Serious Problems in Overpricing Your Home

Putting your home on the market and want to get the most you can out of the sale? Of course, you do. We all do. However, there are issues associated with listing your home too high. After you review the comps from your neighborhood, you come to your own conclusion that your home is worth more. You can even find Realtors who will agree with you but know that the very best Realtors will tell you that overpricing a home can lead to serious problems.

Problem #1: Listings get the most showings in the first 30 days of being on the market. If a home is priced too high, buyers may choose to ignore it or put it in a “wait and see category.” The longer the home sits unsold, though, the more negatively it is viewed. Buyers will think it must be overpriced or there is something wrong with the home. If you wait too long to do drop the price, most of those “wait and see” buyers will have already moved on and there will be a smaller pool of buyers interested in your listing as the days on the market increase.

If the home is on the market too long, potential buyers will think they are in a better negotiating position and you may end receiving a low ball offer, which can be frustrating. Even if you can negotiate up, it will be for far less than your original asking price. If you want to attract as many potential buyers as possible, it’s important that the home is priced correctly from the onset of it going on the market. 

Problem #2: An overpriced home helps your competitors. When a buyer looks at your home and then visits another that is priced the same but comes with more features, your competitor’s home will look like a much better deal.

Problem #3: If your home sits on the market for too long, neighbors and potential buyers will assume that there is a problem with it. The home will be stigmatized, and buyers will either be too turned off or too afraid to check it out.

No one wants to buy a house that nobody else seems to want. A house that sticks on the market for months often generate suspicions that some undisclosed feature or element is making it unsalable.

Problem #4: A buyer is interested in your house and willing to pay the price you are asking. But they need to get money from the bank to pay for it. All banks demand an appraisal of any property they loan out money for, and yours will not be the exception. The market runs the appraiser and they will appraise your property in accordance with it. When the appraiser comes back with a noticeably lower market value than the price the buyer is offering the bank will likely refuse to give the buyer a mortgage. This can lead you from a safe selling to an unsuccessful mortgage application leaving you with no option than seeking more buyers.

The Bottom Line: Find an experienced Real Estate Agent and listen to their advice for pricing your home, stay realistic in your pricing and accomplish your ultimate goal of selling your home. Know that 75% of real estate marketing is the price you set for your home. All of the marketing and advertising in the world will not sell an overpriced home.

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Securing Your Smartphone

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As technology advances, so does the use of smartphones. How cool is it to be able to do just about anything online, while on the go? These devices are becoming more commonplace, and the number of mobile phone users around the globe is expected to exceed the 5 billion mark in 2019. Most people don’t leave home or work without having their phone in tow.

Whether it’s calling your coworker, checking your bank account or sending a quick email, smartphones have become the one-stop-shop for conducting business. Now, more than ever, smartphones are being targeted by cybercriminals due to their part in multifactor authentication to access computers, mobile banking and shopping accounts. These accounts often hold sensitive data, credit card information (PCI) and personally identifiable information (PII). As we move into a digital era for the home closing process, smartphones have become another place to review sensitive documents ahead of signing. With such important information being viewed and sometimes stored on your phone, it has become even more vital that you keep your phone secure.

It may be surprising, but the largest risk to your phone security isn’t hackers, it’s you. Forgetting your phone at the table when you leave a restaurant, losing it at the airport or having it plucked from your purse are far more likely scenarios than getting hacked. However, hacking devices is on the rise too, and your phone security strategy should take that into account. Activating the lock screen feature on all your devices is a good place to start. The screen automatically locks when the device is not in use, and it requires a passcode, fingerprint or facial recognition to unlock it. This step helps to ensure that no one can access your device if it is lost or stolen.

Here are some other great tips to help secure your mobile device:

  • Ensure your phone is always running the latest version of its operating system and apps by enabling automatic updates. These updates often are meant to fix security weaknesses in the software to reduce its chance of being hacked.
  • When downloading apps to your phone, only use trusted sources such as the Apple App Store, Google Play or the Amazon Appstore. Don’t trust every app on these stores, either. Many apps ask for overly broad permissions, are brand new and not fully tested, or are no longer updated, which could expose you to security vulnerabilities. Be sure to check reviews and for active updating before downloading an app.
  • Download a credible antivirus app recommended by a trusted source. Your device should be treated just like a computer and protected that way as well.
  • Many phones today come with software you can enable to remotely track your device if it’s lost or stolen. Even if your phone doesn’t come with this feature, or you would like expanded security options, there are many anti-theft apps available. These apps range from simply pinging your phone’s location to being able to remotely lock and wipe all content from it.
  • Regularly backing up your data is a great strategy to retain your information. Many phones allow you to set up an automatic backup to store photos, messages, apps and more. Knowing this information is backed up will make it easier to choose to remotely wipe your phone, if needed.

Overall, mobile devices add productivity and flexibility by providing access to resources at any time, from anywhere. Smartphones are becoming our constant companions, so we need to stay vigilant when it comes to mobile security.

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Increase the Value of Your Home, Inexpensively

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Considering selling your home by next Spring? You will want to get the best price, of course, so start now by getting your home in tip-top shape. You don’t need to spend a lot of money and can do much on your own. Here are a few ideas and if you need guidance, calling the most experienced Realtor to visit and give you advice is always a good idea.

Deep Clean: Start with decluttering every room and closet. Donate, sell or throw away things you don’t use anymore. Vacuum, mop, & dust every surface, every vent, every blind and scrub the bathrooms. Get down on the floor and get your baseboards and lower cabinet doors wiped down. Wash the walls and make all your windows sparkle. Steam-clean all the carpets. These are all perfect cold, Winter day chores to tackle.

Paint: While you may love your brightly painted rooms, they make it harder to sell as the potential buyer usually can’t see beyond your taste. Use neutral colors and watch as minor flaws are hidden and the rooms are brightened. Simply paint the trim and see a new room appear! Just updating paint jobs, especially in the master bedroom the entry foyer, living room, and kitchen can increase the value of your home.

The Face of the Home: Rent a power washer if you don’t have one and transform the exterior of your home from “lived in” to “like new”. Use it on the siding, brick or wood, sidewalks, driveways, decks, porches, garage doors, any porch furniture that is left out and windows.

Landscaping: Depending on the time of year – if it’s right now, Fall, get the leaves up and off the ground. Rake out gardens and pick up sticks. Cut down any low hanging branches or twigs. Removed dead shrubs and make sure the property is well-edged.

Spruce Up Your Kitchen: No need to gut and rebuild. Add value by replacing cabinet hardware, the faucet in the sink, even appliances if they are dented or overused. Repaint walls and even cabinets.

The Bottom Line: There are so many ways to upgrade your home before you sell it and literally up the value by thousands. A simple change of light switch and outlet covers make a world of difference. So, if you are waiting until Spring to list your home, spend the dark Winter months knocking off a to-do list!

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Get owner’s title insurance and buy your home with confidence
Your long home-buying journey is almost over. You found the home you love, the seller agreed to your offer and now it’s time for closing. Of course, there’s a lot to think about right now, and the last thing you want is something to go wrong. So make sure you work with an experienced closing agent to help ensure the details come together and everything runs smoothly.

As soon as the seller accepts your offer, the behind-the-scenes work begins. You can expect closing to happen within 30 to 90 days.

  1. Select a Closing Agent: If you are working with a real estate agent, with your permission, he or she may place an order with a closing agent as soon as your sales contract is accepted. The closing agent can be a title company, an escrow company or a settlement company. Most homebuyers rely on their real estate agents to select a closing agent – someone they work with regularly and know to be professional, reliable and efficient. However, you can choose your own closing agent if you wish. The closing agent will oversee the closing process and make sure everything happens in the right order and on time, without unnecessary delays or glitches.
  2. Draw up an Escrow Agreement: First, a contract or escrow agreement is drafted, which the closing agent reviews for completeness and accuracy. The agent will also put your deposit into an escrow account, where the funds will remain until closing.
  3. Title Search is Conducted: Once the title order is placed, the title company conducts a search of the public records. This should identify any issues with the title such as liens against the property, utility easements, and so on. If a problem is discovered, most often the title professional will take care of it without you even knowing about it. After the title search is complete, the title company can provide a title insurance policy.
  4. Shop for Title Insurance: There are two kinds of title insurance coverage: a Lender’s policy, which covers the lender for the amount of the mortgage loan; and an Owner’s policy, which covers the homebuyer for the amount of the purchase price. If you are obtaining a loan, the bank or lender will typically require that you purchase a Lender’s policy. However, it only protects the lender. It is always recommended that you obtain an Owner’s policy to protect your investment. The party that pays for the Owner’s policy varies from state to state, so ask your settlement agent for guidance. before closing.
  5. Obtain a Closing Disclosure: Your lender must provide a Closing Disclosure to you at least three days prior to closing. Your lender may also have a closing agent provide the Closing Disclosure to you three days before you close your transaction. If your lender makes certain significant changes between the time the Closing Disclosure form is given to you and the closing, you must be provided a new form and an additional three-business-day waiting period after the receipt of the new form. This applies if the creditor: 1: Makes changes to the APR above 1/8 of a percent for most loans (and 1/4 of a percent for loans with irregular payments or periods) 2. Changes the loan product 3. Adds a prepayment penalty to the loan. If the changes are less significant, they can be disclosed on a revised Closing Disclosure form provided to you at or before closing, without delaying the closing.
  6. The Finish Line: Prepare for Closing: As closing day approaches, the closing agent orders any updated information that may be required. Once the closing agent confirms with the lender and the seller, he or she will set a final date, time and location of the closing. On closing day, all of the behind-the-scenes work is complete. While you’ve been busy packing, ordering utilities and coordinating the movers, your closing agent has been managing the closing process so that you can rest assured, knowing all the paperwork is in order.

More Homebuyer Tips & Information
The American Land Title Association helps educate homebuyers like you about title insurance so you can protect your property rights. Check out Title First Agency to learn more about title insurance and the home closing process.

This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

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Homebuyers in November and December are Motivated

It’s a common thought, however misguided, that homes don’t sell during the months of November and December. The truth of the matter is that homes listed during this time period are likely to sell quicker and for a higher asking price.

Motivated Buyers: If there are people out there trudging through often cold, even snowy weather to look at homes for sale, they are motivated. It might be that they have had a job transfer, a family situation, and if you have a home available to look at that is priced right, they will come. The fact that it’s the busiest holiday time is also very telling about their motivation.

Competition: Simply because so many believe this isn’t the ideal time to sell their home, they wait to put it on the market, and with that, you are left with less competition. Remember also, that the internet is instant access to a home listing. Motivated buyers will start online and you want your home to be in the search results. Be sure to have professional pictures taken to showcase your home at it’s very best.

Year-End Tax Breaks: Plenty of buyers wan to reduce their taxes and buying a home lets them deduct the home purchase costs, such as points, interest, and property taxes.

The Bottom Line: Meet with an experienced Realtor and be sure to price your home right. Motivated buyers don’t have the time to negotiate and wait for gradual price deductions. While people will tell you to wait until Spring, the truth is that any home can sell at any time of the year if it is packaged right.

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Whether you’re purchasing a new or existing home or refinancing, title insurance protects you against any problems affecting the title to your home.

The Basics
There are two types of title insurance: the owner’s policy and the lender’s policy. The owner’s policy protects your property rights as the homebuyer, whereas the lender’s policy insures the financial investment of the bank or lender. If someone else claims ownership of your property, title insurance typically defends you legally and financially.

Common Risks: Here are some examples of problems with title:

  • Liens against the property that serve as security for the payment of an obligation (e.g. mortgage liens, judgment liens for unpaid court judgments, federal tax liens, state and local liens for failure to pay real estate taxes or assessments, mechanic’s liens to secure payment for property improvements, liens for recovery of child support payments or, as in New York City, for unpaid parking tickets).
  • Easements that have been created by contract or arisen through use or adverse prescription (e.g. rights of way for utilities, rights acquired by neighbors because of a fence encroachment).
  • Building or use restrictions contained in recorded plats, agreements or deeds.
  • Claims arising out of bankruptcy.

These are just some of the many reasons why getting owner’s title insurance is crucial when buying or refinancing a home. It gives you peace of mind that your property rights are protected.

When you refinance, you are obtaining a new loan, even if you stay with your original lender. Lenders will usually require a new title search and lender’s policy to protect their investment in the property. Fortunately, homeowners don’t need to purchase a new owner’s policy—the one you bought at closing is good for as long as you or your family own the property. However, you may want to contact an ALTA member to update your policy to reflect changes in your life.

Enduring Value
Owner’s title insurance is a low, one-time fee based on the value of your home. For example, the typical owner’s title insurance policy costs an average of 0.5% of a home’s purchase price. With a home being one of the largest investments you’ll ever make, it’s clear why getting owner’s title insurance is such a smart way to give yourself peace of mind.

More Homebuyer Tips & Information
The American Land Title Association helps educate homebuyers like you about title insurance so you can protect your property rights. Check out Title First Agency to learn more about title insurance and the home closing process.

*This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

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Red Flags to Watch For When Buying a Home

Avoid buying a home that comes with extra work and expensive repairs. With all the emotion that goes into searching for the perfect home, it’s easy to overlook some very important issues while house hunting that could end up costing you big-time in the end.

Foundation & Structural: A home with problems in this area can end up costing thousands of dollars. The home depends on the sturdiness of the foundation. A few things to be on the lookout for:

  • Uneven floors – do you see any sloping or even separation form a wall?
  • Broken foundation blocks – any cracks in exterior brick mean that there could be water pressure build-up.
  • Hard to open or close doors and windows – a sign that there might be damage from water

Mold: Sometimes this issue results from neglect and other times it is a simple fix. Look where the problem is and if the mold is mostly in small areas it can be resolved. But, it can be a huge red flag and indicate issues with the home, such as major and expensive leaks.

Fresh paint: While it is not uncommon for homeowners to paint their homes to look their very best to sell, it’s important to look for the “patches’ of paint inside and outside the home. The damage that a “patch” is covering could be many different issues that could end up costing a lot of money.

Stains on ceilings: No paint “patches” can show you this red flag and it’s important to find out what is causing these stains. It could be a leak in the roof, ice damming, plumbing issues, etc. These need to be investigated as the repairs could cost thousands.

The neighborhood: Big red flag if there are many homes in the neighborhood on the market. It’s usually not a coincidence when everyone wants to sell their home at the same time. Look around for foreclosures or abandoned lots which indicate a stagnant growth. Look online where you will easily be able to find the crime frequency and sex offender lists. Are there a lot of rentals? Is the street a cut-through during commuting hours? All negative feedback is important as it will affect your ability to sell the home later.

The Bottom Line: Buying a home is a huge deal. It’s of utmost importance to find the top Realtor in the area in which you are looking as they will be able to point out many of these and more red flags. A home inspector can detect problems missed and then with an experienced Realtor you will know if its worth spending money to fix an issue or if you should negotiate a compromise.

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Make sure all of your clients are protected
You’re a real estate agent, so you know that buying a home can be overwhelming for many of your clients. Homebuyers can easily feel confused and frustrated by the mounds of paperwork they have to sign. Plus, all the fees associated with closing can sometimes be a surprise even to an experienced buyer.

Owner’s title insurance is one of those items often misunderstood by homebuyers at closing, yet its value is tremendous. As an important advisor to your clients, you are in the position to help them understand the value of owner’s title insurance and the dangers that can be incurred without it.

What is title insurance?
Owner’s title insurance is a policy that protects homebuyers’ property rights. For the same reasons that the bank requires a lender’s insurance policy, a homebuyer obtains owner’s title insurance to protect their legal claims to the property.

How it protects your clients
Say, for example, your client recently purchased a new home from a builder, but the builder failed to pay the roofer. Wanting to be paid, the roofer filed a lien against the property. Without owner’s title insurance, your client would be responsible for paying this existing debt—meaning they’d be paying the roofer out of pocket instead of purchasing something nice for their new home, like new living room furniture. This is just one example of how owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers’ from various significant risks. With owner’s title insurance, your client would be protected from certain legal or financial responsibilities.

Enduring value
The good news is that owner’s title insurance protects homebuyers financially, as long as they or their heirs* own the home. For a low, one-time fee (average of 0.5% of purchase price), homebuyers can rest assured, knowing they are protected from inheriting existing debts or claims to their property.

State regulations and CFPB
Each state government regulates its own title insurance costs. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulates closing and settlement practices which can impact title insurance. Keep in mind that title insurance industry practices vary due to differences in state laws and local real estate customs. The party that pays for the owner’s title insurance policy varies from state to state, and sometimes even within a state. For more information about title insurance, or to find a company approved to issue an owner’s policy, please direct your homebuyer clients to

Free resources for Realtors ®

Together, real estate agents, land title insurance professionals, and other stakeholders involved in real estate transactions can protect homebuyers and provide them with the peace of mind they deserve during the home closing process.

For more information about title insurance, and to get free resources for real estate agents, visit Alta.

*This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

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Title Insurance for Your New Home

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One of the steps in buying a home is to have the title of the property searched and completed by closing. This is done to protect you, the buyer, and ensure that the title is clear. Once the home is under contract, buying title insurance is one of the first things you will do.

Owner’s Title Insurance provides protection to the homeowner if down the road someone were to say they have a claim against the home from before the owner bought it. This policy will provide coverage equal to the amount you are paying for the home. The title company will provide legal assistance and pay any valid claims. The policy will be good as long as you are in the home.

Lender’s Title Insurance is required by your lender to protect their lien against anything missed during the title search or any legal claims against the owner’s property. They will usually require insurance in the amount that fully covers their loan size.

  • The title company will look for claims to the home’s title that could ever affect your purchase. This includes public records that span many years. There are many issues that could come up, but the most common are:
    • Seller failed to pay state or local taxes
    • Contractor was not paid for work completed
    • Omissions or mistakes in deeds
    • Forgery
    • Undisclosed heirs or conflicting wills

The Bottom Line: Buying a home is a complex transaction. Nobody wants the past to come back and be a nightmare to the buyer of a home. Title First Agency experts oversee and perform thousands of closings each year and ensure that all of the details of the title transfer and closing are in proper order. We work with Realtors from the signing of the contract until it’s clear to close, ensuring everything is running smoothly and can close on time.

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Don’t Scare Homebuyers Away. Be Prepared.

man and woman looking t a laptop

Putting your home on the market? There can be the normal challenges you might face (lowball offers, competition, slow market) and a few things that will outright scare people away from even considering your home. Before you list your home, consider having the following inspected:

  • Windows: Ensure all windows are opening, closing, and locking correctly.  Older windows sometimes will not remain open and may need to have the sash cords replaced. An experienced Realtor will point out things that may drain the homebuyer’s bank account, and windows are on that list. You might want to replace them before listing the home or consider adjusting your asking price to compensate for the old windows.
  • Furnace / Air Conditioning: Have a professional HVAC contractor clean and inspect your furnace prior to listing your home.  An HVAC contractor will ensure the heat exchanger is not cracked.  Make sure the contractor places a sticker on the furnace and provides a receipt and report so you can provide that to a homebuyer.
  • Electrical System: It’s not a good idea to try and sell a home with questionable wiring and electrical systems. This is a big one and vital to the value of your home. Problems will be found during the inspection and will have buyers moving on. Have a professional inspect the service entrance cable to ensure there is no fraying or splitting as well as assuring that there are no double-tapped circuit breakers.
  • Water Damage: An inspector will be looking for signs of leaks or water damage, so it’s in your best interest to get those issues repaired before listing your home. Trying to sell a home with water damage is daunting so it is best to have expert guidance. Additionally, mold is one of the biggest deal-breakers so consider getting a professional mold inspection.

The Bottom Line: The last thing you want to happen when a buyer decides he wants your home is to have one of the above situations occur. Properly preparing your home to sell makes a huge difference. Get the advice of an experienced Realtor who will have a list of contacts that include all types of specialists you will need to handle any of the problems. Buyers are not expecting perfection, but they want to know there aren’t any expensive burdens.

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