Maria Coutou spent almost a decade working for several high-profile litigation firms, gaining immense experience working for widely different clients. In 2018, she founded Atlantic Coast Title & Escrow and has since led it to become one of the...
Maria Coutou spent almost a decade working for several high-profile litigation firms, gaining immense experience working for widely different clients. In 2018, she founded Atlantic Coast Title & Escrow and has since led it to become one of the most prominent and groundbreaking title insurance companies in Florida. Christina Tatum accumulated years of highly valuable experience working in the fields of real estate and criminal law before becoming a partner at Atlantic Coast Title & Escrow, bringing to the table her passion as well as her immense talent in dealing with all types of clients.
Together, Maria and Christina are revolutionizing the world of title insurance, bringing forth a new proposal for dealing with clients and agents that makes the whole process much more streamlined and satisfying for the final client. Join us to learn how they grew their incredible enterprise and the lessons that can be gained as a real estate professional from their experience working in title insurance.
Don’t miss this chance to learn how these two highly talented attorneys are shaking the world of real estate in this episode of Real Estate Excellence!
[00:00 - 06:47] Maria Coutou and Christina Tatum’s Road to Real Estate Success
• Maria Kutu and Christina Tatum are partners of Atlantic Coast Title in Escrow.
• Maria initially worked in civil litigation/personal injury law before transitioning to title and escrow.
• They differentiate their business through marketing and customer service.
• Tracy Hayes will discuss how they run their business and what sets them apart from other title companies, as he doesn’t approve of most title companies.
[06:47 - 12:59] Maria and Christina’s Journey Across the Different Branches of Law
• Maria began her career as an injury attorney and went on to practice civil litigation for the following 5 years.
• Christina went to law school, dead set on becoming a state attorney, and she worked for juvenile criminal cases, but it wore her out, so she went to teach at a law school.
• Maria worked for several high-profile civil litigation firms and founded Atlantic Coast in 2018.
[12:59 - 19:09] Bridging the Gap in Title Work and Home Inspections
• There is a gap in the title industry in Jacksonville, which disconnected title companies from real estate agents due to a lack of accessibility and communication.
• Maria was mentored by a friend who knew more about title work before she entered the industry.
• Communicating and being accessible is key to succeeding in the title insurance industry.
• Christina and Maria are at the front of communications with their clients, and that sets them apart from other attorneys in the title industry.
[19:09 - 25:13] How Two Attorneys Turned Their Title Company Into a Boutique Service
• Maria and Christina started with a focus on making attorneys accessible.
• Their title company is operated by attorneys and isn’t as strongly bound to protocols and bureaucracy as others.
• They rather focus on providing a premium service to a few clients rather than taking too many deals.
• They remain competitive in their business by being at the forefront of their relationships with their clients, being available to them, and maintaining competitive fees.
[25:14 - 31:20] The Importance of Title Insurance and What to Look Out For
• Title attorneys are responsible for making sure the title is clear and that there are no issues after closing.
• Title insurance protects against third-party claims in the past that may not have been recorded or done correctly.
• It is important for owners to have a title insurance policy to protect against any future claims.
• Vacant land fraud can occur when someone impersonates the rightful owner of the property.
[31:20 - 38:00] How Maria Overcame Challenges to Start Her Own Real Estate Business
• Maria initially faced challenges getting her name out and creating opportunities, but she leaned on contacts and opened doors for herself.
• Maria would attend open houses on Saturdays to meet agents and introduce herself.
• She had to learn the ins and outs of real estate, but she had mentorship and support, and her experience in litigation gave her an edge.
[38:00 - 44:02] How Hard Work and Personality Led to Real Estate Success
• Basic work like cold calling and open houses was key for Maria and Christina’s success.
• Closing deals is about figuring out the personalities of potential clients.
• Helping clients through the process of understanding the paperwork they sign makes the business more memorable and those clients more likely to come back.
• Always being available to answer questions and making clients have a good time is key to success.
[44:02 - 49:40] Breaking Down the Process and Saying Yes to What Sellers Need
• A good business focuses on making closings easy and stress-free for clients.
• This can be done by using tools like remote online closings and notarizations.
• It’s important to go the extra mile to ensure clients are comfortable and happy.
• Saying yes to everything the clients need is key.
[49:40 - 55:44] How Title Companies are Setting Up Agents for Success
• Stay up to date on technology and changing laws with title company conferences, journals, and underwriters.
• Build lasting relationships with real estate agents by providing a personal touch.
• Focus on events that help real estate agents get business rather than events that focus on the title company.
[55:44 - 01:01:29] Bonding and Building Trust a Key Step Towards Growth
• Maria and Christina host multiple events to bond with their clients and agents, which generates confidence in them and improves their experience.
• They also send gifts and details on special occasions to their agents’ families.
• Social media can also be an important means of bonding and network-building.
[01:01:30 - 01:07:21] Navigating Complex Situations, Processes, and Home Titles
• Some of the complex situations that Christina and Maria have handled include:
• When a seller does not want to proceed.
• When a couple is getting a divorce and fighting over proceeds.
• Having to skip traces on spouses, sometimes strange spouses.
• Having to pay a private investigator to find a spouse.
• Parents wanting to put their kids on the title without understanding the implications.
• Clients need to understand the full implications of their choices over titles, and title companies can help with this.
[01:07:22 - 01:12:55] Avoiding Tax Shock: Tips for Buyers When Homesteading
• Parents should consider a life estate deed to ensure that their child does not have to go through probate when they pass.
• Lenders usually require a quit claim deed when refinancing.
• Parents can also buy a property for their child to live in while they are in college and put them on the deed to save money on taxes.
• Agents should be aware of potential tax increases if the buyer is purchasing a homesteaded home.
• It may be better to take the 10% cap on taxes rather than homesteading in some cases.
[01:12:55 - 01:19:02] Creating a Positive Closing Experience
• Atlantic Coast is breaking records with their underwriter, Old Republic, and they only close deals in Florida.
• Being accessible and down in the trenches to get the work done has been key.
• They provide extra services such as high escrow for buyers.
• Christine and Maria go the extra mile to provide a positive experience for clients, such as by popping champagne bottles with them when they close.
"We don't need the biggest title company. We just wanna be the best." -Maria Coutou
"Failing forward is the greatest learning process." -Christina Tatum
"We just don't say no to anything. We handle all that stuff. We just make it easy." -Maria Coutou
"If your clients leave your office with a smile on their faces, that will set you apart from others in the market. It’s that last touch that they will always remember.” -Christina Tatum
"If you want something different, you have to go out and do something different." -Maria Coutou
To learn more about Maria and Christina’s business, stay up to date on their projects, and make contact with them for future networking opportunities, make sure to follow Atlantic Coast Title and Escrow’s social media and business pages:
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