Tips for REALTOR® Safety

September is REALTOR® Safety Month and all of us here at First International Title desire that everyone be protected and intentional about their individual safety.

For real estate agents, that is an everyday task as they are continuously advertising their services online, showing properties, making listing appointments, and hosting open houses. Here are a few practical reminders and tips for the real estate agent to stay safe in every situation.

Don’t Do it Alone
When you host open houses, consider bringing at least one other person that you know and trust with you. If another realtor at your firm is unable to come along, your lenders and First International Title partners should be willing to help you as well.

Have all of the open house visitors sign in with at least their name and phone number and check all of the rooms at the end before you lock up to ensure that everyone has left.

Show During the Day
Try to show properties during the daytime. If you have to show in the evening, arrive at the house early and turn on all of the lights and be sure to keep blinds and curtains completely open.

Let People Know Where You Are
Whether it’s your significant other, a coworker, or a friend, let at least one person know where you will be at what time, especially if you’re out past sunset.

You may even consider downloading a GPS tracking app, such as Life360, to allow your spouse or trusted friend see where you are at all times.

Keep Them In Front
When showing houses, keep the potential buyers in front of you and direct them to where they need to go. For example, stay slightly behind them and say, “the kitchen is through this hallway to the right.” This avoids any surprises happening behind your back.

Lock It Up
When showing houses or hosting open houses, lock your car while you’re inside. Keep minimal amounts of your valuable belongings on you, aside from your cell phone. Hide your wallet or purse in your trunk or under a seat and leave it in the car the entire time.

Check Your Surroundings
Always be aware of what’s happening around you. Before you enter a house, take 10-15 seconds to scope the area. Make sure there are no suspicious cars sitting around, someone watching you, or a person hiding. Also, have knowledge of where the closest exits, or “escape routes,” are so that you’re able to leave quickly if needed. Finally, ensure that your cell phone has enough battery life and service if you need to make a quick call.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
As you’re showing properties or going to an open house, ask the neighbors to keep an eye out around the house for anything that looks out of place. Let them know why you’re there and that you just want to keep everyone safe and out of harm’s way.

Protect Your Emails and Personal Information
Real Estate is one of the largest targets when it comes to online hacking and phishing. Do not accept wiring instructions from someone other than your title company and always call to confirm the instructions before sending the funds.

If you are questioning the legitimacy of an email, go with your gut. Call the supposed sender of the email and ask if they actually sent it. If you have no idea who the sender is, move that email to spam and do not click on any links asking for or to “update” your personal information. If you are unsure about a link in an email, hover the curser of your mouse over the link and it will show what the hyperlink actually is. If it shows something other than what the email is saying, don’t click it.

For more information about email fraud and what First International Title is doing to keep your information safe, contact your local office today!

The National Association of REALTORS® also offers many tools and safety resources for agents and they can be found at


Questions? Comments? Reach out to your First International Title rep!

Common Title Problems: How to Stay Prepared

Your home will probably be the largest investment you ever make in your lifetime. There are so many problems that could put your property title at risk. Here at First International Title, we want you–whether you’re a homebuyer or a real estate agent–to be prepared for anything that could arise.

There are several title issues that could cause a loss of your property, whether it’s a home or a business. “Hidden Hazards” are title issues not disclosed during a thorough search and review of public records. This may cause problems. Thankfully, there is a way to protect your investment.

An owner’s title policy covers you and your heirs from financial loss caused by title issues. The title insurer will defend you against a claim made against the title of your property – all without expense to you. With the owner’s title policy, the home-buyer pays a small one-time premium at closing in exchange for enormous protection.

Look out for these common title problems:

Forgery of deeds and records

Fraudulent Impersonation of the legal landowner

Documents executed under false or expired power of attorney

Undisclosed or unknown heirs

Prior owners who did not divest themselves properly

Deeds by persons of unsound mental capacity, minors, or illegal immigrants

Deeds by persons secretly married

Adoption or birth after date of will

Surviving children omitted from a will

Deeds delivered after death of a grantor or grantee or without consent

Mistakes in recording legal documents

Deeds in lieu of foreclosure given under duress

Claims of creditors against property

Easements not discovered by surveys

Tax record and report errors

Federal condemnation without notice filing

Corporate franchise taxes or liens on corporate assets

Undisclosed divorce of spouse who represents as an heir

Liens for unpaid taxes or homeowner association dues and assessments

Unreleased liens

If you have, or suspect you have, any of these problems regarding your or your client’s property, reach out to your First International Title professional today! We can talk you through the process and give you the correct steps in order to close. An owner’s title policy can protect you against title loss.

The owner’s title policy is effective for as long as the owner or their heirs own the property. It’s a small price to pay for a big peace of mind!


Questions? Comments? Reach out to your FIT rep today!

What to do After Your Offer is Accepted

Congratulations! After negotiation and maybe a few tears, your offer was finally accepted on your perfect home. Before you pop that bottle of champagne, make sure you follow these next steps. After all, the battle is only half over.

The first critical step to securing that dream home is depositing your escrow. You must deliver the earnest money deposit to the title company in the format and timeline agreed upon in your sales contract. Don’t be late! You do not want to be in breach of contract and risk cancellation.

The second important step is to schedule the property inspection. You want to choose a reputable inspector that will do the inspection as soon as possible to assess the home and determine if any repairs are needed. You may need multiple types of inspectors so be sure to discuss the options with your Realtor.

Next, be proactive and let your lender know you are under contract. Make sure you give them all their requested information on time. You do not want to delay and slow the closing process down or risk contract cancellation.

Once you receive the title commitment from your title company, be sure to review it and ask any questions immediately. The title commitment will provide you with the title history of the home and disclose any liens against the property. If there are liens, they will need to be resolved before closing.

The fifth step is to order the appraisal. This should be done after you have completed the inspection and resolved any issues. Your lender will do this for you to ensure that your new home is worth the loan amount that you are requesting. Buyers are typically required to pay for this, and the cost will appear on the closing disclosure as part of your closing costs.

Following the appraisal, you will need to shop around for the home owner’s insurance policy. This step is required by your lender. Research your options and choose the one that best suits your needs. Once you have selected the provider, make sure to inform your Realtor, lender, and Title Company.

The hardest parts are now finished! Your next move is to schedule the utilities to be transferred into your name and turned on before closing. The sellers will likely provide you with the utility contact information. Now it’s time to schedule the closing! Your sales contract will have an agreed upon closing date. Communicate with your Realtor and schedule the appropriate closing time with your title company. The day prior to the closing, you will need to contact the title company to verify any monetary amount needed from you to close. Most title companies require a wire transfer. Your last action before closing is to complete the final walkthrough. You want to make sure that all repairs have been made and personal belongings have been moved out.

You’ve completed your required steps; it’s finally time to close! Be sure to bring a state issued identification card such as a driver’s license or passport to the closing. All that is left to do is sign the closing documents and wait for the lender to fund the transaction. Once the deal has been funded, the house is officially yours! The process can be emotionally and physically draining but if you follow the steps above, your closing should go off without a hitch. Now is the time to pop that bottle of champagne and move into your new home!