Selling A Home in January

Unfortunately, many people assume incorrectly that homes do not sell in the winter. Spring wins as people believe it is the best time to sell, but a good realtor will tell a seller that putting their home on the market in January to beat the competition.  After the holidays, people are back at work and looking online for their next move, and with the mindset of so many sellers to wait until Spring, the home on the market in January will have less competition. 

Real Estate becomes flooded come spring and summer and is dominated by high supply and high demand, meaning a home becomes one of the many for sale. Think about selling in a period of high demand but low supply, and being one of the few and standing out from the crowd and with less risk of getting lost in a market overload in the Spring. 

Redfin, a real estate organization, took a look a home sales from 2010 through 2014 to determine how well homes sold based on the season. The findings were surprising for many people, because they went against the standard assumption that winter was a time to avoid trying to sell a home. They found that, indeed, homes did sell best in spring, but only by a small margin. The next best time to sell a home turned out to be winter, followed by summer and then fall. Winter home sales were only one percentage point lower than the figures for spring, with summer trailing quite a bit behind.

The buyers are more serious in the cold, dark months of January and February. It’s not so hard to go house hunting in the beautiful months in Spring and Summer, but to go out in the frigid temps to look at homes means that buyer is motivated. 

January is the most popular month for corporate transfers. People who are transferring for work are highly motivated buyers and are limited to the time they can spend looking for a house. Take advantage of this situation, especially if living in an area with corporate headquarters, or major employers. 

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Real Estate Myths: Debunked

Are you ready to start looking for your first home?  Buying a home can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Your home will likely be the biggest investment you’ll make in your life, which can also make it your biggest risk.  Don’t fall for the following myths:

Myth: If you pre-qualify for a loan, you will be approved for a mortgage

Loan approval involves an underwriter analyzing hundreds of pages of documentation, as well as considering other factors like the home appraisal report. A pre-qualification letter, however, is based on a quick, preliminary analysis of your credit report. Getting the letter is a recommended early step to show you’re a serious buyer, but it doesn’t mean a loan approval is guaranteed.

Myth: You need 20% for a down payment

There’s an array of loan options that don’t require 20 percent down — in fact, this amount is rare in today’s home buying market. According to the National Association of Realtors, 60 percent of millennials are putting just 6 percent down on average.

Saving for a big down payment can be advantageous, but you don’t want to deplete your savings or risk coming up short on your mortgage payment. Instead, you should save as much as possible for unexpected expenses.

Myth: You don’t need a real estate agent

Realtors are so important to the home buying process. Real estate agents get a commission, but the home buyer does not pay their fee. It is paid by the seller and is built into the selling price. Every seller expects to pay a buyers agent commission. If you show up without one thinking you can get a 3% discount on the price you will quickly regret it. Realtors help you get the lowest purchase price with their expertise and using comparables. Real estate contracts are long and often hard to understand for the average person. There are many items such as home appraisals, inspections, opt-out clauses, etc. that you need to know about in depth in order to protect yourself.

Myth: You need a perfect credit score

Your credit score doesn’t have to be flawless for you to be able to find a mortgage that fits your budget. It surprises many when they talk to a lender and realize that they can still qualify, even with a lower credit score. To offset potential negative factors on your credit history, you may need to have a larger down payment or meet other qualifications, but you don’t need to have a “perfect credit score” to qualify.

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Ohio Disclosure Rules

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When selling your home, you are obligated to disclose problems that could affect the property’s value or desirability in Ohio. Sellers and their Realtors are required to document any known defects to potential buyers. Sellers also have to take a proactive role by making written disclosures about the condition of the property.  Disclosure of a problem doesn’t mean you must repair or correct it. A buyer has an interest in getting the deal closed as well and oftentimes will overlook minor issues. More times than not, the disclosed item can become a point of negotiation between you and your buyer.

The Residential Property Disclosure Form is designed so that prospective home buyers are aware of known problems with the property during your ownership for a period not to exceed the past five years. Once the buyers have this in their hands, they have the right to rescind the purchase contract if it is made before the closing, within 30 days of signing the purchase contract and within three days of receiving the form itself.

Not everything needs to be disclosed. Many problems are obvious – a water stain on the ceiling for example or a deck that is rotten and falling apart. As a seller, you don’t have to disclose it. You can’t conceal or prevent a buyer from investigating the problem. A defect that is open, observable and can be discovered through inspection and inquiry is called a patent defect. The buyer can be held responsible and liable for all defects that could have been discovered upon inspection.  The burden is on the buyer to notice these issues prior to purchase.

If there’s any doubt about whether something should be disclosed, the best policy is to err on the side of disclosure. Full disclosure will protect sellers from future legal claims.

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Do a Home Inspection Before Listing to Sell

Be ready for the buyer’s home inspection. Find out the exact condition of your home before you put it on the market to sell. The home inspection is often where the deal falls apart because buyers will make their offer contingent on approval of the results. Hidden defects or problems can turn the negotiating into the buyer’s favor. Even if you offer to fix a problem that arises on the buyer’s inspection report, skittish buyers may be hesitant to close the deal. Knowing before you list your home gives you the opportunity to fix the problem or price accordingly.

  • Buyers use items that need to be repaired on a home inspection to ask for a reduced price. The reductions are commonly based on estimates that are often inflated.  When you fix the repairs, you can call the contractor with the best price, saving you money in the long run.
  • Sellers can justify listing price through a pre-inspection. You can feel confident in the price you are asking with the results available to buyers. In a hot market, some buyers will make an offer on a home without the home inspection contingency.
  • According to Forbes, “…. pre-inspection is a goodwill gesture. It demonstrates a willingness to go beyond what’s expected, and that sets you apart from other sellers. You’re sending a signal that your house is an “open book,” and that you’re being upfront about the property. All of this can give potential buyers peace of mind and confidence.”

Once you have the pre-inspection report in your hand you can’t ignore any issues that came up. You’ll be required to disclose that information as a known defect or fix it before anyone makes an offer.  There may be some issues that you aren’t able to take on and it will be reflected in the price. You and your Realtor will be able to establish the right sale price including what you can or can not fix before putting your house on the market.

The bottom line: As a seller, getting a home inspection before listing your home gives you more time to make the repairs that you can and to shop around and control the costs for the work.  Be sure to hire an experienced Realtor that will know how to interpret inspection reports, and to let you know which issues are vital to address before listing your home.

 

 

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Quitclaim Deeds

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When a mortgage is in danger of becoming an unsustainable burden a homeowner’s finances,  they may sign a quitclaim deed that will transfer some ownership interest in their home to another party. Quitclaim deeds are most often used when a home is transferred between family members or to cure a defect on the title, such as a name that has been misspelled, or  when an owner gets married and wants to add a spouse’s name to the title, or when the owners divorce and one spouse’s name is removed from the title. Sometimes, they may be used to transfer ownership of a home from an individual to a sole proprietorship or corporation.

Common facts needed to understand a quitclaim deed:

  1. The quitclaim deed contains no warranties of title or ownership. If the grantor owns nothing, the grantee receives nothing.
  2. When purchasing a home, the buyer should receive a general warranty deed, not a quitclaim deed. Title insurance is favorable and often required by mortgage lenders.
  3. A real estate purchaser under a quitclaim deed is in many legal situations considered to be on notice that the title has defects.  It is recommended that an experienced professional undertake a title examination based upon a title search and render a title opinion prior to completing the purchase.
  4. If one has borrowed money under a real estate mortgage, a quitclaim or other deed to a third party does not release one’s liability for the mortgage debt. The lender may release a debt, but a borrower can’t avoid payment by unilaterally shifting that debt to a third person.
  5. Subsequent ownership by the grantor after the delivery of a quitclaim deed is not impacted or transferred by the quitclaim deed.
  6. Recording any deed in the public records at a local courthouse or recorder’s office, as determined by state law, only gives public notice of one’s claim of ownership. A deed does not guarantee actual title or ownership.
  7. If two or more individuals are co-owners of real estate, a quitclaim deed by one owner only transfers at best that one owner’s ownership rights. If the quitclaim deed requires the signature of all co-owners, the deed is invalid unless all co-owners have signed it and the deed is then delivered to the grantee. However, if the quitclaim deed allows one co-owner to sign it and claims to transfers the entire property to a grantee who takes physical possession of the property, then the deed may create an adverse possession ownership claim to the entire property.
  8. If one individual owns real estate and desires to add a co-owner such as a spouse, a quitclaim deed might be used. It’s in the best interest to contact an attorney before doing so, in order to curtail any taxation or inheritance issues.
  9. Call the best Title Insurance Agency because a title examination is necessary.
  10. There can’t be a reversal in a quitclaim unless the original owner proves that the quitclaim deed was signed under duress in a court.

As efficient as quitclaim deeds are in transferring real estate ownership from one person to another, they suffer from certain shortcomings that make them inappropriate for all but their intended purposes. Whereas they transfer title to a property, nothing more and nothing less, purchasers demand transfer assurances that quitclaim deeds can’t provide. They want warranties that guarantee “clear title” or lack of ownership encumbrances in the property. In such transactions, sellers transfer their real properties with general or special warranty deeds that offer those assurances to their buyers.

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Best Title Insurance Company

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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.

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Rent or Buy a Home in Ohio

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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.

 

 

 

 

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First Impressions Matter When Selling Your Home

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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.

 

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