Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Teachers; at Least Know My Name!

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 20, 2016

“The most precious thing of all, however, if you have made the most of your chance, is the uplift, encouragement, inspiration, which you have absorbed from your teachers, from your associations;
this is the embodiment of the college spirit, the spirit of your alma mater,
it is that which should make you reach up as well as on,
which should make you aspire instead of grovel – look up, instead of down.”
From the Orison Swett Marden’s book, Pushing to the Front

Marden’s book was written in 1911.  The similarities between 1911 and 2016 as described in his book are absolutely amazing!  Granted, some of the numbers Marden used are no longer applicable but the premise on which the point was being developed are more valid in 2016 than they were or that Marden could have ever considered in his wildest imagination.  I have become engrossed in the writings of Marden.  You can obtain several of them free of charge by searching Orison Swett Marden (just click on his name and it will take you to or you can go to and enter Orison Swett Marden in the search box)  Word of warning, please do not be dissuaded from reading Pushing to the Front due to its size; it is well worth the read and you will or should want all your children to read it.

In the quote above, two words really struck a nerve with me and I have emboldened them; “teachers” and “associations.”  When Marden uses the word “association” at least in this context he is referring to people as compared to organizations because our friends (associations) can become teachers in our lives maybe even more so than the teachers we encounter in our schools.  To this point, one need only look at the thousands upon thousands of youths in 2016 who have turned to crime.  They did not learn such a life from the teachers within their schools; they either learned it within their environment at home or their “associations” on the streets of America.

A case could be made that I had good, as compared to excellent, teachers in my formal education that lasted 14 years with no setbacks.  But here is the point that so seriously struck me when I read the above Marden quote.  Of all the teachers I have had in twelve years of public school education and two years of collegiate education, I have had ONLY TWO teachers who now that I am 71 years of age, I can remember their names, ONLY TWO.  One teacher was actually my High School Basketball Coach, George Simpson; the other, the band director Mr. Horvath.  Why can I not remember any of the English, Math, Science, or Civics teachers et al?  Why do I remember Mr. Simpson the basketball coach?  Because of all the teachers, and a coach is a teacher, he was the ONLY ONE of TWO who let me be me but did so by insisting that I play by the rules of the game of basketball and his rules as coach.  There was also the high school band leader Mr. Horvath who instilled the value of doing what you were expected to do and be an integral member of the band (team) yet still let the creative juices within come forth through music.  Mr. Simpson helped to develop me as a player in spite of my smallish size (5’10”) on the basketball team and Mr. Horvath helped develop my music skills in the band.  I was not alone, all of the players (basketball and band) looked up to and admired them as a coach and band director and for the discipline they both taught us especially regarding playing on teams.

What about all the other teachers in my life?  Today I can recall none of their names, none!  What does that say about all these people as teachers?  Years later, I doubt any of them remember my name much like I don’t remember theirs.  Keep in mind that as a student in High School in the early 60s, all the boys could be subject to the military draft if they failed to go on to college and this was a time when Vietnam was entrenched in war and death.  With so many young men and women dying in the jungles of Vietnam it is quite possible they did not want to know our names out of a fear of future loss.  Who knows?  Maybe they just didn’t see any potential in me and therefore had no reason to learn my name and be concerned about my future as an adult.  I did not think of these things back in the early 60s but I do now in 2016. 

I have two daughters who teach school and over the years they both have demonstrated they remember most if not all of their students.  Their students dramatically change in physical appearance, yet they remember them as students once they get over the physical changes that might prevent them from immediately recognizing them as former students.

From the above quote: “…is the uplift, encouragement, inspiration, which you have absorbed from your teachers,”  as stated, I can remember only two out of all of my former formal school teachers/professors who I can honestly say, “uplifted me, encouraged me, or inspired me to bigger and greater things.”  To set the record straight, I was not a problem student.  For the most part I did as I was told and did it when I was told to do it.  I was never a discipline problem.  I recall it seemed like the students who received the most attention from the teachers/professors, at least in my classes, were at opposite ends of the spectrum.  They were either the “smart ones” in the class or the “class/school problem” students.  The students in the middle appeared to be just the average student and didn’t warrant any special consideration one way or the other.

Fast forward to the U. S. Coast Guard.  Not only can I vividly remember my Boot Camp Drill Instructor, Chief McAdams (1965), I can remember every person for whom I worked.  Whether they realized it or not, they became my most influential teachers concerning all things Coast Guard and personal discipline.  I know not if they remember my name or not; I certainly remember theirs.  These Coast Guard people were responsible for the success I enjoyed in my twenty year Coast Guard career and beyond.  We were all part of a team.  Each unit was a small team by some standards but also part a much larger team of over 35,000 Coast Guard personnel all working towards several minor missions but one overall mission of serving the United States of America proudly and responsibly.  When one person became a problem, it seemed as if they adversely reflected upon all of the Coast Guard.  When one excelled, we all excelled.

I did enjoy a lot of success within the Coast Guard.  Now I wonder if the Coast Guard members whom I was responsible for thought of me as a teacher.  A person they learned from and who they now attribute some of their success to as I do towards my Coast Guard superiors.  I also wonder how many of the Coast Guard people I worked for considered me as an asset who they learned from and helped them to future success in the Coast Guard.  I was taught from the first day I joined the Coast Guard that if I did my job and did it well, I was one less person for my superiors to worry about.  When everyone worked with that attitude, the job for everyone became easier and done correctly!

I also spent over 33 years as a Real Estate Broker.  I was fortunate to have worked for a couple of people who served as mentors in all things real estate and people management.  Unfortunately I also worked for some who would take advantage of their own family member if it would further their agendas let alone someone who they employed.  In a way, that too provided very valuable lessons learned of how not to act, how not to treat people and how not to treat customers.  I vividly remember those names.  Most of the personnel management training that applied to working with real estate agents, I actually learned in the Coast Guard.  The real estate and motivational training I received I learned primarily by reading books and attending seminars.  Books became my teachers; not so much people.  In my years as a real estate broker, I have read well over 1000 books to help me better manage people and understand sales and real principles and estate law. 

During my real estate career, I like to think I knew my place.  I worked for a company owned by others.  Therefore I was responsible to them as an employee.  But I also held real estate licenses for upwards of 105 agents at any one time.  As such I was personally responsible for their actions as licensed real estate agents.  I felt that I worked for each and every one of those agents as well as my employers.  I had an understanding with the owners of the company that my first priority was not the owners or even the customers who bought and sold real estate through our company.  My first responsibility was to my agents.  I was their teacher and mentor provided they permitted me to become such in their real estate careers; most but not all did.  It was really simple, customers came first and they were represented by their real estate agent of choice.  Real estate agents came first to me even before other employees of the company for whom I was also responsible for.  Then came the employees and then the owners and everyone understood this and approved it.  If an agent successfully did his or her job, then I was doing my job and since the agents did their job, and me my job, then the owners should be happy because it was a win-win all around.  The important point is that my education and training came mostly from books and the many seminars I attended and these were all by my own choice and selection.

Someone once said, “Education” is what you get when you read the fine print; “experience” is what you get when you don’t.  In all aspects of life you have to read an awful lot of “fine print” to get to the actual meat of the subjects you are interested in.  The problem as I see it is that in most “formal educations” people are required to read, study and be tested on subjects they have no interest in but are required as part of their particular curriculum.  A great many students thrive in that type of environment, but some like me do not.  I wanted to learn what is important to what I wanted intend to do as an adult.  That is why I thoroughly enjoyed both my Coast Guard career and my real estate career.  Neither one was encumbered with training that did not apply to my careers.  I have heard all the arguments concerning becoming a more “well rounded” adult by taking all the “required” courses to supposedly make that happen.  But what happens when someone like me takes the courses and has absolutely no interest in the course or attempting to learn information that I know will never apply to me or my desired adult career(s)?  Simply put, I did not fare well in those courses.  Case in point, I was REQUIRED to take a course on the study of pre-historic fossils.  My college majors were Marketing and Advertising.  You tell me, where does a fossilized Trilobite fall within my major?  It doesn’t and it never has yet I spent a lot of time studying material of which I had absolutely no interest.

I can easily identify and remember the people and names of persons most responsible for my Coast Guard and later my real estate careers.  Yet I can’t remember the names of my primary and college teachers/professors.  There are two possibilities for this to have happened.  First, I was not ready for them when they appeared in my life and I think that had a lot to do with it.  Secondly, they had a job they were performing not a calling.  I know that a great many of my teachers/professors failed to have that calling and instead were more interested in just collecting a check than the development of their students.  If they actually had a calling, I would remember having more one-on-one conversations with them about helping me to achieve my goals and frankly that did not happen.  In the 50s and 60s we didn’t even have school career counselors to help us achieve our goals whatever those goals may have been.

I believe that students are either introverted or extroverted; there is no middle ground.  Yes there are degrees of each but all students fall into one of the two categories.  The extroverted students seem, at least to me, to do better in school than the introverted students.  Until about the third grade I thought I was probably an extroverted student.  I remember volunteering for projects and asking a lot of questions until one fatal day in the third grade.  We were studying the planets.  The teacher made the comment that there was no life on Mars because it was too hot and limited oxygen for humans to live.  I raised my hand and stood up as required to ask my question.  “What if the people who live on Mars are NOT like us? What if they like it really hot and they take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen like the plants on Earth we just learned about?”  Those may not have been the exact words but they are close.  Even today they make a lot of sense to me.  Sadly for me, they made no sense whatsoever for my third grade teacher for she left me standing in my classroom and then pointed out to the rest of the class just how stupid my question was and by inference how dumb I was for even asking it.  For the record I would ask the same question today.  It was that day so many years ago and the actions of that one teacher who changed my life forever.  That was the day I stopped volunteering and I stopped answering questions in class when teachers would ask the class a question and expected them to answer.  It was the day I stopped asking questions in class because I did not want to be used as an example as to how dumb a teacher perceived me to be.  She might as well have put a dunce cap on my head and set me in the corner for the rest of the class or for that matter the rest of my formal education.

It has been my experience that most teachers, at least the ones I had, expect you to “color within the lines.”  They have an agenda, a curriculum that they must follow and do not like when someone wants to deviate from that agenda/curriculum.  Thinking outside the box was a forbidden activity as I grew up.  Instead of encouraging the creative students who routinely think outside the box, they pushed them down and even penalized them if they did try to color outside the lines.  Another case in point happened in a college debate class.  I was assigned the subject of Communism and I was to take the side of being in favor of it.  I failed that particular assignment because the professor “didn’t agree with what I had said.”  I was under the impression I was going to be graded on my presentation, not on the content.  So not only was I REQUIRED discuss/sell something I did not believe in, I had to discuss it in terms of what the professor believed.  How was I supposed to have known that?

What does all this have to do with you?  Believe it or not, you are a teacher or mentor for others; it may not be obvious to you but you are.  People watch you, they listen to you and therefore they make decisions one way or the other based on what they see and hear.  Words mean things.  If you call your son, daughter, student, or employee stupid, yes I have heard people do that, that one word will forever be embedded in their subconscious mind.  If you call them ugly, disrespectful, deceitful, a liar, etc, you are planting words within that subconscious mind that they will never forget and will then come to the conscious mind when they least expect them to.  People oftentimes make life decisions based on words and/or phrases residing within the subconscious mind and they have no idea why they make those decisions.  If someone is afraid of success, it may have been something as simple as being told they will never amount to anything (if they don’t do what they were told by parents, teachers or associations).  Or if you are told that you are a jerk, your subconscious mind will find a way to make that come to life within you and you really will become a jerk.

One of the best training classes I have ever attended was conducted by Dr. Morris Massey.  He taught us that “you are what you are because of what you were when you were ten.”  In short he was providing proof that most people develop consciously and more importantly subconsciously their values and principles all by the age of ten based upon what they are taught by parents, associations and teachers.  By ten, he meant ten plus or minus two years meaning as low as eight or as high as twelve.  At first you may not agree with that but if or when you see Dr. Massey’s presentation it makes all the sense in the world.  If you grow up in a loving and caring family, chances are you will become a loving and caring adult.  If you grow up in an environment of abuse, verbal and physical, and/or surrounded by crime, chances are you will become that in your adult life.  As a ten year old, parents, teachers and associations are the people who you come to trust, rightfully or wrongfully, but trust them you do.  Then as you enter your teen years, you attempt to validate what you have been taught and that is when you experiment with those teachings.  Then you discover that some of what you had been taught is not necessarily true.  A perfect example of this is racism.  Children are not born racists; that is a trait they learn from their parents or even some of their teachers and definitely their associations and it starts at the earliest of ages.  And less we forget racism works both ways; whites hating blacks, and blacks hating whites.  Most of that type of racism is taught within the home and you learn it well all before you are ten years old.

Whether you are talking to one of your children, someone else’s child, a spouse, an employee or a fellow associate, WORDS MATTER and they MATTER GREATLYChoose your words WISELY!  Show people that you truly care about them and their futures.  If you become upset or agitated, take a deep breath and respond rather than immediately reacting and then saying something that could prove to be devastating to the self-esteem of the other person.  WORDS MATTER and showing that YOU CARE, MATTERS EVEN MORE!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

My Message to Kaepernick and Others

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 12, 2016

If there is one thing that I am absolutely certain about it is that people have opinions and behinds and this is mine; opinion not behind.

Colin Kaepernick does indeed have a right to protest; very few people are denying that.  There are definitely places to protest and specific times to protest and he has chosen neither.  Kaepernick has a tremendous forum that most of us do not have. People WOULD listen to him if he were to make himself available to the news media, schools, meetings upon request, etc.  His message would have been better received had he done this.  Instead he chose to denigrate the American Flag and increase an ever widening racial divide in America.  Some might call that collateral damage to what he was trying to achieve.

There are two issues that need to be addressed.  First is the “brand” of the San Francisco 49ers.  If I were the owner and/or coach of the team, I would expect that anyone whom I hired, be they players, team staff or employees of the company, that they would be expected to adhere to certain rules of ethics and civility in order to preserve the “brand” that has taken years to established and only seconds to denigrate by just one member of that team.  Therefore, each individual has freedom of speech and they also have freedom to disengage from working at a company that I owned and/or coached.  His actions may have brought national attention to an issue that he obviously believes but in my opinion, again there it is again, MY opinion, his protest is based upon a false narrative that has been perpetrated by the group Black Lives Matter when they used the death of Michael Brown as its impetus for the movement.  For the record, HANDS UP; DON’T SHOOT DID NOT HAPPEN but that is what all their speech is based upon.  President Obama’s own Department of Justice has said IT DID NOT HAPPEN but even people of prominence like Hollywood actors repeatedly bring up Brown’s death as an example of police brutality and oppression.  It was the police officer’s life that was being threatened by Brown, not the other way around.  But people like Kaepernick refuse to let the FACTS get in the way of their personal agendas.  Now other NFL players and even some high school players are using their status to reflect very poorly upon the 49ers brand and their high schools.  They are in fact helping to create a racial divide in America rather than helping to erase it.  An employer has every right to expect his or her employees to preserve the company brand.  If they choose not to, they have the right to leave and I as an owner would have the right to fire/dismiss them from my employment and the key word is “MY EMPLOYMENT.”  Meaning I hired you, I set the rules as long as they are not illegal and I can enforce the rules.

This is not pie-in-the-sky theory.  As the Real Estate Broker of a company (I did not own) I was charged with applying/enforcing the company rules that included ethics and civility and were outlined in our Policy and Procedure Manual.  Almost all real estate agents are Independent Contractors meaning they are in business for themselves but they place their real estate license with a designated broker (in this example, me) that takes responsibility for their actions and business practices.  As the Designated Broker I returned several licenses over my 33 plus years in the business to the State’s Real Estate Commission because the agents chose to break those rules of ethics or civility.  It is really that simple.  Kaepernick plays on a team and there are over 50 other players on his team and they all have opinions on everything including the Black Lives Matter movement.  Chaos would rein if every player decided to protest every concern from Black Lives Matter, the IRS, the Federal Government, The State Government, the Local Government, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the lack of funding for the Zika Virus, lack of funding for the Ebola virus and the list goes on and on.  Where does it stop?  More importantly when Kaepernick uses the occasion of the playing of the National Anthem to protest, he is basically saying to ALL Americans they ALL are guilty of police brutality.  By the way, in his own words, “there are bodies lying in the streets” as a result of “all” this “police brutality.”  The ONLY lives lying in the streets all over America are bodies murdered by others but never let the facts get in the way of a personal agenda.  I would suggest that Kaepernick and others go to the following web site and look at the statistics reported by none other than The Washington Post.  It is an amazing site.  It provides you with a running total of Police Involved Killings.  As I write this there were 675 deaths and the web site provides a gray block for each of the 675 people.  If you click on the gray block it will provide you with as much information that the Post can provide regarding each death.  The overwhelming majority involved criminals with guns, a lot of them firing back at the police but that apparently doesn’t matter to Kaepernick.  Yes 675 are far too many deaths but ignoring that most of these involved people shooting at police or who are definitely armed and dangerous is just ridiculous; such an argument ignores the truth!

I’m not stupid.  Are there bad police officers?  Of course, just like there are bad NFL players, bad NFL coaches and owners, bad stock brokers, bad REALTORS® and that list goes on and on as well.  Might some of these bad people seem to get away with their bad deeds?  Of course they have and they will.  But if you listen to Kaepernick, he thinks this is something that is happening in every city and town throughout America.

My second point is what will happen to our country if a sitting U. S. Congressman/woman or U. S. Senator decided to sit upon the President of the United States entrance to the Congressional Chamber?  What about staying seated when a Judge enters the court room?  How about staying seated when the Bride enters the church?  You get the point.  President George Washington crated his Rules of Civility.  It is all about having a “time and place” to do things and in my opinion Kaepernick and other players chose neither.  Where will this all end?  If you side with Kaepernick, will he side with you when you decide to disrespect the President of the United States by not rising when he enters a room you are in?   I seriously doubt it?  Will the same news media that now says Kapernick has every right to fail to stand give you the same consideration for not standing for the President?  I seriously doubt that as well.  If you want to read all of George Washington’s Rules of Civility they can be found at   If you have children it would be a good thing if you reviewed them with your children.

Do you remember Congressman Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” when President Obama discussed Obamacare to a joint session of Congress?   He was demonstrating his “free speech” was he not?  That didn’t matter to other members of Congress or the media; Congressman Wilson was condemned by members of both Parties and the national news media over the incident.  Was it not “free speech?”  Yes it was.  Was it the right time?  NO!  Was it the right place?  NO!  Did President Obama lie?  YES!  But…there is a time and a place for just about everything that is legal and the joint session was NOT it. 

There you have it, my opinion, right or wrong, and I’m sticking to it.

Disclaimer:  I am retired disabled U. S. Veteran; I have very strong feelings/opinions regarding the U. S. Flag.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Where Are The Other 21 Million?

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 12, 2016

According to, there are currently 21,995,000 Federal, State and Local GOVERNMENT employees employed by some element of our governments There are an estimated 324,591,806 million Americans as per   That means there is ONE government employee for every 14.6 Americans.  These are not numbers that I can personally attest to, thus I have included the links to the sites that supposedly can. 

Have you ever thought about these numbers before?  If you watched Sharyl Attisisson’s Full Measure on September 11, 2016, you will hear that governments (Federal, State and Local) are no different than any business.  Before I explain what that means, think for a second that YOU are an owner of a business, any business, type does not matter.  If that were the case, what would be one of your main objectives of owning that business?  To grow; who wants to remain in one place with no growth, no profits, no expansion?  If the government truly IS like any business, and it is, it also wants to grow does it not?  That is how we have reached a point in America where there is now ONE government employee on the Taxpayer Payroll for every FOURTEEN Americans.  Think about that for a minute.

Have you ever heard of Edward Snowden?  What about Julian Assange?  Most people have and most people have formed opinions regarding what they both have done.  Some think they are heroes, others think they are traitors.  What if they both have kept silent?  Would we know about how intrusive the NSA and other government agencies have been by spying on not only the enemies of America but also some of its allies and more importantly American citizens, like you and me?  So set those two aside.  Have you ever heard of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn?  You may not have but I certainly have.  I have also read his book, The Field of Fight, I highly recommend reading it.

Even if you ARE aware of General Flynn, you may not be aware that he was fired by President Obama because he testified (I believe under oath) before the U. S. Congress for what he said about ISIS.  All he did that was wrong in the eyes of the President was to call our enemy, Radical Islam.  Oddly that is the truth so the President fired a very senior military officer for telling the truth; imagine that.

FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY, I want to know where all the other “truth tellers” are in the Federal, State and Local governments.  Over 21 MILLION EMPLOYEES and we can think of only 3 people who have spoken the truth, ONLY THREE!!!  What about the other 21,994,997?  What are they doing?  What have they been doing?  Where is the integrity of the over 21 MILLION on the taxpayer’s payroll when it comes to outing what our governments have been doing that may be illegal, the wasteful spending of taxpayer money, the failure of other employees to tell the truth?  Where are they?  They don’t exist and/or they put more value on keeping their jobs and staying behind their desks than they do in telling the truth and outing other government employees that put their own best interests, usually in the form of power and/or money, than they do in doing the right thing.  It’s called INTEGRITY and it appears, at least to me, that over 21 MILLION of the people on OUR payroll simply have none!  PERIOD!

If you want to know why I am so disgusted, it is because it makes no difference whether you are talking about Democrats, Republicans, Independents or anyone in between; their collect voices are nonexistent!  At the moment the light shines squarely on the entire Democratic Party when it comes to Hillary Clinton.  Put politics aside.  Did she or did she not lie about Benghazi?  Did she or did she not lie about her emails?  On both counts she lied yet the Democratic Party is totally silent on the subject.  When President Bush wanted to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein allegedly had weapons of mass destruction, people today are extremely critical of Bush when at the time these same people (John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Great Britian, et al) signed on to his actions meaning that they approved of the invasion.  Where were all the truth tellers then?  Where are they now?

What would you do if you worked for the Federal Government and you personally saw someone lying, violating the law, engaging in totally wasteful spending of tax dollars or better defined as other people’s money?  Would you go about your business as if nothing had happened or would you blow the whistle on these people?  If you say you would blow the whistle, you might want to think about your answer.  When over 21 MILLION had or have had to make the same decision to make, they became totally silent except for 3 or no more than a handful of employees.  Most we probably never have heard of because they were either nipped in the bud before their disclosures ever found the light of day or they were fired never to be heard from again.  Therefore, BEFORE you answer, you have to decide what is more important to you, your INTEGRITY or your JOB?  Obviously MILLIONS chose their jobs!  So much for integrity.

Leadership is realizing that you do not know all the answers.  You hire people to advise you of THEIR opinions regarding situations and then YOU make decisions based upon your knowledge and the advice of the people you have working for you.  You will not always agree with everyone in fact you will rarely always agree with everyone but you take their advice to heart and then act accordingly.  What you don’t do is FIRE THEM unless they are that disruptive to the process or they are engaged in illegal or unethical activity themselves.

Personally I don’t agree with what Snowden or Assange did but I am thankful that the truth was uncovered.  General Flynn on the other hand, did nothing other than tell the truth to Congress and look what happened to him.  Point made.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Title and Flood Insurance

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 8, 2016

WARNING:  My opinion on this may upset a few folks but being upset does not make any less true.

Whenever you buy a home or a business or whenever you rent a home or rent a business, you should have been made aware that (1) you need either homeowners insurance on the entire dwelling or (2) renters insurance on just YOUR contents.  The same is true for buying or renting a business – INSURANCE IS CRITICAL TO PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENTS.

There are two other insurance policies that are made available to you prior to closing on a home and that is TITLE INSURANCE and FLOOD INSURANCE.

Title Insurance:  When working with buyers, they would often ask if they should obtain Title Insurance which is in fact optional for the home buyers side of the transaction.  Red flags should go up when the Mortgage Company requires in on their end of the deal and makes it optional for the buyer’s side.  I would tell each one of my buyers that I worked with and would train all my real estate agents in the training classes I taught.  If you purchase Title Insurance and NEVER need it, Title Insurance is a total waste of money  But if you purchase Title Insurance and you actually NEED it, the Title Insurance Policy is like GOLD!  Whenever it is needed, if you do not have it, you are in for a really big potentially personal financial shock.  So I would always tell my buyers to purchase it as they would any other type of insurance and almost all of them did.  Important Note:  There was nothing in it for me as a real estate agent IF a buyer purchased Title Insurance; NOTHING!  That is the way it should be!

The last several pages is probably more information that you would ever want to know about Title Insurance.  It has been three years since I was last in real estate so as warning, I have not kept up to date with any changes that might have been made so you should consult your attorney or your closing attorney to get the most current information.  Warning – it is a lot of information.

There is one more form of insurance you should be made aware of whenever you buy or rent real estate and that is FLOOD INSURANCE.  Should you get it?  Let me put it this way as I have in all of my training classes and explanations to buyers.  When you cross over the bridge that separates Mississippi from Louisiana, there is a big green and white roadside sign that reads, WELCOME TO LOUISIANA.  Translated into English that reads, YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A FLOOD ZONE! 

If you live in southern Louisiana you should purchase Flood Insurance whether your mortgage company requires it of you or not.  There are government provided Flood Maps that ascertain if your home and/or business is located in a flood prone area.  If you pay cash for a home or you inherit a home where there is no mortgage on the property, you will most likely never hear anyone suggest to you that you should purchase flood insurance except for the periodic advertisements on television.  It is exactly like Title Insurance.  If you never need to use it, the policy is a total waste of money but the day you need it, you are protected from rising waters as compared to falling rain.  Whenever waters rise to flood an area, homeowners and renters insurance policies typically DO NOT cover your contents in the home or even the repair of damage to the home and/or business.  The actual property is covered for damaged that may have been caused by heavy wind or even heavy rain falling from above BUT NOT FROM WATER THAT IS RISING UPWARDS FROM THE GROUND even though the water may have been the result of a heavy rain storm.

During the most recent rain storm that sat over southern Louisiana for 3 or more days, it has been estimated that only about 10 to 15 percent of homeowners had Flood Insurance.  Not having it surely sounds crazy to just about anyone AFTER the rains have already fallen.  But BEFORE the rains, people have been recorded as saying, “My property has never flooded in the time we have owned it and our parents before us.”  As an example, I purchased my home that is NOT located in a designated area that is subject to flooding therefore my mortgage company did NOT required us to purchase Flood Insurance but we did anyway.  At the time it was about $250.00 a year.  The Flood Maps have been redesigned and areas that were NOT included in areas that may be subject to flooding are now located squarely within a flood zone and the various mortgage companies will most likely require homeowners to purchase Flood Insurance.  Again, if you live in an areas where no Flood Insurance is required or the area has been designated as an area that typically does not flood, purchasing Flood Insurance will never be less expensive for you.  Mine is now $420.00 a year.  I gladly pay it every year because I know what rising water can do to your real estate and personal property and valuables within your home and/or business.  It can be devastating.

Here is the part that upsets me when it comes to purchasing Flood Insurance.  Like in this most recent flooding incident, upwards of 80 to 85 percent of homeowners (and probably business owners and renters alike) DID NOT purchase Flood Insurance.  Now FEMA steps in and tells these people that they can apply for FEMA assistance and it has been advertised that these 80% of homeowners WILL be covered by FEMA up to 75% of their damage.  So let me get this straight.  I purchase Flood Insurance when it is not necessary but it definitely makes good sense to do so and 80% or more DECIDE NOT to purchase Flood Insurance and Uncle Sam via FEMA will cover 75% of their losses.  What that is saying just in case you are not following this, every tax payer in America is paying upwards of 75% of damage to homes where the homeowners/renters DECIDED NOT to purchase Flood Insurance.  Therefore people such as me are paying twice – once through the annual premiums that I pay every year to cover my home and property and then again by using my tax dollars to help restore those people who failed to do the right thing and purchase Flood Insurance.  In whose book does that sound like a fair trade; certainly not mine.

I definitely feel sorry for anyone who suffered flooding but I feel less sorry for people who made the decision NOT to purchase flood insurance to protect their property in a state that is absolutely prone to flooding from all sorts of causes.  YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A FLOOD ZONE.  The government should require every homeowner and renter and the same for businesses to sign a statement BEFORE they put one item of personal belongings into a home or business that they understand that they are NOT covered for rising water on the typical homeowner’s insurance policies and before they put their belongings into their homes/businesses.  They should also be required to consult with their insurance policy carriers to make absolutely certain that they are either covered or not.  Having Flood Insurance in this area is simply the RIGHT THING TO DO!  PERIOD!

Who do you call or where do you go for Flood Insurance?  You can call 888-379-9531 or visit  

One very important thing you absolutely need to know.  When you apply for Flood Insurance you must wait 30 days before it kicks in on your property.  There are exceptions to this rule when purchasing a home or business and you can verify if it applies by calling the 888 number above or going to the web site above.  So if you see a hurricane forming in the Gulf of Mexico and you do NOT have Flood Insurance it is probably TOO LATE to acquire it and be covered by the time it strikes our area.



Everything You Wanted To Know About Title Insurance
And then some!
 Title Insurance is insurance against loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity or unenforceability of mortgage liens. It is available in many countries but it is principally a product developed and sold in the United States. It is meant to protect an owner's or lender's financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. It will defend against someone attacking the title as it is insured, or reimburse the insured for the actual monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided by the policy.
Typically the real property interests insured are fee simple ownership or a mortgage. However, title insurance can be purchased to insure any interest in real property, including an easement, lease or life estate. Just as lenders require fire insurance and other types of insurance coverage to protect their investment, nearly all institutional lenders require title insurance to protect their interest in the collateral of loans secured by real estate. Some mortgage lenders, especially non-institutional lenders, may not require title insurance.
Why Title Insurance Exists in the United States
Title insurance exists in the US in great part because of a comparative deficiency in the US land records laws. Most of the industrialized world uses land registration systems for the transfer of land titles or interests in them. Under these systems, the government makes the determination of title ownership and encumbrances on the title based on the registration of the instruments transferring or otherwise affecting the title in the applicable government office. With only a few exceptions, the government's determination is conclusive. Governmental errors lead to monetary compensation to the person damaged by the error but that aggrieved party usually cannot recover the property.
A few jurisdictions in the United States have adopted a form of this system, e.g., Minneapolis, Minnesota and Boston, Massachusetts. However, for the most part, the states have opted for a system of document recording in which no governmental official makes any determination of who owns the title or whether the instruments transferring it are valid. The reason for this is probably that it is much less expensive to operate than a land registration system; it doesn't require the number of legally skilled employees that the registration systems do.
Greatly simplified, the recording system, each time a land title transaction takes place, the transfer instrument is recorded with a local government recorder located in the jurisdiction (usually the county/parish) where the land lies. The instrument is then indexed by the names of the grantor (transferor) and the grantee (transferee) and photographed so it can be found and examined by anyone who wants to see it. Usually, the failure by the grantee to record the transfer instrument voids it as to subsequent purchasers of the property who don't actually know of its existence.
Under this system, determining who owns the title requires the examination of the indexes in the recorders' offices pursuant to various rules established by state legislatures and courts, scrutinizing the instruments to which they refer and making the determination of how they affect the title under applicable law. (The final arbiters of title matters are the courts that make decisions in suits brought by parties having disagreements.) Initially, this was done by hiring an abstractor to search for the documents affecting the land in question and an attorney to opine on their meaning under the law, and this is still done in some places. However, this procedure has been found to be cumbersome and inefficient in most of the US. Substantial errors made by the abstractor or the attorney will be compensated only to the limit of the financial responsibility of these parties (including their liability insurance). The opinions given by attorneys as to each title are not uniform and often require time consuming analysis to determine their meanings.
Title insurers utilize this recording system to produce an insurance policy for any purchaser of land, or interest in it, or mortgage lender if the premium is paid. Title insurers use their employees or agents to perform the necessary searches of the recorders' offices records and to make the determinations of who owns the title and to what interests it is subject. The policies are fairly uniform (a fact that greatly pleases lenders and others in the real estate business) and the insurers carry, at a minimum, the financial reserves required by insurance regulation to compensate their insureds for valid claims they make under the policies. This is especially important in large commercial real estate transactions where many millions of dollars are invested or loaned in reliance on the validity of real estate titles. As stated above, the policies also require the insurers to pay for the costs of defense of their insureds in legal contests over what they have insured. Abstractors and attorneys have no such obligation.

Comparison with other insurance

Title insurance differs in several respects from other types of insurance. Where most insurance is a contract where the insurer indemnifies or guarantees another party against a possible specific type of loss (such as an accident or death) at a future date, title insurance generally insures against losses caused by title problems that have their source in past events. This often results in the curing of title defects or the elimination of adverse interests from the title before a transaction takes place. Title insurance companies attempt to achieve this by searching public records to develop and document the chain of title and to detect known claims against or defects in the title to the subject property. If liens or encumbrances are found, the insurer may require that steps be taken to eliminate them (for example, obtaining a release of an old mortgage or deed of trust that has been paid off, or requiring the payoff) before issuing the title policy. In the alternative, it may "except" those items not eliminated from coverage. Title plants are sometimes maintained to index the public records geographically, with the goal of increasing searching efficiency and reducing claims.
The explanation above discloses another difference between title insurance and other types: title insurance premiums are not principally calculated on the basis of actuarial science, as is true in most other types of insurance. Instead of correlating the probability of losses with their projected costs, title insurance seeks to eliminate the source of the losses through the use of the recording system (see Recording (real estate)) and other underwriting practices. As a result, a relatively small fraction of title insurance premiums are used to pay insured losses. The great majority of the premiums are used to finance the title research on each piece of property and to maintain the title plants used to efficiently do that research. There is significant social utility in this approach as the result conforms with the expectations of most property purchasers and mortgage lenders. Generally, they want the real estate they purchased or loaned money on to have the title condition they expected when they entered the transaction, rather than money compensation and litigation over unexpected defects.

Types of policies

Standardized forms of title insurance exist for owners and lenders. The lender's policies include a form specifically for construction loans, though this is rarely used today.

Owner's policy

The owner's policy insures a purchaser that the title to the property is vested in that purchaser and that it is free from all defects, liens and encumbrances except those which are listed as exceptions in the policy or are excluded from the scope of the policy's coverage. It also covers losses and damages suffered if the title is unmarketable. A title is unmarketable if it would be unacceptable to a reasonable purchaser exercising reasonable business prudence, who is informed of the facts creating or affecting it and their legal meaning, because it appears subject to material defect, grave doubt or to the likelihood of litigation. However, the title need not be bad in fact to be "unmarketable." Black's Law Dictionary 4th Ed. West Publishing Co. 1951) defining "Marketable Title" and "Unmarketable Title." The policy also provides coverage for loss if there is no right of access to the land. Although these are the basic coverages, expanded forms of residential owner's policy exist that cover additional items of loss. Examples are the American Land Title Association Residential Owner's Policy and Expanded Coverage Residential Owner's Policy.
The liability limit of the owner's policy is typically the purchase price paid for the property. As with other types of insurance, coverages can also be added or deleted with an endorsement. There are many forms of standard endorsements to cover a variety of common issues. The premium for the policy may be paid by the seller or buyer as the parties agree; usually there is a custom in a particular state or county on this matter which is reflected in most local real estate contracts. Consumers should inquire about the cost of title insurance before signing a real estate contract which provides that they pay for title charges. A real estate attorney, broker, escrow officer (in the western states), or loan officer can provide detailed information to the consumer as to the price of title search and insurance before the real estate contract is signed. Title insurance coverage lasts as long as the insured retains an interest in the land insured and typically no additional premium is paid after the policy is issued.

Lender's policy

This is sometimes called a loan policy and it is issued only to mortgage lenders. Generally speaking, it follows the assignment of the mortgage loan, meaning that the policy benefits the purchaser of the loan if the loan is sold. For this reason, these policies greatly facilitate the sale of mortgages into the secondary market. That market is made up of high volume purchasers such as Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation as well as private institutions.
The American Land Title Association ("ALTA") forms are almost universally used in the country though they have been modified in some states. In general, the basic elements of insurance they provide to the lender cover losses from the following matters:
1. The title to the property on which the mortgage is being made is either
• Not in the mortgage loan borrower,
• Subject to defects, liens or encumbrances, or
• Unmarketable.
2. There is no right of access to the land.
3. The lien created by the mortgage:
• is invalid or unenforceable,
• is not prior to any other lien existing on the property on the date the policy is written, or
• is subject to mechanic's liens under certain circumstances.
As with all of the ALTA forms, the policy also covers the cost of defending insured matters against attack.
Elements 1 and 2 are important to the lender because they cover its expectations of the title it will receive if it must foreclose its mortgage. Element 3 covers matters that will interfere with its foreclosure.
Of course, all of the policies except or exclude certain matters and are subject to various conditions.
There are also ALTA mortgage policies covering single or one-to-four family housing mortgages. These cover the elements of loss listed above plus others. Examples of the other coverages are loss from forged releases of the mortgage and loss resulting from encroachments of improvements on adjoining land onto the mortgaged property when the improvements are constructed after the loan is made.


Construction loan policy

In many states, separate policies exist for construction loans. Title insurance for construction loans require a Date Down endorsement which recognizes that the insured amount for the property has increased due to construction funds that have been vested

Land title associations

In the United States, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) is a national trade association of title insurers. ALTA has created standard forms of title insurance policy "jackets" (standard terms and conditions) for Owner's, Lender's and Construction Loan policies. ALTA forms are used in most, but not all, U.S. states. ALTA also offers special endorsement forms for the various policies; endorsements amend and typically broaden the coverage given under a basic title insurance policy. ALTA does not issue title insurance; they provide the policy forms that title insurers issue.
Some states, including Texas and New York, may mandate the use of forms of title insurance policy jackets and endorsements approved by the state insurance commissioner for properties located in those jurisdictions, but these forms are usually similar or identical to ALTA forms.
While title insurance generally insures owners and lenders against things that have occurred in the past, in some limited circumstances, in some states, coverage is available for certain events that can occur after a title insurance policy is issued. Most notably, coverage is now available that includes the risk that a third party may place a forged mortgage or deed of trust against a property after the owner's policy has been issued. This coverage is included in the "Homeowners Policy of Title Insurance" (a specific policy form), published by ALTA and the California Land Title Association (CLTA). Note that this is not the same as a so-called CLTA Standard Policy, which provides much less coverage than the Homeowners Policy of Title Insurance.
GYMBEAUX NOTE:  In Louisiana Lender’s Title Insurance is typically a REQUIREMENT for obtaining a mortgage on a property.  The premium for Lender’s Title Insurance in Louisiana is typically paid by the Buyer but can be paid by the Seller as may be agreed to on the Agreement to Purchase.  Also of note is that the Lender’s Title Insurance Policy usually contains more coverage than the Owner’s Title Insurance Policy.  One such example is that the Lender’s coverage includes errors that may have occurred during the survey process.  It is possible for the Owner’s to all have this coverage but they MUST both ask for the additional coverage AND pay for it.
The cost of Lender’s and Owner’s Title Insurance is calculated using a formula that most if not all insurance carriers use.  Therefore the cost of the policies are fairly standard from closing company to closing company.  However, if a Buyer chooses NOT to purchase the Owner’s Title Insurance Policy AT CLOSING and then later decides that he/she will purchase it, the cost is substantially higher.  There is a significant savings to be realized if both the Lender’s Title Insurance Policy and the Owner’s Title Insurance Policy is purchased at the same time at closing.

Purchasers of property should NEVER be discouraged from obtaining Owner’s Title Insurance.  Insurance is insurance; if needed, it is worth its weight in gold.  If it is never needed, it is a waste of money but who can really afford to take the risk?