In Episode 8 Riker Danzig welcomed two professionals from Qualia, a digital real estate closing platform that is changing the industry. Lyman Hopper, a long-time title insurance pro, and Tim Calandro, a senior account executive, spoke with hosts Mike O’Donnell and Bethany Abele about why title and escrow companies are turning to digital platforms to better serve their clients. They explained that, in addition to helping professionals be more effective and productive in accomplishing the numerous tasks associated with closings, the all-in-one platform can make the closing process less stressful by providing automated property data retrieval and personalized dashboards to track workflow. They noted that both established title shops and start-ups are relying more and more on online portals.
Associate Desiree McDonald then joined the conversation to discuss A Flock of Seagirls LLC v. Walton County Florida, 7 F.4th 1072 (2021) (not to be confused with the popular ‘80s band A Flock of Seagulls). In A Flock of Seagirls, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida regarding an easement. The strip of land in question was at the heart of eminent domain proceedings back in the ‘90s by the State of Florida, resulting in a public access easement allowing public pedestrian access along the beach on the Gulf of Mexico. The easement’s stated purpose was to provide “a way of passage.” The easement also contained an abandonment clause, which provided that the County would be deemed to have abandoned the easement if the County attempted to use the easement “for a purpose not specified therein.” The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals had to consider whether the abandonment clause of the easement was triggered when Walton County created an Ordinance allowing the land to be used for recreational activity (such as sunbathing, picnicking, swimming, building sandcastles). The Eleventh Circuit determined that the Ordinance constituted an abandonment of the easement, noting that “a way of passage” refers to a locomotive purpose, not a recreational purpose. Further, it found that, under Florida law, the public’s right to full use of beaches was not boundless. Therefore, the Court held that the easement was abandoned, protecting the adjacent beachfront property from unwelcome recreational activity.