Why You Should Stop Sending Mailers And Focus Your Efforts on Facebook Videos

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Have you noticed the trend? More and more Facebook users are using video for their social media marketing. I wonder why. Here are the facts according to WordStream and SingleGrain:

-93% of marketers are using video in their campaigns

-Diode Digital found that video promotion is 600% more effective than print and direct mail…combined.

-45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week

-ONE THIRD of online activity is spent watching video

-85% of the US internet audience watches videos online

-The 25-34 (millennial) age group watches the most online videos and men spend 40% more time watching videos on the internet than women.

With video content being the new preferred method for ingesting content, wouldn’t it make sense that the real estate industry follow in line?

But what if you don’t know how to create video content?

Not to worry, I can help with that too.

Here are some helpful hints to get you started:

  1. Go live. If you have an open house or new listing, take a live tour of the home.

2.  Upload your videos directly to Facebook rather than sharing on YouTube first. Video uploaded natively to Facebook is more likely to capture attention. According to Quintly, Facebook Native videos perform up to 4x better than all other video formats.”

3. Make your first three to four seconds captivating. Vidyard found that you lose the majority of your audience within the first 30 seconds or less. This makes capturing the audience from the beginning crucial to maximzing the viewing potential of each video.

4. Provide engaging context for each video.

5. ALWAYS include a Call-To-Action. We are posting videos for leads right? What should your viewers do when they finish the video? Ask for the sale!


These are just some tips to get you started. If you need more one-on-one help, you can always ask me!


Jess Patterson

Advantage Title




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Howard County Transfer Tax Break for Fire and Rescue and Law Enforcement

Image result for howard county police and fire and rescue

Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland House Bill 1604 made home buying more affordable for Howard County Police, Deputy Sheriff, Fire, and Rescue Service Members. Effective July 1, 2017, First Time Home Buyers that are currently employed with Howard County Law Enforcement/Fire and Rescue Services are exempt from County Transfer Taxes. Subsequent Buyers will also receive a discounted rate of .7%.

Howard County Transfer taxes are currently 1% of the purchase price.

There are a few caveats to this program:

  1. At least one Deed grantee must be currently employed as a Howard County Police Officer, Deputy Sheriff, or Fire and Rescue Service Member.
  2. The homeowners must occupy the property as a principal residence for 3 consecutive years.
  3. Departure or Termination will require payment of the full transfer taxes.



On top of this tax break, first time homebuyers in the state of Maryland (regardless of employement) are exempt from the STATE transfer tax. This is referred to as the First Time Homebuyer State Transfer Tax Exemption.

Therefore, first time homebuyers in the county of Howard that meet the law enforcement or fire and rescue specifications will be exempt from state transfer taxes as well as the county transfer tax, as long as all guidelines are met.

The link to the legislative bill is here.

For a copy of the affidavit required to obtain the exemption, please ask me for the PDF.

Make sure you have a title company who is in the know! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Image result for howard county police

Jess Patterson

Advantage Title Company



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Talking Taxes: Maryland Recordation and Transfer Taxes

I get a lot of questions about taxes-specifically transfer and recordation taxes. Today, I am going to focus on Maryland since that is where our headquarters are, but stay tuned for other states as well.

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State Transfer Tax


The Maryland State transfer tax is a tax imposed by the state to record an instrument in the Land Records, conveying title from one entity to another. This tax is collected by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. This tax is for a written instrument that changes the title of a property (i.e: Deed), not a contract that creates an encumbrance on real property (DOT, mortgage). The tax is customarily split 50/50 unless otherwise specified in the contract.


.5% of the consideration payable for each instrument (purchase price)


Maryland First Time Homebuyers: rate changes to .25% and is paid in full by the seller. An affidavit is needed to determine whether the FTHB will be occupying the property as its principal residence or not.*

County Transfer Tax


This is the county’s transfer tax and the percentage differs depending on the county where the property is located. The tax is collected by the county and the percentage is usually based on the consideration. This is customarily split 50/50 by the buyer and seller unless otherwise specified in the contract. Each county has exceptions and guidelines, it is ALWAYS  best to ask a professional title agent to help with these calculations.


To get an accurate representation, please visit our online calculator here.

Recordation Tax

This tax is imposed by the state for recording an instrument in the Land Records and is collected by the county treasury of where the property is located. These instruments can include the deed, DOT, or mortgage, depending on what is recorded in a particular transaction.


Each county has different recordation tax rates. To get an accurate representation, please visit out online calculator here.

*There are lots of exceptions, so please ask a professional to help with these calculations.

Lien Certificates/Recording Fees

Some counties will require a lien cert to be purchased during real estate transactions. A Lien Cert is a certificate of claim against a property that has lien placed against it for unpaid taxes or charges associated with the Real Property Tax Account. The fee for the lien cert is mandated by the perspective county and will vary. Some counties that require a lien cert are: Baltimore City and County, Carroll County, Charles County, Frederick County, Harford County, and Howard County.

To ask if a lien cert is required for your transaction, please contact me and I can help you with all of these calculations.

A County Clerk will also collect a recording fee for recording instruments into the land records. Some examples of documents are: deed, deed of trust, releases, certificates of satisfaction, and Power of Attorneys, each charged separately.

For an accurate estimation of transfer/recordation taxes, please feel free to contact me for a quote.

Happy Selling/Buying!

Jessica Patterson

Advantage Title Company





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Marijuana Cultivation and Title Insurance

Image result for marijuana farm

Yesterday, Maryland regulators approved a Medicinal Marijuana dispensary in Frederick with plans to meet with individuals today, July 6th, to pre-order their prescriptions. While Maryland legalized Medical Marijuana four years ago, this is the first firm they are allowing to grow the crop. The firm expects the plants to be ready after Labor Day. After reading the article in the Baltimore Sun, you BET I decided to do my research and I am so glad I did. This has been one of my favorite stories to research. Ladies and gentlemen, here is what you need to know about Marijuana cultivation and how this industry effects properties’ title insurance. Luckily, we have California, Washington, and Oregon to thank for carving the path for us.

1. There is an exception to your title policy

In states that have legalized the cultivation of marijuana, title insurance companies set up a specific exception in their policies. The exception excludes coverage for governmental actions such as civil and criminal forfeiture of property under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. If the purchaser of a property fails to disclose the properties intended use and a claim comes about related to property forfeiture, the title company may deny liability.

What this means: regardless, the title company is not going to cover the forfeiture of your property if the government claims it based on the Federal Controlled Substance Act, so you may as well be honest from the beginning.

2. You may need to shop around for a company

Many title insurance companies have refused to act as an escrow agent or title agent for properties that are being used to cultivate marijuana due to uncertain legalities, per underwriters orders. Fidelity Title Insurance in particular has sent notices to their affiliated companies that prohibit insuring any land that is going to be used for the cultivation of marijuana. They have supplied a disclaimer to be made in the beginning of the transaction informing the buyer that this type of land-use will not be insurable. If the title company is to find out later on throughout the transaction that the property is to be used for the cultivation of marijuana, then the title company can refuse coverage, per this disclaimer.

What this means: Make sure you are upfront and honest (see #1) because you don’t want your coverage being taken away at the last second. Check with your title companies underwriters and make sure your land is insurable.

3. Niche Attorneys are your friend

If you are interested in cultivating marijuana and are licensed to do so, there are many attorneys in Maryland who specialize in this niche market. The Medical Cannabis Law Group would be a great place to start. Their website can be found here.


As always, feel free to comment, like, share, and contact me. I love all feedback.


Jess Patterson

Advantage Title Company

National Account Executive


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Documents and the Title Timeline: Communication is Key

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There are many parties to a real estate purchase transaction, including the lender, title agent, buyer’s agent, listing agent, seller, buyer, and more. Each of us work together with a common goal in mind: to help the seller sell their home and the buyer purchase their home. All of us are responsible for making sure our piece of the pie is completed in a timely manner so we can all bring our pieces together at the end. But what does the title agent need to get our part finished? In this article, I will explain what is needed for a title agent to clear title, when those pieces are needed, and why communication is the underlying factor of whether or not the transaction will be completed on time….for all parties involved.

Step One: The purchase contract, title order, surveys, and commission

The first step for title is getting the real estate purchase contract and title order from the lender. The contract is the most important thing needed to begin title. The contract will tell us the property address so we can order an abstract (the chain of title), the parties to the contract, and any factors that will change our processing. The contract includes specifics such as: seller contributions, tax breaks available (i.e: First Time Homebuyer), front foot fees, and addendums. All of this information will help us get a better understanding of how to process the file and the sooner we get it, the faster we can close.

We also advise the buyer on whether or not they would like a survey done at their property in the form of a location drawing. For some buyers, a survey is a must! For others, they prefer to skip this amenity. Whichever the buyers choose, we have a form that needs to be signed describing their preference. Surveys can take up to two weeks to get back, depending on the county and this is for a location drawing. Boundary surveys can take much longer. This is why it is important for the title agent to communicate with the buyer as soon as possible on whether or not a survey is needed and to have the form filled out accordingly.

Title agents will also ask about agent commissions. We need to know the percentage of commission that is going to the listing agent and buyer’s agent, as well as their broker fees. These numbers will allow us to write up pre-CD’s, ALTA estimates, and final numbers when we get closer to settlement. It is best to ask for this information off the bat, that way there are no surprises as everyone progresses through the transaction.

Step Two: Clearing Title, Collecting Invoices, and Scheduling Closing

This step is where a lot of the behind-the-scenes action is! As a title agent, we are diligently collecting and asking for information that is required to clear title. Some examples of information that may be needed are: social security numbers to verify judgments, LLC documents if the buyer is purchasing the property in an LLC, HOA fees, borrower’s authorization to order payoffs, addendums for repairs (addendums in general!), and verification of property taxes. On the title end, we want to make sure of a few things:

-Title is clear

-All invoices are collected (HOI, HOA, Termite, Inspection, etc) and put on the ALTA/CD

-We have all title fees, insurance, invoices, and prorated taxes for the lender to disclose on the CD

-The deed is written and ready to go

-all seller help and repairs are accounted for

The next thing to do is to schedule settlement. We will coordinate with the Buyer’s Agent, lender, and listing agent to determine the time, location, and date of closing. Once we have all agreed upon these factors, we will schedule closing with one of our settlement agents. Part of this process includes letting the buyer know how to bring funds to settlement and how much to bring. During this process, we will be organizing the closing package to prepare for settlement and making sure all wires are received in advance.

Once we are all set to go, settlement will commence, documents will be signed and notarized, keys will be transferred, hands will be shook, smiles will break out, and commissions will be given out (if they haven’t already been wired!).

Step Three: Post Closing, Recordation, and Policy

While most people thing the transaction stops there, it doesn’t for a title agent. We are responsible for getting documents back to the lender for their records, recording the deed of trust and deed, and issuing the title policy.

The funding documents will be sent to the lender straightaway via email. The deed of trust and deed will be sent to the county/city for recording and once we receive the recorded documents back, we will issue the title policy. The Title policy may take up to a month or more to get to the buyer, depending on the speed of the county/city for recording. If you are worried about your title insurance, have no fear! The title commitment (which is in the package that was signed at settlement), is sufficient for title insurance until the policy can be issued. That is why it exists!

Now that we understand the most general explanation of the title process, it is important to understand why communication is key. If there are any delays in getting documents to each other, delays in clearing up a question, or delays in communication at all, then the transaction will ultimately be delayed as well. It is everyone’s responsibility and privilege to help our buyers and sellers. We owe it to them to be at the top of our game and all of this starts and ends with clear, quick, and concise communication.

As always, please feel free to contact me! I love listening to all feedback.

Jess Patterson

Account Executive

Advantage Title Company

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5 Things Your Title Agent Should Explain To Your Buyers, Not You

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We’ve all been in a transaction with a party that is not responding to us. This can be frustrating, especially when we have questions or need documents quickly. We bust our butts for our buyers and we expect everyone in the transaction to have a work ethic similar to ours, but that is not always the case.

This person better not be your title agent.

Title agents often get overlooked, even though they can be an excellent source of knowledge. Just like a real estate agent is the go-to person for showing houses and writing contracts, your title agent should be the go-to for anything title. (Uh, obviously!)…But there are some things you may not know that your title agent is licensed to understand and be able to communicate to buyers. If you hear your buyers ask any of these questions, point them in the direction of your title agent and save yourself some time and effort!

1. “Should I get Owner’s Title Insurance?”

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: It really is up to your buyer as it is their right to choose; but they need to make an informed decision and title agents are the only ones to give this information. Not only are we licensed appropriately, but most of us have a few examples of title claims and resources available to explain title insurance in a clever, user-friendly way. Believe me, most of us are not going to just say yes without explaining why. We do have your buyer’s best interests at heart.

Better Answer: Call Me and I’ll be happy to explain. 410-795-5105.

2. “What are transfer taxes and how are they calculated?”

When you get a pre-CD from a title company, they will usually quote the transfer and recordation taxes for you. A large part of our job is to verify taxes; including property, transfer, and recordation. We know how transfer taxes are calculated and we have systems that will double and triple check our calculations. We also call the appropriate county/city where the property is located to make sure they check our work. Since we are doing the legwork for this part of the process, let us take the reins in explaining the costs.

Insider Tip: We can also explain tax credits and their qualifications for each.

3. “Do I need a survey?”

There are plenty of times when a survey is recommended or needed. FindLaw has a great blog that explains some of those reasons. You can find that blog here.

A title agent asks the buyer whether or not they want a survey done.

A great title agent asks if a buyer wants a survey done and then proceeds to explain why this could be beneficial to them, or not necessary for their situation.

Usually the survey ordered for closing is a location drawing, which shows the location of the improvements on the property in relation to the apparent boundary lines of the property. This survey is only accurate within a few feet and costs a few hundred dollars. This type of survey is not intended for identifying property lines. If the buyer wishes to identify their exact property lines (especially if they wish to build a fence) they would want a boundary survey. A boundary survey is expensive and takes longer than a location drawing, so make sure this need is addressed as soon as possible. I recommend to my agents to ask this ahead of ordering title, that way your title agent knows as soon as possible to go over this with your buyer as soon as they receive the title order.

4. “How much do I need to bring to settlement?”

There are really two parts to this question.

  1. How much do I bring to settlement?
  2. How should I be bringing my funds to settlement?

The closing process has lots of moving parts. In the aftermath of TRID, lenders are responsible for disclosing costs three (business) days prior to settlement. These costs can still change after the closing disclosure goes out to the buyer. Some examples being: prorations, seller credits, and agent commissions. Make sure an accurate cash to close figure comes directly from your title agent so your buyer doesn’t bring the wrong amount to settlement.

The second part to this question refers to the way funds are brought. What I mean by that is in the form of a certified check, personal check, or wire. Each title company is different and some have strict guidelines on how they receive funds. Have your title agent be the one to tell your buyer the amount to bring to settlement and the form in which funds should be received. No one wants to deal with insufficient funds at the end of the month on a Friday evening closing.

At Advantage Title, we reach out to the buyers days ahead of settlement to open the opportunity for questions to be asked and prepare the buyer for what to expect at closing. We have found that this makes the settlement smooth and relaxing for everyone involved.

5. “Can I close on Friday at the end of the month?”

Of course you can….but did you consider Wednesday?

Everyone wants to settle on Friday and no one wants to settle on Wednesday. There is an 8:1 ratio when comparing Friday settlements to Wednesday settlements.

Insider tip: If you have a difficult settlement coming up or a buyer that wants a little extra TLC, close on a Wednesday when no one else wants to close. You will have the lender, closer, and office to yourself and everyone can take their time signing documents. This is especially beneficial for conditional transactions, such as a buyer purchasing a home directly after the sale of their home.



Your title agent shouldn’t hide behind the real estate agent and lender, but should be an active participant in the process. If you are working with a title company that you feel isn’t communicating with your buyers or if you have any questions yourself, please feel free to contact me.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter!


Jessica Patterson

Advantage Title Company





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Beecause We Care-Why Advantage Title Cares About the Bee Population

I was having lunch on a patio of a restaurant with a realtor friend of mine in late April. We were happily chatting about the housing market. We care about our industry, our market, our inventory, and above all else- our clients. We enjoyed discussing ways to better serve our community and in the middle of our discussion, a bee buzzed by our heads. My friend swatted at the bee while I continued to eat my sandwich. Our conversation shifted to Maryland weather, the up-coming Preakness, and how nice it was to finally be able to spend time outdoors with our families. The bee flew by us again. It got me thinking and I asked my friend, “Why don’t we see as many bees as we used to?” Flashbacks of spring break in high school popped into my head, the first time I was stung by a bee. My friend began talking about the bee population and how it has been declining, putting bees on an endangered list. Being who I am, I decided that after lunch I would do some research.

Image result for honeybee pictures

I went home and began to study.

Bees pollinate 30% of the food that we eat including: pumpkins, apples, watermelons, coffee, celery, cotton, berries, and other plants that can’t self-pollinate.

While the bee population has been declining nationwide, Maryland has been hit especially hard. In 2016, Mid-Atlantic beekeepers have lost over 56% of their bee colonies, according to the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP). Declining bee populations hasn’t exactly been a secret (have you see the Cheerios bee missing from the box?!), but what has been a little less “public-knowledge” is the reason why.

Due to the increased use of pesticides in the US, bees will go to pollinate plants with pesticides on them and bring the pesticides back to the colony, killing the bees. Even though some of these pesticides claim to be “bee-friendly”, that is not always the case. An example of that would be glyphosate (an example of that being Roundup), which is technically an herbicide, destroys a bee’s ability to find its way back to the hive by impairing their cognitive function. When bees can’t return back to the hive to provide for the rest of the colony, populations will decline. Another type of pesticide that is extremely harmful to bees are neonicotinoids, which severely impact bees immune systems. Maryland was actually the first state to ban neonicotinoids but the bee population hasn’t recovered as quickly.

An assistant professor of entomology at University of Maryland, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, conducted a study that followed 91 different colonies owned by three different beekeepers over the course of an agricultural season. The study focused on three factors: total number of pesticides, number of pesticides that were over the minimum toxicity threshold, and total hazard quotient. The findings in the study were astonishing. 93 different types of pesticides found their way into the colonies, every colony with high levels of pesticides in the colony had lost their queen bee, and that every sample of bee bread (processed pollen) had between 5 and 20 different pesticides which exceeded the toxicity threshold. The team in the study found that bees exposed to pesticides, even in low amounts, were still extremely harmful to bee colonies.

So what can we do?

Image result for bee garden


Be mindful of the Pesticides that we use:

We can stop using pesticides that are known for harming bees (or stop using them completely in our gardens).These pesticides include (but are not limited to): Orthene (acetate), Seven (carbaryl), Diazinon (spectracide), Raid Flying Insect Killer, Ambush, Pounce, Bayer Systemic, and Crossfire. We can spray these pesticides at dawn or dusk when bees are not active: Spinosad, Pyrethrum, and Neem Oil. Some of the less toxic pesticides include: Petroleum-Based Oils, Insecticidal Soap, and Serenade.

To find some other ways to control your “pests” in your garden without harming the bees, check out this article here.

Make your garden Bee-Friendly!


To provide bees with water, simply use a saucer or dish and add about a quarter inch of sand. (I use the clay dish to an old flower pot for my garden). Add water into the dish until a quarter of an inch of water is above the sand. Add some stones or rocks to the dish to keep the bees from drowning. Some of the stones should just reach the top of the water, others can be just beneath the surface.


Cheerios received some online backlash after scientists noticed that the seeds included non-native invasive species. Be mindful of what flowers you use. Also, flowers that are pollinated by bees usually require lots of sunlight, so make sure your garden is in the sun. For my folks in Maryland, I am going to give you a few examples of what to use. For a complete list, go to this link. Some of the flowers you can plant are Asters, Bee Balm, Milkweed, Virginia Bluebells, Blackeyed Susans (my favorite), and Goldenrods.

If you want to learn how to make a bee-box, here is a step-by-step instruction on how to do it.
To bring it full-circle, why does Advantage Title Company care about the bees?

Advantage Title was actually the first title company in Maryland to join the Maryland Green Registry! (We are registered here.) If your current company is not green and you want to join, you can learn how to accomplish that here.

If you are out enjoying an afternoon of building a bee garden, post pictures to Instagram with the tag #beecauseAdvanCares for a chance to win a $100 Home Depot Gift Card. We will pick the winner in July of 2017. Happy Gardening!

Jessica Patterson

National Account Executive

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Why Isn’t Your House Selling?

Real Estate

Have you been trying to sell your house all summer, but you just can’t seem to finalize a deal? Selling a house can be very stressful especially if it is taking a long time for someone to buy. There’s no need to wait, there are many reasons why your house may not be selling. Take a look at this article and it might get that “For Sale” sign out of your yard quicker than you thought!


Sam Lipsky

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Natural Disaster Risk Could Help Determine Your Next Home

Realty Trac released their first every Natural Disaster Housing Risk Report. In this report each county in the United States was ranked from; very low risk, low risk, medium risk, high risk, and very high risk. Although it may not be the first thing home buyers look for when purchasing a home, it is good to take into consideration how likely your house will remain intact with no damage.

The scores were ranked on a risk factor for three natural disasters, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Out of 3,138 counties assessed, 373 were classified as being at very high risk to be involved with a natural disaster. This is about 12 percent of all United States counties. This number seems very high considering that more than 1 out of every 10 counties has a high possibility of being faced with a natural disaster. Even more astounding is that 47 percent of total U.S housing units were classified as being at a high risk for a natural disaster. This means that roughly 59 percent of all U.S homes were classified as being at a high risk or a very high risk to be involved with a natural disaster. This stands tall over the 3 percent of homes that are classified as very low risked. The very high risk category was by far the most frequent category that U.S counties fell into. This proves that the majority of the United States is much more likely to be faced with a natural disaster rather than not.

The counties with the highest scores consist of Tuscaloosa County Alabama, Shelby County Alabama, Paulding County Georgia, and the county with the highest chance of being involved in a natural disaster is Jefferson County Alabama.

On the contrary there are counties that are at very low risks to be involved in a natural disaster. The lowest scores are Yellowstone County Montana, Wright County Minnesota, Saint Louis County Minnesota, and the county with the least risk of being affected by a natural disaster is Olmstead County Minnesota. If you are looking for a new home and are concerned about natural disasters it may be wise to aim for a county in Minnesota and avoid Alabama. Jefferson County scored a 65 while Olmstead County had a mere 15.

All of the counties mentioned don’t have the highest population, so chances are these scores did not have very much effect on you. You’re probably wondering which major counties have the highest risk. Major counties with the highest risk include Philadelphia County, New York County, Middlesex County, Kings County, and the highest risk is Bronx County. Although the counties with the highest total score were right in the Bible belt, it seems that major counties with the highest risk are firmly planted in the North East. If your county was not mentioned, visit RealtyTrac. There is an interactive map that shows the risk of a natural disaster for every single county in the United States. Who knows it may come in handy when choosing your next home!

Sam Lipsky

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Join Our Netwrok of Certified Reverse Mortgage Closers


Lenders choose Advantage Reverse Title because of our customer service and proprietary network of certified reverse closers. We provide in-house training and certification, and hold our closers to the highest level of standards. You and Advantage will represent lenders at settlement with the highest degree of professionalism at the time and place of borrower’s choosing.

Settlement agents represent lenders in the most critical part of the transaction. The reverse mortgage settlement is often filled with concerns of the borrower and their family, and an experienced agent is needed to guide the process with expertise and kindness.


Reverse Mortgage Closing Experience,

Passing Grade on Closer Exam,


State applicable License,

State applicable Bonding,

Professional Demeanor,

Excellent Communication Skills

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