You Can Sell Your Home in the Dark and Cold Month of January

Putting your home on the market to sell during an off-peak season is not the most optimal but if you hire a Realtor that knows your market well, even in January, you still can sell your home at a competitive price. If you are living in the Northeast, Midwest or other cold areas, the following are some ways that can help to sell your home faster and at a fair price during the darker months of January.

There are fewer homes being sold in January (and all Winter), which makes people nervous about putting their homes on the market. More home buyers are house-hunting in the Spring months when the weather is warmer, and the days are longer. But, you might be surprised to find out that Winter could actually be a great time to put your home on the market. The new year is a time when most people are back at work after the holidays and will often search the web for their next big move. If you are serious about selling your home, it should be online and marketed early to ensure they don’t miss this audience.

In most markets, because January isn’t a high selling month, you will need a very experienced Realtor to help price your home as it can be complex. You don’t want to scare off buyers by pricing too high or even too low, causing buyers to wonder what’s wrong with your house. When your home is put on the market in the winter, buyers often assume you are desperate to sell your home and may lowball you thinking you’ll sell for any price. Buyers house hunting during the traditional off-season of January, usually means they are eager to buy and more willing to negotiate the price.

One way you can spur some interest during cold January is to price your home slightly under comparable homes in order to draw in multiple offers. More offers tend to drive up the value of your home prompting more competitive bids from buyers who often will end up paying more than the initial asking price.

The real challenge might be to help dress up your home in dreary January weather. To help make your home feel more welcoming, shovel the walks, add outdoor illumination along paths, light candles indoors, add cozy throw blankets, have holiday-type smells such as cinnamon or cookies, but take down any holiday decorations.

Furthermore, during the cold, any problems you may have in your home can become more prominent including drafts and leaks. To help lessen these potential problems, crank up the heat so buyers feel toasty warm and will be less likely to notice any issues.

While it may be difficult to sell your home in January, it’s not impossible especially if you hire an experienced Realtor who knows your neighborhood well and can guide you to list your home at the best possible price. Sometimes, waiting to list your home during the beautiful Spring months when the sun is out and the trees are blooming and flowering can mean that you could miss out on potential buyers. Many Realtors will tell you, some of their best sales happened in the new year.

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Buyers and Sellers

Buying a home is an exciting and emotional time for many people. To help you buy your home with more confidence, make sure you get owner’s title insurance. Here’s why it’s so important for you.

Protects Your Largest Investment: A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll make in your life. You insure everything else that’s valuable to you – your life, car, personal property, healthy, pets, jewelry, etc. – so why not your largest investment? For a one-time fee, owner’s title insurance protects your property rights for as long as you or your heirs own the home.

Reduces Your Risk: If you’re buying a home, there are many many hidden issues that may pop up after purchasing it. Getting an owner’s title insurance policy protects you from legal title discrepancies. Don’t think it will happen to you? Think again. Here are just some of the many situations that you’ll be protected from if you have owner’s title insurance.

Unforeseeable title claims, such as:

  • Forgery: making a false document. For example, the seller misrepresents the identity of the person selling the property.
  • Fraud: deception to achieve unfair gain. For example, someone steals your identity and either sells your house without your knowledge or consent or takes out a second mortgage on the property and walks away with the money.
  • Clerical error: inconsistent paperwork and historical records. For example, an unforeseeable discrepancy in the property or fence line causes confusion in ownership rights.

Unexpected title claims, such as:

  • Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or liens against the property because the seller didn’t pay required taxes.
  • Pending legal action against the property that could affect your ownership.
  • An unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of property.

You Can’t Beat the Value: Owner’s title insurance is a one-time fee that’s very low relative to the value it provides. It typically costs around 0.5% of a home’s purchase price.

Covers Your Heirs: As long as your or your heirs own your home, owner’s title insurance protects your property rights.

Nothing Compares: Home insurance and warranties protect only the inside of the home. Getting owner’s title insurance ensures your family’s property rights stay protected.

8 in 10 Homebuyers Agree: Each year, more than 80% of America’s homebuyers choose to get owner’s title insurance.

Peace of Mind: If you’re buying a home, owner’s title insurance lets you rest assured, with the knowledge that you won’t be stuck with certain existing debts or legal problems once you’ve closed on your new home.

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The Importance of a Realtor When Buying a Home

Be sure to vet and find the best Real estate Agent before you set out to look for your next home. They will play a huge role in one of the most important financial decisions of our lives. When it comes to buying, selling, leasing, or renting, they will lead us through a sometimes bumpy and overwhelming process.

Websites can help you find the area you want to live in, even some of the houses that you want to see. But, an experienced Realtor can offer a level of expertise in the market that you won’t be able to get without her.

1. Advice. Expect your Realtor to provide advice relating to homes even before you tour them. A good agent will have already learned from you about what you want & need, what your preferences are and what your budget is. She will be able to help you narrow your search and identify your priorities.

2. Educate. Your Realtor will be able to provide data on the local home market and comparable sales. The home-buying process can be complicated. A good agent will explain the steps involved and make sure that you understand them and provide counsel to you.

3. Network. An agent who is familiar with the neighborhoods that you are interested in and will often know about pocket listings. Experienced agents tend to know other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them; this can lead to smooth transactions. Your agent may also be able to refer you to trusted professionals including lenders, home inspectors and contractors.

4. Advocate. When you work with a buyer’s agent, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you.

5. Negotiate. Your agent will handle the details of the negotiation process, including the preparation of all necessary offer and counteroffer forms. Once your inspection is done, the agent can also help you negotiate for repairs. Let the agent do the “dirty work” and ask for things to be fixed. They know how to negotiate from experience and what will and will not work.

6. Paperwork. A real estate transaction can be exhaustive, not to mention all the federal, state and local documents required. If you forget to initial a clause or check a box, all those documents will need to be resubmitted. A good real estate agent understands the associated deadlines and details and can help you navigate these complex documents.

7. Knowledge. Plenty of issues can kill a deal right before the closing; perhaps the title of the house isn’t clear, the lender hasn’t met the financing deadline or the seller has failed to disclose a plumbing problem. An experienced real estate agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late, and can skillfully deal with challenges as they arise.

The Bottom Line: You can buy a home without a Realtor. People do it all the time. But, going at it alone can be a risky bet. There can be a lot of legal loopholes that can be overwhelming and confusing for someone not experienced in the real estate business. Buying a home is a long and often very emotional process. The Realtor will handle all the stress for you that goes with finding financing, negotiation, and closing.

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New Strategies for Courting Customers in the Digital Age


Technology has completely transformed the global marketplace in the past two decades. It has created new expectations for the way companies operate and engage consumers, and it has given customers more options when it comes to providers. Lenders hoping to win the loyalty of their customers can learn valuable strategies from market researchers who study the customer experience and companies that are known for being customer centric. According to “the relationship experts,” the new recipe for success is equal parts digital and human, and all about putting customers’ needs first.

1. Use data to make a good first impression.

Knowledge is power and, thanks to technology, there is more data being collected and analyzed than ever before. Smart companies use consumer data to better understand their customers, anticipate their needs and tailor their approach to create the best first impression possible.

2. Engage customers where they are comfortable.

Whether pursuing a personal or business relationship, it’s important to know where to engage the type of individual you hope to attract. Most millennials are online and older generations are moving there, too, so it may come as a surprise that most bank customers still want access to a branch office.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 65 percent of recent and prospective home buyers feel it’s important for banks to maintain a local branch. Twenty-five percent said they would not open an account with a bank that does not have a local presence. The reason is simple: People prefer the convenience of initiating the lending process online but want to end it with a professional who can assure them that their investment is safe and on track. Banks that offer a mix of modern and traditional engagement channels with seamless integration between them can reach more customers where they feel comfortable doing business.

3. Make their lives easier.

One of the biggest benefits of being in a relationship is knowing your partner has your back when things get hard. Most consumer preferences are more than arbitrary demands; they reflect the challenges of living in one of the most overworked societies in the world. Banks that offer digital solutions help weary consumers save time, simplify tasks and protect their assets, so they can find more balance. Understanding the needs behind customer preferences also gives lenders the opportunity to show empathy and recommend solutions that position them as trusted advisors.

4. Show care and respect.

According to Kantar Media, an international consulting firm that studies the customer experience, customers want to be “known, heard and valued.” That takes time and effort. It means getting to know your customers, honoring their preferences and delivering on promises. It also requires that providers show they care. For example, customers don’t just appreciate check-in calls, they expect them. According to PwC, 52 percent of home buyers who received a call after closing said they would be likely to use the same lender again for their next loan, compared to just 23 percent of those who didn’t get a call.

Like any relationship, individuals who feel taken for granted are more likely to walk away. Customers who are acknowledged and appreciated have more incentive to reuse and recommend a provider.

5. Add real value.

No one wants a partner who does the bare minimum to get by. Customers aren’t just looking for any bank to give them a loan, they prefer one that can satisfy as many of their financial needs as possible – and they’re willing to pay more for it (PwC). That creates new business opportunities for those willing to think outside the box and go the extra mile for their customers. 

For example, instead of ending relationships with consumers who do not qualify for a loan, banks could offer tools and services designed to help them save money, pay off debt or improve their credit score. New homeowners may also appreciate budgeting tools, a reminder to file for a homestead exemption, or help planning a future remodel or refinance. Banks that look out for their customers and help them achieve their financial goals are more likely to be rewarded with their loyalty.

Relationships are tough. Making them last is even tougher. If we want a customer for life, we must be willing to demonstrate what makes us a worthy partner. Embracing modern tools and strategies helps us better understand consumers and their preferences, so we can evolve to meet more of their needs and delight them in unexpected ways.

These are the opinions of Eric Lapin and not necessarily reflective of Title First Agency.

Eric has 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, which includes origination through servicing, technology, innovation, data and analytics. He is a member of the MISMO Community of Practice for Blockchain Education Committee and a frequent speaker at industry events.

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