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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Selling Houses Using Videos


The future of home selling is here. Using videos to sell homes is becoming a more and more prominent technique for quicker turnover. Up to 90% of buyers use the internet to search for homes, and many find videos to be the most entertaining and convincing forms of selling. The question is, how will this new concept be adapted to the modern real estate market?

Videos used for selling homes are expensive and for now, are only really considered on high end homes. Movie directors and brokers collaborate on an idea, decide on who the audience will be, and if necessary, develop a story line, characters, and script. These videos can range from a slideshow of pictures, to music videos and even full length action movie trailers.

A company called Platinum HD has taken these films to an amazing extent. One short film features a scantily clad model tied to a chair with a SWAT team racing to rescue her in a helicopter! In order to find where she is being held captive, she describes, in humorous detail, the layout and design of this Australian Mansion.

While that may be a little out of the price range for most, there are much more affordable ways in which this idea is being adapted to work for everyone. Some methods that have been around for a few years include video slideshows put to music. This is an effective way to expose the house and keep the potential buyer interested. However, new developments may soon outdate this current practice

Other brokers have found a cheaper and possibly more efficient way of filming houses. They are abandoning the script and the story lines to focus on nothing but touring the house. Most videos start around a few thousand dollars and can go up to half a percentage of listing, depending on the complexity of the video.

In the modern real estate market, technology is everything. It only makes sense that agents would go to where the buyers are, in this case, online, to successfully market their product. Videos are consistently the most popular form of communication in social media venues or search engines such as Facebook or Google. How long will it take until this trend reaches mainstream real estate?

The housing market is traditionally slow moving in regards to technology and some mavericks, like Platinum HD are making ground-breaking advancements. It won’t be long until more companies emerge and use engaging videos in order to reach buyers faster in less expensive ways. This exciting new idea is here to stay, so look for more new developments here on the Advantage Title Company Blog or on our Facebook page

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The Benefits of Staging


Remember the good old days, when staging included lighting a few candles and baking a batch of cookies in the oven? Well those days are long gone. In today’s real estate market, staging is a pivotal step in the process of selling a home. According to, sellers who spent $500 on staging recovered 343% of the cost when the home sold and experienced 83% less time on the market!

Staging has been developed into a full-fledged science, with studies backing up several different methods. Notably, Duke University conducted an investigation to establish the most and least effective practices of staging. They concluded that the keys to staging are to disconnect the seller from the property in order to make it as impersonal as possible, and to make the house inviting and appealing to a general audience.

According to the Duke University Study, the most effective principle of staging is the removal of personal items from bathrooms. Leaving around toiletries can distract the potential buyer, and it serves to remind them that the house they are looking to buy is being used. The next most important principle is using rooms for their intended purpose. If a buyer sees an office being used as a dining room, they will assume that there is not enough space in the house, and they will have a difficult time picturing what the space should be used for.

There are many important guidelines on where Realtors should focus their staging efforts. The Duke University study found that baking cookies during showings was in fact the least influential factor in all of staging. Scented candles and air fresheners were also found to be not as effective as other methods. However, notable staging principles to make the list include turning on all of the lights in the house, removing all personal photographs, and painting the walls a neutral color.

There is a way to be even more preemptive in your approach, and that involves preparing the exterior of the home. Most buyers form a positive or negative opinion about a home within the first ten seconds of being there, which means that most buyers are forming an opinion before they even exit their cars.

The theory behind preparing the exterior is similar to the interior: depersonalize and clean the space. Specifically, some tips for outdoor staging include putting away anything nonessential, remove anything broken or outdated, weed the entire yard and add a fresh coat of paint to anything that requires it. First impressions are everything when it comes to selling houses, and a clean, well-kept front yard and exterior are a perfect way to create positive responses.

If you are interested in learning more about staging, Advantage Title Company is sponsoring Maryland Realtors to enroll in a free online seminar taught by industry professionals. If you would like to sell homes faster and for more money, then sign up for the event on our Facebook page, Upon completion of both online classes on August 19th and the 21st at 10AM EST along with at home assignments, you will be awarded with Staging Designation.

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Interesting Real Estate Property News This Summer!

missile siloVersailles_USA
A renovated missile silo on the market? The largest house in the United States under construction? Celebs flipping million dollar real estate property like they were selling stocks? These are just some of the highlights of the wild housing market that we have seen this summer. Instead of analyzing mortgage rates and government housing policies, let’s take a look at unique real estate that has captured the market’s amazement over the past few months.

During the Cold War, several missile bases were built underground and scattered throughout the country. Decades later, these massive silos have been decommissioned are being sold off as private residences. In Lewis, N.Y., one of these missile silos in being sold for $750,000, which could be a steal for a property that extends 185 feet into the ground. The “house” (above left) has everything that a normal one does, including a kitchen, bathrooms, and a living area, as well as protection from noise, extreme weather, and of course, any potential nuclear disasters. If you have deep pockets and an imagination for home design, this could be a piece of real estate worth investing in.

Got $100 million to blow? If so, you could consider purchasing a home in Orlando, FL that sizes up at a mere 90,000-square-feet. Construction on this colossal residence dubbed “Versailles” (pictured on the right) ceased during the recession four years ago, but the owners have decided to restart their project that will eventually contain 13 bedrooms and 23 bathrooms. The house will also feature two movie theaters, a bowling alley, a roller rink, multiple pools, and 10 kitchens! While this mega-home was listed in 2009 for a whopping one hundred million dollars, owner David Siegel says he plans to make Versailles his permanent abode, but could be swayed “only for a lot of money.” Let the bidding begin!

Not only can real estate take on multiple intriguing forms, it could also prove to be a wise investment, as evidenced by the purchasing history of notable celebrities. Take Bruce Willis for example, who bought a Beverly Hills property in 2004 for $9 million. After several additions and letting the house appreciate in value for almost a decade, the one-acre mansion is now being listed for $22 million, a 144 percent price increase! Willis is no stranger to the real estate game either, as he holds a few properties in Idaho and New York that he is attempting to sell for large profits. Apparently, Mr. Willis possesses more skills than just his acting prowess.

Another popular celeb that enjoys playing the real estate game is Ellen DeGeneres, who has been said to buy property “as if it were designer shoes.” This includes her most recent purchase, a $26.5 million ocean view estate in Montecito, CA. DeGeneres is a huge fan of interior design, which gives her plenty of incentive to take on new projects and sell the old ones annually. The Montecito acquisition has now opened up a spot on the market for DeGeneres’ horse ranch, which is being listed at approximately $13 million. This savvy talk show host really knows how to move some real estate!

If you have any of your own crazy real estate stories, we would love to hear them! Post on our Facebook page at to share your interesting experiences and possibly win a prize for your efforts. Also, visit for more cool real estate information.

Tony Starego

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Advantage Title Real Estate Tech Report

google glas

The real estate market is filled with potential. Millions of people’s careers are in real estate, and the industry’s assets are worth trillions of dollars. However, most of this industry uses out of date technology that fails to provide the cutting-edge services that customers crave. Thus, adaptation and modernization are keys to staying ahead of the curve in this competitive market.

The New York Times has reported that Trulia, the popular real estate website, recently released a new app for Google Glass. For those of you who don’t know, Google Glass is a computer mounted on a set of glasses that displays an augmented reality to the user. They offer many of the same features as a traditional smartphone; however the possible features for Google Glass are nearly endless. Trulia has taken advantage of these possibilities, and many other real estate websites will surely follow suit.

While wearing the glasses, Trulia’s app will notify the wearer of houses that interest them based on information given to the app. Many features related to the house will be presented to the wearer using Google Glass. For instance, the user can scroll through photos, listen to a portrayal of the house, get directions, and can even contact a real estate agent, all from a pair of glasses! The most popular real estate app Zillow is planning to create an app for Google Glass. Zillow plans to add even more features including when the house was last sold and its estimated price.

These features are not yet available to the public, as the Goggle Glass hardware will not be sold commercially until 2014. This example of technological advancement is a testament to how the real estate market is always changing. Trulia is ahead of the curve in being the first company of its kind to become accessible using the new Google Glass technology. As long as real estate agents stay informed about the latest developments in technology, they too can be ahead of the curve, and be there for the customer.

At Advantage Title Company, we pride ourselves on being in the know when it comes to new technology and its applications to the real estate market. In the past we were instrumental in developing a revolutionary title calculator which is available on our website. Currently, we have up to the minute dashboards on every company computer and we are one of the leaders in paperless office systems. Our services can be accessed at our website or we can be contacted on Facebook You can also read more in this exciting technology at Contact us at for information on upcoming events as well.

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FHA Working to Change Reverse Mortgages


New FHA developments on reverse mortgages have the potential to create reverberations throughout the lending industry.

FHA is working to establish financial strength in its reverse mortgage program to foster a safer investment for everyone involved. The proposed changes are designed to stabilize the program so that seniors can continue to access reverse loans for years to come. The initiative is backed by both consumers and lenders, including AARP, The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, and the National Council on Aging.

In order to avoid cutting certain services or creating sweeping reform, FHA is planning to make targeted changes.

One adjustment to the reverse program could include a stipulation to make loans conditional on assessment of the consumer’s financial situation. This assessment would include an analysis into how much cash a borrower has remaining after payment of homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and other fees.

On the surface, it would seem like this would eliminate certain people who need the reverse mortgages the most. After all, some people shopping for reverse mortgages are experiencing financial difficulty. FHA has an additional proposition designed to help borrowers manage taxes and insurance. The agency would like to set up an escrow account to ensure that consumers are able to pay all of their fees on time and avoid foreclosure of the loan.

The developments may make reverse loans more restrictive, but it will also help stabilize the program. As new legislation rolls out, Advantage Reverse Title will work with reverse lenders to successfully navigate through the evolving landscape together. Advantage’s innovative technology, business model, and information systems allow us to effectively support lenders to quickly adapt to changes in the reverse mortgage market.

Contact us at for more information on how we can support reverse lenders.

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Choosing Reverse Mortgages

Reverse blog photo

The growing population of seniors face many options to fund their retirement years.  During these financially turbulent times, reverse loans are expected to be an increasingly popular choice.

Many seniors are faced with pension funds running dry, employment scarce, the cost of living increasing, and Social Security providing an inadequate source of income.  In the midst of these troubles, the home has become a type of safe, built up by deposits via mortgage payments.   Reverse mortgages can be a key to unlocking this safe, providing the opportunity to access cash to meet various needs.   Individuals 62 and older who are asset-rich and cash-poor are often the typical candidates for reverse loans.

A different option for seniors is to take out a forward loan. Forward loans have less costs, but are not always an ideal choice.  Elderly homeowners with limited salaries and/or savings can have difficulty qualifying for these loans.  The forward loans also add expenses to seniors’ budgets with required monthly payments.  Additionally, homeowners can lose their homes if payments become delinquent.

Reverse mortgages provide alternatives to the forward loan downfalls.  Instead of struggling to qualify under traditional lending requirements, senior borrowers have no income or saving restrictions.  Instead of monthly payments, homeowners can receive monthly income.  Instead of facing the possibility of losing a home because of missed mortgage payments or going underwater when values decrease, the elderly can rest assured that certain financial protections with reverse loans can allow them to stay in their homes.

These financial protections are an attractive feature with reverse mortgages.  Unlike forward loans, reverse mortgage payoffs can never be more than the worth of the house as any overages are covered.  After the homeowners move, the proceeds will go toward paying off the reverse mortgage and no debt will have been accumulated to burden the next generation.  If taxes, insurance, and home condition are maintained, the seniors are able to stay in the home as long as they desire.

At Advantage Reverse Title, we are committed to providing our high quality service to assist the growing population of seniors who choose reverse mortgages.  Homeowners in their golden years who are pursuing financial improvements can enjoy a smooth and comfortable experience with our guaranteed settlement service.

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