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Upgrading a Home To Sell

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There are certain things buyers want in a home when househunting. There are renovations and upgrades that owners can put money into if they want to sell fast and can be confident knowing that they will get that money back in the sale of their home. With a remodeling budget, what should owners focus on renovating?

Laundry Room: A separate laundry room topped the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) list of most-wanted home features by buyers.  Carrying loads of laundry to a basement and then back upstairs again is a thing of the past. Now, buyers want their laundry rooms in a convenient area – near the kitchen or bedrooms with plenty of folding space and cabinets.

Exterior Lighting: This is the most-wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB. Adds to the curb appeal as well as a security feature.

Windows: Big ticket items buyers want is new energy efficient windows. Not only are they a great selling point, but they will also save the owners money on energy bills while they occupy the home.

Ceiling Fans: The most-wanted decorative home feature by potential buyers, according to the NAHB. Ceiling fans can be inexpensive and practical – they keep the air moving with the air conditioning or the heat. Plus, now they have reversible controls that allow the air to be drawn up, or blown down.

Hardwood Flooring: A cleaner look, easier to maintain and more durable than carpet. If hardwood floors are already in the home, get it sanded and refinished to make it like new again. If there is carpet – it could increase your home’s selling price by 2.5%.  according to Realtor.com

Appliances: Old appliances, especially in kitchens can turn a buyer off. Even with limited funds, a seller can create beautiful kitchens using Energy Star-rated appliances. A Realtor can get a comp report from the neighborhood and see how other homes have sold and what is on the market to know if a seller needs to update appliances or not.

Fresh Walls:  Take the wallpaper down. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways that can help to increase a home’s value is also one of the simplest.  Freshly painted walls. Neutral colors are best and can make it easier for a potential buyer to see themselves in the home.

The Bottom Line: A home is a person’s biggest investment, so doing what can be done to upgrade it to boost its value, makes sense. Not all renovations will have the same impact. The best advice a person can get is from a knowledgeable Realtor in the location of the home. Have comps pulled, and find out what upgrades will give the home the most bang for the buck.

 

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Starter Home Advice

The number one advantage to owning a home -the “American Dream” – is the opportunity to put money each month towards an asset that is building equity.  Begin with a “starter home” that is a worthwhile buy and you will be financially ready when the time comes to move to the “forever home”.

Realtors and lenders often recommend waiting at least five years before selling a starter home. The good news is there is always a constant demand for these homes and prices tend to rise as first time home buyers make up the biggest market.

Starter Home Advice

  • Don’t get emotional and fall in love with any one home. The heart always seems to rule the head when shopping for a home and too many times buyers end up living beyond their means.
  • Be content to compromise on location. If you work in a larger city, realize that the homes closer to town will be more expensive than a few miles farther out.  If you want a shorter commute, you might have to give up space for a home you can afford.
  • Realize that you will be selling the home you buy at some point and keep certain aspects in mind: the school district, the neighborhood, the condition of the homes on the street, zoning, development and anything else that would affect your home for resale.
  • If you are going to renovate and upgrade at all, know that you don’t want to put more money into the home then you will be able to get out of it.  A skilled Realtor will be able to go over the pros and cons and help you keep your emotions in check.

The Bottom Line:  Make sure you have the best Realtor in the area that you want to live that will be truthful with you. This is possibly the biggest purchase of your life. You will want to be sure this is the right time to buy a home – rushing and buying before you are ready can end up costing you more money. Have realistic expectations and focus on 5 years forward.

 

 

 

 

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Do I Need Title Insurance?

Title insurance assures that you someone won’t show up at your door trying to claim ownership of your home. In the process of buying a home, Title First Agency will research the property’s ownership history. We want to make certain that the current owner has complete ownership of the home, without legal claims such as a lien or levy from a lender, creditor or the government. We will make certain that the home is “clear to close”.

Having title insurance on your home is a matter of being safe rather than sorry. What could possibly go wrong? There may be problems that were not found in any public records or unintentionally missed during the title search process, such as public record errors, unknown liens, illegal deeds, and missing heirs.  With title insurance, you will be covered for potential losses for things such as fraud, survey errors, and encroachment issues.

Title First Agency Insurance will protect you especially with an older, renovated home that has the highest number of claims and involves the highest dollar amounts. Even after the clear title search and the closing, there may be something overlooked that is important that could come back to haunt you. Owning title insurance will help you avoid a financial nightmare later on.

The Bottom Line:  Buying a home is never without risk. Having an insurance policy from Title First Agency simply ensures that this huge investment you have made – your home – actually is YOUR home. You won’t have to worry about any legal issues.

 

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Tips For A First Time Home Buyer

Purchasing a first home can be daunting. Here are a few tips that can help make the process a bit easier.

Location. Decide on this first to eliminate “buyers remorse” down the road.  Do the homework and research neighborhoods. School districts, local safety, and crime statistics can affect a home’s value. Even if you have found your “dream home”, the neighborhood could be completely wrong.  Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night and watch the traffic, how are the streets and sidewalks? What are the neighbors like and how do they take care of their homes? Is the home close to places you might frequent (gym, grocery, schools)? Are there children playing safely outside?

Shop Online: Now that you know where you want to buy a home, there are plenty of online options to start the search. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and any local real estate agency.  Narrow down Realtors that you want to connect with by reading their online reviews, looking at their websites, social media platforms and googling. The Realtor you choose will be the expert you will rely on most. Interview several before settling on one.

Be Frugal: Zero in on homes that are listed for less than the amount of money you have been approved for. Many first time homebuyers don’t calculate the other monthly expenses or problems that go along with homeownership (broken appliances, etc).  Furthermore, other than the down payment, there will be money needed at closing.

Negotiate: This is where having the best Realtor will come in beautifully. Once you make an offer, the seller might come back with a counteroffer and after discussion of the pros and cons with your Realtor, you will know if you should offer more or walk away. Keep your emotions out of the entire process. Too many people pay too much for a home because they have “fallen in love” and this type of emotion can lead to very bad financial decisions.

Do an Exhaustive Inspection: Do the homework and find the very best Home Inspection Company with the top ratings. Be there with the inspector and learn about the home, ask questions – you need to know that the home you are purchasing is structurally sound.  See the good and the bad – what repairs will be needed? Is the electric adequate for today’s use? How are the water pipes, heating, and air conditioning systems?  When the inspection is complete, get a verbal and a written report. Bonus – the company will be available at a later date for more questions.

The Bottom Line: The above tips are just a few important ones to help navigate the process, save money and avoid common mistakes.  Find a Realtor. While it’s easy to go through online homes and narrow down what you want, it’s not so easy to get from that point to the closing. There is the transfer of the deed, title search, negotiating, asking for “extras” that you might be entitled to, completing all paperwork and being the single point of contact with the seller.

 

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Title Agency at Closing

Homeowners oftentimes have more than one mortgage on their property. Once sold, the mortgage has to be released so the buyer gets a clear title.

A mortgage is a debt secured by the collateral of specified real estate property, that the borrower is obliged to pay back with a predetermined set of payments. Mortgages are used by individuals and businesses to make large real estate purchases without paying the entire value of the purchase up front. To sell a house with a mortgage, the loan needs to be paid off the same day of the closing.

There is a lot going on at the closing of a property. Title First Agency plays a crucial role in the process of closing and protecting the seller from any unforeseen legal issues.  Title First Agency can assist with the loan transactions and handle the money between the buyer and seller. One of our agents will receive the money from the buyer, pay off the existing mortgage, remove the lien on the title and transfer the title to the new owner. We will be able to provide the agent with the mortgage payoff amount and account number before closing.

If there is money left over once the mortgage is paid, the seller could receive it within days, if not immediately at closing – each state is different.  Title First Agency, as the closing agent, will coordinate the activity and documentation from a variety of participants, pulling each piece of the transaction together.

Title First will finalize the deposits, wire transfers, and checks. After the closing, we will record the deed and the mortgage at the courthouse and prepare the owner’s and lender’s title policies. Buying or selling a home has become a complex transaction and you need a trusted title search company to guide you through the process.

The experts at Title First oversee and perform thousands of closings each year. When using Title First, you can sign confidently on the dotted line knowing that all details of your title transfer and closing are in proper order. We are here to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home, and our team will guide you through the entire process.  Call us today: 614-808-2062

 

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Real Estate & Social Media Marketing

Homebuyers used to open up their newspaper and look for properties for sale. Now, using social media platforms are an absolute must.

Instagram: Agents have the ability to generate leads, sales, and referrals from Instagram. Believed to be the perfect social media platform to showcase a property. There are over 700 million active users who like photos about 4.2 billion times per month. Predominantly accessed on a mobile phone enables the user to be engaged virtually anywhere, all day long, plus it’s user-friendly.  Using the right hashtags is also very important, as people use them to search for a particular topic on Instagram.

Twitter:  Another easy platform to use not only on a desktop computer but on a smartphone. Realtors can not only share their listings but other content, such as links to advice articles, news and anything that has to do with real estate (moving, adding value, advice, renovation and the location). It’s a good place to get into conversations with other Twitter users to make connections in the community.  As with Instagram, using the right hashtags is important, as people use them to search for a particular topic on Twitter.

Facebook:  More than 2 billion users worldwide and easy to set up an account. Post on a variety of topics – there is no need to only post photos. Do something different every day. Only post a “sales” post once every few days. Provide value to the person scrolling by. Every day, Realtors can connect with prospective home buyers and foster business relationships with peers. Most of all maintain these relationships by commenting on other pages, liking other pages’ posts, and never use an auto-scheduler to post on your behalf. Be authentic.

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Buying a Foreclosed Home

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A home that has been foreclosed means that the owner is no longer legally bound to the property and it will be placed in a foreclosure auction. This will be public record and once the home was transferred from a homeowner to a bank or lender, it will be available at a reduced price in the housing market.

Purchasing a foreclosed home can be high risk but can also an incredible investment. The first thing to do is to choose the best Realtor that specializes in foreclosed homes. The home you have found may be listed at an affordable price, but often buyers underestimate the money they will spend to make the home livable. Usually, these homes are in need of repair and the Realtor will help determine if it is worth the investment.

Most importantly, the buyer must do a physical inspection because buying a foreclosed home is buying “as is”.  The bank that now owns the home does not have to disclose and usually doesn’t know any of the previous history, or any problems that have taken place. Missing appliances, hidden holes in floors & walls, vandalism, broken piping and stolen fixtures are just a few of the details easily missed. Trees, vines, and bushes can uproot foundations and grow into the piping. The longer the home has been sitting – which can be quite a long time frame – the more damage is found.

The Bottom Line: Buying a foreclosed home might end up costing more in repairs than planned and may end up being a bad financial move. The home might be sold at a great price, but in the end, the home could be a money pit. Getting the help of a skilled Realtor is paramount in this situation because what you see and don’t see in the home is what you get. It is essential that the buyer knows what they are getting into and a good Realtor will be able to highlight all the pros and the cons.

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National or Local, Title First Agency

With clients that include some of the nation’s largest lenders, Title First employs a consultative approach to our national title company services that allows us to uncover and address your unique business needs or processes. We assemble a specialty account team to facilitate direct communication and to ensure accountability at each stage of your customized process. This also ensures you will be working with the same team that learned and implements your process.

Title First provides comprehensive vendor management products and title services nationwide. We are licensed in 32 states and have an extensive partner network that enables us to provide complete coverage through the nation.

 

 

 

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Quick Advice For Home Buyers

Do you have plans to buy a home soon? Be sure you are armed with the best Realtor in your area. If you aren’t paying cash for your new home and will be getting a mortgage, you will want to follow some quick advice.

Don’t damage your debt to income ratio by making a major purchase before closing. If for some reason you can not wait to by a new car, you might have to wait on owning a home. The bank could easily determine that car payment would hinder your ability to pay your mortgage. Wait until after you get the house to do some spending.

Don’t change jobs.  The lenders like to see consistency versus constant job hopping. From their perspective, your employment and income are paramount to your ability to make your payments.  Generally, there are three different characteristics of your employment and income that are considered – the amount, the history and the stability. Many lenders will do a final check to verify that your employment and income hasn’t changed since your final loan approval was issued. Further, some lenders will require 30 days of paycheck stubs for new employment. If you can’t provide these stubs, it could delay your mortgage approval. Worse, it could result in your mortgage application being declined.

As a home buyer, never surrender your earnest money to a For Sale by Owner Seller. There isn’t anything stopping the sellers from spending the money before the transaction goes through. If the deal should fall through you’ll have to fight to get the deposit back. It should be put into a trust account. Find an attorney willing to hold the deposit for you until the transaction is finalized. Your contract needs to state what will happen to the deposit in the event that the transaction falls through.

Stay practical and realistic during the home buying process. Don’t let your emotions get in the way.  Occasionally, sellers are willing to fix some of the problems with the home and others may not be as willing. Don’t let that refusal close the door on your dream home. Conversely, you shouldn’t let your loyalty to the home blind you to costly repairs down the road. You certainly don’t want to be in a money pit.

Talk to your insurance company right away.  Failing to line up the insurance will lead to delays in closing.  Your lender will more than likely require that you purchase at least some homeowners insurance before settling on your mortgage. In most cases, you’ll be asked to provide proof that you’ve prepaid one year’s worth of coverage before the lender will consider closing.

If the appraisal comes in too low, don’t panic. There are several solutions to this dilemma.  Your emotions may be running high and making a good decision can be difficult. A skilled Realtor will be an invaluable asset at this point and be able to guide you through.  It’s their job to keep up with the details, daily, of your deal and if the seller won’t come down in price, as painful as it may be, you may have to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario – walking away.

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True Market Value of a Home

Every seller wants to sell their home for the best possible price – and as quickly as possible. To accomplish this requires taking a certain approach to the home sales process that many owners are unaware of. Getting the fair market value of your home starts with picking a real estate agent you can trust.

In real estate terms, the “market value” of a home is the most probable price that it will sell for, based on local housing market conditions and recent sales activity.  In the simplest sense, whatever someone is willing to pay for it is the true market value.

When searched online, you may find many estimates of your home that have been automatically generated based on public information like tax records, sales history, and comparable sales. Problem is, your home’s features and condition are not part of that equation. Every home and lot is unique, so having a real estate agent to help you select the most like-kind comps and add or subtract value based on differences in condition, updates, size and more.

A skilled Realtor will give you comparable properties with the same footage, same style of home, the similar number of bedrooms and bathrooms, located in the same area as your home and similar upgrades or updates.  A basic formula used: Comparable sales prices + value adding features = a good asking price

The Bottom Line:  Pricing your home too high and you may end up missing out on the buyers willing to pay the fair market value of your home, which results in reducing the price after 60 days. The buyers have usually moved on at that point or see your home as “unwanted” due to the long days on the market coupled with the price reductions. You may find your self “chasing the market down” – a term used when a home gets no offers (or too low offers) and continues to reduce the price to catch up with the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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