Holiday Home Buying & Selling

One of the best deals people can make is buying a home during the Christmas holiday season. There are a variety of reasons for buying a home during this time of year including less competition, year-end tax advantages as well as lower home prices, and faster closings. The inventory is limited with fewer people selling homes, but it is an advantage to buyers. The truth is negotiating a favorable price will be much easier than at other times of the year.

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. Sometimes even the costs associated with hiring a local moving company (if the move is work-related) can be itemized.

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.

Find a well-connected Realtor. Fewer homes are listed between Halloween and New Year’s Day but a good Realtor knows other Realtors and they all talk about what’s coming on the market.  

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.  

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Title Insurance Importance

What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is an insurance policy or contract issued by a title company to protect the purchaser, owner or lender against a loss that may arise by reason of a defect in the ownership or interest in real property. In addition, title insurance companies agree to defend an owner or lender in court if there is an attack on the title of an insured property. 

Title insurance is different from other types of insurance in that it protects you, the insured, from any loss that may occur from matters or defects in the past that affect your property. Other types of insurance (such as auto insurance, life insurance or health insurance) cover you against losses that may occur in the future. Title insurance does not protect against a defect that may originate after your closing.

There are two basic types of title insurance policies:  Owner’s Title Insurance and Mortgagee’s Title Insurance.

An owner’s title insurance policy protects the owner’s interest as the buyer or owner of the property. As an owner, you want to have the same assurance as the lender that the investment you have made cannot be lost because of a problem or defect with the title. Since most property owners mortgage or borrow money at the time of purchase or during ownership, the lender can be expected to request protection of its investment against loss. Lenders know that many things can cause loss of title or that expenses are incurred while defending an attack; they insist upon a mortgage title insurance policy to protect their loan secured by the property.

Bottom Line. Why?

Errors in public records

To err is human, but when it affects your homeownership rights, those mistakes can be devastating. Clerical or filing errors could affect the deed or survey of your property and cause undo financial strain in order to resolve them.

Unknown liens

Prior owners of your property may not have been meticulous bookkeepers — or bill payers. And even though the former debt is not your own, banks or other financing companies can place liens on your property for unpaid debts even after you have closed on the sale. This is an especially worrisome issue with distressed properties.

Illegal deeds

While the chain of title on your property may appear perfectly sound, it’s possible that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind, or one who is reported single but in actuality married. These instances may affect the enforceability of prior deeds, affecting prior (and possibly present) ownership.

Missing heirs

When a person dies, the ownership of his home may fall to his heirs, or those namedwithin his will. However, those heirs are sometimes missing or unknown at the time of death. Other times, family members may contest the will for their own property rights. These scenarios — which can happen long after you have purchased the property — could affect your rights to the property.


Unfortunately, we don’t live in a completely honest world. Sometimes forged or fabricated documents that affect property ownership are filed within public records, obscuring the rightful ownership of the property. Once these forgeries come to light, your rights to your home may be in jeopardy.

Undiscovered encumbrances

When it comes to owning a home, three can be a crowd. At the time of purchase, you may not know that a third party holds a claim to all or part of your property — due to a former mortgage or lien, or non-financial claims, like restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your property.

Unknown easements

You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but an unknown easement may prohibit you from using it as you’d like, or could allow government agencies, businesses, or other parties to access all or portions of your property. While usually non-financial issues, easements can still affect your right to enjoy your property.

Boundary/survey disputes

You may have seen several surveys of your property prior to purchasing, however, other surveys may exist that show differing boundaries. Therefore, a neighbor or other party may be able to claim ownership to a portion of your property.

Undiscovered will

When a property owner dies with no apparent will or heir, the state may sell his or her assets, including the home. When you purchase such a home, you assume your rights as owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will may come to light and your rights to the property may be seriously jeopardized.

False impersonation of previous owner

Common and similar names can make it possible to falsely “impersonate” a property owner. If you purchase a home that was once sold by a false owner, you can risk losing your legal claim to the property.

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Real Estate Social Media Mistakes

Social media is helping the marketing efforts of real estate agents. However, many are not getting the results they wish for. There are many common mistakes made frequently that Realtors just are not aware of. As real estate agents continue to have a stronger presence on social media, they tend to observe wrong practices online. This will harm more than help them.

Boasting about your real estate business will only chase people away. You should, however, show your pride in closing deals. Showing appreciation for your clients is the best means to show off your hard work without seeming like you are boasting. Simply thank your clients and say how happy you are for them.

Avoid posts that are overly promotional. Do share your listings, special offers, homes you have sold but not all the time. Too often and you will turn people off as just another person trying to sell something. Social media is for fun and should be social. If you were at a cocktail party, would you ever just keep selling through a conversation? People would do whatever they could to get away from you. Don’t do it here either.

It’s important to mix in other content like blog posts and infographics with your promotional messages. If you don’t have much original, useful content to share with your audience, then take a step back and focus on producing content to share.

Another mistake that must be avoided when formulating a real estate social media strategy is uploading only third-party content. Realtors tend to do that because as busy professionals they do not have the time to generate original ideas constantly. In this case, sharing content from trade publications, industry bloggers, and other related organizations seems like a nice idea. It does not need much time and shows the realtor’s knowledge and interest in the industry. 

However, if all the agent does is post links from other sources rather than putting in some effort to create their own materials, their online presence can go stale and they lose followers. An effective real estate social media strategy needs to strike a harmonious balance between third-party content and original ideas.

It’s really important to reply to the comments that you do get, even if it’s as simple as to say “Thanks” or answer questions that people are asking. Social media is about building relationships and if you’re just posting posting posting but not stopping to engage, it will be hard to ever make meaningful connections on social media. As you make these connections, the people you’re engaging become more than just leads, but potential referral sources.

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Price Your Home To Sell not Sit on the Market

How much is your home worth? That is the first question most homeowners ask when it’s time to sell. Having the best Realtor is key to getting the “right number”. You need someone who will price your home properly, quite possibly the most important thing a skilled Realtor can do. Too many Realtors tell sellers what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear to sell their home.

Pricing a home is a skill that takes training, understanding of the market and the comparable sales (comps). When a home is listed too high, buyers pass on even looking at it. It will end up being on the market for a long period of time and the price will eventually be forced to be lowered to be competitive. But, by that time buyers assume there must be something wrong with the home and it will gain a bad reputation and continue to be bypassed. Even the buyers who do look at it will lowball the new price and the home will end up being sold for less than what it would have had you priced it correctly to being with. Homes sell for the most money when they are on the market for less than 30 days in almost all markets.

You don’t want your home priced lower than it is worth, but you want it low enough to create excitement among buyers and possibly even multiple offers coming in. This is an excellent option if you want to sell a home fast.

A good Realtor will make sure that the seller’s home shows up in online searches. To make sure this happens, a proper price is paramount. If the neighborhood comps are lower, the house may not show up if it’s even slightly higher! For instance, if the comps top out at $300,000, and the buyer wants a 4 bedroom home in that neighborhood under $300,000, the house listed at $325,000 won’t even show up in the search.

Pricing a home to sell properly is a skill that the best Realtors have. It is the most critical piece to selling your home. The right price is 75% of the marketing for any home on the market. It’s what will attract buyers. So, when you are interviewing Realtors to sell your home, ask the question “what’s my home worth” and know they can’t tell you what it will sell for but expect comparable sales, pending sales, and active sales. Finally, ask to see a track record of their previous listings – the original price and the final sale number. And, don’t be afraid to ask for a personal guarantee from them.

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