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Negotiating When Buying a Home

A great, seasoned Realtor is your best bet when you find the home of your dreams. Negotiation in real estate is an art that any seasoned Realtor will be able to find some common ground that satisfies all parties. Bad negotiations can kill a sale.

  1. If you offer too far below the market value it will damage your credibility as a buyer and is usually insulting to the seller who often has a price range in mind that they’ll accept. If you aren’t even close to the lower end of that range, the offer probably won’t be considered.
  2. Incremental negotiations. Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. Take it or leave it. When you make a firm offer the seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if you won’t negotiate, don’t show your hand.
  4. Being particular after an inspection. If a major issue is revealed, yes, that should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a standstill.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing.

The Bottom Line: Before beginning any negotiations, studies have shown that whoever has the most information has the most success on what they are bidding on as opposed to walking into something completely blind. If you have hired a good Realtor, he will be adept at understanding both the big picture and the little details of the home you want to buy. He should be able to read the market the home is in and know if the home you want is one that can be negotiated.

 

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Realtors: Partner with Title First Agency

Realtors: We are your first title company partner. As a trusted partner of Title First Agency, you can expand your coverage and grow your business. We are licensed and do direct business in 30+ states and have strategic relationships in all of our non-licensed states.

JOIN OUR NETWORK

Through a partnership with Title First, you can maintain control of client communication, deliver exceptional service and realize potential revenue you have lost in the past – all while remaining fully compliant with RESPA regulations. By working with us, you can accept more title orders from your clients, expand your footprint, and not have to obtain additional licensing in states where your business does not justify the expense.

Benefits of partnering with Title First:

  • Grow your business outside of your footprint
  • Continue to serve your clients as they grow
  • Maximize your revenue
  • Customize your program with us to serve your client
  • Work with a single point of contact
  • Work through integration and automation
  • See all of your transactions 24/7 on our secured Transaction Center web portal
  • Have unlimited access to some of the largest Underwriters

Contact us at experts@titlefirst.com to learn more about how Title First can work with you to grow your business.

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Stay Safe and Have a Happy Fourth of July

Image result for fourth of july

Fireworks: Accidents and injuries from fireworks happen every year. We don’t think about the probability of fireworks burning down our home or starting a massive fire, but it does happen.

  • Drop all fireworks in a bucket of water before putting them in the trash to snuff out any smoldering
  • Use fireworks outdoors and a good distance from your home
  • Light your fireworks one at a time to maximize safety
  • Test all of your smoke detectors so they can warn you if you don’t smell or see a fire
  • Make sure you have outside bubble covers on all of your exterior outlets
  • Have a hose readily available in case you need to put out a fire
  • Don’t attempt to relight defective fireworks.
  • Children should be closely supervised
  • Check the fire hazard danger level in your area to make sure it’s safe to light fireworks

Grilling: What would this holiday be without grilling hot dogs and hamburgers? When entertaining, it’s easy to walk away and leaver our grills unattended or near flammable materials. It only takes is a few seconds for an accident to occur.

  • Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home and off of decks and patios and away from any flammable brush
  • Check for any propane leaks at the tank and fittings
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case you need to put out a grease fire
  • Water does not work well on a grease fire

Pool Safety: Pool parties are always fun on the Fourth of July holiday. Take proper precautions to keep your family and your guests safe.

  • Children MUST be supervised. According to the Red Cross, over 200 kids drown in backyard pools each year. Designate a “lifeguard” or even hire an experienced one. Eyes should always be on the pool
  • Make sure life jackets are available and approved
  • Keep children away from the drains in the pool
  • When the party is over, make sure all guests have left the pool area and then secure all pool safety gates. If guests are still on the premises, or children are still outdoors, make sure one adult continues watching the pool area to make sure no one gets in unnoticed. For an added layer of security, install a motion detector or a wireless sensor that connects to your security system so that you receive an alert if there is movement around the swimming pool area

Pet Safety: Humans aren’t the only ones at-risk during this holiday. Fireworks are particularly triggering to dogs and cats, who may try and escape once the celebration begins. Protect your little buddies from Fourth of July safety hazards by taking these precautions:

  • Keep your pet inside at all times. It may seem obvious, but even the bravest of pets can go into a panic with the loud noise of fireworks and cause them to break their restraint and even jump a fence to find safety.
  • Make sure your pet has proper ID on his collar. If he does manage to get loose, it will make finding him that much easier
  • Just know where your buddy is all the time during your celebration of the Fourth of July. It’s easy when guests are going in and out of your home for your pet to slip out unnoticed

The Bottom Line: Holidays always increase the risk of injury or death. Taking the extra time, even spending a few more dollars and setting up the precautions and preventative measures can protect yourself, your family and your home. A good friend’s home burned down on the Fourth of July holiday years ago from his gas grill exploding. It was too close to his home and he didn’t have access to a hose or a fire extinguisher that would have helped the very terrible situation. Be safe.

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Questions You Need Answers To Before You Buy A Home

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Buying a home is about the largest single investment you’ll ever make, and you should spend a lot of time and investigate for the perfect house for your family. You must get answers to questions that will give you peace of mind in your purchase. Hopefully, you have found the best Realtor who will help you get to the bottom of these questions:

Why is the house for sale: You may not get the real reason why. There are many reasons why people move, including job relocation, desire to get into a smaller/larger house, life events (marriage, the birth of a child, death of a spouse, or other reason) and retirement. But, if you can get an answer it might help in the negotiation of price.

How long has the home for sale been on the market? If it’s been more than 60 days, chances are you will have more room to negotiate.

How old is the roof?  A roof generally lasts between 15 and 50 years, depending on its materials. If you know how old the roof is, and what type is, you will better be able to determine how long it will last and calculate that into your offer price.

What was the previous selling price? If you know how much the seller paid for the home you will be able to see the value of the local market that the home is in – has it gone up or down. If they paid a lower price, they may be willing to negotiate. If they bought it close to what they are asking for, they most likely won’t budge.

Is there radon in the home? Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that’s found in about 1 every 15 homes.  Most Realtors will tell buyers to get a test done. If the home is found to have it, it will be safe to live in once the radon remediation occurs.

How is the school system? This really matters even if you don’t have children. The quality and rating of the school system affect the value of your home. The next buyers may have kids.

Has there ever been a pipe burst? A good inspector usually can tell if water damage has occurred, and any damage should be disclosed by the previous owner at the time of sale.  The big problem from water damage is moisture problems we are unable to see, behind drywall and trim which leads to mold. A mold remediation professional can tell you if mold is present and how to remove it.

Any signs of pests? Another disclosure that should be made by the owners at the time of the sale. Even if they had a past infestation and dealt with it and can offer proof, such as a receipt for pest control it doesn’t mean the pests are gone for good. Whatever conditions made the home ripe for infestation- a slow leak under the house, rotting wood, or even a total neighborhood situation, get the answers with help from your Realtor.

There are many more investigative questions to ask and hopefully, you have the perfect Realtor that will do a search for all the answers to any questions you may have. Nothing is off limits – this is your investment.

  • Are there sex offenders in the neighborhood?
  • What is the slope of the driveway?
  • How old are the appliances?
  • How many offers has the seller gotten?
  • What type of foundation?
  • What is included in the sale?
  • Are there any neighborhood nuisances?
  • Any lead paint?

The Bottom Line: A conversation with the seller and their Realtor and a review of public records can fill in any blanks to help you make the best decision. Also, you can contact city hall and the county’s property appraiser.

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What Not To Do Before Listing Your Home For Sale

Don’t Spend A Lot of Money on Improvements: It’s tempting to make expensive changes to your home allure prospective buyers. Too many times, sellers put a lot of money into fixing up their homes before listing it. Make an appointment with a skilled Realtor who knows your neighborhood well and can give you advice on what improvements are the most important to tackle. The Realtor will help you to weigh the cost of the proposed upgrades against the market value of your home after the improvements are made. Sometimes, it isn’t applicable to do anything if you won’t get a return on your money.

Don’t Ignore the Outside of Your Home: It’s always a good idea to spend a little extra money on landscaping, and you honestly don’t even have to spend a huge amount to improve the outside of your home. Mulch, bush trimming, plant flowers, tree branch removal, and a fresh cut lawn can speak volumes and set your home apart from the competition. The first impression can make or break your chance to sell your home with a profit. Prospective buyers do drive-bys and often don’t bother putting a home on their list to see the inside if the outside isn’t attractive. Or, they will use an unkempt yard excuse to lowball an offer.

Don’t Overprice Your Home: Prospective buyers are not going to overpay for a home. This is quite possibly the worst home listing mistake. You should choose a Realtor who will have all the neighborhood comparables printed out and ready for you. Remember, there is so much information out there on the internet and the average buyer is pretty real estate savvy. They are able to drum up any information they can find to show your home is overpriced. Then, there is the “typical time frame” that a home should sell in every market and if your home has surpassed that, buyers will know your home is probably overpriced.

Don’t Overlook the Small Details: Are the appliances working? Lights? Hardware on cabinets and doors all tightened and clean? Closets decluttered? Odors from pets need to be tackled. Are the carpets and air ducts clean? Scratches off the wall? All of these are easy fixes and you may not notice any of them, but buyers will.

The Bottom Line: Homes that need repair often deliver lower prices in any market. Buyers won’t even bother with homes that need the slightest work. Do the work in researching the best Realtor in your area who will be able to give you straight answers and guide you in what you must do and what you can pass on before listing your home.

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Photos Can Sell A Home

Selling your home? A picture is worth a thousand words. Take photos that show off your home at its very best. It’s Spring, the temperature is fabulous, flowers are in bloom, the grass is green and now is a perfect time to sell your house. Get some good pictures!

Do your homework and find the best Realtor in your area. Have her give you staging tips. You should declutter, clean up, take down personal family photos, maybe even rent a storage unit.  Do a deep cleaning. Get rid of any pet smells in your carpet and window treatments.

Photos Inside: Natural light is best for photos. A camera flash can add shadows and reflect off of mirrors or windows. Open your blinds and turn the lights on. The earlier in the day, the better and especially on a sunny day. Notice of all the reflective objects in your home and be sure to thoroughly clean them. Dust, dirt, or streaks from poor cleaning can easily show up in the photographs. Wipe and refresh your refrigerator, bathroom faucets, and kitchen appliances like the microwave and oven.

Photos Outside: The best time of day for outdoors will be when the sun is behind you to minimize shadows, so, the time of day will depend on which way your home faces. Remove any cars from the driveway. Of course, make sure that your front yard is cleaned up, your lawn is mowed and all of the landscaping is trimmed back and tidy. The outside picture is usually the very first that a potential buyer will see to it must be presented in the very best condition.

Hide any garbage cans, lawn equipment, and any toys. They will distract from the pictures. Show off your patio or deck and open up the umbrella on your table. Throw some fresh outdoor pillows on any furniture to add color.

The Bottom Line: One of the biggest mistakes made is poor quality photos. If you have found the best Realtor, she should have a list of photographers that will come to your home. The average cell phone can’t get the most beautiful photos needed to sell your home. Using quality photos in real estate listings can make all the difference. Capture the best images possible by make your home look its best, using high-quality equipment and consideration of what potential buyers want to see.

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Finding The Best Neighborhood

Location. Location. Location. The best neighborhood will sell a home, Most Realtors will tell you. It also helps your home hold its value and makes it easy to sell when the time comes. If you have found the home of your dreams but don’t know much about the area it is in – how do you make the decision that the neighborhood that the home is the “right” neighborhood?

  • Research the Neighborhood Values Online: Because of the world wide web, anyone can find out any detail about anything and anyone. Become a private investigator! Discover all the information about a neighborhood using your internet skills. Use the MLS, Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia to name just a few to research the sales and rentals over the last few years. Learn the turnaround time of homes that have sold. Have your Realtor get the comparables. Fast home sales indicate a desirable neighborhood.
  • Research Crime Rates Online: Find the crime map that many cities use to display the types of crimes and the density in different areas.
  • Meet the Neighbors: If there is an area of town that you love, become its expert. Go to the local shops, restaurants, open houses, coffee shops and introduce yourself to people. People love to talk about where they live and the people who work in these establishments can give you all sorts of information.
  • Grab a Fancy Coffee: When you see coffee shops and upscale retail chains, it’s a sure sign that the neighborhood is on the up and up, if not already arrived. These establishments have done the research and open where the investment is worth.
  • Research the School District: Find the test scores of the neighborhood’s school system online or stop into the local high school. Home prices are usually higher where the test scores are hearty.
  • Home Values Hold: Again, hit the world wide web and find the historical sale prices in the county’s property tax records. If the neighborhood you love isn’t online, ask your Realtor for the sales trends.
  • Watch for the Red Flags: It’s not as hard as you think to discover a neighborhood on the decline. Look online for the number of short sales, foreclosures and drive around to see the number of vacant properties. Is there a highway being built too close to the neighborhood? A sure sign of decline.

The Bottom Line: Do you think you might move again within five to seven years? If you believe you may, you want to make sure your home will be marketable then. A good Realtor coupled with your private investigator online skills will be able to help you feel confident in the future of the area. Before even looking at homes, narrow down the neighborhoods. Find the community that meets all your needs AND will have homes that will hold their value.

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The Relationship Between a Title Agency and a Realtor

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Title First Agency works hard to ensure a seamless experience for Realtors and their clients. From contract to closing, Title First handles all the details to help your transactions run smoothly and close on time.

Access to Property Information:

Title First Agency can help Realtors by getting the names, addresses and phone numbers for properties that their client are interested in buying. Maybe the buyer wants to find a home of a certain age or in a particular area – whatever it may be, a Title First Agent has the ability to access a lot of data and can find the information needed. Buyers often drive around neighborhoods that they want to live in and see the perfect home for their family. A Title First Agent can look up the information of who owns the home and how long they have been there at the exact address. This will enable the Realtor and the buyer to put together a homebuyers letter to owner.

Advertising and Marketing:

Title First can assist Realtors in promoting their business with our full line of marketing solutions. For your next listing, make a good first impression on potential clients and prospective buyers with a bound presentation of property information. We have the ability to help you design, print and mail your full-color glossy, postcards. Use our Net-to-Seller tool that will help estimate a client’s profit and present it in a professional format to be shared. Or, give our Title First Agent App a try to provide a higher level of service to your clients. This app will enable you to give quick and easy estimates to any real estate financial question. The app features net sheets, quick estimates, closing,costs, prorated taxes and much more. Finally, email us your MLS link, logo and personal photo and let us create a professional full-color info sheet for your listing.

Legal Expertise:

Title First Agency has experienced real estate lawyers who have worked many years through settlements and closings. It’s an invaluable asset to always have legal experts on hand with a good title company. The buyer, seller and you, the Realtor, can have peace of mind that purchases and end-to-end processes of closing on a property are performed seamlessly and on time.

The Bottom Line: At Title First Agency, we measure our success by your success. That’s why we offer a variety of services to help you grow your real estate business. Beyond the above listed services, the issuing of insurance, and performing title searches, we can manage the escrow account for the home sale. We safeguard all money and documents related to the transaction for the parties involved, such as the deed to the home, closing costs, earnest money deposit and the down payment.

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Overpricing Your Home to Put on the Market is A Mistake

When you’re deciding how much to list your home for, don’t make the common mistake of overpricing your home!

If you price your home too high the right buyers won’t even give it a look. Buyers are savvy now, they are able to do homework and find out what a home is worth. They’ve hired skilled Realtors that have gathered all the comps for the neighborhood. Price it too high and your home will sit on the market without interest or traffic and the longer it sits the more of a negative association will come with your home. Buyers automatically assume homes on the market a long time mean that there is something wrong. 

Look for a skilled Realtor that has been in the business a few years and that sells homes quickly. Basically, find a Realtor that does not need your business. You will find these are the agents that will give advice that will work, not advice that the seller wants to hear and fill you with false hope.

The Bottom Line: An overpriced home:

  • Gets fewer showings.
  • Attracts the wrong buyers. You’ve listed your home in a certain bracket now. Buyers looking in that bracket expect more and your home won’t have what they want, leaving your home to sit on the market.
  • Helps your competition. Your neighbor’s home, priced right, will look that much better sitting next door to yours with a bigger price tag.
  • Will have a negative perception. When you eventually lower the price it won’t have the same impact because it has been sitting on the market too long.
  • Will have online search problems. Screening homes online involves putting in certain criteria into a search to screen out unwanted homes. It may seem a small thing, but when you price your home too far above the comps, you remove yourself out of these searches.
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The Closing: The Final Step in a Real Estate Transaction

Buyers and Sellers

You’ve negotiated for the price you want and qualified for a mortgage, and now the only thing standing between you and your new home is the closing, where you’ll sign the paperwork finalizing the deal. But, what happens at a typical closing? Expect many people to be involved, such as your real estate closing attorney, the seller, real estate agents of both parties, and representatives of the title company and lender.

Closings generally take place at the title company that has issued the title policy for the home. This is a neutral place that has access to technology. Documents can be signed, emailed or faxed, and verified. During closing, ownership of a property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. All funds are distributed by the escrow company, and the new deed is registered in the buyer’s name. The buyer also has to bring a check for all of the mortgage and title fees accumulated along the way. A quick rundown:

  • The buyer’s lender provides a check for the amount owed toward the purchase price of the home.
  • The seller signs the deed over to the buyer and hands over the keys to the home. This officially transfers ownership to the buyer.
  • The title company will register the new deed with the appropriate government office and the record will show the buyer as the new homeowner
  • The seller receives any proceeds earned from the sale once their mortgage balance and closing costs have been paid in full.

Once the huge amount of paperwork is signed, everyone in the room will experience a sense of relief. The worst thing that could happen on the closing day is a delay to a future date due to lack of preparation.

The Bottom Line: A good, experienced Realtor, will have made sure that on the actual day of closing, you are prepared with all of your real estate closing documents, a government-issued photo identification, as well as your form of payment to cover the real estate closing cost. This will usually be in the form of a cashier’s check or a wire transfer, but also bring along a checkbook in case any unexpected fees come up.

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