Protecting Our Clients Information

With wire fraud and email hacking on the rise, we must all become more diligent in protecting our clients’ information. At Title First Agency, we take security seriously and we put our company through a rigorous audit (SSAE 18). In December, we had a perfect report for the 4th year in a row.  This is one of the steps we take to make sure our clients’ data is safe and secure. Title First is one of only a handful of title agencies across the country to go through these audits

Another aspect of protecting our clients’ information is educating prospective buyers, sellers and real estate professionals about the dangers of wire fraud and email hacking.  While buying and selling a home is an exciting time, there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers. We’ve made a video with four tips to protect money and advice on what to do if targeted by a scam.

Title First Agency’s software platform and third-party integrations are crucial to providing our clients with the most efficient title services. Our objective is to continually refine state of the art technology to assist with compliance. This is achieved by working with the top technology providers in the business. We also work closely with residential realtors and their clients, through the escrow and title process to make sure that proper steps are taken to successfully close. 

The Bottom Line: Protecting against wire fraud and email hacking requires all parties of a transaction to stay diligent throughout the process. If there are any questions regarding potential wire fraud, email hacking or anything else that feels “off”, Title First Agency is here to be contacted to discuss any issue with our agents.

Share This Post

Mechanic’s Lien

The financial crisis of 2007-2008, also known as the global financial crisis and the 2008 financial crisis, is considered by many economists to have been the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Since then and because of the losses, title insurance underwriters tightened their guidelines when working with residential properties to prevent further loss.

During the time of the financial crisis, title insurance underwriters often suffered loss due to mechanic’s lien claims.  A mechanic’s lien is a security interest in the title to property for the benefit of those who have supplied labor or materials that improve the property. The lien exists for both real property and personal property. The claim is issued when the work performed was not paid for.

The lien gives the debt holder the right to the property until the debt is paid in full and the property.  This could be an expensive situation for new homeowners, so it is important to ensure a property is lien-free before purchasing a home. This can be confirmed with a lien waiver or a paid receipt for any work completed on the property. A lien waiver is a document issued by the service provider that states they have received payment and waive the right to issue a lien against the property in the future.

Title First Agency will protect all property buyers by providing a clear title of the property. If there is a lien, the title won’t be clear and we will coordinate the activity and documentation from the participants and pull each piece together, including paid receipt of any improvements or repairs to the property.

If you’re planning to purchase a home, make sure you know the full status of the property and any lien claims.  Buying a home may be the single, largest financial purchase in your life and can signify a much-anticipated milestone. That’s why Title First offers a host of resources to help you understand this important personal transaction.

 

Share This Post

Fall Home Selling

It’s always been said that Spring is the best time to put a home on the market to sell. But, Fall might just be a perfect time and often homes can sell faster at this time of year.

Buyers are more serious in the Fall. During the Spring months, there are many homes on the market giving buyers more time to look at them in great detail and be more particular. Once September arrives, there aren’t as many homes listed, the competition is less, and buyers are more rushed to buy, close and move in before the holidays and even Winter weather becomes an issue.

Curb appeal is still so important. Be sure to rake dead leaves and debris in your yard. If there is overgrown vegetation blocking windows, remove it and cut bushes and tree limbs. Put bright mums in pots at the front door and plant in gardens where it looks empty from pulling the dead Summer flowers. Leaves in gutters should be removed often.

The days are shorter, the sun sets lower and earlier in the horizon so be sure to turn the lights all over the home before a showing. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window.  Make sure each room is bright! Closet lights, appliance lights – anything to make the home shine! Many buyers want a showing after work so it will most likely be dark outside.

Be sure to have the furnace, boiler and even the fireplace checked.  Nothing would be worse than a cold Fall day and buyers come in only to discover that there are heating problems. Additionally, having a roaring fire in the fireplace might be just the ambiance needed for buyers to “see” themselves in the home.

Price the home to sell in the current market. A skilled Realtor will help set the price using the comps in the neighborhood coupled with the time of year – which does not necessarily mean the home should be priced lower, but priced right. The home might sit on the market longer as we head into the Holiday & Winter Season making it even harder to sell if it’s priced too high.

The Bottom Line:  There will be fewer showings when putting a home on the market to sell in the Fall. The good news is that the buyers that are looking are more serious and motivated. Most importantly, find a Realtor that has a great track record of selling homes, no matter the season. Do the homework, ask neighbors, friends and search online to find the most experienced Realtor.

Share This Post

Starter Home Advice

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

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

Starter Home Advice

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

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

 

 

 

 

Share This Post

Quick Advice For Home Buyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share This Post