Local Expertise Gives Advantage Titles a Clear Advantage

Since 1987, Advantage Title has been a leading provider of commercial and residential title insurance services in New York and the United States. With nearly 60,000 completed transactions, the company has handled many of Long Island’s most significant real estate transactions. Here in the East End, our founder, president and CEO, Joseph Willen, is not just a talent for complex multi-million dollar businesses, but also for all the nuances unique to the East End. We have also been looking for people who have a keen understanding of these aspects. range.

As a purchase-oriented business, Advantage undertakes all kinds of projects, although most of what it does is commercial real estate acquisitions and refinancings. In the East End, we’ve been part of millions of transactions ranging from large properties to farmlands, vineyards, golf courses and even underwater properties. The Advantage team are experts in real estate title matters throughout the North and South Forks.

Executive Vice President and Regional Director Chris Nuzzi and Underwriting Advisor Johnny Hall, who specializes in East End issues, have paved the way east. “Chris’ unique expertise in zoning and municipal law is a delimiter for us. He is not a salesman per se, he is a resource,” he explains Willen.

Nuzzi has its roots in the East End. He grew up in East He grew up in Hampton and West Hampton He lives on the beach and his background in local government as a former Southampton City Councilman gives him even greater insight and understanding of local government law. increase. He is an expert in the complex zoning his codes that often affect ownership of this land, as well as the permitting process and land use regulations. He has been in the title insurance business for his 15 years and for the last 8 years he has been with Advantage.

“Understanding how the East End works, how real estate works here, conservation and zoning issues, and the overall layout of the land, I’ve put East End businesses around him. We were able to build,” says Willen. “He’s been a great resource for us.”

Advantage moved its Riverhead office to a new building six months ago. The building sits on the top floor overlooking downtown Riverhead and the Riverside, on the Southampton Town side of the boundary, on the bluff of development.

Nuzzi has the advantage of working alongside Hall, a Riverhead resident who is brought in as a full-time attorney for East End transactions. Together, they provide a hyperlocal focus.

Title insurance is one of the essentials of any real estate transaction, and because it is so intangible that it can hardly be explained to those outside the industry, real estate professionals have found it to be invaluable. I know.

“Title insurance insures the insured against defects or liens on property,” explains Hall. “If someone buys a plaza or property, I guarantee that they will own the plaza, contrary to anyone else’s claims.”

As he says, that’s the end product, but to get there, having the right company in place is extremely important.

The title report covers issues that may arise after closing. “These issues will be resolved before closing so as not to go against the insured after closing,” he adds. “We basically guarantee that you own this property for free and expressly.”

“Out of ownership” such as waterside easements, fences within property lines, and scenic easements ultimately affect how homeowners can use the property they purchase. Give, explains Nuzzi.

Although it is the attorney who resolves zoning issues, title insurers often reveal that problems exist before the contract is signed. Problems like this aren’t unique to East His End, but they’re a bit more common here, and may require a different approach than if the same problem were to occur farther west on Long His Island. Hall explains. It may not even be a single tax lot.

“Our job is to move people from pre-contract to closing, and Johnny does this very well and addresses a lot of those issues,” Nuzzi said. “We have good relationships with local lawyers, real estate brokers and agents and we work with them all the time. , to try to resolve those issues before they become obstacles to closing.”

Advantage title
Chris Nuzzi, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of Advantage Title, meets with East End’s underwriting attorney, Johnny Hall, and one of its examiners, Taylor Hart.Britney Juba

Build your business with services

Willen took advantage of this situation when he entered the title insurance business more than 30 years ago.

“When I was looking for an entry-level business job after college, selling title insurance attracted me. I didn’t have wheels,” recalls Willen. “And I thought, ‘Hmm, let me check this out.’ I asked his father, who was a judge, ‘What do you think about this title industry?’ I had no idea what it was. He said, “Well, I don’t know if it’s a career, but maybe the lawyer you work with will convince you to go to law school.”

So he gave it a try. His first job was at Riverhead, then a private title in Southampton where he was recruited as an agent.

Shortly after turning 25, Willen decided she didn’t want to have a resume with a long list of employers. “I naively decided to start on my own. I took out a loan — I couldn’t get one because I still had no credit. My father, who was willing to stand up for me, actually joined me for the first year as all bookkeeper before going back to being a lawyer.

From the beginning, “we organically built this company on a model of uncompromising service,” says Willen. “There are no shortcuts.

Willen strategically grew the company from just two employees to approximately 80 employees, including five in-house attorneys and a team of professional examiners.

Title insurance is a regulated industry. “New York State requires everyone to charge the same rate,” Willen explains. “So what sets us apart is not only our responsiveness, professionalism and understanding of when to take appropriate risks, but also our responsibility because we protect our clients and their investments. to lose.”

Title insurance premiums are based on liability (total purchase price and/or mortgage amount) and have policies for the homeowner/buyer and the lender, but the buyer pays for both .

One of the key points that sets the advantage apart is that the company has its own staff of investigators at the Suffolk County Centre, who research the history of each property. Many title insurance companies employ independent examiners who work for many companies.

What are the benefits of having your own examiner? “Accessibility. Responsiveness,” he says. “Our clients need to be able to investigate things very quickly, put things back together and mobilize. It’s very difficult to do.We wanted to make sure they had one priority and that was the advantage and our clients.It costs a lot but we It’s worth it for.”

“What makes title insurance different from other insurance is that our job is not to move forward. “Our job is to prevent claims by doing research in advance and addressing issues that arise before we close, so there are no big claims.”

Working from the County Center gives Advantage Examiners access to all records and gives them a great overall advantage because they control access to investigations. It’s very important before a merchant gets a listing to a potential buyer that they should know before making an offer,” Nuzzi said.

“We work closely with our clients here and they often bring us in early on many deals,” he adds.

Advantage guarantees many prizes in the range up to $100,000,000.

“There are eight-figure to nine-figure deals here, and the housing deals we’ve been in can be very complex. We work together, but we are like the hub in the middle of each deal,” Nuzzi explains.

Advantage title
Hall, Left, and Nuzzi lead the East End office.Britney Juba

Adaptation is the advantage of the advantage title

The industry has changed dramatically in 30 years. “When we started this company in 1987, we didn’t have a computer. We had his IBM Selectric typewriter, but when they came out, the ball spinning typewriter was It was a big deal,” laughs Willen.

Since then, fraud, especially cyber fraud, has become a serious problem in the industry as technology advances rapidly. Due to the level of sensitive and critical information, the company has invested heavily in cybersecurity, monitoring its servers 24/7 and all employees are kept up to date by taking online classes. should be retained and information should not be leaked.

He also learned how to pivot. “I realized that when the economy and the interest rate environment were good, the company performed well, but when interest rates rose, the economy deteriorated. We developed a strategy to transform it, and it has served us well.”

Entered the seizure title search business. “We started our search for foreclosures for lenders and real estate ownership (REO) law firms. Initially we did it to hedge our bets, but then we turned it into the number one foreclosure firm in New York State. changed to.”

Advantage has conducted thousands of foreclosure searches, a diversification that helped sustain the company during the recessions of 2008, 2009 and 2010 when real estate crashed.

“We hope for a good economic environment with people closing their homes and buildings, but it was important to us to get through the difficult times,” Willen said.

Of his staff, he said, “I think they’re the best staff in the title industry. I believe they will come back.

“Advantage works across the country, but the fastest growing region is in the East End,” says Willen. “We love the area and my family and I have been boating here for over 30 years. It is a pleasure to see our business succeed in this highly competitive area. Serving the region’s top real estate professionals for many years, we look forward to continued growth.”

This article was the cover story for the August 2022 issue. behind the hedgeRead digital editions of magazines online. Click here for more magazine articles.

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