Hurricane Season is Here

The month of June brings some "not so good news" to the state of Florida. June 1st marks the beginning of the 2019 hurricane season. Over the last few years, we've seen devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Micheal. With Micheal hitting in October of 2018 and Irma during the month of September in 2017.

No More AOB Abuse

A much-needed reform to Florida's Assignment of Benefits will be taking place on July 1st. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 7065, which marked the end to a seven-year war by the industry and reform advocates, who were looking for a solution to the escalating abuse of the policyholder benefit.

Make Real Estate Great Again

President Trump spoke of his plans that could affect the real estate industry in front of nearly 2,000 agents at the National Association of Realtors midyear meeting held in Washington, DC.

Scams Still On The Rise

Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Complaint Center (IC3) released its annual report on internet crime. In 2018 alone, a total of 351,936 complaints of internet crime were submitted. The claims stockpiled losses exceeding $2.7 billion.

Millennials are Rising Prices

Over the next ten years buying a home will become more competitive and costly as millions of Americans enter the age range where people usually buy their first home.

Tips for Buyers & Sellers

In case you didn’t know, SETCO is here for sellers and buyers alike. Together, with Qualia, we offer the safest, most advanced closing process available. For this article, we want to give some advice to both buyers and sellers to improve your real estate experience.

Renting Going Down

As rent prices are going up; the principal-and-interest mortgage payments are going down. CoreLogic's national rent skyrocketed 36 percent from December 2005 to December of 2018. Whereas, typical mortgage payment fell 4 percent over the same time frame.

Another Day Another Scam

Being scammed in 2019 can happen very easily. In our tech-driven world, there are many avenues that scammers can use to take advantage of us. Using smartphones, computers, and other advanced tech, they will do whatever it takes to steal your hard earned money. This can happen in many different ways, including sending an email, calling or texting you, or (recently) creating a fake bank.  

Millennial Homebuyers

Millennials are going to be the target audience for home buying for quite some time, which could spark some bigger interests, but also bring in a broader variety of homes into view.

Capital Gains Tax on Real Estate

Capital gains tax can happen when a homeowner buys their home for $100,000 and then, later on, sells their home for $500,000. Unfortunately, the seller may have to pay taxes on those profits in the form of capital gains tax. Now, with the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changing some rules, now is a great time to go over capital gains and how they work.

Which Price is Right?

Proper pricing in real estate is an important piece of getting your house off the market. Since buyers have the option to pick their budgets online while looking for their next home, for example, they can search for houses in a range of $150,000 to $200,000. However, it is important to list a house at a nice round price to get more clicks from more buyers. So, when putting a house on the market, instead of listing for $249,000, you can list for $250,000 to get a more extensive range of buyers. This way, you get seen by the groups looking for $200,000 to $250,000 and $250,000 to $300,000.

Home Staging Makes Selling Easier

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently found in a survey that 83 percent of buyers' agents say staging makes it easier for buyers to visualize their future home.

Good News for Real Estate

The National Association of Realtors President, John Smaby, believes real estate firms should remain optimistic about the future. "To look optimistically toward the future, with a majority expecting profits to increase in the next two years. These trends are positive signs, particularly in our constantly evolving industry."

Cold Spring for the House Market

Springtime invites many new home buyers into the market. However, this year seems to be taking a slow start due to higher prices. This is mainly hitting high economy areas, like California and other western states and cities and is part of a trend we've seen over the last five months. There are also too many homes and not enough buyers which has made homes more expensive.

Inspect Before You Buy

When looking for your future home, you'll most likely wonder if anything is wrong with the house. This is what home inspectors do too, they worry about your next home for you.  

Flood Insurance Reform

In 2017, House Financial Services leadership announced that the flood insurance reform would be a priority. The flood program was going to expire on September 30th, in 2017. However, several controversial reform bills were introduced that stalled in Congress.  Once the 2017 hurricane season hit, Congress changed focus which led to multiple short term extensions of the flood program. 2018 saw many extensions which turned into program lapses and more week-long extensions.

New Tax Laws Trigger Moves to More Affordable Florida

Who doesn't love living near or on the beach, close to Disney and Universal Studios, or in a nice tropical paradise filled with rivers, beautiful nature, and tons of activities for the family (no matter their taste)? The obvious answer is nobody; Florida is a giant mixing pot for many reasons. People from other states are more frequently deciding that Florida is perfect for them, not just because of the things listed above, but for the fact that it is more affordable; Especially those in high tax states.

Tax Returns for 2018 are a Little Different

Doing your taxes from 2018 could look slightly different than it did last year. There were more than 600 rule changes that took place by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which was passed by Congress in late 2017. Those changes also made industry experts concerned because of the government shutdown on December 22nd of 2018. However, this was resolved by President Trump announcing that the Government will partially be up and running on January 25th, making it possible for taxes to be filed as early as the 28th. Tax filers need to understand that it won't be the usual system used in previous years due to the changes.

New Tax Rule Creates Big Win for Realtors

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) call the new tax rule a Massive win for realtors. The new tax law sees a reduction of the corporate tax rate going from 35 percent to 20 percent. This new ruling will help realtors give better deals at better prices. Also, this is tax return time, so that means more money to spend on future homes.

Wire Fraud is on the Rise

Scammers will do whatever it takes to get their hands on your hard earned money. For a scammer to trick individuals, they must first gain trust. However, why make you believe what they are selling when they can act like someone you know? Recently they have been doing just that, using emails disguised as coming from someone you are doing business with, and then following up with a text message from the same area code or close to yours, claiming to be the same individual. These numbers close to yours might make you want to answer the call or text, but you should always be confident of their identity before giving away any valuable information or making important decisions.

What's Coming in 2019?

The economy will experience ups, downs, and plateaus in 2019. After a well rounded 2018, how will 2019 fare against it? Well, professionals are saying not that great. This year will be slowed, not drastically, but we should expect numbers to go down. You can not expect numbers to stay high forever. This is just economic nature; like a roller coaster, it goes up and down.

Property Management & Cybersecurity

The thought of computer hackers being abundantly present is an often overlooked and frightening realization. Hackers have gotten so skilled at their craft that there are very few protections that they can not breach. It is crucial for real estate businesses to be aware of the possible detriment to the agency if there is a potential breach in security of its clients. Cybercriminals have been taking advantage that there is currently no federal law for real estate businesses to possess security measures to protect client information. As high as 50 percent of real estate companies admitted to not being adequately prepared for cybercrime according to KPMG research. In a society where cybercrime costs roughly 6 trillion a year according to Forbes, being unprotected in a mostly digital business world can be a terrifying thought.

Top Florida Real Estate Stories of 2018

SETCO stays on top of real estate stories and wants our clients to stay in the know as well. Florida Realtors website chose to cover some of the top stories of 2018. Being about anything from Hurricane Michael to cuts in business rent tax, these stories are ones to read.

Property Insurers Drop 87,000 Florida Homeowners in Q3

With hurricanes damage and other water issues aplenty during this recent stretch of months, more than 87,000 homeowners have been dropped in the third quarter alone.

Reduce Your Tax Burden Before the End of 2018

SETCO likes to educate our real estate community so that they are aware of what to do before closing on a house. With a new tax law in place, people are doing some things differently this year when it comes to money.

Mortgage Rates Had A Record Drop As of November

Long-term mortgage rates in the U.S. had the biggest recorded drop in nearly four years in the month of November. Although they have hit a record drop, they still remain much higher than they were a year ago. Either way, SETCO is ready to help our clients with their closings whether they mortgage rates be high or low.

Who Needs Black Friday When You Have December 26th?

Everyone knows about Black Friday, but not everyone knows about December 26th. If you are like us and do not want to battle the crowds and craziness that comes with Black Friday, then December 26th is the day for you. According to researchers, home buyers who are looking for a great deal should wait until the day after Christmas.

SETCO Helps Clients Prepare to Buy Their Homes

Here at SETCO we are prepared to help our clients buy their dream home whether it be for the experienced or beginner homebuyer. A great way to prepare yourself to buy a house is lowering your 2018 tax bill. The tax overhaul law, which was signed into law late last year, created $1.5 trillion in tax cuts but did not help with making the filing process simpler.

Checking your withholding and updating your W-4 can be used to help avoid large balances. Knowing whether you have the right amount of tax held back from your paycheck can be beneficial when knowing whether you have enough money to buy a house. It is also said that taxpayers should focus on the “use-it-or-lose-it” type planning opportunities. Taxpayers should aim to maximize contributions to their available retirement plans. Additional contributions to your retirement plan can be made if you are of age 50 or older. Retirement plans can include buying a house or condo, which is why it is crucial never to pass over an opportunity to maximize your revenue to that. Any funds that are not used by the end of the year will be lost, so it is essential to make sure that you are taking advantage of these leftover funds.

The new tax law also doubled the standard deduction to $12,000 for single taxpayers and $24,000 for those who are married and file jointly. This means that starting in 2019, more than 90 percent of taxpayers will claim the standard deduction. These deductions are crucial to take into account when deciding whether you want to buy a home or not, even if it is not your first time around.

If you are looking to reduce your estate tax exposure, you can give up to $15,000 to an unlimited number of beneficiaries a year without decreasing their lifetime estate tax exclusion amount or paying a gift tax. If your tax rate is high, consider boosting your and your spouse's 401(k) contributions and/or IRA contributions. On the other hand, if you are in a loss position, consider converting IRA or 401(k) assets to a Roth IRA.

Each of these things is valuable to take into consideration when buying a new home. With the end of the year coming up and taxes being filed, these things are heavy on everyone’s mind. SETCO helps our clients with these things while also helping them with their closing on a new home.

SETCO is Ready to Help Clients of All Ages With Closings

Most people believe their first home should be bought when they are young and new to the adult world. In reality, it is very common for people to purchase their first home later in life when they are more financially stable, or ready to make the move from renting to owning. Whatever the reason may be, SETCO’s Title Professionals are more than prepared to help our clients of all ages navigate their first closing.

Important Things to Know About Title Insurance in Florida

SETCO wants to help our clients learn more about title insurance in Florida so that they do not feel like they are in the dark when closing on a home. In the course of a closing, real estate title is transferred from the buyer to the seller. The next step is a Closing Disclosure Form, which turns into a legal document once signed and should not be signed unless you understand and agree to all terms of it.

According to Florida law, a licensed title agent may conduct a closing in any preferred location as long as a notary is there. A typical closing for buyers includes singing a mortgage pledge if they are taking out a loan, being given warranty and inspection reports for their home, and receiving a commitment for the issue of a title policy.

Having title insurance is crucial when buying a home. The title is the ownership basis of real estate and represents your legal rights in the property’s use, control, possession, and dispossession. Defects in the title to your property can result in a partial or complete loss to your investment, something no buyer should have to go through. Purchasing owner’s title insurance ensures that defects will not affect your homeownership. Title insurance offers protection to you from previous claims or prior rights that another party may have to that property. On the rare occasion that someone challenges your title, your title insurance underwriter will defend your title and pay any costs that occur up until your title insurance policy limit.

Lender and owner policy are the two main types of title insurance in Florida. The lender’s policy title insurance protects the interest of the lender in the title of your home, while an owner’s policy provides coverage for the owner of the property against certain types of claims, which can usually be found listed in the policy. The owner’s policy also protects the new owner of the property from any of the previous owner’s liabilities. In Florida, both the buyer and seller can invest in lender and owner policies.

Selecting a title agent is an important decision, and should be well researched before making any final choices. Speaking with any people you know that have recently purchased a home can be beneficial to understanding their experience with their title agent. The purpose of a title agent are things such as to get and prepare title searches, to respect and review the property title, preparation of the closing documents, administer the closing, and so much more. A good title agent has a lot of experience and will be able to answer any questions you may have in the process of closing. SETCO’s title agents are well trained and know how to help our clients have the best closing possible.

For Homebuyers: A Guide to Title Insurance

What is Title Insurance? That depends on who you are.

Seven Reasons Why Every Homebuyer Needs Owner's Title Insurance

Buying a home is an exciting and emotional time for many people. To help you buy your home with more confidence, make sure you get owner's title insurance.

SETCO is Prepared for Growth in the Real Estate Industry!

The Mortgage Bankers Association estimates a 4.2 percent increase in mortgage originations from 2018 to 2019. In addition to that, the refinance originations are expected to decrease by 12.4 percent to $395 billion. Overall, in 2019 there is predicted to be a significant decrease in mortgage originations from $1.64 trillion to $1.63 trillion. Setco is prepared to handle these changes with stride. These estimates allow us to be sure that we properly handle our client's closings to make it the best and easiest process of their lives. 

Changing of Seasons Can be Good for Closing on Houses

Although people usually sell their houses in the spring or summer, it has recently been discovered that selling your home in the winter could be a better time to do it. Could the idea that it is harder to sell real estate in the winter be a myth? Emil Hartoonian, a managing partner of The Agency in California, says so. Setco is dedicated to helping our clients with their closings, whether it be in the summer or winter.

Why You Should Choose SETCO Services for All of Your Closing Needs

Recently in the U.S., there was an outsize jump in apartment building, which caused there to be a moderate rise in U.S. housing starts. These housing starts increased by 9.2% in the month of August. With housing starts being on the rise, it is essential to find a trusted company that makes closing easy for you. At SETCO we train our team to know how to make closings easy and stress-free for our clients.

Updates from the Title Industry

The title industry is a growing industry, with record-breaking revenue being produced lately. Along with that, the merger and acquisition (M&A) trend is becoming popular in recent months as well. According to Deloitte, a major accounting organization, deal flow will increase in the next 12 months. Deloitte also said that financial services rank high as an industry likely to experience convergence. A significant reason behind M&A deals is the desire to acquire technology assets.

How to Arm Yourself Against the Ever-Growing Issue of Wire Fraud

Wire fraud in real estate is a fast-growing crime that is becoming more and more common every year. In 2017 alone, there was a reported $56 million in losses and 9,600 victims just from wire fraud in real estate deals. Here at Setco, we are dedicated to protecting our clients from wire fraud and any other cyber threats. We like to keep our clients aware of cyber crimes so that they can take the proper steps to protect themselves against these vicious crimes such as wire fraud.

Multiple Listing Service - What's Mine?

As the top Title and Escrow Company in Northwest Florida, SETCO Services is dedicated to helping clients have the best experience possible when closing on a house. Our staff knows the ins and outs of title and escrow so that you do not have to.

HUD/Census Bureau Releases Limited 2017 AHS Data

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development released summary tables and microdata this week from the 2017 American Housing Survey. Commonly referred to as the AHS, this survey is a biennial look at in-depth information across many aspects of housing in the United States. 

Increase Curb Appeal on the Cheap

Author J. K. Rowling says “A good first impression can work wonders.” Robert Cheese, athlete and motivational speaker is fond of saying "Go out of your way to make an outstanding first impression.” When you are trying to sell your home, you want to work wonders with the curbside appeal of your home, because if it looks outstanding when the potential buyers pull up, your chances of making a sale just went way up. 

Paper Trail: What Mortgage Documents Do You Really Need?

If you’re like most people, you have folders stuffed full of papers you don’t need, drawers overflowing with receipts, boxes with old files you’re hanging on to, just in case. Life generates a lot of paperwork, and one of the things that generates the most documents is closing on a mortgage. There are certainly some documents you don’t need after the sale is finalized! If you get a bee in your bonnet and decide to clean out some of that clutter in your drawers, here are some documents you really do need to hang on to, no matter what.

Seller’s Market Blues? Hang On a Bit Longer!

Are you looking for a home? Are you tired of being a buyer in a seller’s market? Take heart, you are not alone and the good news today is…the tide is starting to turn!
Experts predicted the market inventory might loosen up in late summer, and their predictions have proved accurate. Rising costs and lack of available homes finally discouraged enough buyers that sellers had to respond. As the summer has gone on, more inventory has gone unsold, and more prices have been reduced as sellers hope to widen the pool of potential buyers. 

A Realtor is a Realtor is a Realtor…Or Are They?

Not very long ago, if you wished to look for a home to buy, engaging the services of a real estate professional was the first step. With the advent of the internet, many people house hunt on their own or even attempt to go through the closing process without the assistance of a realtor. Even though the MLS has made it much easier to “DIY”, the services of a Realtor, real estate agent, or a real estate broker are invaluable to home buyers. 

Leaving the Nest? Be Ready to Fly!

Elective courses have come a long way since the days of shop for boys and home ec for girls. Now students in high school may opt to take Mandarin, graphic design, oceanography or computer networking. However, there is an area where most schools are still not teaching essential skills: General Life as an Adult. Whether you’re about to send your kids off to college or you’re about to graduate, there are some necessary skills all young adults should be taught. Here we will address young people who are ready to take responsibility for their own lives and cover some basic tasks that should be undertaken when one heads out into the adult world.

Flipping Out? How to Finance Investment Property

If you’re even casually following real estate trends right now, you know it’s a seller’s market. Inventory is tight and is likely to stay that way for a while. If you don’t want to sell your own home, is there any way this situation can benefit you? It’s possible, if you have the desire and funds, to “flip” homes, buy distressed properties, fix them up and resell them for a considerable profit. But what if you have the desire and no funds? Is there any way to get a loan on a house you plan to flip?

Fixing Up Your First Impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right? You’ve heard that many times in your life, but have you thought about it in regard to your home? Whether you’re trying to sell your current home or decorating a new one, you want your entryway to make a positive statement about your home.

Time to Sell? Maybe Not!

You own your home but you’re ready to make a move. Most people in this position start thinking about selling their existing home, but have you considered renting it out? Renting can be a great way to bring in extra income and maintain the equity in the home you have now, rather than starting over again from zero. Is this a feasible option for you? While it may not be a walk down easy street, it is possible to not just make the situation work, but to make it seriously profitable. Keeping your old home as a rental can help you build wealth both through equity and a monthly cash income. Can you handle owning two homes (and likely paying two mortgages) at one time?

Keeping Up With the Trends: 2018 Real Estate

The older we get, the less we seem to be worried about following the trends. Fashion trends, musical trends, makeup trends, often these seem to be unimportant once we reach a certain age. However, if you are looking to buy a home this year, or just thinking about it, there are definitely some market trends you should be aware of.

Negotiation: What 2018 Buyers Need to Know

From coupons to car buying, everyone likes to save money. The bigger the purchase, the more exciting it is to feel that you have come out ahead. In the current real estate market though, is it possible? As a buyer in a seller’s market, with a shortage of inventory in many desirable regions, does a buyer actually have any room to negotiate?

Tips for Home Buying in a Hot Seller’s Market

Summer 2018: A persistently strong economy, low unemployment, burgeoning Millennial buyers, and a high savings rate, combine with low mortgage rates to make the housing market very appealing for most home buyers. Home sales continued to fall in April and May but only due to shortages in available homes, not lack of interest. This means the competition for homes will get intense this summer.

Mortgage Loans: What to Know Before You Owe

Searching for your new home is an exciting process, and finding the one you want can be thrilling, but if you are like the majority of people, you are going to have to get a loan to actually buy it. Obtaining a home loan is a huge undertaking, and many people enter the process completely unprepared. What do you need to know before you go to a mortgage lender and ask for the funds to take possession of your dream?

2018 Staging Trends for Sellers

 If you’re looking to sell your home in 2018, you know the basics. Improve your curb appeal, make sure the house is clean, update what you can. What you may not have considered is not just tidying up and decluttering your home, but actually staging it.

Staging, or preparing your residence for sale to make it appealing to the majority of potential buyers, increases your chances not only to sell quickly, but to sell for a higher price. According to a 2017 survey by the National Association of Realtors, a majority of real estate professionals believe staging increases the sale price of the home anywhere from 1 to 15 percent! Staging is more than just decorating. It means choosing props, moving or removing furniture that makes the space look cramped, and creating focal points in the main living areas.

What 2018’s Homebuyers Need to Know

 Learning what you need to know to buy a house can feel like an insurmountable chore, especially when the rules change all the time. Even if you have been through the process before, 2018 brings a host of new tax codes, a surge in demand without an increase in supply, and more risk of fraud and scams to look out for.

Is Working With a Realtor Worth the Cost?

 Everyone likes saving money, especially when it’s a significant amount! Realtors take a pretty good percentage of the proceeds when you buy or sell a house through them, so many people believe that doing it themselves will save them money and they can keep that percentage in their pocket. It’s easy to think “Why should I pay a real estate agent to do something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself?” It’s good to be aware, though, that working with a qualified real estate agent is worth more than what you’ll pay in commission. In fact, working with an agent can actually save you not just money, but time, effort, and a considerable amount of stress as well.

Looking for a Mortgage Loan? Learn the Language!

 When you are a homebuyer, you can sometimes feel that the real estate professionals you deal with are speaking a different language. There is a great deal of terminology that it behooves you to learn as you delve into the closing process. Before you visit a lending institution, it is important to brush up on your banking lingo. Applying for a mortgage is easier when you understand what your lender is saying to you. Here are some common terms you should familiarize yourself with before sitting down with a bank or mortgage provider.

First Time Homebuyer? Here’s What You Need to Know

Buying your first home is a huge milestone in most people’s lives. It can feel very exciting, embarking on the hunt to find your first piece of real estate to call your own, but there are some mistakes that are frequently made by first time homebuyers which may be pitfalls on the path to ownership. We have some tips to help you become more market savvy and to avoid some of these potential errors.

Does the First Owner of a Home Really Need Title Insurance?

In the early 2000s, Fairfax County in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C., was experiencing the peak of the housing boom. Like many other communities in the US at the time, their local government was inundated with thousands of new home applications and in the rush to clear the backlog, some employees were less than careful with their application examinations.

Realtors and Title Insurance: Guiding Your Buyers to Safety

As a realtor, you are a trusted navigator for your client, the homebuyer, steering them through the often rough and rocky path to home ownership. As you move toward the closing table, your buyers may have a lot of questions about the requirements for securing mortgage loan approval and getting through the pile of documents that stand between them and the front door of their new home.

A  Mortgage Calculator is a Homebuyer’s Best Friend

Real estate transactions are filled with dense, wordy documents and terms that are over the head of the average homebuyer. Someone looking to purchase a home is unlikely to understand the details of their mortgage or closing documents. One under-appreciated tool in assisting a homebuyer on their journey to ownership is a good mortgage calculator.

2018 is Built For Home Sellers!

Are you looking to sell your home in 2018? If not, have you considered it? Real estate analysts say maybe you should! Experts predict that the supply of houses will not be able to keep up with the demand, and Florida looks to be particularly strong, with both current residents and incomers looking for new home inventory, which remains tight.

Spring Into Florida Real Estate!

In the real estate market, springtime is the busiest time of the year for home sales. Given this year’s stable economy and low unemployment rate, the spring of 2018 has the potential to be particularly active, especially in certain promising markets, such as Florida.  USA Today recently listed Florida in the top three housing markets likely to get stronger in 2018. It remains one of the best places to invest, as the sunshine state is a perennially popular destination for tourists and permanent residents alike. Warm weather, reasonable cost of living, employment opportunities and a high quality of life are the main attractions in Florida.

Can You Sell Your Home Yourself?

Whether you choose to sell your home on your own, or contract the services of a professional, getting to the closing table as a home seller is not always a simple or smooth process. Whichever path you choose, there are pitfalls which can be avoided with care, and here we will explore some of the possible risks and ways to protect yourself.

Calculate Your Mortgage, The Easy Way!

Congratulations, you’ve found your dream home! This means it’s time to start the mortgage process. If you feel overwhelmed and confused by all the terms, jargon and numbers, don’t worry because you’re certainly not alone. Getting a mortgage can be a complicated process, made worse by all the unfamiliar terminology your mortgage lender might use. For many it can seem like a foreign language, and home buyers are frequently surprised by the final numbers because they don’t understand the mortgage calculation process.

What Sells a Home in 2018?

Springtime is coming! For many that means the advent of warmer weather, gardening, and spring cleaning. But for those who are trying to sell a home, it can mean an influx of new buyers who are ready to make a move. Whether your house has been on the market for a while or you are just now preparing to put it up for sale, we have some tips that can help make 2018 the year you sell your home.

House for Sale, Nice and...Loud?

A word you often see in real estate listings is “quiet”. Quiet neighborhood, quiet street, quiet area…quiet seems to have a great deal of appeal in the world of home buying. What if your house doesn’t have that attribute? A home on a busy street may seem like a tough sell, but there are actually some upsides and ways you can make your home’s bustling location work for you.

The Best Defense Is…A Good Title Professional?

If you’re in the market for a new home this year, it’s more important than ever to watch out for so called “phishing” scams. These information gathering scams target homebuyers who are nearing the closing date on their mortgage loans. Fraudsters attempt to steal the homebuyer’s closing funds, such as their down payment or closing costs, by sending the homebuyer an email posing as the homebuyer’s real estate agent or settlement agent (title company, escrow officer, or attorney). The email falsely claims there has been a last minute change in the closing process, usually a change in the wiring instructions. It instructs the homebuyer to wire or otherwise electronically transmit the closing funds to an account that looks legitimate, but that the scammers control. 

Why Should I Care About Lien Waivers?

Buying a home went from a dream to a nightmare for a Wisconsin couple, after a contractor claimed the previous owner didn't pay him for his work. Mere weeks after moving in, the new owners found a note on the door of their home from a contractor claiming the previous owner hadn’t paid for work done on the house. The letter notified them that the contractor was putting a lien on the property for $27,000, which could mean the new owners are on the hook for that money.

Online Closing Crime is on The Rise…Protect Yourself!

In light of the hacking and cyber-heists we saw in 2017, you have probably taken some precautions with your own data. Password changes, updated security measures, keeping a closer eye on your credit reports. But if you're buying a home and heading to the final closing, you may be more vulnerable than you think to the fastest-growing form of real estate cybercrime in the United States, thefts of home purchase money sent by wire to complete real estate transactions. 

Ten Years After the Mortgage Crisis…What Have We Learned?

Subprime crisis. Securities collapse. Foreclosure rates soaring. In 2008, the real estate market could hardly have been in a worse condition. The fallout from the previous decade of so-called NINJA loans (no income, no assets, no job) and mortgages which required no principal payments hitting the wall of suddenly higher payments on adjustable rate mortgages, especially at a time when many mortgagees were losing their jobs, created a ripple effect throughout the US economy.

Smoothing The Path to Closing

When you’re finally ready to buy or sell your home, the wait for closing can seem endless. You’ve made your choice, you know the time is right for you, but you can’t move in or out yet because all the paperwork has to be completed. The process always takes time, but the difference between a smooth closing and one that is fraught with complications and setbacks can sometimes be small.

The Growing Threat of Wire Transfer Fraud

Buying a home is usually the largest purchase a buyer makes in a lifetime. Even though buyers who take out a loan to purchase do not actually see the money, and in our modern age, the entire transaction is done electronically, there is still a risk that the money can be stolen, diverted to a criminal account through wire transfer fraud.

What Buyers Want From Lenders

Buyers often ask us what they should look for in a lender. What makes one lender stand out from the others? Lenders ask us how they can get the attention of homebuyers in an increasingly crowded field. There are some things that are undeniable truths in the market,  let’s look at them in order to help both lenders and buyers know what makes the difference.

Title Insurance Buys Peace of Mind

Most people, even people just casually browsing houses for sale online, have a dream of what it would be like to buy that perfect home. They imagine the thrill of taking ownership, choosing paint colors, arranging their furniture, etc… but most people never imagine that dream turning into a nightmare.

What to Expect Once You're Under Contract to Purchase a Home or Condo?

When purchasing a home or condo in the Santa Rosa Beach area, the first thing to do with your realtor is
to make an offer and get it accepted by the seller. We get a lot of out of town and out-of- state buyers in
our area. The rules for real estate are different in each state. What is customary here on the Emerald
Coast of Florida may be completely different than what they do in Ocean City New Jersey. So make sure
that your real estate agent explains what you should expect through the entire process of purchasing.

Lenders Big & Small...Which Is Right For You?

The internet has made many aspects of home buying easier, people now have many more options and choices when house hunting and going through the closing process. Some buyers feel that going with a smaller lender for their home loan is to their benefit, but in this arena, the big guys still have  the edge.

Selling Your Home: Can You Really DIY?

For sale by owner. One sees that sign far less often than you’d expect to. In this modern day and age, many people take tasks that were previously only done by experts (such as travel planning and creating legal documents) into their own hands. Yet people still rely heavily on realtors to sell their houses. Why is that?

Life is Sweet in Historic Pensacola

Bordering Escambia Bay and Pensacola Bay, the Pensacola Florida area is a charming blend of history and natural beauty. Known as the "City of Five Flags" for the Spanish, French, British, Confederate and American governments that have laid claim to the region at different times since the 1600s, every year Pensacola celebrates this diverse history with a 10-day fiesta. As one of the oldest metro areas in Florida, the city is full of ways to experience its local history, from exploring the area's historic districts to browsing their many cultural museums.

Millennials Ready to Become Homeowners

It’s Time! Millennial homebuyers are finally entering the market. For the past decade there has been a wait for the next generation of homebuyers to drive up demand. It has taken much longer than anticipated. The average age of a first time buyer used to be about 26. Over the last 20 years it has risen and risen until now first time buyers are around age 33 instead. Why the delay?

Is Crestview Your ‘Just Right’?

Crestview Florida is a town that suits the needs of many diverse types of people. It falls into a category sometimes called “the Goldilocks zone” because it’s just right. Not too big, not too small. Not year-round hot, but never too cold. Not too close to other larger cities, but not too far away. What it has to offer is not just nice, affordable homes in a lovely, thriving town, but a lifestyle that is attracting more and more families to the Emerald Coast.

30A Local Properties Testimonial

Thank you to Danny Margagliano with 30a Local Properties for providing us with a great testimonial:

Improving the “Know Before You Owe” Rule

When buying or selling a home, the total purchase price is the figure most of us are concerned with. The thick stack of documents involved in the process can be overwhelming, and trying to decipher the dense legalese and complicated tables often is beyond the ken of the average person. In October of 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau attempted to make the process easier by enacting the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule. This rule, formally known as TRID but casually referred to as “Know Before You Owe”, aimed to make mortgage paperwork more transparent and easier to understand for consumers.

What Does A Title Company Really Do?

It’s common knowledge that you have to have a title company for a real estate transaction, but many people do not understand what their title company actually does.

Affordable Luxury on Florida's Scenic 30-A Beaches

Have you ever dreamed of owning a home with sugar white beaches just blocks or even steps away from your door? Do you imagine a life with views of sparkling turquoise water from your balcony, but think it’s too expensive to be a realistic goal? Perhaps it’s time to look into real estate along scenic highway 30-A between Panama City Beach and Destin in the Florida Panhandle.

Winter May Be Coming, but Emerald Coast Real Estate Is Heating Up!

Four days. Two days. Four hours. Homes recently listed in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties have been selling almost as fast as realtors can list them. January is typically the slowest month for the housing market, but this year saw an 18.2% increase in sales from the previous January. The market has only continued to improve and grow stronger since then, and experts say now is an opportune time to buy.

Title Insurance, Protection You Can Trust

Buying a home is not usually something anyone takes lightly or does on a whim. A great deal of thought and research goes into every choice, from neighborhood to realtor, yet you may not have spent any time at all worrying about title insurance.

Life’s a Beach in Panama City!

White sugar sand and beautiful blue-green water pairs with warm weather, cool breezes and southern hospitality to make up the beachside town of Panama City. This area has 27 miles of breathtaking shoreline, world class restaurants and shopping, and easy access to the rest of the world thanks to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, but has a lower cost of living and higher dose of country charm than similarly sized communities in the more southern parts of Florida.

Real Estate Market is Booming in Panama City Beach, FL

In a recent article posted by, Panama City Beach officials share their opinions on our local real estate market.

8 Big Changes Thanks to Driverless Cars

The combination of widespread ride-sharing and self-driving cars will reshape housing in 8 significant ways:

Appraisal Free Home Purchases Now an Option

Groundbreaking new policy changes by two of the largest sources of home financing — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac --  have led to an appraisal-free home purchase. Both government-chartered companies now are willing to waive their decades-old appraisal mandates for certain home purchases, provided their automated valuation models — loaded with previous appraisal and current market data — flash a green light.

Florida Real Estate Closing Procedure

The real estate sector is a large part of the local economy in Florida with a steady, substantial number of residential and commercial real estate closings occurring. While title company representatives fully understand the real estate closing process as they are involved in real estate closings every day, many of the other participants in Florida real estate transactions may have some confusion as to everything that happens from the time of signing the sale purchase contract to the date of closing.

Title Insurance: What it is and Why You Need it

When you buy a piece of land, you don't get handed the piece of land -- you are given title. Title is the owner's right to possess and use the property. How a home is titled can vary. For example, title might be held as tenants in common, as joint tenants, there may be a right of survivorship, or there might be a life estate in the home.

Title Insurance Can Clear Up Your Real Estate Headache

Title insurance, in general, offers protection against any problems with the title, or legal ownership status, of the home. Any lien against a home or competing claim of ownership could jeopardize your financial stake in it, as well as your mortgage lender's. So the lender's policy covers the lender's stake, while the owner's policy covers your personal stake.

Fannie Mae Lowered Interest Rate for the 2nd Time in 2017

For the second time in 2017, Fannie Mae is lowering the benchmark interest rate for standard mortgage modifications. Typically, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increase or decrease the benchmark interest rate simultaneously, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this time.

CyberCrime: Affecting Businesses and You

It is estimated that cybercrime will cost approximately $6 trillion per year on average through 2021.  That’s a massive figure, one that is almost impossible for most people to imagine.  But more concerning than the number itself is what it means for modern businesses. Everywhere, companies are upping their cybersecurity budgets in an attempt to lower the catastrophic costs of a potential data breach. The average cost of a breach tallies into the millions, but the dollars lost only account for the direct cost of a breach. That figure is quantifiable for businesses, but the true costs cut even deeper. When investigating the collateral effects of a cyberattack, the outlook for businesses in the aftermath becomes bleak. Dollars and cents aside, some businesses never fully recover from a data breach, and there can be some potentially disastrous consequences.

What is your Title Companies Closure Rate?

The closing time for all loan types has increased by a day as of June to 43 days, up from 42 days the month before, according to Ellie Mae’s June 2017 Origination Insight Report The time to close a refinance stayed steady at 41 days, while the time to close a purchase loan advanced to 43 days, up from 42 days in May. The average 30-year rate for all loans deflated to 4.27 in June from 4.33 in May.

Wire Fraud and Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Wire fraud is a growing issue for consumers and financial institutions involved in real estate transactions.  According to the FBI, the number of wire fraud scams reported by title companies to Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) spiked 480% in 2016.  Perpetrators are monitoring real estate transactions and timing fraudulent requests for changes in payment type or payment destination to take control of the money.

Technology and the Mortgage Process

Mortgage lenders have started to welcome and incorporate new technology in the process of applying for a loan.  This is a refreshing change from the expected process of lengthy in-person meetings, compiling and transporting of all financial documents, and a slow approval process.  New lenders are starting to enter the mortgage game around an automated platform.

Technology Advancement in the Mortgage Market

Technology is catching up to the tremendous amount of data we already use on a daily basis.  The mortgage industry has not typically been on the forefront of the latest in technological improvements but thankfully this attitude is changing for the better.

Frustrations Rise with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created as an independent agency in 2010 as a legislative response to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.  The CFPB is responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector.

Don't Get Stuck in a Housing Trap

The idiom definition of “Be Careful what you wish for” is “If you get things that you desire, there may be unforeseen and unpleasant consequences.”  While this is not always true, unfortunately for James R. Williams of Cincinnati, OH, this turned out to be the case.  Williams found a three story fixer upper with a monthly fee less than his last home.  His payments would go towards buying the home for his family.  Sadly, Williams will probably never own the home.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from SETCO

A Tribute to the Foxy Bear

Uncle John, as we all know him; lived an incredible life as detailed below.  John Fox, Sr., worked with the Southern Comfort couriers for over 10 years, greeting all he met with a smile and a firm handshake.  He touched many lives across the panhandle, either through his courier route or his dedication to his golf game, he was always meeting new people and making friends and many of us were fortunate to know him through those years.  He always left an impression on people and you always knew exactly where you stood with Uncle John, he loved his country, his family and his friends.  They just don’t make them like this anymore.

Forgery Using an Electronic Signature

Marilyn Olliver, Division Manager, Vice President of North American Title Company, was covering the desk of a manager out on a much deserved vacation. One of the files she worked on was a sale where the buyer obtained a FHA insured loan. The seller was out of state and had already signed all of their closing documents, and provided written and signed Disbursement Authorization Instructions for the proceeds from the sale.

SETCO Joins Forces with FAN: Now Offering Statewide Solutions


SETCO Giving Back To Our Local Students! #ECAR

SETCO Services loves giving back to our local students!!! Emerald Coast Association of Realtors Cram The Van School Supply Drive!

SETCO Team Building - Escape Zone!

The SETCO team always knows how to have a good time and this past weekend was no exception at Escape Zone 60!

Cyber-attacks on Free Email Services

Destin Charity Wine Auction Remains Among The Top 10!

SETCO is once again proud to be a platinum sponsor and supporter of the Destin Charity Wine Auction.  The Auction, which benefits children’s charities in Northwest Florida, donated over 2.3 million in 2015 and plans on surpassing this number in 2016!

SETCO Presents-1031 Exchange Seminar

SETCO 1031 Exchange Seminar March 24, 2016

Unlawful Rebates - Estoppel DFS Clarification

An updated clarification letter was issued February 11, 2016 from the Department of Financial Services to address the issue of advance payment by a title insurance agent for estoppel certificates.

SETCO Services is Now ALTA Exam Certified!

SETCO Services, LLC announces successful completion of its ALTA Best Practices Exam Certification

5 Home-Buying Nightmares Your Title Insurance Could Prevent

Imagine that you have found your dream home. Your offer is accepted, you close the deal, you move in. Then, just as you’ve started to make the house your own, the mail carrier delivers news that turns your world upside down: There was a lien against a previous owner, and now it’s been passed on to you.

Stay Safe with SETCO - Email Scams & Real Estate Transactions







Hackers, email phishing, and other cyber related crimes are at an all-time high right now, and HACKERS HAVE TARGETED REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS-and real estate AGENTS in particular- in an attempt to defraud lenders, real estate brokers, title companies and law firms.

Several agencies have been the victims of multiple attempts to change wiring instructions and funding authorizations and switching checks to wires last minute and wires to checks. At times, it was not easy to determine that they were communicating with the actual party to the transaction. Email services such as AOL, YAHOO, HOTMAIL, GMAIL, etc. offer LITTLE TO NO PROTECTION in terms of encryption and security measures.

Recently, agents have had numerous transactions in which a fraudulent email COMES FROM THE REAL ESTATE AGENT’S account, which starts the misdirection process in an attempt to provide changes to wire instructions. SETCO Services, Inc. has been the victim of this exact scheme.

In one instance, the hacker created

Tax Day Is Almost Here! Tax Tips from Setco.

As spring breakers flock to the Emerald Coast, SETCO is rejoicing that the tourism season is here but that also means it’s tax season. April is here, so don’t let taxes get you down. Here are some Real Estate Tax Breaks just in time for Spring Break and Tax Day!

Delivering the Security You Need

There’s a new set of security standards for the real estate industry.  At SETCO, we’re committed to keeping our customers ahead of the curve by providing industry leading document security for this new environment.

It’s Time to File for Homestead Exemption!

What is Homestead Exemption?
For those that have a permanent residence in Florida, Homestead exemption reduces the taxable value of that property by up to $50,000.

Please Welcome Our Newest Team Member!

April is a proud lifelong citizen of Pensacola, Florida and continues to bring her talents to our local business community.  She began her career in Advertising and Graphic Design, including roles such as Graphic Artist, Television Producer, and Radio Account Manager. In 2006, utilizing her Marketing and Sales knowledge, she began facilitating mortgage loans for residential properties in Escambia and Santa Rosa County. In an opportunity to combine her experience of Marketing, with her extensive Lending experience, April is now being welcomed to the SETCO Services team. She will focus on marketing for the SETCO Pensacola and SETCO Perdido Key offices.

Need Help with Your Holiday Cards?

Reminder that SETCO’s PAPERLESS CLOSER is a great resource for gathering year-end information or even completing your holiday card mailing list!

Welcome Michelle to the SETCO Team!

Please join us in welcoming Michelle Perry Child to the Emerald Coast.  We are very excited to have Michelle join our team as our new Marketing Representative for the 30A area, as she has been vacationing here since the 1990’s.   She recently moved here from Athens, GA with her husband, David, and son, Carson, in August and has a background in Residential Property Management, Marketing and Public Relations.  After graduating from college, Michelle began working in Custom Home Sales, and eventually moved into Leasing and Property Management.  Once she moved to the Destin/30A area in August, she found SETCO to be a great opportunity to bring her experiences together by working with Real Estate Agents to bring smooth transactions to the closing table. Michelle also enjoys a hobby in photography, and immediately dove into volunteer work for the American Cancer Society’s Emerald Coast Cattle Barron’s Committee.

Happy Thanksgiving from SETCO!

SETCO would like to extend a special greeting to express our sincere appreciation for your confidence and loyalty to us. We are deeply thankful and extend to you our best wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day.

SETCO Cost Calculator App for iPhone & Android…Download Today!

Did you know you can use SETCO’s Closing Calculator on your phone?
Whether you have an iPhoneiPad or Android device, you can use our FREE Closing Calculator App to calculate your closing costs wherever you are!
Search Setco Services in the Apple Store or Google Play Store to download your calculator today! The APP includes a cost and refinance calculator, a link to our survey & the ability to submit EMD information right from your tablet or phone!


The WhoManFuMan is a fun & silly contest aimed at raising money and awareness for a charity serving a critical role in our community. Food for Thought provides backpacks filled with easy-to-make meals so children can focus on their development and education, not where the next meal is coming from.
This year the Fuligans raised over $5,000 to help feed children in our community. That money will fill 1,500 backpacks this school year!
Thank you to all of our Fuligans, supporters and generous donors!!!

$3.28 Surcharge on Florida Title Insurance Policies

As previously reported to you, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”), required all Florida title insurance underwriters to pay assessments for two failed title insurance underwriters, National Title Insurance Company and K.E.L. Title Insurance Group. The Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), as receiver, requested the assessments to pay the claims and administrative costs for both failed underwriters.

Stolen Lot

Vacant land or homes are easy targets for criminals. Vacant homes are often vandalized. In some cases squatters move in and refuse to leave, even though they do not pay rent. Vacant lots are used as dumping grounds for trash and debris. Some more brazen thieves are bold enough to even try to steal the property all together. Read on to find out how one such thief was caught!

Beware: There’s a New RESPA Sheriff in Town

By Bob Hunt

Move The Needle with SETCO

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. –Benjamin Franklin

Time.  It is our most over-looked resource and probably our most valuable asset.   We all waste time to some degree, some more than others.  Are we accomplishing anything?  Are we (as they say) moving the needle?  Are we making a difference in the company and our lives each week or are we just spinning our wheels to only find ourselves unchanged at the conclusion of 2014?

SETCO has your Homeowners Insurance covered!

SETCO can now cover your Homeowners Insurance needs! Take a moment to get to know our agent, J.B. Ruble. J.B. Ruble joined the company in 2013, tasked with heading up the property and casualty insurance branch of our operations. SETCO Insurance Services, LLC is partnered locally with Fuller Insurance to offer our clients a trusted internal partner for their insurance needs. Raised in New Orleans, LA, J.B. attended the University of Oklahoma for his college education and graduated in December of 2004. He received a Bachelor of Arts in both Communication and Journalism. J.B.’s background prior to entering the insurance field was in sales, most prominently along the Emerald Coast in construction materials. In 2010, he began his career in P&C insurance. J.B. has been diligently applying himself to the craft, along the way obtaining the Accredited Advisor in Insurance designation from the American Institute For Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. This enhanced understanding of the indemnification process concerning coverages, marketing, and agency operations directly benefits the client via an improved consultative approach. It is J.B.’s goal to always find a way to help a client.

APA Recognizes 2013 Great Places in America.

The American Planning Association picks 10 great neighborhoods, streets and public spaces for each year.

Welcome Cody to the SETCO Team!

Cody Stewart has joined the SETCO team, and we are excited to have him. Cody is working as a processor in our Seacrest Beach Office. With nine years of title experience, we are confident that Cody will be a great fit. Born and raised in Freeport, Illinois, Cody recently moved to the panhandle seeking sunnier skies and warmer weather.  His hobbies include playing tennis, going to the beach or pool, and kayaking. Cody has a Pug/Chihuahua mix named Max.

The SETCO team is gearing up for a successful year!

The SETCO team is gearing up for a successful year! #oneword #jongordon

Congratulations to Carmen Barclay!

Carmen won the SETCO Customer Service award this quarter. This is an internal award, voted on by SETCO employees. Carmen deserves every bit of this award for her excellent attitude, work ethic and kind demeanor. She is a joy to work with. SETCO is so thankful for her talent and blessed to have her as an employee! Congratulations Carmen!

Destin Christmas Parade

Catherine, Holly and Jan accepting the crowd pleaser award for the Destin Christmas Parade!

New Year, New EMD Instructions!

We would like to thank each buyer, seller, agent, lender and affiliate who worked hard with us to have such a successful year.

Maureen Richardson wins Affiliate of the Year-Bay County!

Congratulations to Maureen Greenler Richardson on her Affiliate of the year award presented by the Bay County Association of Realtors! We are so proud of you and it is VERY much deserved!

A quick review of our APP changes!

SETCO Seacrest looking for experienced processor

The SETCO Services Seacrest Beach office is looking to hire an experienced processor. Please send any resumes or inquires to anoah@

Your SETCO App needs an update!

It just keeps getting better. Time to update your SETCO App for Android & iPhone!

Updates Include:

  • new look
  • amortization calculator
  • corrections to minor bugs
  • toggle buttons to choose buyer or seller
  • submit EMD information from app
  • submit survey feedback from app

SETCO is always looking for ways to improve your experience. We take pride in our technology and want your feedback.

Introducing a NEW, Simple way to submit EMDs!

SETCO is offering a new way for agents to Submit EMDs!!

Guest Blogger: Jeff Payne-Great News for Panama City and Bay County Single Family Homeowners.

Great news for Panama City and Bay County Single Family Homeowners! Prices are rising

Guest Blogger-Jeff Payne of The Payne Group, Keller Williams

This week we have the honor of having a guest blogger Jeff Payne, agent with Keller Williams in PCB and leader of The Payne Group.

Let SETCO host your next open house!

Need a hand with your open house? LET SETCO sponsor your next one! We will be happy to bring lunch, water or desserts as well as the knowledge to answer any title related questions your visitors may have! SETCO wants your open house to be enjoyable and informative as possible. We are happy to serve you from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach. Give us a call today! 850-650-6161

SETCO welcomes Carmen Barclay

SETCO is happy to welcome Carmen Barclay to our team. Carmen joins SETCO with 14 years of title and escrow experience under her belt. She will be joining our Seacrest team as a processor. Carmen has been married to her high school sweetheart, Lee, for 24 years. Carmen and Lee have two children. Her son, Ben, is 22 years old and her daughter, Jessica, is 18. Their family also has a beagle and a fat, lazy cat. In her free time, Carmen loves to fish, and she enjoys going to the beach and pool.

Need to re-vamp that old headshot?

Housing Sales & Prices Increase for PCB

30a TV Channel 8, Information Entertainment Beach Style

Having fun with our SETCO Beach Chair Cell phone holders!

Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act

SETCO has had inquires about the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). The FIRPTA of 1980 was enacted to treat foreign and domestic investments in U.S. real property more comparably.

The Fiscal Cliff & Real Estate

The following information was provided by the National Association of Realtors regarding real estate provisions in the recent “fiscal cliff” bill.  The legislation passed H.R. 8 to avoid the “fiscal cliff”. These provisions were scheduled to be signed into law this week by President Obama.

SETCO Welcomes Valerie Watson

SETCO wishes the Emerald Coast a safe and productive start to 2013. SETCO wrapped up 2012 looking better than ever. The Destin team worked extremely hard on their Destin Christmas Parade float which resulted in winning the Grand Marshal award (Overall Winner). In 2012 our SETCO team and market share continued to grow. SETCO is excited to announce our newest attorney, Valerie A. Watson. Valerie has been practicing real estate law since graduating from the University of Florida Levin College of law in 2004. She traveled around the country while working for a national title insurance underwriter and SETCO is excited for her to bring those innovative techniques and perspectives back to her home on Florida’s panhandle. Her primary focus will be building our title, closing, and real estate legal services in the Pensacola market. Please join us in welcoming Valerie to SETCO.

And the Winner is……SETCO!

                                        WE WON!!!!!

Our hard work paid off, SETCO won the Grand Marshal award this year for the Destin Christmas Parade. It was definitely a company wide effort and we could not have done it without the help of Bart Brennan, Bill and Cathy Abbott and Marty Williams team for making our vision a reality! Thank  you to our fearless leaders Holly Jalbert and Pam Jarvis, for organizing and keeping us straight during the design and construction process!

The 2013 3.8 % Tax: Will it affect you?

The 2013 3.8 % Tax: Will it affect you?

SETCO had a blast at our rockin’ open house!

SETCO’s Destin office turned into a disco/rock hall this Halloween as we celebrated our new look and the kick-off to the holiday season. We had a fabulous time & can’t wait to do it again!

Florida is Fiscally Sound for 2013

The state of Florida received sound fiscal news from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research this month. Predictions by Florida economists state that there will be a $71.3 million budget surplus next year. This is in addition to the already $1 billion the state has in reserves. Florida has been able to keep such a surplus due to the work of Gov. Rick Scott and legislators keeping spending under control. By maintaining spending responsibility Florida is one of nine states to maintain an AAA credit rating.

SETCO offers On-line Title Request Form

MIRAMAR BEACH-September 21, 2012 – SETCO Services, L.L.C. is introducing a new avenue for real estate agents, attorneys, lenders and mortgage brokers to input their title order requests through the SETCO Services website.
When you visit the SETCO Services homepage, simply click on the Title Order Request form, fill out the corresponding information and upload the contract. The information will be sent to the respective processor or closer of your choice and they will begin working on that order. If needed, the processor will be in contact with you with questions regarding the file. “This will be a huge help to both the agent and processor in retrieving vital information to get a file started”, stated Holly Jalbert, Closer for the Miramar Beach office.

SETCO is growing, again!

SETCO is happy to extend a warm welcome to our newest employees.

Highway 331 Improvements: Update

Highway 331 improvements to begin this Fall

Look out highway 98! Lean, Mean, Green Machines are on the road.

If you live or work anywhere from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach, chances are you may have passed by one of our new SETCO courier cars. With their bright colors & beachy feel you can’t miss them! Our couriers work hard to pick up and deliver important documents for SETCO, and we would be lost without them.  Our couriers are made up of 5 energetic team members who always have a smile on their face. Our courier manager is Scott Embree, and his team members include, Vic Desantis, Cheri Self, Terry Padgett and Larry Wickman. SETCO Services, L.L.C. is a full service title company based in Miramar Beach with offices in Seacrest Beach, Panama City Beach and Perdido Key. Please visit www. or call us at 850-650-6161 to find out what SETCO has to offer.

6 Quick tips to prevent getting caught in a scam

6 Quick scam tips to look out for:

Home Values on the Rise Across the United States

Across the nation, the housing market is beginning to see some positive signs of change.  June saw the highest jump in housing in 3 ½ years.  According to the National Association of Homebuilders, homes being built this year have risen 36.9% in the West, 22.2 % in the Northeast and 4.2% in the South. The Midwest saw the only downfall with a 7.3% drop.

Fraud continues to find new ways to plague the industry

While the Emerald Coast is enjoying a strong market, fraud is still looming around the nation. Recently, Bank of America has received a large number of claims regarding fraudulent short sale approval letters that are allegedly being issued by Bank of America. In effort to prevent fraudulent letters from being released, Bank of America has released an initiative to allow verification of approval letters presented to, or in the possession of title companies.

Update to SETCO cost calculator app

UPDATE: Visit your app store to update the SETCO cost calculator app. We have made a few changes and want YOU to enjoy them!

SETCO welcomes Kristin Couvillion to the team!

SETCO would like to welcome Kristin Couvillion to our team!  Kristin came to SETCO from Fort Payne, Alabama. Kristin graduated in 2004 from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama with her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. In her previous life, Kristin worked in the financial industry as well as in pharmaceutical analytics. Kristin has been married for two years to her husband, Chris; together, they recently moved back to the Emerald Coast. When she is not working, Kristin and her loving husband enjoy fishing, going to the beach, running, watching LSU football, and hanging out with family, friends, and their cat, Thomas.

SETCO’s Holly Jalbert Coaches The Green Lanterns

To Setco Services, L.L.C, Holly Jalbert is a trusted employee and closing officer; however, to her son, Michael, Holly is “Mommy Coach”.

SETCO is ready for Hurricane season, are you?

Hurricane season has begun, are you prepared? June 1 to November 30 marks hurricane season and although many of us natives think we can ride out any storm, it is still important to be prepared.

Ask the Experts: SETCO a Leader On the Emerald Coast in Green Technology

Ask the SETCO Experts

SETCO sponsors YOLO!

SETCO Services is excited to be a sponsor of the 3rd Annual Destin Real Estate Company, YOLO Board Race Series. The races will take place on May 24, June 14, July 19, and August 9 andare in memory of Ridge Nye. Ridge was a close friend of Destin Real Estate who passed away from Advanced ALS this past April.

First Quarter Improvements in Florida’s Real Estate Market

SETCO Services is excited to see that a survey released by the University of Florida last week shows that there is an improvement in Florida’s real estate market for the first quarter of 2012. 184 real estate analysts and investors responded to the survey. According to survey results, the university’s Commercial Real Estate Sentiment Index reached its highest level since 2007. The survey indicated that the increase stems from an improved job market in the state as well as more individuals renting homes. We hope to see  more results that mirror this in the near future!

Highway 331 Bridge Expansion

SETCO wants you to be informed of the Highway 331 Bridge Expansion process. The current proposal of a 4 Lane Highway and Bridge from I-10 to Highway 98 is underway. The project’s completion date will be scheduled for 2017. The Department of Transportation will contribute an additional $102 Million in state and federal contributions while Walton County will contribute $75 million in matched dollars. As well, the DOT will maintain the project upon its completion. For more information on the 331 Bridge Expansion, please visit the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce website. SETCO thanks you for your support as we grow together as a strong community!

Banks Loosening Credit Conditions

SETCO is hopping with excitement this Sring! According to a recent article in, 2012 will bring amend to the housing crisis due to large banks and lending institutions loosening credit conditions. While the required score to attain a mortgage loan is constant at 700, banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. As well, banks are also loosening the loan-to-value ratios (LTV), in contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV. Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.” See full article.  As always, SETCO is ready for you! Hoppy Spring!!

Highway 331 Bridge Project

SETCO and The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce support the effort to educate the community and make information available on the details involving the Highway 331 bridge project. The final meeting will be held on February 14th at 4PM in the SRB Courthouse Annex. They are asking for the public’s input prior to making their decision.

Home Sales and Home Building On the Rise!

Positivity is in the air! SETCO is thrilled to hear that home sales and home building are forecast to rise this year! We know you are wondering if 2012 is really the year…SETCO thinks YES, this is the year!  According to Julie Schmit with USA Today, housing prices are still expected to fall, but investors are convinced we are heading for an upturn. In fact, investors are finally starting to bid up home builder stocks causing them to outperform the broader stock market. SETCO is ready to take 2012 by storm!

Sweepstakes Check Fraud Scheme

Even More Fraud Cases! Remember Fraud effects All of Us!

More Fraud Cases! Be on the lookout!

Fraudulent Release of Mortgages and Deed of Trusts

Prevent Delays in Your Real Estate Closing

SETCO always double and triple checks every detail of your real estate closing, and SETCO is here to help you see the red flags that will often delay yours closings. Below is a short list of a few examples that SETCO routinely finds that can hold-up or even prevent your closing from happening. Please help us to ensure that, together, we have a 100% close rate.

Smart Phone Fraud

At SETCO Services, we believe nothing should hinder your real estate closing, especially fraud. Recent reports from the Florida Land Title Association have shown instances of real estate fraud using smart phones.

More Awards for Northwest Florida Beaches

SETCO is proud to offer real estate closing services in some of the world’s top beaches. Many beaches say they are the best in the world, but the Beaches of 30A, Pensacola Beach, Panama City Beach, and Destin have all the accolades to prove it.

New Association Law Takes Effect July 1st

One reason SETCO offers dependable real estate closing services is because we stay current with laws that pertain to the industry in Florida. Likewise, we want to make sure you are also aware of such regulatory changes.

Want Lower Energy Bills?

At  SETCO Services, we are here for you before, during and after your  real estate closing! That’s why we want you to make the most of your new home along the Emerald Coast!

Conduct an energy audit this summer, and see if you find ways to improve efficiency to lower your bills. Then, you can enjoy a more energy-efficient home and have more money to spend on a great summer vacation!

SETCO Welcomes New Closing Assistant in Seacrest

SETCO Services is pleased to introduce a new Closing Assistant at the Seacrest Beach Title Office! Join us in welcoming Jan Morris to our Real Estate Closing Team!

TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Destinations Awards - Top 25 - United States

Destin ranks as one of the Top 25 Destinations in the United States, which is no surprise to SETCO.  We have been handling Destin real estate closings for over a decade, and love helping people own a home in a top-ranked community!

5 “Must Have” Apps for Real Estate

When shopping for a new home, use your smart phone the smart way! These 5 real estate apps give you flexibility in home searches and real estate closings in Florida. Use them to find a new home and then calculate closing costs with the Free Cost Calculator Apps from SETCO.

Why the Housing Crash May End in 2011

There might finally be some good news this year about the nation’s dismal housing market. Or, at least, the bad news could stop.

The 25-Year Foreclosure From Hell

Foreclosures are a hot topic in the news today, and SETCO Services is here to help you understand the real estate market. We have been handling real estate closings in Northwest Florida for over a decade, so we know how important each detail is in the real estate closing process. Overlooked details can create major problems for buyers and sellers, which is why we offer Title Insurance to all our customers before they close. Don’t believe us. Just read this article from the Wall Street Journal proving that it’s all in the details! To learn more about how SETCO Services focuses on the details, visit

SETCO makes Life Wonderful in Difficult Times

Effort wins First Place in Destin Christmas Parade

Destin Christmas Parade Commercial Float WINNER

2010 Destin Christmas Parade Commercial Float WINNER

E-Filing Coming to all of Florida

If you ever bought something online, chances are you’ll have little trouble using the Florida courts’ new e-filing system.

Local developer gives new meaning to home school

In spite of historically low interest rates and pricing that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade, the real estate recovery remains extremely fragile.

Celebrate Black-berry Friday

Don’t forget to celebrate BLACK FRIDAY with SETCO Services…Blackberry Friday that is! Download the NEW SETCO Cost Calculator App for Blackberry today. Best of all, it’s FREE!

VETO Override a Success on Windstorm Rating Disclosures in Contracts

As those who attended the FLTA Convention two weeks ago learned, two years ago, the Florida Legislature mandated that effective January 1, 2011, all contracts for the sale of a residential property must include certain information about the windstorm mitigation rating of the structure.

Florida Documentary Stamps

One of the more positive aspects of residing in the State of Florida is the absence of a state based income tax which directly affects all Florida residents.  The revenue, otherwise derived from a state income tax must be achieved in other ways in order for the State to provide essential services and fund the government.  One such method is the application of a documentary stamp tax on the purchase or sale of real estate.

BP spill leaves a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’ in limbo

Few people can forget the January 1961 Inaugural Address of President John F. Kennedy and his now famous challenge to, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  Likewise, few remember the words that immediately preceded this now famous quote as Kennedy professed, “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.”

The Devils in the Details with ObamaCare

There seems to have been quite a bit of confusion recently over certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) more commonly known as Obama Care which was passed by Congress and signed into law earlier this year. Although I am certainly not a proponent of this particular legislation, I do believe that it is important to accurately interpret and reflect its terms.  In some cases, it has been inaccurately reported that the legislation imposes a 3.8 % tax on all sales of real estate as a source of revenue with which to pay the massive cost associated with the legislation.  The legislation creates a new code Section 1411, which is a complicated provision of a very complicated piece of legislation.  The fact is, however, the legislation essentially says that if you sell your home for a profit above the capital gains threshold of $250,000 per individual or $500,000 per couple then you would be required to pay the additional 3.8 percent tax on any gain realized over this threshold.  Most people who sell their homes will not be impacted by these new regulations. This is not a new tax on every seller, and that correction needs to be made.  The tax is aimed at so-called “high earners” – imagine that. In any event, if you do not fall into that category you will not pay any extra taxes upon the sale of your home.

One Technology does not fit all

The other day, I received a call from a client who was looking at our website and some of the different technology tools we offered to our clients.  Specifically, he asked if closing via “Paperless Closer was a requirement or an option. He went on to say, that he and his wife were a mature couple and did not feel totally comfortable with the electronic signature aspect of the closing and could best explain his feeling by telling me a brief story about himself. 

Even Good Guys can get SCAMMED!!

In a previous posting, I reviewed certain changes to the Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase recently adopted by the Florida Association of Realtors and the Florida Bar Association.  As discussed, one notable change to the new form was the manner by which Deposits will be handled by the Escrow Agent.  Instead of Deposits being subject to “ CLEARANCE” they will now be subject to “COLLECTION” which means that the funds must be actually and totally collected.  The intent here is to insure that funds provided to the Closing Agent are GOOD!!  This new terminology attempts to circumvent efforts to defraud the Closing Agent which efforts are enhanced during difficult economic periods.

FAR/BAR-1 Addresses Agent Concerns

The Florida Association of Realtors and the Florida Bar Association have again collaborated on certain changes to the standard Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase used by Brokers throughout the State.  Known as the FAR/BAR-1, the form has undergone a number of significant changes in an effort to incorporation many of the more attractive components of the currently approved FAR-9 form, as well as, the addition of new provisions which address issues which have arisen from the economic condition of the last several years.

51st State is Dream come true for Obama

Just a short two years ago, we heard then candidate Obama proclaimed that, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America”.  Normally, I would have considered such a statement as demagoguery until I remembered that just months earlier Obama himself told us that words do, in fact, matter in his now famous “just words” speech.  In retrospect, I am confident that we can all agree that Obama’s proclamation was more than just words.  Like it or not, he has made good on his promise to transform America behind a mantra of “Change we can believe in”.  Unfortunately, it would appear the result may have been “Change we can’t believe”.

SETCO Calculator Available for Droid

SETCO is proud to announce its Closing Calculator is now available for the Droid. Our customers can download the Droid calculator app to use “on the go.” Many customers have previously enjoyed the iPhone App of the Closing Calculator, and SETCO hopes this expansion to the Droid will allow even more people the benefits of our services.

SETCO Awarded as Leading Agent

SETCO was recently awarded the “Leading Agent Award” from Stewart Title given to the year’s best producers.  Agency Services Manager, Stephanie Meyer, stated, “Very few issuing agents qualify for our Leading Agent Award, so for SETCO Services to win this honor during such an incredibly difficult market is a testament to their dedication and unstoppable drive.  That they achieved this accomplishment with smiles on their faces and endless optimism explains why they are Stewart Title Guaranty Company’s Pride of the Panhandle.”