Challenges & Opportunities Ahead

Dear Members,

Just a few thoughts before we wrap up 2022 and head into 2023.  A lot has been going on in our industry over the past several years; there have been so many challenges!  I've been impressed with how you have adapted to the changes driven by the pandemic and then the exploding market.  I am also proud of the way The Fund has adapted and continued to support you.  Hope you feel the same way!

2023 will continue to present challenges.  The great thing about challenges are the opportunities they provide for us to work together and respond effectively.  Here are some thoughts about what is in front of us for 2023.  This list will change constantly but we have to start somewhere, eh?

Here's my list of challenges for 2023.  More info on each below.

  • Housing market slow down
  • Wire fraud/Email fraud
  • Attorney Opinion Letters/GSEs/FHFA
  • Aging  workforce
  • New Insurance Commissioner in Florida

Market Slow Down.  Hard to get a handle on this one because Florida just isn't like the rest of the country and folks continue to want to move here.  And we have a split personality on this one:  we would like a "little" slow down because it has been so crazy ……….. but not "too much."  It makes us nervous.  And we can do very little to influence how markets behave. So we have to be intentional and thoughtful about what is going on in the different areas of the Florida market and be prepared to deal with whatever happens.   Regardless, we are here to support you!  That will not change.

Wire fraud.  This continues to be the NUMBER ONE THREAT to your business.  You must understand these things:

  • Fraudsters understand exactly how real estate closings work and they are getting more sophisticated every day.  They will hack someone in the closing process and figure out a way to grab the buyer's money coming in, the seller's money going out or the mortgage payoff going out; whichever is easiest.
  • Education and awareness is key.  Do not think you are immune.  Make sure your staff understands the importance of this threat and how easy it is to be tricked.  We have all kinds of resources for you in our Legal Education offerings.  Here's a link:
  • Education does not stop with your staff.  Make sure every realtor on a deal understands this risk.  Make sure every buyer and every seller understands this risk.  Do not rely on a paragraph in bold red letters at the bottom of your email.  People do not read everything.  Talk to them.
  • You only have a few hours to act once you have knowledge that money went where it was not supposed to.  Some stats:  within 24 hours, your likelihood of recovery is 14%.  In 48 hours, it goes down to 2%.  After 72 hours, the money is gone, gone, gone.  Have a plan that includes bank security officer phone numbers, FBI numbers and local law enforcement.  We have resources for this, too.

Attorney Opinion Letters.  This is a hard one.  The GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) surprised us all when (earlier this year for FNMA and earlier than THAT for Freddie Mac) they announced they would accept written opinion letters from an attorney in lieu of a title insurance policy in certain, limited circumstances.  This is a challenging situation to get our arms around.  Right now, we are in an information gathering mode.  The companies behind the AOLs are not sharing as much information as we would like but we continue with our quest.  State insurance laws play an important part and we are working with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to insure they have the needed information to fully evaluate this situation in Florida.  Our focus is on fully understanding this product and not on reacting to a perceived threat to our industry.  You can help by letting me know what you hear about in your market - do you know of transactions where an AOL was used?  Were you involved in any way by representing buyer or seller?  Do you have copies of closing statements or the AOL that was issued? 

Aging workforce.  It's a thing in our industry.  We have to be creative and proactive in finding ways to attract younger workers to our business.  We have to provide the training opportunities for our new hires and not expect to find someone "ready to go" when they walk into our office.   We have to be willing to expose people in high school, colleges, universities and law schools to the career opportunities.  The Fund cannot do this alone.  We need Members to talk about the rewards of a real estate career through groups in your communities. 

New Insurance Commissioner.  David Altmaier, who has served as our insurance commissioner since April 2016, submitted his resignation effective at the end of 2022.  The newly elected cabinet will, after being sworn in, undertake to appoint his successor.  We will begin immediately to establish a relationship with the new commissioner and make sure she/he is aware of the importance our industry plays in the security, value and importance of Florida real estate transactions.  Stay tuned for more information.

I look forward to these challenges and know we can meet them all to do what is best for you and the industry!

Let me know how we can help you.  Best wishes for 2023.



Melissa Jay Murphy
Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer,
and General Counsel