Most people know how important it is to have title insurance when buying a new home. The buyer needs to have protection against defects or problems because of liens, encumbrances or defects in the title when there is a transfer of property ownership. But, what if the home being sold is new construction since there isn’t an actual previous home that has a title?
When a home is sold, the original seller transfers the title deed to the buyer. The hope is that the seller has had full possession of the title without any liens on the property and has the right to sell it. A title company will research public records looking for problems that might be associated with the property – filing errors, forgeries, undisclosed heirs – and once searhed will provide a poliy to protect the buyer from an issues that may be uncovered later.
All of the above makes sense if a home that is being bought has been owned by someone else. What happens when a buyer is purchasing the land to build a new house on? Why would title insurance be needed? Because the land was owned and may have been broken up from an even larger parcel that has undiscovered claims. The title to that land may come into dispute in years to come. Most land is not completely claim-free, thus there is history. Furthermore, the builder may have bills unpaid to subcontractors and suppliers resulting in a lien on the new home.
A title policy is the best and safest way in protecting the buyer of the land that the new home is being built on. There will be no question of ownership in the future, especially if the home in the new subdivision was not properly subdivided.
The Bottom Line: The lender will want to be sure that there is a clear title on the property. Someone owned the land on which the new home is being built before the buyer and the title to that land may at some point come into dispute. And, while there is no question the owners could experience disruption during a dispute, the title insurance will ease the pain by covering the bills during the process.
Buying a home can be chock full of complications and setbacks, or it can go remarkably smooth and fast if it is planned carefully. The Realtor needs to stay focused and be the voice of reason as they facilitate the process at closing and make sure all parties have completed all unfinished business prior to coming to the “closing table”. Here’s a quick list that Realtors can use to ensure a smooth closing.
Repairs: The Realtor should check on the status of all repairs that were to be made on the home the day before closing. If there was an agreement that something needed to be fixed by closing, make sure that it is. If there was an arrangement for repairs to be taken care of after closing, make sure all the necessary paperwork shows this as fact. A final walk-through should be done with the buyers. The sellers should make sure, with their Realtor, that the property is in the condition promised and all of their personal items are removed.
Title Insurance: All of the title work should be checked to ensure clear title and that the property can be transferred without any obstructions. Should there be any title issues that might include judgments or liens, they must be settled prior to the hour of closing. The moment of truth in a real estate transaction happens at the closing table. Title First Agency will work hard to ensure a seamless experience for you and your clients. From contract to closing, we handle all the details to help a transaction run smoothly and close on time.
Financing: The lender should be contacted the day before the closing to be certain that all the documents they need have been received. Occasionally, the closing is delayed due to one document or one final verification. The interest rate for the loan should be locked as well as the final mortgage and monthly payments. The Realtor should make sure the buyer has all the funds available and ready to close. Having everything in hand the day before gives both the buyer and the seller 24 hours to review everything and have any questions ready, errors noticed or points not understood addressed.
The Bottom Line: A thorough Realtor will make sure the buyers are ready for the closing. First-time buyers may not realize all the people that could possibly be at the closing table, and all the paperwork there will be that needs their signature. The buyer needs a cashier’s check or arrangments made to wire the closing funds to the escrow company. The seller should bring all the keys, garage door openers, alarm codes and any other controls to the settlement. The Realtor should make sure and confirm that all utilities have been disconnected by the sellers and set up ready for the buyers upon closing.
Some of the best deals people can make is buying a home during the Christmas holiday season. The real estate inventory is limited as there are fewer people selling homes, but this will come as an advantage to buyers. The truth is negotiating a favorable price will be much easier than other times of the year. Other than getting a good deal on a new home there are a few really good advantages to now, being the time to find and buy that home.
Closing on a new home before December 31 will bring tax benefits. Deductions can be itemized such as points paid upon closing, property taxes and mortgage interest rates. Often times, a move at this time of the year has to do with an employment move which can bring more tax breaks.
Sellers who choose to have their home on the market during the holidays are usually more motivated than the rest of the year. Listing a home during an off peak time such as this often means a job relocation, or some time sensitive issue that puts buyers in a position to get a better deal.
Everyone involved with the real estate deal – sellers, Realtors, title agencies, banks, inspectors, lenders – want to wrap the deal up before the holidays. This time of year brings about a much more focused and speedy process that takes longer during the rest of the year. Just make sure before you begin the process that the Realtor that you choose will not be leaving for vacation and become MIA for a week or so.
Favorable financing comes at holiday time. Interest rates on mortgages and loans typically hit a lower point around the holidays because fewer people are looking to borrow. There is historically, less financial business being done during December.
And, another pretty fine reason to buy a home during the holidays? January and February bring the seasonal sales. Think – new furniture, appliances, decor, even next year’s holiday decorations!
The Bottom Line: Buyers should watch the market conditions as well as look online at what is out there. Get the word out to Realtors that can help find any “pocket listings”. Check out the many online calculators that are available and see how much can be saved over the life of a mortgage with even a little decrease in interest rates that tend to happen during the holidays.
Are the walls closing in on you in your home? Are you feeling cramped? Maybe you have TOO much space and have launched all of your children and are ready to downsize. Are you ready to find your next home? Are you on the fence whether it’s a good time to sell or not? Of course, you want top dollar. So what are some of the signals that now is the time – or not?
Positive Equity: The current market value of your home, less what you owe. If you can sell your home for more than you owe, you will benefit from positive equity. This can enable you to have enough money for closing costs and putting money down on your next home. At the very least, you want to be able to sell enough to cover the current balance of your mortgage. If none of this applies to you, there are many things you can do to improve the equity of your home, including home improvements. Speak with a skilled Realtor to know what you should repair, replace or upgrade.
Strong Market: You probably have a general idea of what is going on in your neighborhood – what the trend is; who is selling; what has sold and for how much. But, call your local Realtor and get the comps and find out exactly how hot the market is. You’ll be able to learn how long a home was on the market until it sold, what the price per square foot has been and if that number been increasing or decreasing. If it’s been low average days on market, it’s a pretty positive sign the market is hot for sellers.
Remodeling Won’t Raise The Value: Sometimes it’s beneficial to make updates in your home and you know that updating your kitchen or adding another bathroom will help you sell your home for top dollar. But, making an appointment with a reputable Realtor to find out if adding money to your home will be worth it. Depending on the real estate in your neighborhood and what buyers are looking for, doing less may be more. Your Realtor will help you to understand what the market is doing – the rule of thumb is not to raise your home’s value any higher than 10 percent of the average cost of homes in your neighborhood.
The Bottom Line: Is it finally time to sell? There are many signs, we’ve just listed three. Talk to a Realtor, meet with a financial advisor or mortgage lender and make sure it makes sense financially. Being house poor is a reality, and as much as you want a larger home – or even a smaller home – it might not be the right time for you.