller and buyer are the same. Some closings, involve out-of-state sellers and / or buyers where the closing documents are executed and sent back, via US Mail or overnight shipping (FEDEX). These closings are commonly referred to as “mail-aways”.


Although many costs associated with closings are similar, determining exact costs can only be computed by discussing the specifics of your closing with a title closing agent.


Recording Fees:

Each closing will incur charges for recording of documents, doc stamps, and intangible taxes, which are based on the number of document pages to be recorded or the sales price, etc. These charges are best determined at the time of closing.


Property Taxes:

Usually prorated between seller and buyer.


Miscellaneous Charges:

Charges such as homeowner association fees, condominium fees, homeowner and / or flood insurance premiums, survey reports, termite inspections, etc. will be charged and show on the settlement statement. These charges vary by property and are best determined by your title agent prior to closing the transaction.


Closing Costs:

These are all the costs incurred by the title agency for its administrative work in preparing and closing the transaction. Overnight charges and file processing or storage fees are bundled into one figure referred to as “Closing Costs.” These costs can vary greatly between title agencies, depending on the type of transaction, though most title agencies in the same geographical area will charge similar rates for their services.


Please call us at 727-392-5906, and we will be happy to quote your closing.


What is Title Insurance and why is it so important?

Title Insurance is a one-time insurance policy that protects the buyer of real property from damages resulting from defects in the chain of title. This insurance assures that the property is free and clear of liens, encumbrances, and failure of title to real property.


If the property search reveals any defects in the title, they must be cleared prior to the actual transfer of the property from seller to buyer.


After the transaction has been completed, and a title policy issued, you are protected from claims made on your title. If a claim was made, the insurance company will protect you as follows:

•  The insurance company will defend your title, entirely at its cost.

•  The insurance company will bear the cost of settling any valid claims made on the property to the full face value of the policy.


Contracts, documents, and other necessary information

There are numerous items to consider in the completion of any real estate contract. In some cases, specific "riders" should be completed as attachments to the contract. If you have any questions regarding the completion of the sales contract, you should seek legal advice as a real estate attorney is the most qualified person who can protect your interests.


Although the law does not allow Seminole Title Company to prepare your sales contract, we can refer you to an attorney who can assist you. To assure a smooth closing, we ask that you provide us with the following:


•  Driver's License and/or Photo ID

•  Marriage License (if applicable)

•  Death Certificate (if applicable)

•  Mortgage and Home Equity Loan information including account numbers.

•  If Condominium - Maintenance Coupons

•  Copy of Owners Title Insurance Policy



•  Driver's License and / or photo ID

•  Marriage License (if applicable)

•  Seminole Title Company will notify the buyer of the amount to bring to the closing. Payment via wire transfer is the most reliable means for submitting payments at closing to ensure there are no delays.

•  Condominium Approval (if applicable)


The buyer should check with their lender to determine if the following items are required prior to closing the transaction:

•  Property Appraisal

•  Survey

•  Termite Report

•  Hazard and / or Flood Insurance


A guide to deciphering the lingo of real estate

Whether you are buying or selling, the language of real estate is often complex and confusing. Following is a plain-language explanation of commonly encountered real-estate-related lingo.



Title to a property essentially denotes ownership interest and is designated by the name(s) on specific legal documents such as mortgages and deeds. The title can be held by an individual, couple or even a corporation.



A deed is used to transfer ownership of property from one person or entity to another person or entity.


Deed of Trust:

A deed of trust is a document that transfers title in a property, with the stipulation that the transfer is contingent upon repayment of an existing loan.



A mortgage is a loan you take out to buy property.


Clear Title:

Clear title indicates that the property is free of liens or legal questions surrounding ownership.


Chain of Title:

The record of historical ownership of a property. The title company or real estate attorney typically reviews the record in order to determine clear title.


Clouded Title:

Any property that has an existing question regarding ownership, chain of title or even liens may have a “clouded” rather than “clear” title, which may adversely impact the ability to obtain financing or properly record the title. Most clouded title issues require a release, court action or other legal intervention

to remediate.

Frequently asked questions about real estate

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The Pros and Cons of Condo Ownership

Condo living often elicits images of carefree weekends sitting beside the pool, but there are some pros and cons to consider before making a purchase.


1.) The Lifestyle Itself: One of the biggest advantages of condo living can also become a disadvantage. The sense of community, amenities and other features that originally attracted youto a community may change as your needs and desires change. Make sure you select a condo that truly reflects a lifestyle you will love.


2.) Shared Responsibility: A condo association establishes many rules and regulations - typically by majority vote. Likewise, maintenance and repair costs are also shared by members. Things can get dicey when individual members are at odds with the majority. Examine your willingness to abide by rules, regulations and associated expenses to be adopted by the community.


3.) Privacy and Autonomy: In some instances, condo living can resemble apartment living with less space and individual autonomy. To make the most of condo living it’s essential for residents to remain involved in the decisions and activities of the community. Those with a need for privacy and autonomy may feel more comfortable with single-family homes or other housing alternatives.


4.) Still a Need for Repairs: Many major repairs and maintenance items are taken care of by condo associations, but not all, so condo owners aren’t completely off the hook. Condo owners should set aside a little time to take care of routine repairs and interior maintenance on their units.


Ways to Figure out if a Fixer upper is worth it

Deciding whether to purchase a fixer-upper or go with a home in need of fewer repairs isn’t always simple.


Supplies, Labor and Time:

Improvements often add to the cost of property taxes and insurance, so be sure to consider the long-term consequences. Properly performed repairs and renovations may help or hurt property tax values and homeowner insurance costs. It’s a good idea to get an estimate in advance. On the other hand, hiring outside crews to perform needed repairs can result in a tax write-off for investment properties.


Long-Term Profit Potential:

Repairs and renovations can make your home more valuable, but only if the surrounding area is desirable. Whether investing for long-term appreciation or cashflow, carefully evaluate the desirability of the neighborhood.



Lenders often have different rates and requirements for properties in need of repair.Find out in advance if you are eligible for special funding, grants or tax incentives, especially when working with affordable housing options or first-time homebuyer programs.


Building Codes and Zoning:

It is imperative to understand local building codes and zoning regulations before purchasing a fixer-upper. Never assume you can modify a structure without considering the building code. Likewise, zoning may dramatically alter the ability to use a property in a specific manner or make certain changes or additions.