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Thinking out of the box puts Chiellino in top spot: Anthony Chiellino, founder & president Prestige Title.

"Nobody ever wakes up one morning and thinks that they want to be a title insurance professional," said Anthony Chiellino, founder and president of Prestige Title, one of the largest title insurance agencies in the tri-state area.

Chiellino established Prestige Title in 1987, and with his firm's 20th anniversary approaching, he could only laugh at how far he has come in the business, building a client roster of prominent real estate attorneys, banks, investors, developers, brokers, financial institutions and government agencies, despite never really intending to ever become a title insurer.

"Unless it's a family business, everyone I know just seems to fall into title insurance ... but once they're in it, they never get out," he laughed.

Although he knew his way around numbers and studied economics in the College of Staten Island, Chiellino said that, when he landed a part-time job at Title Guarantee Title Insurance Company during his college years, it was simply a means to an end until his finished his degree.

After graduating, however, he was offered a position of title examiner at the company, where he stayed until 1987, by which time he felt he had the where-with-all to start his own firm. "Title Guarantee gave me title research and underwriting training, and I took those skills and put them into Prestige Title, which has become one of the premier title insurance companies in the real estate community," he said.

Prestige Title has grown from three to 30 employees who cater to a nationwide clientele with services that run the gamut from foreclosure certificates and lien searches to 1031 exchanges and UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) insurance. The company has earned a reputation from being able to navigate even the most complicated transactions and has built its client roster as a result of its reputation for covering all the bases.

The firm specializes in urban renewal projects, the kind of multilayered transactions that usually involve an assemblage of multiple properties, and they have developed a niche for handling financing associated with the city's Industrial Development Agency, working with developers and lenders to make sure the numbers all add up. There's a team that specializes in the process of demapping (moving street locations) and another that pours over the myriad documents that any real estate deal today is built upon.

"It's our legal department that really distinguishes our company from the competition. We're able to work on some of the most highly sophisticated and complex transactions in New York and throughout the country," said Chiellino, who noted that his firm currently co-insures projects in excess of $1 billion.

Last year, the firm insured a $200 million urban renewal project in Port Chester that tested even the seasoned Chiellino. The project involved the town of Port Chester condemning some properties and conveying them to the developer and it was up to Prestige to first identify all of the property and owners involved. The project was subject to a PILOT program (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes) where the town granted a real estate tax exemption to the developer and the developer is expected to pay real estate taxes with the future rents.

However, a problem arose when the town was unable to complete a new assessment by closing because of the multiple tax lots involved. The developer faced a dilemma: tax records showed several hundred thousand dollars in outstanding taxes, which were supposed to be exempt under the PILOT program but which he was going to be forced to pay if he wanted to move ahead with his project.

However, after Prestige Title reviewed the fine print of the PILOT program, the firm was able to insure the developer to cover the payment of the taxes until the town had the opportunity to catch up. "Any experienced title company should not only provide title insurance, but also provide problem solving and legal support to their clients, and that was just one example of Prestige Title's ability to think outside the box and provide a value added service to our client."

That flexibility and professionalism has put Chiellino's firm at the forefront of the title industry. He said, "We have a substantial pipeline of commercial real estate transactions in New York and nationally, which we think will take us well into 2007 and we expect that 2007 will be one of our best years.

"Every title is different, every deal has a new element to it, and you're constantly learning. Even after 20 years, I'm still learning."
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Title Annotation:PROFILE OF THE WEEK
Comment:Thinking out of the box puts Chiellino in top spot: Anthony Chiellino, founder & president Prestige Title.(PROFILE OF THE WEEK)
Author:Perez, Esther O.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Feb 7, 2007
Words:747
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