How to Check My Credit History?


How to Check My Credit History?

Your credit history will determine your eligibility to obtain a mortgage to finance the purchase of your property.  Also, your credit score will determine the rate you pay on your mortgage.

As you will see from this video, there are three major credit reporting companies:

  • Equifax – 1-800-685-1111
  • Experian – 1-888-397-3742
  • Trans Union – 1-800-916-8800

Obtaining your credit history is as easy as calling and requesting one.

Once you receive the report, it’s important to verify its accuracy.


Checking Your Credit History is An Important First Step to Financing Your Purchase

If there are issues with your credit (late payments, too many credit lines open, or too few, insufficient credit available, age of credit, public record collections, judgments, or bankruptcies, etc.) you may wish to work with a credit repair firm to assist you in raising your credit score.

It’s wise to do this before you begin shopping for a mortgage or a property.

For answers to questions you may have about your credit, please call one of our staff members at First title & Abstract, Inc, at either our Naples or Marco Island office.

We can help put you in touch with credit repair companies and mortgage professionals to assist you in your quest to finance your purchase.

Creating Facebook Ads for Real Estate

by | 2016 |

Creating Facebook ads for real estate is one of the simplest and most effective methods of online marketing and advertising.

Having a Facebook profile is one thing, but actually using it effectively is another.

Did you know Facebook Ads can actually make your company  visible to people with very specific interests and demographics?

A couple things to note:

Facebook now has more active users than China’s entire population.

Also, the average American spends 40 minutes on Facebook a Day – that’s 20-30 minutes longer than most any other website.

“Facebook now has more active users than China’s entire population.”

If you don’t yet have a Facebook profile for your business, please contact us at First Title & Abstract, Inc.

We can help you get started!

There are many types of ads you can run but the most common are as follows:

  • Sidebar
  • News Feed
  • Remarketing

“The average American spends 40 minutes on Facebook a Day – that’s 20-30 minutes longer than most any other website.”

News Feed Ads are the focus of this article because they are the most effective way to advertise on Facebook.

News Feed Ads

News Feed Facebook ads, as you might think, are the ads that show up right in your Facebook News Feed. In fact, News Feed Facebook ads are the only ads that show on Facebook mobile and over 60% of Facebook’s revenue comes from mobile devices.

Even though news feed ads are still very popular, as of 2016 the way you get clicks has evolved as people have grown more tech savvy.

You can no longer just post a picture of your office staff and say: “use us for your real estate purchasing, selling, or legal/closing needs.” You need to prove you can solve the customer’s problem first by providing value in the form of useful information.


Social Media Content Creates Buzz and Keeps You Front of Mind!

Here is what you want in your News Feed ads:

1) Graphics with text

These work well and you can test ad variations

2) Faces/emotion work well

The best graphics often have person’s face that conveys emotion. The eyes are a gateway to the soul for a reason.

3) Short text, unless emotional

Either really short and casual posts, or really long “rants” get read most often. People don’t like average or mediocre, they want emotion.

4) Position as “helpful resource”, not an “ad”

5) Focus on the result the viewer will get by clicking

A good example of this is the “Download” button above. Viewers know what to expect when they click.

6) Pose a question

“Pizza or Ravioli? What’s your favorite? Post below.”

Facebook’s algorithm can be summarized as this: The more activity a post gets the more it is shown.

7) Create a Poll

Similar to #6, create a quick Facebook poll to get that same interaction above, that gets your post shown more often and to more people organically.

good hands

Memes entertain and inform and are readily passed on … from the Greek “mimēma” ‘that which is imitated’

8) Memes or Quotes

Memes are simply quotes or captions on funny pictures. The easiest way to find them is on Google Images or Pinterest.

9) Video

Did you find a useful video that helps your customers or prospects? Share it!

The same is true for most non-advertisement posts on Social Media as well. Use these “shareable” posts and experiment what works well for you.

Who do I advertise to?

Building an audience: There are several ways to build an audience to display your ads to but here are my favorites for Realtors, Title Agents, Lawyers, and Mortgage brokers.

1) Job title (i.e. Realtor, Mortgage Broker)

2) Interests (i.e. People who have liked The National Association of Realtors)

3) Location radius (Select a city and radius)

4) Lookalike Audience (Have a database of customers? Upload the list of email addresses to find other Facebook users with similar interests to your customer list. This one is really cool and powerful.)

5) Facebook Groups (Advanced Strategy – See below)

6) Retargeting (Advanced Strategy – see next article)

One thing to keep in mind with Facebook Ads…more people doesn’t mean that the ad is better.  In fact focusing on having “more people” can both hurt your conversion and cost you dollars; Facebook will charge you more per click for being general.

A far better approach is smaller targeted ad audiences like “Dog lovers” instead of “Pet lovers,” or in real estate, I might start by focusing on specific communities within a city and make the audience larger as I test.

As a general rule of thumb I like to start with an audience size of around 5,000 and no more than around a few hundred thousand.

Create a Group

If you are planning on doing lots of Facebook advertising and want to save a ton of money on cost per click I’d highly recommend creating a Facebook Group.

So I’ll first explain what to do and then why you’d want to do it in the first place.

Step 1: Create a Facebook Group

The first thing you want to do is create a group to benefit your target market. For example, if you are targeting first-time homebuyers in Austin, Texas, you may want to call your group “First-Time Home Buyers in Austin.”

Or if you really want to appeal to Realtors in Nevada, your group might be “Nevada Realtors Marketing Mastermind.”

Do not create a group that is “Fans of Title Co X” but instead think “Realtors in X City (local market)”

Get creative but find something useful where group members would be willing to share on (remember Facebook is social).

Step 2: Post to the Group

Next, visit your favorite industry publication sites like Title News and The Title Report then make a few posts in the group. The only purpose here is making sure the group is not empty.

Step 3: Invite friends and family to join and like the group

This makes it so that the group is not empty when you invite strangers to join.  Assure your friends and family that they can always leave the group in a few weeks if they are not interested in the topic, you just need some warm bodies in there.

Step 4: Advertise the Group

Next, use the steps in this article to create an ad to join or like the group.  This ad might show up in someone’s news feed as “Realtors in Austin Texas Group…Like this” and you’ll get many people to do so which will grow your group audience.

Note: make sure the group has nothing to do with your company but instead for the benefit of the members.

Why spend money to advertise a free group?

I’m glad you asked! Here is a cool trick that few know about:

Reason 1:

Facebook CPC (Cost Per Click) is typically cheaper when your Call-To-Action (CTA) is a page on Facebook itself and not on an external site. Score!

Reason 2:

Here is where the magic is. Not only do you save money to get someone to “Like” or join your group as opposed to going to your website, but once they have you can now run other direct promotion ads to the people of the group that you own – often times lowering the CPC to mere pennies!

For example, an ad to visit my website might cost $1.25 per click, and one to like my company Facebook page might cost $0.75 per click.  Whereas an ad to my own group audience advertising my services where I am the owner of the group and the people in the group are highly targeted might only cost $0.05 per click.

This is why I recommend customers that are in Facebook for the long term perform these extra steps.


Lastly, always start your Facebook ads at a low cost per day budget that you bump up slowly as you start gaining traction. Not doing so will cause you to waste a lot of money. For example, I always start mine at $5 a day until I have one performing as I like with a 5-10% click through rating (CTR) and then bump it up to $10.

That’s it! Create your ads and let them run. If you found this useful please let me know in the comments so I can share more tips on Facebook ads.

Also if you think this was cool, read the next article in the series, it is 100% on remarketing, what it is exactly, how to do it quickly, easily and cheaply!

We Can Help!

First Title & Abstract, Inc. distinguishes itself from the competition by being a consultative value-added strategic partner.

We succeed when you succeed, and that’s what makes us different! We know what works, and can show you how to build your business and sell more properties!

Contact any of us at our Naples or Marco Island offices, and ask for the marketing department handling social media.

We’re eager to be partners in your success!



Why Use a Realtor?

A state license is required to sell real estate. But roughly half of those licensed take the additional step of becoming a REALTOR®.

As we show you in this video, only members of the National Association of Realtors – NAR – are entitled to use that registered trademark and call themselves a REALTOR®.

As members, they adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and have access to classes, seminars and certification. Their aim is to be experts in their community aware of real estate trends and local and neighborhood issues. They apply that expertise to help buyers and sellers succeed.

Use the Power of Social Media for Your Business!

Hiring the Right Professional Can Make All the Difference in the World!

You can find a certified REALTOR® by looking in local sources asking around or searching here.

At First Title & Abstract, Inc., our staff in the Naples and Marco Island offices  have worked with hundreds of top REALTORS®. We highly recommend that you hire an agent to assist you in searching for the perfect property, presenting the contract, negotiating the terms, and bringing the matter to successful closing.

We look forward to working with you!

7 Warning Signs You May Not Be Ready to Buy

7 Warning Signs You may Not be Ready to Buy

Following up on our popular post from last week, we help you decide if now is a good time to consider buying a home …


By Laura Agadoni | August 22, 2016

Owning a home can be a smart financial move, but is it right for you, right now?

It’s happening all across America right now: Hordes of renters, innocently perusing their social media accounts, are noticing a theme. It’s not that everyone is getting married or obsessing over spiralized vegetables — they’re posting pictures of newly purchased homes.

But like your mother always said, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you should — or should you? There are certainly pros and cons of becoming a homeowner, and stumbling across just one dreamy listing of a home for sale in Anaheim, CA, with the perfect open-concept kitchen and fenced-in backyard can leave you thinking about little else. But then you realize you’d rather save your money for a travel adventure, and said dreamy house doesn’t come with the amenities you love at your apartment, like an on-site gym, pool, and doggie day care.

Don’t jump the gun and assume you need to buy a house. Here’s some truth talk: You might not be ready to buy. Pay attention to these seven signs that reveal that even if you think you’re ready to buy a house, you might not be.

1. You don’t make enough money
You might think you make enough money to buy a home, but crunch the numbers first and see what your costs would actually be — a mortgage calculator can come in handy here. You need both upfront and ongoing money, says Roger Ma, a New York, NY agent. “Upfront money includes having enough for the down payment and closing costs and enough left over for an emergency fund,” says Ma. “On an ongoing basis, a buyer’s salary will need to be enough to pay for mortgage interest and principal, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, and taxes.” These costs, according to many financial planners, should be less than 28% of your gross income.

2. You have too much debt
Let’s say you do make enough money to afford to buy a house and make your monthly mortgage payments. You also need to factor in any debt you might have. Hint: If all your credit cards are maxed out, you may want to get those bills under control before entering homeownership. Lenders typically want your total debt load (which includes your potential mortgage payment) to be less than 36% of your gross income. “Take a hard look at your spending habits and change them to improve your chances of being able to support a mortgage,” says Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.

3. You don’t have enough savings
If you’ve saved enough for the down payment, you’ve made it over one big hurdle. But you need more than just that. What if your home needs an emergency repair? Would you have the money to pay for it, or would a surprise expense put you in debt? “Expect the unexpected,” says Josh Moffitt, president of Silverton Mortgage Specialists in Atlanta, GA. “Your air conditioner may die on a sweltering holiday weekend, or a sewage pipe could burst in the basement.”

And then there are those costs that aren’t necessarily unexpected but that you might not have considered. “Not only does a prospective buyer need money for closing costs and the first few months’ mortgage payments, they also need money for moving costs,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. “They need money for furnishings and decorating the new house. They need money to pay the property taxes upfront at settlement.” As you can see, you don’t want to drain your savings on just the down payment.

4. You haven’t been on the job long enough
Most mortgage lenders like to see that you’ve been working the same job for at least two years. In fact, they calculate your average income based on your job history for the last 24 months. Being on the job that long shows a certain stability, and changing jobs or having an income gap signals insecurity. “A major job change, such as moving from salary to commission-based pay, may cause your income to fluctuate and can add to uncertainty about your readiness to buy a home,” says Moffitt. “Even if you qualify based on expected income, what if you don’t make that money in your new position?”

5. You have poor (or no) credit
A bad credit score indicates some sort of financial problem, such as skipping out on paying a bill or two, filing for bankruptcy, or carrying too much debt. “Take a close look at your credit report before making a decision to buy,” says Moffitt. “A mortgage lender may have questions about payments, loans, or other debts and may make suggestions that could require time to resolve. If it takes six months to fix, you might not be ready to buy just yet.”

Having little or no credit history can also be problematic. David Hosterman, branch manager with Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado, offers a tip: “We take into account ‘alternative credit trade lines.’ These types of credit are anything from rental history, car insurance, utilities, monthly subscription services, and cellphones. We are looking for a pattern of good credit with those companies for 12 months or longer.”

6. You’re not sure what type of home you want
You might have thought only about buying a single-family home, but you have more options than you might think. For example, you could buy a duplex and earn some rent money by living on one side and renting out the other. Perhaps a condo or townhouse might better suit your needs — and be an easier transition from apartment living. “Each has unique considerations for upkeep and responsibility. It’s hard to say, ‘I’m ready to buy’ without knowing what each type of home has to offer,” says Moffitt.

7. You’re not ready to stick around
Unless you’re pretty sure that you’ll want to stay in the area for the next three to five years, you’re not ready to buy. “If you buy a house and have to sell the next year, you’re likely to lose money because appreciation won’t catch up to the closing costs and postpurchase expenses during that short time,” says Moffitt. If your job is in limbo, or you’re considering moving a few hours away to be closer to family in the near future, it’s wise to hold off on buying a home.

– See more at:

Provided to you by your friends at the most established title company in Naples and Marco Island— First Title & Abstract, Inc.

Rent or Own?


Rent or own?

What makes the most sense in the current market?

Well, much depends upon your tax bracket, whether you intend to move in the near future, the local real estate market, and what your future goals may be.

Other considerations must be included.

One advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity and take advantage of tax benefits and also cannot protect yourself against rent increases.

Also, you may be at the mercy of the landlord for the condition of your housing.

Owning a home has many benefits. When you make a mortgage payment, you are building equity increasing YOUR net worth. Also, owning a home qualifies you for certain tax breaks which gives you more available spending money to handle the costs of homeownership.

Each individual is different, depending upon preferences and goals, but generally, Americans prefer the stability and security of owning their own home.

At First Title & Abstract, Inc. our staff on Marco Island and in Naples can assist you in reviewing the decision whether to rent or own.


It’s not child’s play deciding whether to rent or own your castle … let us help!

Just call us anytime and set up an appointment with one of our friendly staff members.

We’re here to help!

Determining Your Housing Needs Before You Search


Determining your housing needs before you search will help you save lots of time and frustration, and keep you focused on the home most likely to bring you years of pleasure.

This video will help you prioritize the most important steps in searching for a home.

Once you’ve qualified for your mortgage and know what you can afford, you can then find a home which fits the way you live, with spaces and features that appeal to the whole family.

Before you begin looking at homes make a list of your priorities – things like location, style, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and overall size.

Other considerations include the following:

  • Should the house be close to certain schools? your job? to public transportation? amenities? hospitals? shopping? church and activities?
  • How large should the house be?
  • What type of lot do you prefer?
  • Do you prefer an older established community, or a newer community?
  • What kinds of amenities are you looking for? a swimming pool? extra large closets? a guest house? solar heating and cooling?

Establish a set of minimum requirements (your “must haves”) along with a ‘wish list.”  This will move you closer to unlocking the dream of owning the perfect home.


As always, it’s a good idea to become clear on what is essential and necessary, and what is a preference or a wish.

For a great checklist to help you in your search, please visit our Homeowner’s page.

Doing a preliminary search on the Internet also may help, but at some point, you will want to take your pre-planning forward to a professional who can help you zero in on the right home in the right neighborhood.

At First Title & Abstract, Inc., our staff in the Marco Island and Naples offices are happy to guide you to find the perfect Realtor to help you in your search.

Please do not hesitate to call or email us and let us know how we can assist you in your exciting search.


How Much Mortgage Can I Afford? Marco Island – Naples


“How Much Mortgage Can I Afford?”

Determining how much mortgage you can qualify for is an important determination when beginning the process of shopping for a new home or property.

As you’ll see in the video, the lenders consider your debt-to-income ratio, which is a comparison of your gross (pre-tax) income to housing and non-housing expenses.


We Can Refer You to a Mortgage Professional to Assist You!

Non-housing expenses include such long-term debts as car or student loan payments, alimony, or child support.

According to the FHA, monthly mortgage payments should be no more than 29% of gross income, while the mortgage payment, combined with non-housing expenses, should total no more than 41% of income.

Lenders also consider cash available for down payment and closing costs credit history and the rest of your financial picture when determining your maximum loan amount.

Interest rates, and the type of loan (30 year, 15 year, 7 year ARM, etc.) can affect your monthly payment, and therefore your debt to income ratio.

Also, having sufficient savings and reserves, and paying off consumer debt prior to buying a home are all good strategies to enhance the prospects of being approved for the best possible mortgage.

At First Title & Abstract, Inc., our staff in the Marco Island and Naples offices can assist you in finding a qualified mortgage professional in your area to help you begin the process of qualifying for a mortgage.

Knowing what you can afford is smart!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a referral to help you begin the process!

How Do I Begin The Process Of Buying A Home?


Home-Buying 101 – First Steps

Buying a home is part of the American Dream!

This video outlines some of the basic first steps to consider when embarking on the journey of becoming a homeowner.

Remember these pointers from the video:

  • Are you ready to buy a home?
  • How much can you afford in a monthly mortgage payment?
  • How much space do you need?
  • What areas of town do you like?

After you answer these questions, make a “To Do” list and start doing some research.

Talk to friends and family, drive through neighborhoods, and look in the “Homes” section of the newspaper, or online.

And of course, you should meet with your mortgage lender to be pre-qualified for a mortgage so you will know what you can afford.

Then, you will wish to pick a Realtor to help you find your dream home in the right neighborhood which meets all your requirements.

House-in-handWe can help by recommending reputable mortgage lenders and Realtors in the area to help you along the way.

Then, we’ll be there at the end to help you take title and insure your ownership rights and protect your investment.

For more information, please call our Marco Island or Naples office of First Title & Abstract, Inc.

We’re eager to answer any questions, make recommendations, and serve your real estate needs!

Closing Costs Explained Visually


This video explains some of the basics about closing costs.

At First Title & Abstract, Inc. our Marco Island and Naples offices are dedicated to making sure you understand upfront the estimated costs you will incur for closing.

Purchasing a home is exciting!

However, once escrow begins, the excitement can change to frustration, particularly if you are not ready for the closing costs that quickly accumulate.  Many people make the mistake of only assuming they need the down payment money, and have to rush around town trying to come up with money for the closing fees.

However, you need not be surprised!

Just have your Realtor request from us a preliminary settlement statement reflecting an estimate of your closing costs.

As you may know, closing costs simply refer to the fees associated with the escrow and closing process in a real estate transaction.

Typically, you will incur charges for tax pro-rations, homeowner’s association or condominium fee pro-rations, lender’s fees, including credit check and appraisal fees, points and loan origination charges, and pre-paid escrow fees for your escrow account with the mortgage company. As well, there will be title charges, including the settlement fee, abstract fee, courier and delivery fees, title insurance premiums, and recording costs paid to the clerk of court.

Should you desire a preliminary settlement statement for your closing, just click on the link below and complete some basic information about your sale or purchase. We will provide an estimate for you with no obligation or cost for this service!

At First title & Abstract, Inc. we believe an informed consumer is a happy customer.  All of us stand ready to serve you in your real estate transaction, and look forward to working with you!

Title Insurance Explained Visually


This video explains why title insurance is one of the most important investments a buyer can make when purchasing real estate.

Often, real estate buyers ask—

“Doesn’t the attorney or settlement company handling the closing see to it that I have clear title? Why do I need to buy title insurance?”

Indeed, a careful title search is performed at the time property changes hands, and title issues are cleared prior to closing. However, on occasion, title defects can arise after the closing which a title search would not reveal. For example, what if a judgment was recorded in the wrong county, but still is valid as against the property? What if there was fraud in signing a deed, two sales ago, which only now is revealed? What if an unknown heir steps forward and claims title to the property?

Title insurance is designed to protect against such unanticipated title issues, and to prevent economic loss.

Whether it is after-discovered title defects, or mistakes made by the title abstractor or clerk of court— without title insurance, a property owner could suffer complete financial loss, and loss of ownership and occupancy rights to the property.

On our Resources Page, we have an article on “The Many Ways to Lose Title to Your Property” unless one has purchased a policy of title insurance.

We highly recommend watching this video, and studying the article on our Resources Page.

Title insurance is only purchased once, and the rates are strictly regulated by state law, with the same amount charged by all title companies and title agents and attorneys within the state.

If you have questions about the amount of coverage you should purchase, and the cost of title insurance, please contact us at our Marco Island or Naples Office at First Title & Abstract, Inc.

We look forward to assisting you in protecting title to your property.