Buying Vacant Land

With vacant land, it is very important to thoroughly understand all that you are buying. Many buyers purchase vacant land with the plan to build their dream home. With that in mind, research plays an important role in ensuring that your lot has the capacity and potential to house your dream home and all your desired features.

Equipped with essential initial knowledge about a vacant lot, potential buyers can maximize their time during a showing to ask detailed and specific questions about each property.

If you do your research, you may be able to buy land in an area soon to experience growth or revitalization. Even if you opt not to build right away, you could see some appreciation in your investment within a relatively short amount of time.

When you are researching land for sale, you have the opportunity to select the perfect lot for your dream home. You may find land near a waterfront, with breathtaking views, or as far from civilization as you like. Once you locate the perfect spot, you can create and customize the home of your dreams.

Vacant land is less expensive than developed land. With such a low price tag, you’ll enjoy a lower interest rate and pay off the mortgage faster than a traditional home purchase might allow. From there, you can start construction on your dream home.

Vacant land has many benefits but also numerous caveats. Vacant land is always a safe, appreciable investment when you do the research and due diligence to determine the property’s value and potential.

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Red Flag Warnings

Is it time for you to walk away from your dream home ? Red flags can appear anytime during a house-hunting process and depending on the size of the problem, it may just mean you have to keep searching the MLS. Some slight problems or minor defects can be fixed, but some issues can seriously detract from your investment, and even endanger your health and safety.

Foundation Issues: If your home inspection report lists concerns with the integrity of your home’s foundation, don’t ignore them.  While all poured concrete foundations will crack at one time or another, hairline cracks are not an indication of a problem. If a crack is wider than 1/2 inch, however, it’s a good idea to have a foundation contractor examine the area. This also holds true for cracks that appear to have been recently patched. Large cracks can indicate an unstable foundation. Not all foundation issues are expensive to fix. However, major structural problems that require stabilization using hydraulic piers can cost a lot of money.

Electrical Issues: If a light switch does not work when you flip it, it’s probably just a minor electrical issue that can be fixed later. But, Outdated wiring or too little voltage is cause for concern. Not only will you not be able to hook up all your electronics and appliances, but problems with your electrical setup can also increase your risk for a home fire. Major electrical issues can end up being costly projects that require permits, professionals, and inspections to bring up to code. 

Roofing Issues: A complete roof teardown is a substantial investment, so it’s important to know how old the roof is, particularly important in areas of the country where there is a lot of snowfall since that can shorten the life span of a roof.  Besides the costs of replacement or repairs, leaky roofs can lead to other problems like mold, rot, and water damage. 

Mold: If water damage or mold is found in the home, consider it a red flag. In truth, most homes will have some mold in crawl spaces and attics, and not all mold is bad for your health. But, important: mold can mean there are other problems, like water leaks from the roof or major appliances, that could be costly to correct. It’s imperative that the source of the mold is found. Otherwise, the problem could worsen, and you could end up with a health hazard.

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A Realtor’s Fiduciary Duty

The National Association of Realtors indicates that fiduciary duties cover six distinct areas: loyalty, confidentiality, disclosure, obedience, reasonable care and diligence, and accounting. Some—but not all—of these duties are self-explanatory.

Loyalty means a Realtor must act in the best interest of his clients, including placing their client interests above their own. So, for example, if an agent is interested in buying a house that he knows is perfect for one of his clients, he must give the client priority and refrain from making an offer unless and until the client rejects the house.

Confidentiality means Realtors must safeguard their clients’ secrets. Agents often know the lowest price that a seller-client will take, for example, but the agent must keep it a secret. Likewise, if a seller must sell due to an emergency, the agent may not reveal the seller’s distress. Buyer’s agents must also keep their client’s secrets. For example, the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay and that the buyer loves a given house are secrets.

Disclosure means that the Realtor is required to disclose affirmatively all information concerning the transaction as well as the property which might affect the decisions a principal makes, informing the principal what the Realtor knows.

Obedience requires an agent to carry out his client’s legal wishes. No agent is ever obligated to violate the law. In fact, the law calls for fair and honest dealing, no matter whom the agent represents. So if a seller tells an agent to lie about a leaking roof, he is under no obligation to do so. However, if a seller tells her agent to list a house at a given price, the agent must obey. If the price is unreasonable, the agent should encourage the seller to reconsider the price or do as the seller asks, but the agent cannot list it at a different price.

Realtors are obligated to use reasonable care and diligence in pursuing the principal’s affairs. The standard of care expected of a real estate broker representing a seller or buyer is that of a competent real estate professional. By reason of his license, a Realtor is deemed to have skill and expertise in real estate matters superior to that of the average person. As an agent representing others in their real estate dealings, a broker or salesperson is under a duty to use his superior skill and knowledge while pursuing his principal’s affairs. This duty includes an obligation to affirmatively discover facts relating to his principal’s affairs that a reasonable and prudent real estate broker would be expected to investigate. Simply put, this is the same duty any professional, such as a doctor or lawyer, owes to his patient or client.

The duty of accounting means that the agent must account for money and property entrusted to her. Agents must give escrow funds to their brokers or to the client’s attorney who will keep it in an escrow fund. Listing agents must keep track of showings so that they have a record of who has come and gone. They must also ensure that a listed house is secure, either by signing out keys to other licensed agents and accounting for their whereabouts or by hanging a lockbox on the property.

The Bottom Line: Fiduciary abuse is against the law and can leave an agent open to a lawsuit, and it destroys the professional and ethical standing of the real estate agent. As a Realtor, you should always be aware of your fiduciary duties to your clients. It’s a major responsibility and upholding these duties is crucial to developing a strong reputation.

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Selling & Buying a Home in a Buyer’s Market

Today in the United States, home sales are on the rise as mortgage interest rates remain low. Buyers are looking to take advantage of low-interest rates and sellers are looking to get top-dollar for their home in the low inventory, competitive market.   Is it a buyer or seller’s market?

When the supply of homes exceeds the demand it’s a buyer’s market. The inventory of homes listed for sale is large but there aren’t many interested buyers looking. These conditions give buyers leverage over sellers because when supply is higher and demand lower, the market is forced to respond.

In a buyer’s market, real estate prices decrease, and homes linger on the market longer. Because of this, sellers will need to compete with each other in order to attract buyers. What typically happens is sellers drop their asking prices to gain an advantage in the market and they are ready to negotiate offers to prevent buyers from walking away. A buyer’s market does not mean your house won’t sell. Hire an experienced Realtor to help you get your home ready to show and to price it right to sell.

A few tips for buying a home in a buyers market knowing that it’s the ideal time to buy your dream home because the prices are lower and there are less people to compete with shopping the market:

Don’t rush. This is when you can take your time because with less competition it’s not as much of a concern that you might miss out on a property you like.

Have your Realtor show you as many homes for sale as possible. Knowing what is available on the market is favorable because it will not only ensure that you find the perfect home but give you a greater ability to negotiate on price.

A good Realtor will make sure you are familiar with all the comparable properties on the market and this will help in negotiating the price. Use the comps to your advantage.

Know how long a home has been on the market. The longer it has been available the more power you will have to negotiate for a lower price.

A few tips for selling your home in a buyers market:

Make your home stand out. Take advice from an experienced Realtor on what should be done to accomplish this.

There are more properties out there when it’s a buyer’s market and they will be pickier. If your home needs repairs it’s in your best interest to get them fixed.

Clean and depersonalize each room. If buyers can’t envision themselves living in your home, they won’t make offers. Get rid of any clutter, hire a professional cleaning service and touch up your landscaping to prepare to put your home on the market. Pull out any family photos, papers, souvenirs, or anything else that makes it “your” home.

Find the Realtor that will price your home competitively. Look at all the listings in your area and see what they are offering. Make sure your asking price is either on par with or lower than the comparable homes in your area. And when you do get an offer, make sure that you judge it fairly.

A buyer’s market is the most ideal time to buy a home. You will have the advantage as a buyer. Not only are there more homes to choose from, but you have the power in most negotiations. The ability to walk away from a sale knowing there are probably comparable homes on the market gives you the power. Sellers are more likely to make concessions, drop prices and accept less favorable offers.

If your plans are to buy or sell a home soon, align yourself with a trustworthy Realtor. They are well-versed in market trends and can answer questions you may have throughout the buying or selling process.

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Title Insurance

No one gives much thought to the importance of title insurance. Something that can protect owners of real property events and matters that can be brought up form the past. But what happens when an old title issue surfaces and a claim is made on a policy? Many homeowners decline title insurance but once they know how it is created to protect them from unknown claims against their property that can pop up years down the road.

Title insurance is much more than a lender requirement. It’s knowing that what you are buying is free of any third party claims to ownership or use of any part of it. It assures the homeowner that they are clear of anything that would affect the ability to sell or borrow against their new property.  After thousands of real estate closings here at Title First, we can give you a rundown of the most common issues we can save you from:

Mistakes on titles, especially lately, that are transferred through a sale of foreclosure without certain rulings met, thus making the transfer of the title invalid.

Mistakes within all the paperwork brought to a closing. Somewhere along the line, there may be a forged signature or recorded documents that have been signed by people without legal authority.

Mistakes made during the probate process for the previous owner that overlooked someone else’s rightful claim (undisclosed heirs) to the property of someone else’s interest in the property. Misinterpretation of wills and deeds.

Mistakes made in the description of the property.

Mistakes made where claims, tax information, or easements have not been recorded properly in the public record.

Mistakes missed of liens on the property or judgments against the previous owner.

Mistakes in unpaid taxes or mortgages and unpaid debts.

Investors need to be alert when protecting their investments. Title insurance assures the homeowner that the title to the property purchased is free of any defects and is “clear to close”. It is a guarantee that all matters of record that could harm the title of the new property have been disclosed and resolved. Title insurance protects the homeowner against any potential claims should an undisclosed event threaten the ownership of the property. Give us a call today at Title First Agency: 1-866-320-8400

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