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Millennials and Real Estate

sold sign with realtor

The millennial generation has emerged as a dominant force in the housing market. They are looking for homes that are turnkey with very little work needed.  Forbes listed this group to be the top 10 real estate trends to watch out for in 2018. What are they looking for?

Green Home – Millennials want to do their part to conserve natural resources.  Recent studies have found that they are the most willing to pay extra for an energy efficient home. These homes will be designed to conserve energy, water, and gas and have the smallest impact on the environment. Features might include double hung windows, efficient air and heating systems, low-flow toilets, even bamboo flooring.

Tiny Home – Millennials prefer experiences over “things” and don’t want a lot of maintenance.  They are learning to live within their means and to pay off school loans by adapting to a pared-down lifestyle. Living a minimalistic lifestyle will reduce their carbon footprint, and lessen the amount of useless junk that so many other generations hold on to.

Three Bedroom Home – This and two bathrooms is the most preferred, and 1,000 square feet is the minimum. They want a home in the suburbs that will accommodate a family if they are married with thoughts of a future within a safe neighborhood and good schools. They want privacy, fenced smaller low maintenance yards and trees.

Investment Home – Millennials are looking for homes they can buy and rent out to generate income.  Flipping homes after renovating is another motivation. These homes may need repair but are in the best neighborhoods. They believe that investing in real estate is less risk, has tax benefits and has the potential for higher returns than the stock market.

Where are they buying homes? Past generations were taught to go where the jobs were regardless of the quality of life to be found in any given city. Millennials want to live in places they love, expecting employers will find them there.

How are they finding their homes? 91 percent use online resources to start the housing search, and 70 percent will then work with a traditional real estate agent.  Quality photos will be key to marketing a home.

Millennials are just starting to shape the housing market.  Their incomes will increase as they age and more change will come. The real estate industry needs to understand them, follow the trends, be innovative and proactive to convince them to buy a home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Title Insurance Company

confident man

All homes on the market have a history and using the best title insurance company will aid you in the discovery of any title defects that are connected to the property that you want to buy by completing a title search. Problems that come up often are clerical (incorrect spellings, wrong address, inaccurate property description) or filing error in the public record that can include street & sewer assessments, judgments, and special taxes assessments.

Beyond human error, a good title company will be able to identify:

Unknown Liens:  Possible claims against the property, often the result of unpaid taxes or a judgment involving a creditor. This isn’t your responsibility to take care of – but can give you some leverage in the purchase of the home.  The best Realtor in your area will always do the due diligence for you.

Illegal Deeds: There is always the possibility that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant or a minor that will affect the ownership of the home.

Missing Heirs: This can lead to a major problem for you, as a buyer. If the home was sold and there are family members that come along after the sale claiming and proving to be an heir to the home it could lead to an expensive problem for you.

Forgeries: Occasionally forged or fabricated documents that will affect property ownership are filed within public records, obscuring the rightful owner of the property.

Undiscovered Encumbrances:  Former mortgage liens or non-financial claims, such as restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your client’s property not surfaced at the time of purchase could result in a third party having a legitimate claim on the home.

Unknown Easements: Easements for driveways, roads, and sidewalks over a neighbor’s property, for example, are very common and can have a huge impact on the value of a property.

Having title insurance will provide you the protection from the above problems – some of which may not come to light until after closing.  There are many potential impediments to a clear title. Title problems can be the most expensive to fix, thus, when buying a home you want to make sure a search has been done and that you are protected going forward. The title insurance exists to protect you and your heirs against any losses resulting from future claims by a third party.

Rent or Buy a Home in Ohio

sold sign with realtor

Are you tired of watching your money fly out of your wallet and into your landlord’s to pay the rent and get nothing in return? If you are living in Ohio, it is better to buy than to rent.  It has been widely believed that if you don’t plan to stay for more than 7 years in an area, it’s best to rent. But that is simply not the case in Ohio as buying is the cheaper option no matter the length of time spent living in most cities.

Renting a home has some good advantages. You won’t have any maintenance costs or repair bills, it will all be the landlord’s responsibility.  Think leaking roof, broken hot water heater, air conditioning, big-ticket repairs.  Renting can often allow you to live in a premium area of a city with the best school system where you would otherwise be unable to afford to buy a home. Renting enables you to be able to move without any strings attached. If your job is more mobile, most landlords will let you out of a lease with a 30-day notice. You may want more flexibility. If you are locked into a mortgage it will be harder for you to move in a few months time.

When you rent there won’t be any return on your money for the property. The landlord will be the one who benefits and earns the income. So, maybe it’s time for your money to build equity and work for you by owning a home. It is an investment that has great benefits that can add up over time and you end up with a valuable asset – a home that is paid for. As you pay your mortgage each month,  the value of your home continues to rise. Plus, there are tax benefits. The federal government encourages homeownership by offering tax incentives for homeowners.

“Owning a home is more affordable than renting in Ohio, which has the lowest monthly mortgage cost on our list. The monthly rent is $294 more expensive than the mortgage on a home with a median list price of $154,900 — which is the second-lowest list price in our study.” Go Banking Rates.

 

 

 

 

First Impressions Matter When Selling Your Home

Title Search Company for Buyers and Sellers

Curb appeal is everything when it comes to selling your home, so it’s paramount that you make sure the exterior is in excellent shape. There is truth to that old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” – many potential buyers drive by the home before they make the call to see it.  Making sure that it is in the best shape, will get them in the front door. Be sure to call the best Realtor in town to get advice. Sometimes, as the owner, you can’t see as clearly as to what needs to be changed or updated and need a professional to help.

Title First Agency hears a lot of what buyers see and we have listed some of the exterior home improvements that can increase the resale value of your home AND  help sell your home even faster.

The front door: If potential buyers have decided to see your home, the door is the first thing they will see and walk through.  Just a fresh coat of paint or replacement or removal of a damaged screen or storm door will speak volumes. Polish metal knobs.  Consider replacing the door it if it is worn-out or banged-up. It’s one of the investments made that can more than pay for itself with the amount of value it adds.  Then, add potted plants to each side of your freshened up or new front door.

The approach to the front door: How is the driveway? Does it need to be power washed? Resealed? Is there a fence? Is it broken anywhere? Are there cracked pavers? A knowledgeable and honest Realtor will take that “approach” walk with you and help point out things you may not even notice because you have walked by it so many times.

Update your landscaping: Before the drive-by, most potential buyers search on the internet for a home. The pictures will be worth a thousand words and to have beautiful landscaping will help showcase your home and be put on the buyer’s list to see. The best Realtor will tell you that you want to make it easy for possible buyers to envision themselves coming home to your home every day. Remove any distractions (garden accessories, etc)- spruce up it up with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. If it’s Fall or Winter, make sure your yard has been raked of leaves, sticks and other debris.

Home repairs: Make sure there isn’t any loose siding, replace loose or damaged roof shingles. Look for any wood rot – again, you may need to call an experienced Realtor to help you “see” what you have looked at every day. Is there a deck, a front porch or a patio? If your home needs a new roof, it would be in your best interest to just replace it. Buyers tend to shy away from homes that will be needing a new roof soon. And, adding the detail of “new roof” to your listing will grab even more buyers’ attention.

Windows: Fix any cracks, clean screens, and storm windows. Have you washed your windows in a while? In between the glass and the screen is a whole world of dust and fun that should be cleaned. Shine them so that from the street they look brand new.

Basically,  buyers want a home that has no visible deferred maintenance. Most of the exterior home projects can be done yourself. If you aren’t sure, contact a good Realtor to help you figure out what needs to be done before you list your home.  First impressions are everything. A buyer will inevitably ask questions about house maintenance, the condition of appliances, the quality of the neighborhood and schools, but you have to get them in the front door first.  Take the time to put on your home’s best face.

 

Marketing Your Home to Sell

The MLS will grab the largest exposure for homes on the market because it reaches other websites and the most people online. However, anyone selling their home should interview and find the most aggressive Realtor that will take advantage of all the opportunities to get the home in front of people.  It is now more important than ever that the person hired to sell any home utilizes the internet and social media for promotion. 70% of American adults are online. More than 1 billion people in the entire world log in to Facebook on any given day. The potential to reach a huge number of people is exceptional.

Photographs:  The very best Realtor should help stage and prepare the home for professional pictures. All rooms should be clear of any clutter. The pictures MLS displays are usually grainy and poor quality. Homebuyers more times than not, begin the search for their new home online. Take advantage of this. Stand in the doorway to rooms and snap the photo shooting into the room.  There are never too many photos!

Facebook:  Now those beautiful photos need to be posted and announced, showcased and marketed. A good Realtor might even host open houses via Facebook LIVE and interact with people that are watching. Another option is to make a targeted ad and pinpoint people by location, interests, behaviors, age and more.

Instagram:  The worlds largest photo sharing platform is the perfect place to showcase the photos taken of the home.  A good Realtor should know how to use hashtags because that is how Instagram helps users find relevant content. Spread the pictures throughout the day.

The bottom line: Everyone wants a Realtor that can be trusted and will do everything he/she can to get the most money for their home in the least amount of time. The Realtor is the homeowner’s advocate. The marketing of the home should be exceptional.  Beyond using the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) there should be professional pictures to use on websites and every social media platform available.

 

Title Insurance and Liens

Home buyers

When putting in an offer on a home for sale and then applying for a loan, the best thing to do is to let a title company do a property title search to make sure there aren’t any bad liens on or against the property.

A lien is a notice attached to a property that lets people know that a creditor claims money is owed.  A lien is typically a public record. It is generally filed with a county records office or with a state agency, such as the secretary of state. Liens on real estate are a common way for creditors to collect what they are owed. More importantly, a lien means that the home could be foreclosed on and taken by the lien holder.   Again, a title search can say whether or not there is a lien levied against the property.

Examples of bad liens on a property:

  • Mortgage – the current homeowner’s lender can foreclose on the property if payments are not made every month.
  • Property Tax – placed on a home loan when property taxes are not paid and take priority over a mortgage lien.
  • Judgment – a judge has placed a lien on the property after a creditor has successfully sued the current homeowner.
  • Child Support – if child support has not been paid by the current owner the lien is placed.
  • IRS -secures the government’s interest in the property when the tax debt is not paid.

A lien on a home is a legal claim against the property. It gives creditors a stake in the home and a way to collect debts owed to them.  When getting a mortgage on a property, the lender will require a  purchase of a lender’s title insurance policy, which protects their interests in the property should there ever be a dispute in the title.   A policy of title insurance insures against defects in or liens or encumbrances on a party’s title to the property.

As a title company, much of our work can be done behind the scenes. The buyer may not even be aware that there may have been any title defects existing at all. They were simply taken care of before the closing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyber Threats in Real Estate

Buying, selling & refinancing a home requires submission of personal information to the lender which includes social security numbers, bank account numbers and credit/loan account numbers.  Sadly, there are hackers out there looking for this personal information to steal.

Never trust wiring instructions sent by email, especially if there is a claim made that submitting a payment has changed and a new account is provided.  The hackers are sending out sophisticated and convincing emails that look like they are coming from your Realtor. They often contain signatures, fonts, and logos that are an exact match to the original. Always confirm in person or by telephone to a verified and trusted phone number. Never wire money without double checking that the wiring instructions are correct.

How to avoid getting into this situation:

  • Never send wire transfer information, or any type of sensitive information, via email. This includes all types of financial information, not just wire instructions.
  • Never conduct business over unsecured WiFi
  • Make sure you learn your Realtor/Lenders email and communication practices. For instance, do they expect to be sending you sensitive information through email?
  • If wiring funds, first contact the recipient using a verified phone number to confirm that the wiring information is accurate. The phone number should be obtained from a reliable source.
  • If email is the only method available for sending information about a transaction, make sure it is encrypted.
  • Delete old emails regularly, as they may reveal information that hackers can use.
  • Change usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure that they’re difficult to guess.
  • Make sure anti-virus technology is up to date, and that firewalls are installed and working.
  • Never open suspicious emails. If the email has already been opened, never click on any links in the email, open any attachments or reply to the email.

Cyber threats in real estate are too incredibly common. We all need to be vigilant and have security practices in place.  One mistake acted on by a fraudulent request, could result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars or personal data loss.

 

 

 

 

Pricing Your Home to Sell

When it’s time to sell your home in Ohio, having the best Realtor is key to making it happen fast. You need an agent that will price your home properly – 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.

The Importance of 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 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 or someone else’s interest in the property. Misinterpretation of wills and deeds.
  • Mistakes made in the description of the property.
  • Mistakes missed 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