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 that have been 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 of someone else’s interest in the property. Misinterpretation of wills and deeds.

Mistakes made in the description of the property.

Mistakes made 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

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Holiday Home Buying & Selling

One of the best deals people can make is buying a home during the Christmas holiday season. There are a variety of reasons for buying a home during this time of year including less competition, year-end tax advantages as well as lower home prices, and faster closings. The inventory is limited with fewer people selling homes, but it is an advantage to buyers. The truth is negotiating a favorable price will be much easier than at other times of the year.

Closing on a new home before December 31 will bring tax benefits. Deductions can be itemized such as points paid upon closing, property taxes, and mortgage interest rates. Often times, a move at this time of the year has to do with an employment move which can bring more tax breaks. Sometimes even the costs associated with hiring a local moving company (if the move is work-related) can be itemized.

Sellers who choose to have their home on the market during the holidays are usually more motivated than the rest of the year. Listing a home during an off peak time such as this often means a job relocation, or some time sensitive issue that puts buyers in a position to get a better deal. 

Everyone involved with the real estate deal – sellers, Realtors, title agencies, banks, inspectors, lenders – want to wrap the deal up before the holidays. This time of year brings about a much more focused and speedy process that takes longer during the rest of the year. Just make sure before you begin the process that the Realtor that you choose will not be leaving for vacation and become MIA for a week or so. 

Favorable financing comes at holiday time. Interest rates on mortgages and loans typically hit a lower point around the holidays because fewer people are looking to borrow. There is historically, less financial business being done during December.

Find a well-connected Realtor. Fewer homes are listed between Halloween and New Year’s Day but a good Realtor knows other Realtors and they all talk about what’s coming on the market.  

And, another pretty fine reason to buy a home during the holidays? January and February bring the seasonal sales. Think –  new furniture, appliances, decor, even next year’s holiday decorations! 

The Bottom Line: Buyers should watch the market conditions as well as look online at what is out there. Get the word out to Realtors that can help find any  “pocket listings”. Check out the many online calculators that are available and see how much can be saved over the life of a mortgage with even a little decrease in interest rates that tend to happen during the holidays.  

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10 Easy Ways to Find More Space in Your Home

Many believe that to lead a more organized and inspired life, the clutter around you must be cleared. It’s simple: if your home is organized, your mindset will be too.


A clean and balanced home is actually a launching pad for many other goals and resolutions. So if you’re already starting to fail at some of your other 2019 resolutions, try this home resolution instead: find more space in your
home by clearing out the clutter! Follow these ten tips and I promise you it
will inspire you to complete your other resolutions and lead you to a more
organized and happier year!


Pantries
Create room by removing the large and awkward food packaging. Purchase clear, air-tight containers, take the box of your food item, and cut out the product name, nutritional facts and expiration date. Tape them to the inside of your clear container and then seal the food.

Pantries Shelves
Arrange the food on your shelves to help keep your resolutions. Make “first choice” shelves for the food that you want to stay on that diet. Make shelves that are for the kids snacks or foods that you’re just not going to have on a regular basis anymore… You get the idea –some shelves are just for the once a week treat. Some are for every day.


Pantry Storage
If you like to buy in bulk, put the bulk of your paper goods in another location, perhaps a closet or the garage, and place only what you need in your pantry— restock as needed.


In the Kitchen
When storing pots, pans and other durable items, stack them on their sides
like files. This simple step not only creates more room, it also allows you to see exactly what you need. Caddies or sorters from a shelf or container store are great tools for vertical organizing. Have all this in mind in your next kitchen remodeling as well.


Dressers
Place clothing in drawers vertically (not the traditional horizontal piles) because it not only maximizes space, it allows you to find items more quickly. You can purchase wooden planks or plastic planks to use as dividers. This way you can see all of your clothes at once when you open the drawer.


Closets
If your shoes don’t have a place they end up in a pile taking up valuable
space. Place shoes and accessories in clear plastic containers so you can see
everything and tape their photo to the inside of their container with photo facing out. This little step gives you triple duty: more space, you can find it easily and better still you can put it away in the exact same spot for next time that hot date rolls around…

Organize by Color
Organize your closet and drawers dark to light. It can be great way to find out that you really have way too many black blouses… and you can keep your resolution of being a kinder gentler you by donating the extras!


Kids’ Rooms
Purchase bed raisers for under-the-bed storage. You can store everything from shoes, laundry basket, books and any bulky items that might otherwise clutter their room. 


A Baby’s Closet
Is there room to add another bar? Take advantage of the fact that baby clothing is smaller and if you can, add an additional bar to hang the clothing to maximize space. You can purchase pre-made closet organizers that you can customize to make the most out of baby’s closet.


The best trick to more space in your home, less is more! So if you find you have extra things laying around, throw a reverse housewarming party! You’ll be starting a new party trend. Set aside your unwanted items and instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, they are to pick one of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with friends, find your unwanted things a good home, and de-clutter all at the same time! 


Originally posted on porch.com

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5 Amazing Tips to Get Your Home Ready for a Fall Sale

When the seasons change, there’s always something exciting to look forward to! When it comes to fall, there’s the cooler weather, beautiful foliage and pumpkin spice everything. One thing not to overlook though, are cozy interiors.

If you take a look at Pinterest, you’ll notice everyone is getting their homes prepped for fall. Do you have everything in order to keep up with the latest trends? Check out these amazing tips to get your home ready for fall.

Choose a Rustic Palette:

Color has a huge effect on everything from our mood to our productivity. Take full advantage of the season with a rustic color palette. Include fall colors like vivid orange, yellow and red. Accent with warm brown to really make those seasonal hues pop! Pick up the paintbrush and give your home a refresh with a new coat of paint or consider less expected additions like decor accents spread throughout your home. You can always pack up accessories after fall is over to use again next year.

Refashion your Living Room

The living room is the hub of the home which makes it the perfect place to try out a more festive design. While you may not be willing to take down walls or make major renovations, there are still options that will completely alter your decor.  Try out some new wall art to add some pizazz and flaunt your distinct preferences. Or flaunt your flair with the purchase of a new sofa in unique styles like tufted backs, reclining capabilities or nailhead trims. 

Change Out your Curtains

Curtains are a simple and relatively inexpensive element you can change that still packs a punch in terms of decor. Choose styles in fall colors or go bold with patterned window treatments. Floral curtains can be an exciting touch while geometric patterns will give your home some symmetry. 

Try a New Tablescape

Much like other seasons, there’s a huge emphasis on fall foods. Especially since Thanksgiving is now right around the corner, make sure your table is set and ready to go!  Replacing your tablecloth with a more pastoral aesthetic is sure to make your home feel that much cozier. Go a step further by thinking about all of the fun touches you can add — a centerpiece with pumpkins and gourds are essential! Try something new with some surprisingly modern takes on a cornucopia.

Prioritize your Porch

Make your home the talk of the town with elaborate porch decor! Improve your home’s curb appeal with a fall-ready makeover. Incorporate any and all fall staples — vibrant pumpkins, inviting mums and even friendly scarecrows! Additionally, it may help draw positive attention to your property if you are planning to sell anytime soon. If that’s your plan, don’t forget about all of the important steps to creating an inviting space that will ensure your home is more likely to sell!

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Negotiating When Buying a Home

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

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

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

 

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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

confident man

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

handshake

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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