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Boring Title: How Will HQ2 Affect the Real Estate Market?

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly feature will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

Allied Title’s CEO Latane Meade speaks on the recent news of HQ2 possibly landing in Crystal City and asks readers to share how it could potentially affect the real estate market in the DMV.

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Boring Title: What Makes Us Different

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly feature will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

Who needs words? Here is a quick 1 minute video about Allied Title & Escrow and why they are different than other settlement companies.

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Boring Title: The Top 3 Reasons You Should Get an Owner’s Title Policy When Purchasing a Home

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

We’ve decided to shoot a video this week and provide you the top 3 reasons why you should buy an owner’s title policy when buying a home. With that said the video shoot didn’t go as smoothly as we wanted.

Our CEO, Latane Meade, failed miserably with his video shoot, which you can see below;

Luckily our President, Matt Paulson, stepped in to provide you 3 great reasons on why you should get an owner’s policy. Enjoy!

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Tips to Make You Successful in Any Business

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

I was speaking with a real estate agent this week who asked me about ideas for how they could get more business. I said I can come up with some ideas but more importantly do you have a continuous process you utilize to test out new marketing tactics and tweak them? If you don’t have a consistent process then eventually you are just hoping you get business… and hoping typically doesn’t work. Today’s blog will highlight what I believe is a formula to be successful no matter what industry you are in.

Create and Execute 2 Approaches Concurrently — A grind and home run approach

Grinding works. Whether that be door knocking, or phone calls or going to as many open houses that you can, there are proven ways to generate business as an agent (or in any sales position) if you are willing to put in the time.

Yes its hard, yes it sucks and yes it works. With that said, are you going to swing for the fences and try to create a relationship with the top builder/client in the area?

Be prepared to strike out 95%+ of the time for the home run account. But when you eventually secure that relationship, you can theoretically start your year off with all your bills paid and playing with house money.

Tweak the Tactics that Don’t Work

When we started Allied Title, I started emailing agents asking if they would be interested in grabbing coffee. I realized that if I was an agent, I would never respond to that email. So I thought about what I would find interesting.

Instead of talking about title insurance, I told them I had built and sold three businesses in the sports and entertainment industry, and I’d be happy to share what I learned so it might help grow their business.

I secured 70 meetings from those emails, which led to another 50 meetings from intros they made. Many of those meetings led to clients we work with today. Just because something doesn’t work the first time, don’t give up until you go another step or two and optimize the approach.

A quick tip on emails: People are busy so make sure you get to the point and you would respond if you were on the other end.

Never Get Comfortable

You never know when you will lose that large account. You never know when the market will turn. If you are always developing business you can survive any downturn or slowdown.

One of our friends owns an insurance company valued in the many tens of millions. He’s been doing it for decades yet he sets up 4+ meetings every day from 6:30-11 a.m.

He manages the insurance for families just getting started as well as celebrities and CEO’s nationwide.

Schedule Time to Focus On What You Can Do Differently

Are you seeing that the continuous tactics you are implementing are not leading to the results you want? Then schedule weekly time to brainstorm and figure out what you can do differently.

Test something out and if it doesn’t work then tweak the approach and/or try a new tactic. If you are continuously trying new tactics and thinking through how to make them as effective as possible, you will eventually figure out an approach that works.

Many sales people do the same thing, so when you can figure out a unique approach that others aren’t doing you have a great competitive advantage over your competition.

Quick tip: What do successful companies in other industries do? Can you test that approach in your industry?

If you implement a continuous strategy where you are grinding, optimizing your tactics, going for the home-run and testing new approaches you will be successful in sales. Where many fail is when they try something once and if it doesn’t get results then they assume it doesn’t work.

Consistency and optimization is critical to your success. If you want to ask me any questions or share your thoughts, email me at [email protected].

Title Tip of the Week

When you are buying title insurance, you can buy a standard or enhanced policy to protect your investment. Which one should you get?

We recommend you get the enhanced policy if it’s a single-family home as it increases by 50% in coverage over a 5 year period and protects you when there are boundary disputes with neighbors.

Click here to see other advantages of buying this policy. We believe you can purchase a standard policy when you buy a condo as boundary issues won’t come up.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Tips for Minimizing Hurricane Damage and a Hurricane Party

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

Today we will provide tips on minimizing potential damage from hurricanes. Florence is looking to slow down a bit but the season is long and you should be prepared on how to best protect your home.

Hurricane Party this Saturday

Expecting a boring weekend because of all the rain from Hurricane Florence? Come join us at Port City Brewery in Alexandria (3950 Wheeler Avenue) from 12-1:30 p.m. this Saturday for free drinks and food to learn about the process of buying or selling a home.

We will have Melody Abella from Sotheby’s and Ru Toyama from Monument Home Loans to answer any and all questions. You can RSVP for free by clicking here!

Back to minimizing that hurricane damage! Here are the top tips we could gather:

  1. Clean Out your Gutters — Gutters that are backed up with sticks and leaves can cause unexpected leaks… in fact I had this issue 2 months ago in the heavy rains even though I never had leak issues in the past.
  2. Move Your Valuables — Move valuable items that are prone to water damage off the floors to somewhere elevated in case flooding occurs. If your home has a flood history, move any items out of the “flood zone.”
  3. Protect Your Appliances and Electronics — Turn off and unplug any electronics which are not needed (computers, modem, speakers, etc.) If you do not want to unplug these items, at least make sure they are connected to a surge protector.
  4. Document Your Belongings — Whether it be a list on paper, or photos (better for insurance purposes), make sure you know what you own. In the event your home and/or belongings get damaged you have them on record instead of trying to remember what you had after the fact.
  5. Know Your Escape Route — Make sure you know the best way out of the house in the event your house has severe flooding. At the end of the day, no belonging is worth putting your life at risk.

Title Tip of the Week

How often do you have to pay for title insurance? You pay only one time at closing. How long does the policy last? The title insurance policy not only lasts for as long as you own the home, but as long as your heirs own the home.

When you compare the costs to life insurance or car insurance, title insurance is a affordable way to protect what is likely your largest investment of your lifetime!

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Great Tips to Be a More Effective Real Estate Agent

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

We just had our 2 year anniversary at Allied Title & Escrow and are very fortunate to have over 100 customers who we service. One thing we always hear from agents is where do I start and how do I get more business.

A month ago, we hosted a panel of top agents in the area and and yesterday I attended a Keri Shull event where she brought together 6 of the top producers in the DMV to discuss what has worked for them.

Did you miss those events? No problem, sit right there and we will summarize it all for you!

Be Different — Dan Lesniak pointed out that if you are doing exactly what everyone else is doing, it’s going to be hard to come into an industry with tens of thousands of agents and stand out.

How do you do this? Look to see what other industries are doing which you could take to real estate.

For example look at a completely different industry. What does a nightclub owner do to grow their business? What do politicians do to successfully campaign? To figure out unique marketing tactics, it will require a lot of thought along with trial and error.

Maximize Each Opportunity — Kara Donofrio, Managing Broker at Long and Foster pointed out how many opportunities aren’t maximized.

She asked if you’ve ever walked into an open house and the listing agent was sitting down reading the paper? Were they not engaged and not trying to educate you on the property?

If you are going to do an open house, maximize the opportunity. Look at it as an actual event. Go around and knock on doors and meet the neighbors. One agent held a BBQ for the neighborhood. Advertise the open house online. Hand out flyers.

You might end up meeting a neighbor who wants to sell their home down the road. Ask questions for the potential buyers that are walking in because maybe they don’t like that home but they want you to find them another.

Working an open house might suck to do, but if you are going to do it you might as well maximize the opportunity.

Ask Your Sphere For Business — Ryan Zook from Dwellus pointed out that he called all of his friends and his network and asked them if they could refer business to him in the next month.

He told them he had joined an accountability group and although he hates asking his friends for help he promised his group that he would call all of his friends. He was amazed that it led to over well over 10 deals.

Some of his friends reached out a couple weeks later and told him they had reached out to their network to find out if their friends needed an agent. Many didn’t have an agent they worked with and he was connected to people who may not have bought right then, but eventually did.

Go One Step Farther — Sherif Abdalla from Compass goes one step farther with his current clients than most which results in more referrals. For example, he gets to know his customers and searches for articles online that will benefit them.

He is always looking for articles or tactics that will benefit his clients. Also, he gets to know his clients so well he knows what’s going on in their lives (eg., new baby, big life event).

These are great opportunities to follow up and help support new endeavors.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected] Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: The Hardest Part of Our Business Which Likely is the Same for Many Others

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

At Allied Title & Escrow we’ve been very fortunate to have grown very quickly and have not had a lack of business coming in since our inception. Hopefully the growth is because we provide great service for our customers, always work to improve our offering and as a result we continue to receive referrals.

Our biggest issue to date has been finding great employees and when you find them you need to find a way to keep them. An employee who is great with customers is the best marketing tactic you can have as a company.

We have one processor who has brought on 5 new clients because she has done an excellent job for the first client. Ask any sales person in the title business and they will tell you that finding five new clients could take years, not just months.

Great employees make the office experience more enjoyable for everyone else and in the end make you want to come to work. A wise man once told me, you better like who you live with and who you work with.

It’s a simplistic but great point.

One thing we have done to try to keep our employees happy is to set up bi-weekly meetings to provide continuous communication on what is working and how we can get better.

Although these meetings can be effective, we also must let our employees know they can come to us individually and share details they don’t want to share in a group. If we aren’t open to hear their thoughts and concerns, they won’t share tactics on ways to improve and eventually leave the company.

If one thing is certain, we don’t believe there will ever be a time where we can figure out how to make employees happy or solve the entire office dynamic. It’s a constant work in in progress.

Employees change, people change, times changes and in the end we believe it’s about constant communication and understanding that we can always get better. Many of these concepts are the same approach we take with running our business and taking care of our customers.

To learn more about what is important to us as a company, click here.

Title Tip of the Week

Many people ask us the different between homeowners insurance and title insurance. Here are some quick differences between the two:

Homeowners insurance is paid monthly or annually and covers losses which occur to one’s home (eg, floods, fires, broken appliances, etc).

What the insurance covers is dependent on the policy details of the coverage. Homeowners insurance typically requires a deductible and must be paid for as long as you want coverage.

On the other hand title insurance is paid one time at closing and covers title issues for the homeowner and the homeowner’s heirs for as long as they live there. There is no deductible if a claim ever occurs.

Title issue examples include boundary disputes with neighbors or disputes related to who specifically owns the property (eg., a previous owner of the home was never on the deed but should have been and now claims ownership to your property).

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: The One Reaction From Potential Customers to Strive For

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

It can be daunting and overwhelming when you try to figure out how you should position your brand.

What should my message be? What should my logo look like? Do I target a specific audience? How do I do that? What should my ads look like? Where the hell do I start?!

I started my career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers doing marketing for the tax division, and I’m pretty sure the only reason they didn’t fire me was because I quit before they could. Then I started looking for opportunities that fit my interests and I joined/partnered with a new start up running adult sports leagues and parties in San Diego, VAVi Sport & Social.

At that age, I liked playing sports and going out. Now I’m old and like doing nothing at all and having my weekend’s free. While building VAVi, we went on to found/co-found a number of obstacle races:

I remember thinking through how to position the different businesses and I asked myself “Has a marketing campaign ever worked on me? What was my reaction? Have I ever actually been excited about a campaign or is it just more and more noise?”.

My take away was in every industry you can get people excited… or at least interested and there is only one reaction you should strive for from the potential customer: “I WANT TO [insert cuss word] DO THAT!” Or for companies that don’t offer experiences: “I WANT TO [insert cuss word] work with them!”

That was my goal when we were building those businesses and hopefully we were successful.

I’ve put together some examples below of advertisements that have given me the above reaction. Tell me in the comments below if you agree or not!

Advertisements that made me say I WANT TO (insert cuss word) DO THAT!

  • Rise Festival: My old business partner in Electric Run founded this as his next venture. How can you not want to sign up and forward to your friends after seeing this video?
  • 6 unit development in Logan Circle: I went to a launch party there last week. My reaction was I WANT TO F’ING LIVE THERE!
  • Buying a house must be the same with every brokerage? This commercial made me think maybe they do it differently and I want to meet them.
  • Hangover movie: I remember many years ago that after I saw this trailer, I sent the link to all my friends and said I would be willing to quit my job to go see this movie.

The industry doesn’t matter.

If you really want to simplify your end goal, ask your self if the advertisement or this new office space or this experience with my company makes you say I WANT TO FREAKING DO THAT… or I WANT TO FREAKING WORK WITH THEM. It will help you simplify everything and not get caught up in the specific details that might not matter.

We own a title company, which I’ve determined has to be one of the 1-2 most boring businesses in the world from the outside.

Adult sports leagues and obstacle racing is slightly different than title insurance but we have a great time growing the business because we make the day to day fun and try to create an experience that we are all excited about.

We have a commercial coming out in a couple months… the challenge will be to get you to say I WANT TO FREAKING WORK WITH THEM. Hopefully it works but at least it’s very clear what our goal is going to be!

What’s your favorite commercial? Include the link in the comments below.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Childhood Friends

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

What did two childhood friends see in the title industry to make them think there was a big opportunity and a better way to serve agents, builders, lenders and home buyers?

We (Matt Paulson and Latane Meade) have known each other since a basketball league for 7 years olds in Virginia Beach where our dads coached and sometimes got kicked out of games for yelling at 16 year old refs.

Yep, it’s true.

We always discussed different businesses and finally teamed up to start Allied Title & Escrow a couple years ago. We saw an archaic industry which we thought we could shake up.

Today’s article is what we thought could be done better and what we put in place to make sure we could achieve those goals.

As we looked at the industry, we noticed a few consistent themes with title companies:

  • On the technology front, most companies seemed to behind the ball. Websites were outdated, not mobile friendly and most companies didn’t have a social media presence and weren’t engaging with their customers.
  • Reactive (vs proactive) communication — within the industry, title companies have a reputation for being hard to get in touch with and not responding quickly.
  • On a similar note, clients could rarely get in touch with the owners of the title company if a significant issue arose.
  • Feedback from customers — title companies weren’t consistently reaching out to clients to find out how their settlement experience went and how they could get better.
  • Flexibility — many times people buying or selling a home were too busy to come to the title company for the closing during a work day.
  • Atmosphere — the old law firm office feel (mahogany wood panels) from the 90’s still held true in many cases. Sure it’s title insurance and boring but why can’t the settlement experience be fun and cool?

How did we solve or improve on the industry?

  • We hired marketing experts to help create engaging content (blogs, social media posts) where we can interact with our customers and provide them marketing ideas that can improve their sales. A mobile friendly website was an easy fix!
  • Consistent lunch and learns educating agents and builders on hot topics (eg., TOPA in DC, IZ (Inclusionary Zoning) regulations, what marketing does and doesn’t work for agents.
  • Internally, we preach over-communicating and pro-active communication with our clients (agents, builders, lenders and consumers). Whether it’s responding immediately after a contract comes in or answering questions from agents, lenders or the buyers/sellers themselves, we always try to respond timely to questions.
  • Matt and Latane provide our clients with our cell phone numbers so they can get in touch with us 24/7 if they need to. We have a great team in place who typically can solve their questions or issues but if not we are always available.
  • Continuous feedback — we continuously reach out to our clients to ask them how we did. We might not always hit the mark perfectly but by learning how we can improve and constantly making tweaks, we are always going above and beyond to make a client’s experience top notch. Click here to see our Google Reviews from actual customers.
  • We provide remote settlements and will do a settlement anytime and anywhere so buyers and sellers can continue on with their busy lives.
  • Fun office atmosphere. Raised ceilings, Silicon Valley feel, coffee and beer on tap for buyers to celebrate their new home. Click here to see our office!

Although we believe that we have built a great company and provide a great experience for our customers, we are always looking to improve. We try to follow a specific vision, mission statement and values, which you can find here.

Title Tip of the Week

How to avoid wire fraud!

Wire fraud is more and more prevalent in today’s culture. The main thing you can do to avoid wire fraud is to call the title company’s office and receive the wire instructions over the phone. You should not just accept wire instructions over email in case a scammer has hacked an email and has begun corresponding with you.

When calling the title company, search them on Google and call the phone number listed on Google or on their website. The reason you do this is in case a scammer is emailing you and telling you to call his number to get the wire instructions over the phone.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected].

Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Top 10 Tips for a Smooth Home Buying Experience in Northern Virginia

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

One of the most commonly asked questions from people starting the home buying process is: how do I have a smooth transaction?

We want to make it easy for you to close on your dream home! Read more for our top tips for having a smooth home buying experience in Northern Virginia.

1. Meet with your real estate professionals early

Even if you’ve bought and sold a house before, start the process early. Talking with professionals well in advance of when you want to buy will help you be prepared.

Meet with your real estate agent, title expert, loan officer or home inspector early in the process to know what they will need from you and to get a grasp on what the timeline and process will be moving forward.

2. Listen to the experts

A good rule of thumb in any real estate transaction is to listen to the experts! Make sure you hire someone with experience. Or if it’s a friend you are hiring, make sure they have experts on their team that can provide you the good and bad on every property.

No question is a bad question when you are trying to determine if you are going to buy your dream home.

3. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Definitely sit down with a mortgage lender before you see properties. A lender will ensure that you are looking for homes that you can afford. In addition, they will make sure you have the proper paperwork so that when you find your dream home you can close quickly.

4. Make a list of must-haves and would-likes

The fewer must-have requirements you have for a new home the more options you will have.

In addition, being flexible means that you can consider homes in your budget range that you might not have considered before. Great real estate professionals will let you know when your expectations aren’t realistic.

5. Make decisions quickly but not hastily

In the greater Washington DC area, properties fly on and off the market. So, it’s best that when you see something you love you make a decision quickly and write up an offer. This will help you be able to secure a home that you want rather than lose out on it during the home buying experience in Northern Virginia.

6. Expect the unexpected during the home buying experience in Northern Virginia

Expect that there will be something that comes up in your home inspection or something before closing is revealed about the property.

Make sure that your timeline allows for a delay. That way you can ensure you know all potential issues with the home and you can request a credit or the seller to fix any issues.

7. Talk to your title and escrow company early

The home title is one area in which a transaction could fall apart.

Engage with your title and escrow company early in regards to the status of the home you’re looking at purchasing. A great title and escrow company will perform a thorough title search to see any potential issues related to the title of the property.

Are there any liens? Any heirs on the title that aren’t the sellers you are negotiating with? Getting title insurance will protect you if there are past or future issues, and you only have to pay it one time at closing!

8. Perform a final walk-through

Ensure that prior to closing you walk the property one last time. Sometime a large rainstorm or unexpected event can change the condition of the property.

Generally, it is 30-60 days from the time that you put a contract down on a property to the time that you go to closing. You want to make sure that the property is intact and there is nothing visibly wrong before signing the paperwork.

9. Read the closing documents

Your closing documents may seem daunting but be sure to read through them! This includes the interest rate, taxes and closing costs.

Ask any lingering questions of your mortgage, real estate and title professionals before going to closing so that you are ready to sign when you go to the meeting.

10. Get the keys and enjoy your new home

The final part of your home buying experience in Northern Virginia is enjoying your new home! Hire moving professionals for a smooth move. When your transition goes well, you can really enjoy your new space even if there are a few items left on your to-do list!

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: 6 Surprising Reasons a Title Company & Title Insurance is Important

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

For many people across Northern Virginia, buying a home is one of the biggest investments they will make in their lifetime. That’s why it is so important to make sure that your investment is protected.

Believe it or not, there are many reasons why title insurance and working with a reputable title company is so important. Here are the most common and unexpected reasons you absolutely need title insurance.

1. Proper Record-Keeping

When you use a title and escrow company to process your sale, this means there is a proper record for who owns the home and land. This helps protect your investment while you own it and when you want to sell it.

2. Avoid Scam Artists

Even in this day and age, there are scam artists that can forge documents and pretend to own a property. These types of people may approach you as not wanting to go through the proper channels to buy a home.

You could find later that they were not the legal owners of a home and therefore you are not the legal owner despite any money exchanged.

3. Undisclosed Estate Issues

Even if a home is not sold directly as a result of an estate sale there could be issues with a will regarding who owns a home. If someone doesn’t have full ownership rights they can’t sell the home legally. Title insurance can help protect you from undisclosed issues down the road.

4. Fencing or Illegal Building on Your Property

Whether you have a lot of property or a small piece of property, encroachment of fencing or buildings onto your property can be an issue. Just because a building or fence is there does not mean that it was permitted, approved or on the property line. A good title and escrow company can help you understand what you own and what you need to protect.

5. Legal Disputes

Anything from divorce, bankruptcy or disputes regarding payments on renovations can put the title of a house at risk. If you buy a house with outstanding lawsuits or potential lawsuits, you might have legitimate liability as a new buyer if you don’t have title insurance.

6. Mistakes

In any industry errors and omissions can happen. Title insurance protects you from overlooking something regarding your property and its legal ownership.

An example is that it’s possible that an heir was never put on the deed and as a result that person could come back years later saying they own 50% of your property. If you don’t have title insurance you could have to pay the heir out of your own pocket which could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Whether it is a boundary issue or defects in the title, title insurance can provide you with some peace of mind and help secure your largest investment.

Title Tip of the Week: Always choose the enhanced policy over the standard policy when purchasing a single-family home or a newly constructed condo. The enhanced policy protects you against boundary disputes and also increases the policy’s value 10% a year for 5 years.

An example is a $1M house would be covered $1.5M within 5 years. If you would like to learn more about the standard and enhanced policies, click here.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Most Common Liens on Northern Virginia Properties


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

Did you know that 1/3 of properties that are put up for sale may have title issues? Not only that, but many title issues can go back decades. Divorce, bankruptcy, estate issues, judgments or tax liens can all affect the ability of an owner to legally sell a home.

These are the most commonly known lien issues in Northern Virginia that can affect your ability to buy or sell a home.

1. Inheritance and Estate Issues

Sometimes an inheritance isn’t as clean as it should be. If an estate does not properly name heirs or a will is contested, a home may not have been legally sold. Estate issues can go back several decades, so you may “inherit” a previous ownership issue.

2. Child Support or Divorce

Complications that come with a sale as a result of divorce include liens as a result of failure to pay taxes, child support or spousal support. In addition, this is a life event that may be rife with fraud and forgery issues. If only one spouse consents to the sale and does not properly involve the other spouse then the title could be at risk.

3. Bankruptcy Proceedings

If there is an active bankruptcy, the title of a house will be in limbo during the proceedings. In addition, if someone owned the home, then married a person in bankruptcy, the title would need to be confirmed clear before a sale could proceed.

4. Contractor or Sub-Contractor Liens

Anytime that work is performed on a home there is the potential for a lien. This may be because the contractor or a subcontractor was not paid. The best way to avoid this as a homeowner is to ensure you have clauses regarding release of liability for subcontractor payments. If a lien was placed on your home, you must make sure with the state of Virginia that the lien was released properly after the dispute was settled.

Title Tip of the Week: Title insurance is only a one time payment and protects you for the life you or your heirs own the home. There is no deductible if you ever have a claim. If you have your own owner’s policy you will be protected from the examples described above!

Next column we will talk about the difference between standard and enhanced policies. Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Title Tips for First-Time Home Buyers


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

Enough Entrepreneurial stories… how about we try to educate the audience about title insurance. This week we will provide title tips for first-time home buyers.

Title Tip 1: Get an owner’s policy in addition to the lender’s policy.

Did you know that 1 in 3 title searches have either a title or public record defect? Getting the owner’s policy will make sure that you are covered in a circumstance where defects were not found in the initial search, but then pop up later down the road.

Title insurance is ONLY a one time cost at closing unlike health and car insurance which you pay monthly forever! That one time cost will protect you for as long as you own the home AND as long as your heirs own the home. Yes, a one-time cost!

Title Tip 2: The second tip is something that many people who are purchasing a home in the DMV go without knowing: Title insurance premiums are regulated.

This means that the title insurance premium will basically be the same no matter what title company you use. Title premiums are set by underwriters and underwriters prices are within a few dollars for each policy.

Where there is an opportunity for a buyer to negotiate is with the fixed fees that title insurance companies charge. Those fixed fees include a variety of services, which may include the title search (aka the abstract), title commitment, processing fees, settlement fee, courier fees, etc.

If you are one to negotiate you’ll have an opportunity to do so with a title company’s fixed fees which are usually $800-$1000 per side (buyer/seller).

Title Tip 3: The buyer (not the seller) gets to select which title company they use.

Seller’s may offer incentives to the buyer if they use a preferred title company which many times can be a good offer. However, service in the title industry matters so make sure you to do your homework on the title company. Check their Google and Facebook reviews!

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: How Halloween Costumes Led to National Partnerships and More


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

This week we discuss how Dressing up for Halloween as Ace and Gary led to a partnership with Saturday Night Live, Disney and ABC… oh and the title tip of the week!

Yes we will give you some title tips this week, and I know last week’s horror story version of the title and obstacle-racing industry wasn’t the most motivating, but today we are going to provide you with a slightly ridiculous story of how you never know how choices you make might lead to something much bigger than you ever dreamed.

Approximately 10 years ago, my friend and business partner (Steve Stoloff) and I (Latane) were looking to win a costume contest on Halloween and we always wondered why no one sold Ace and Gary costumes from Saturday Night Live.

If you don’t remember Ace and Gary, click here to see a video from many years ago. Outrageous, ridiculous… everything you want out of a Halloween costume!

We decided to go to Walmart and buy long johns, underwear and food coloring. 3 hours later we had what we thought was a costume, that somewhat resembled the characters on the show.

We went out that night, got offered $250 on the spot by SNL fans and won two Halloween costume contests for $3,000 total. A nice little evening! We decided that maybe we were on to something and we would try to sell them online the following year.

11 months later we remembered our previous year’s success and decided to pop up an Ebay store with pics of us wearing our homemade costumes from the year before. I think we both hoped we could generate some grocery and beer money for the month of October… maybe November.

We launched a small pay per click campaign with keywords similar to “ridiculous costumes” and “Ace and Gary SNL” and what happened next was a bit shocking. Within an hour of the pay per click campaign, we received an order.

We were charging $150 for the set so we thought it would be too expensive for people. Apparently it wasn’t because within a week we had sold over 300 costumes.

Now we were faced with our biggest issue, how the heck are we going to make this many. After buying out all the long johns and underwear in town at Walmart and Target, we made costumes around the clock for a week and we actually fulfilled all the orders.

We had no idea we would sell this many and we knew we couldn’t keep making these costumes unless we actually had a partnership with SNL. I sent in a cold email to SNL about the possibility of working together on Ace and Gary costumes. Shockingly Broadway Video (Lorne Michaels’ company who handles licensing for SNL) responded. I then had a friend of a friend in the licensing business join the call since I had no idea what licensing even meant to help me negotiate a deal.

The experienced licensing rep helped us secure a deal and the next year we manufactured high quality Ace and Gary costumes, which were one of the best sellers nationwide.

It went so well that we sold the company we created, Ridiculous Costumes, to a much larger Halloween company. Still today the costumes are sold online and here is a picture of our friends who we made wear the costumes for our first photo shoot.

After getting my feet wet with licensing and learning how deals should be structured, my business partner and I ended up rebranding our ROC Race AKA Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge to WIPEOUTRUN after partnering with Disney and ABC’s hit TV show Wipeout.

Point of the story: You never know how one idea or one relationship can lead to much more than you ever expected.

We had no idea what we were doing but we continued to try to learn and luckily we took those learnings onto the next project. At Allied Title & Escrow, we’ve had relationships we didn’t expect much from lead to our biggest relationships today. You just never know…

Title Tip of the Week: If you are buying a condo, you don’t need the enhanced title policy… just go with the standard title policy. It will save you money and you will be protected on your investment.

With that said, we recommend people always do the enhanced title policy for single family homes. You want the 50% appreciation it provides over 5 years and the protection you get on boundary issues with neighbors. Click here to learn more about the differences between standard and enhanced policies.

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]alliedtitleandescrow.com. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Boring Title: Horror Stories from the Obstacle Racing and Title Industry


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

People ask me (Latane) all the time how and why I ended up in the title industry after being in the obstacle racing industry. The answer: It really makes no sense!

With that said, one thing I did consider as I got older and had a couple of kids to support was whether it was smart for me to be in an industry (eg., Obstacle Races) which was so boom or bust. Title insurance seemed a bit less risky than obstacle racing but today we will explore the horror stories of owning a business in each industry.

In our title tip of the week, we will also explore a horror story of a consumer who didn’t buy title insurance.

When you take an obstacle race to a new city, you are committed to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for that weekend whether people sign up or not. Sometimes though you are lucky enough to get thousands to sign up for your race but that doesn’t mean you are in the clear. One such incident occurred in October of 2013 when we took the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC Race) to New York City. We were very excited as we had over 25,000 participants signed up which was our most successful race to date.

What we didn’t expect was that this one weekend would be the only time in over 50 races that we were setting up the course on federal land. That week we learned that federal government would shut down for the first time in 17 years. As a result of the shutdown, federal employees would not be working and thus the property would be chained up and no one would be allowed on the land.

Although we had a no refund policy, we tried to do the right thing by offering refunds but first we informed everyone we would be rescheduling the event for two weeks later at a different location. We hired a communications/PR expert when making the decision to offer refunds who estimated only 8% of participants would take us up on the refunds. Unfortunately 55% took us up on that offer and an entire year of profits went away in a blink of an eye.

We had tried to plan for all types of situations, but that was one we never considered. We actually came up with a new internal saying after the event: NEVER EASY!

Owning a title company has its own set of risks. Although we at Allied Title & Escrow are fortunate to have top of the line security systems and protocols in place and have never had a security issue, other title companies have been hacked.

One such scam that overseas hackers have successfully pulled off is hacking a title company’s email and then reaching out to a buyer who is about to wire money and telling them to wire it to another to another bank account. It’s possible for a buyer to wire $1 million to the wrong account and have no recourse to get that money back.

Always call the title company to confirm wire instructions! We take extra precautions by continuously changing our passwords amongst a variety of other security measures to make sure our customers are protected.

Title Tip of the Week — the Horror story edition:

You are required to buy title insurance for the lender if you are getting a mortgage. The owner’s policy for yourself is optional but don’t mess around with not getting your own policy.

The most painful horror story, which happens in our industry, is when a distant relative or ex spouse surfaces after you bought your dream home and they claim they actually own the property because they should have been on the previous deed but never were.

If a judge were to rule in their favor, you could have to pay them off to own your house in full and could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you have an owner’s title policy in place you would be covered! In fact, an owner’s policy covers attorney costs and there is no deductible…you just pay one time when you close on your house.

I know, I know, we were a bit pessimistic this week. We will make up for it in the next article. Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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