News

Florida Agency Network and Total Title Solutions Join Forces in the Tampa Bay Area

Clearwater, Fla. – April 15, 2019 – Florida Agency Network (FAN) is joining forces with Total Title Solutions (TTS), a company with multiple locations in Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando Counties. This merger aims at expanding each organization’s footprint into key Florida markets.

TTS was established in 2009 and their number one goal was to provide great customer service. Their owner, Abe Moussa, built a team with experienced title veterans and created cutting edge technology to help streamline the title process for the TTS staff, and their clients. TTS couldn’t be a better match for FAN. Between the two companies the resources are vast, and capitalizing on those resources will create an improved experience for the clients.

“As a team, we are excited about the services and products that FAN has to offer. We all believe that the TTS way is already above and beyond the standards of the Title Industry,” says Angie Haddon, Chief Operating Officer of TTS. “However, the merger with FAN will make a superior experience! Anyone involved in the real estate transaction will continue to be in GREAT hands.”

FAN will take control of TTS’ operations. Angie Haddon will become a Division Manager for FAN, while Lisa Jahr will be promoted to Regional Manager and will oversee offices throughout the Tampa Bay Area. The merger will add five new locations for FAN, which include two in Pinellas, two in Pasco, and one in Hernando County.

“At an earlier point in our careers, Chris LaChance, our Sales Manager, and I enjoyed a good relationship with Abe and Angie on both a personal and professional level. We’ve maintained that relationship over the years, and knowing them and how well they ran their organization gave us the confidence to pursue this opportunity seriously. TTS has great people and a great reputation, and we couldn’t picture a better strategic fit for both of our companies,” stated Mike LaRosa, Esq., Chief Operating Officer for FAN.

“We are so excited to have TTS become part of FAN and continue to grow our footprint in the Tampa Bay Area. Abe, Angie, and the team have a like-minded culture to FAN, and we are grateful for the opportunity to service our clients together,” stated Amy Gregory, President of Title Operations for FAN.

Florida Agency Network Closes First Refinance E-Closing Using Remote Online Notary

Tampa, Fla. – April 3, 2018 – Florida Agency Network announced the completion of its first 100 percent paperless, fully-digital real estate refinance transaction with United Wholesale Mortgage and Florida Mortgage Firm. The closing was completed at the office of Florida Mortgage Firm. All closing documents were executed electronically, and the Electronic Notarization of mortgage and affidavits was performed by Notarize via an online interface.

“After completing our first fully-digital purchase transaction using an online notary earlier this month, we knew the next step would be utilizing the technology for a refinance transaction,” said Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network. “Our borrower was thrilled at the efficiency throughout the entire process. This transaction was a key breakthrough in providing our clients the option of a fully digital remote closing at the time and location of their choosing.”

Hillsborough Title completed the transaction utilizing remote online notarization via Notarize, the first notary public platform allowing any person or business to get their documents legally notarized online, and Westcor Land Title Insurance Company, who underwrote and issued the title insurance policy.

“It is exciting to be a pioneer in the Florida market with the e-close experience. The days of long drives to title offices, scheduling time off work for the sole purpose of signing docs, and overseas clients searching for U.S. notaries will soon be a distant memory with this platform. Physical closing attendance will always be an option for consumers, but this added convenience will be a solution to a multitude of scenarios that will benefit our customers,” said Nate Davis, Owner of Florida Mortgage Firm.

Florida Agency Network Closes Florida’s First Completely Digital Transaction

Tampa, Fla. – March 8, 2018 – Florida Agency Network announced the completion of Florida’s first 100 percent paperless, fully-digital real estate closing transaction. The closing was completed by Paramount Title, a member of the Florida Agency Network, on March 7 in the Century 21 Beggins’ Madeira Beach office. All closing documents were executed electronically, and the Electronic Notarization of deeds and affidavits was performed by Notarize via an app interface utilizing a Notary in the state of Virginia.

“This is a historic transaction not just for Paramount Title and the Florida Agency Network, but also for the State of Florida and the real estate and settlement industry. We have long dreamed of the day of having a truly paperless closing, including the documents requiring notarization. We literally prepared, closed, and recorded an entire transaction digitally, without printing anything on paper. Our goal is to make this an option for all our clients. Not only does it streamline the process, but now reduces our industry’s impact on the environment. Paperless, digital closings offer many advantages versus the slower, traditional paper-based system. The paperless era has officially arrived!” said Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network.

Paramount Title partnered with Notarize, the first notary public platform allowing any person or business to get their documents legally notarized online. Notarize’s propriety software system enables a completely paperless process via any mobile device. The Notarize platform saves time and money, reduces fraud, and provides a better customer experience by improving efficiency and convenience.

“In keeping with the culture of Century 21 and our focus on technology and the consumer experience, it was exciting to be a part of history. Innovation is key to success in the real estate business. As an industry, we must develop a speedier and more efficient closing process. This was a strong step in the right direction, and we look forward to many more,” said Craig Beggins, the Broker/Owner of Century 21 Beggins.

 

To read more about how the closing came to be, click HERE.

Florida Agency Network Appoints Matthew Froning as Chief Information Security Officer

PLANT CITY, Fla., — Florida Agency Network (FAN) is pleased to announce the addition of Matthew Froning as its chief information security officer (CISO). Froning will drive FAN’s existing information security program, and collaborate with the industry to implement best practices on information security. These complex cyber strategy solutions and partnerships will ensure Florida Agency Network has the most effective, broad security postures.

“We are pleased to welcome Matthew to our team. His reputation, expertise and intimate knowledge of industry best practices will allow us to design and deploy a best-in-class, global security strategy,” said Aaron M. Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network.

The former Chief Information Officer of an industry leading Information Security Consulting company, Froning has led the charge for improving security processes and procedures for organizations while tightening controls to protect from cyberattacks. A security industry veteran, he developed information security assessment processes which included guidelines and reports aligned with regulatory and ALTA Best Practices. Froning is an Air Force veteran and former federal agent who has investigated, managed and directed computer-related criminal, counterintelligence, counterespionage, fraud and undercover matters for both the federal government and the military.

“Florida Agency Network has been an industry leader in the approach to secure their systems, processes, and the consumer information they are charged with protecting. As part of the team, I look forward to helping FAN continue to enhance their security program and provide the best service and level of security possible for their clients,” said Matthew Froning, CISO of FAN.

To read more, click HERE.

Florida Agency Network Announces New Collaboration Portal

Tampa, Fla. – January 18, 2018 – The Florida Agency Network announces the completion of its Closing Manager collaboration portal with the help of their IT partner Premier Data Services.  The Closing Manager has features that bridge wire fraud security best practices with the benefits of a consumer-friendly closing experience. Consumers, real-estate agents, and other parties to the transaction can minimize their email exposure when utilizing the Closing Manager.

“We surveyed and gathered data on Florida Agency Network’s clients to see if portal sentiment in the real-estate community had shifted. With the recent spike in wire fraud activity, we received overwhelming support from both directing and non-directing agents,” says Jay Roberts, Chief Technology Officer for Premier Data Services. “In fact, the percentage of those in favor continually increased each quarter over the past year. The Closing Manager minimizes the cyber footprint of a transaction and extends industry best practices through to the consumers at a time when it is needed most.”

Traditionally, collaboration portals have struggled to gain adoption by real estate agents who direct most transactions and have become the primary target of cyber-crime. However, with the rampant escalation in business email compromise (BEC), the security features associated with the Closing Manager provide clients with a safe-haven to conduct business and protect all components of the transaction. These features include:

  • Secured Chat allows parties to discuss sensitive, transaction-specific items without the exposure of traditional email.
  • Multifactor Authentication strengthens all parties’ control of information. This is currently a standard in the state of New York and its adoption is anticipated industry-wide.
  • Infosheets allow buyers and sellers to submit information requested by title insurance companies without the need for traditional email.
  • Two-way Document Sharing provides all parties associated to the transaction the ability to upload or receive documents without email delivery.

With fraud and cyber-crime increasingly impacting the real estate industry on a national level, the market has welcomed the adoption of collaboration portals with security tools like those offered by the Closing Manager.

Mike LaRosa, Chief Operating Officer for Florida Agency Network says, “With cyber fraud rampant in the title insurance industry over the past few years, the only responsible reaction appears to be securing transactions at the individual level. Compromised email attacks and social engineering have become highly sophisticated, and we in the industry have too much to risk. We deal with non-public personal information (NPPI) and significant amounts of escrowed funds on a daily basis. The move to individually-secured, portal-based communications seems like the most logical step in countering the current barrage of daily cyber-attack attempts.”

 

 

 

PREMIER DATA SERVICES is an IT/Managed Service Provider that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems with the highest level of security. Its intelligent remote monitoring and security tools provide expert, cost-effective IT management ensuring a company’s system operations are not only healthy, but also optimized for performance. For more information, please visit https://www.pds-1.com.

Florida Agency Network completes SOC 1 Type 2 attestation

PLANT CITY, Fla. – Florida Agency Network, (FAN), the largest network of title agencies in Florida, has completed a meticulous third-party examination of its data security and privacy policies and procedures under the Service Organization Controls (SOC) 1 Type 2 standards.

The demanding third-party examinations were administered by the professional IT assurance and compliance staff at 360 Advanced, a respected national Qualified Security Assessor, HITRUST CSF Assessor and Certified Public Accountant firm based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Companies that complete annual SOC 1 assessments can demonstrate a substantially higher level of security assurance and operational visibility as compared to those companies without an assessment. The assessment focuses on the internal controls impacting customers and the protection of their non-public personal information (NPPI).

“Proving up to date compliance with SOC 1 Type 2 is a rigorous process for all involved. I am proud that FAN completed our annual assessment successfully and believe that it affords us a competitive advantage,” said Andrea Somers, Compliance Officer for FAN. She added that the staff at 360 Advanced is “knowledgeable, detailed, and a pleasure to work with.”

For more information, click HERE.

Family Business Grows to Become National Player

Aaron Davis started in the title business from the ground up literally. At age nine, he was pulling staples out of the carpet at Hillsborough Title, his mother’s title agency.

Thirty years later, he’s running one of the nation’s largest independent title agencies with 200 employees, five in-house attorneys, new headquarters under construction in Plant City, and revenues nearing $20 million.

Read the full article here: Florida Member Spotlight

Hillsborough Title President Aaron Davis featured in Fox News story on National Flood

Zone VP, Aaron Davis on Fox News Tampa Bay

Today, Aaron Davis, FLTA’s Zone 4 Vice President was featured on Fox News Tampa Bay discussing the May 31 expiration of the National Flood Insurance Program and FLTA and ALTA’s efforts to have the program extended. 
 
Here’s a link to the Story
 
As some of you are aware, both FLTA and ALTA have been monitoring this issue closely.   The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has lapsed eleven times since Sept. 30, 2008.  (12 counting this week)   Each lapse has delayed thousands of closings and caused considerable uncertainty for buyers, sellers and lenders. These disruptions cost title and escrow businesses’, lenders’, and consumers’ time, money and unnecessary worry.
 
What is less widely known, is that earlier this month, FLTA sent a delegation of 10 of our members to Washington DC to join the ALTA team in visiting legislators to express our concern that the NFIP might lapse again.  
 
We expect another short-term extension of the program.  Months ago, the House of Representatives passed a five year extension of the NFIP by a bi-partisan majority; the Senate declined to vote on the long term extension.  Two weeks ago, seeing no action on the Senate side and knowing the deadline was fast approaching, the House approved a 30 day extension of the program.   Last week, the Senate approved a 60 day extension.   
 
We are in a position where the bills from both sides must be reconciled, voted on and sent to the President for signature.   We are cautiously optimistic that this will be completed before May 31 so that there is not another lapse in the program.
 
Our thanks to Aaron for carrying this important message (albeit in a highly edited form) to the public.  
 
FLTA blog post by Alan Fields

Is there such a thing as “self-certification?” (Podcast with Aaron Davis, CEO of Florida Agency Network)

UHeardMe logo

Rob chats with Aaron Davis, fast-moving CEO of the growing Florida Agency Network. On tap is the ongoing conversation about certification–will ALTA Best Practices be enough? Can agents afford to pursue SOC I certification? Can they afford not to? Aaron also shares his thoughts on protecting NPI, “self-certification” and the future of the small agent.

Listen to the conversation now!

Plant City business investing $5.1 million in expansion

PLANT CITY — Florida Agency Network, the state’s largest independent title company, is expanding here because of increased efforts to grow the local economy.

“We were potentially looking at moving the center of our operations to a more central location, either in downtown Tampa or Sabal Park” until economic development activities really began to increase here, said CEO Aaron Davis.

Instead of moving from Plant City, Davis decided to expand. “I decided to purchase our office park and the vacant lots adjacent to it and develop an additional 12,000 square feet.

Florida Agency Network is investing $5.1 million in its expansion and will use about 70 percent of the space created.

The expansion announcement took place Monday afternoon during the first official meeting of the Plant City Economic Development Corp. The new EDC will depend mostly on private investment from local companies. It is gearing up with 32 full board members and 12 general members and a budget of nearly $400,000 in start-up cash, including $175,000 from Plant City government. Its intent is to draw new business to the I-4 Corridor and beyond and to enable existing companies to expand in the Plant City region.

The company’s physical expansion at the Alexander Oaks office park, Davis said, will result in 50,000 square feet of office space in seven buildings with green space, a walking track for employees, outdoor relaxation areas and collaborative work space.

The expanded office park will also include a cafeteria, break areas, LCD screens and more. “We’re really paying attention to some of the businesses like USAA” which are focusing on building a “cool” work place that will attract every kind of employee, including millennials, he said.

Florida Agency Network has 30 locations across the state and its multiple brands include Hillsborough Title, Trident Title, Tampa Bay Title, HomePlus Title and BPM Solutions. “It’s very IT heavy, very process heavy,” Davis said. “Today’s workforce wants to come to work in jeans and comfy clothes and have their iPods going and do their work and have a nice place to take a break.” That is what the new expansion will include, he said.

Davis said he hopes to start construction in the first quarter of 2016. He’ll be hiring employees for multiple positions. “We’re not only a title company, but also an IT company and also do accounting, financial services, title ancillary services and lien searches.”

Davis said he plans to add about 100 additional staff in the next three to five years.

“We are excited to retain and assist Aaron’s company in their tremendous growth,” said Plant City Mayor Rick Lott. “Our homegrown businesses making a choice to stay and invest here is a sure sign of more great things to come.”

J.P. DuBuque, interim president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. called Davis’s expansion “a major win for Plant City and all of Hillsborough County. We are committed to working in partnership with the newly formed Plant City Economic Development Corp. to provide the permitting, workforce training and other business assistance services that help companies like Florida Agency Network thrive here by staying focused on their core business.”

Randy Larson, who is serving as the board chairman for the new Plant City EDC, said he looks forward to Florida Agency Network’s continued growth. “The world is waking up to the exceptional opportunities Plant City affords to grow a company, raise a family and take advantage of an excellent location that is convenient to all of Central Florida, Port Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport and major interstates,” Larson said.