Selling Your Home Steps to Take

1. Prepare your home for maximum earnings There are simple steps you can take to maximize your home’s appeal.

2. Enlist the help of a Realtor® to market and sell your home When selling your home, a Realtor® can provide expertise in valuing and advertising your home, qualifying and screening potential buyers, and negotiating contracts. If you are not able to enlist help from a Realtor®, Title First can provide you with assistance.

3. Negotiate a contract When you receive an offer for the purchase of your home, it must be in writing, generally on a preprinted real estate purchase contract from your local bar association or board of Realtors®. You may modify or alter the offer in any way you, your Realtor®, or your attorney wish. Offers and counter offers are made until the terms of the contract have been fully agreed to by all parties. When assessing offers and making counter-offers to the seller, don’t feel pressured to accept less than the value of your home.

4. Close on the property Before your home is officially sold, you must sign all appropriate documentation at your closing.

The closing will typically be held at a Title First office, the office of your realtor, lender or attorney, or sometimes on-location. Because your home represents one of the most significant investments you will make throughout your life, it is important that you feel comfortable with all the information being presented to you during the closing procedure.

Title First is dedicated to walking you through this important process with care and attention. When it’s time to set up your closing, don’t hesitate to tell your realtor or lender to call Title First, or feel free to give us a call if you’re working by yourself.

Be prepared for these seller’s fees commonly seen at the closing

Fees: Current loan payoff Conveyance fee, Title insurance examination, Title insurance commitment/premium for owner policy

Documentation to provide your Realtor® with: Tax receipts, Utility bills, Mortgage Payment

Information to provide to Title First: Your mortgage company name, address and account number. Any existing title insurance policy.

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Home Appraisal

A real estate appraisal is an essential piece of the buying and selling of property most notably if a buyer is going to need a loan to buy the home. No legitimate financial institution will lend money without an appraisal. The appraisal value of a home can make or break a sale, leaving this part of the real estate process one if not the most important, critical steps.

A home appraisal is different from a home inspection even though both an appraiser and an inspector will walk inside, outside and around the property to check everything with a fine tooth comb. The appraiser is finding the value of the home and the inspector is looking for problems or defects with it.

During an appraisal of a home, the appraiser will look at the state of repari, the features, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms. It is good to give a list of repairs and improvements made such as a new roof, water heater, air conditioning, etc. Basically, anything the owner of the home can think of that will help the appraiser decide the general market value of the home.

The home will then be compared as accurately as possible by way of recent sales, homes sold that are similar, and a search will be done for properties that are identical to yours and what’s been sold or what is on sale in the neighborhood. The appraiser will also provide whether values of home are on the rise, decreasing or stable. If there are any concerns that he feels will harm the property’ value, it will be noted as well as flagging any bigger problems he may see in the foundation, the roof or any noticeable water leaks in ceilings or floors.

Again, an appraisal can make or break a sale of the home so it’s a nerve-wracking time. If the appraisal comes back higher or lower than the sale price, there will need to be more negotiating. If the seller isn’t happy with the outcome, a good Realtor will discuss with the appraiser why certain decisions were made. With the help of a Realtor, the seller can put together a valid argument as to why the appraisal is not correct.

Appraisals are valid for six months unless the home is in certain markets where homes are selling fast and prices continually change. At which point, lenders usually like an appraisal every three months.

The Bottom Line: Any good Realtor will press on the point that pricing the home correctly is most important. If a home is overpriced it’s not going to appraise and the sale usually falls through. Pricing issues are the number one reason homes don’t sell.

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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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Detach Emotionally From Your Home For Sale

Thinking about selling your first home? Besides the fact that it will take a lot of time and energy, it may be very emotionally challenging. To have buyers come into your home and open closets, cabinets, and drawers, walk through your bedrooms and look behind furniture, and then to criticize the home you have loved is not easy. Eventually, there will be a buyer who wants it and will inevitably offer far less to buy it than you have it listed as.

The first hurdle to overcome after you have made the decision to sell is to let go of your home emotionally. Start looking at it as a positive financial opportunity and distance yourself from all the aspects of the property that you have created memories. It will be hard to pull your heart away from remembering the moments that you painted, decorated and picked out “just the right carpeting” for your child’s first bedroom. Acknowledge that selling your home is going to be stressful and emotional upfront and that will enable you to make good decisions going forward.

Think of your home as a product that you are selling. This should help you detach emotionally. Start removing personal items like pictures, knick-knacks, etc. to begin staging which will make it feel less like your home. If you put special hardware on cabinets and can’t imagine parting with them, replace them. A good Realtor will give you great recommendations to help make your home more neutral – maybe painting or pulling carpet – all of which will help you to see your home as a product and will help you emotionally.

It’s common for a seller to overprice their home when they are emotionally attached. The price of your home needs to be based on the market and the comparable properties, not the value you, someone with memories, puts on the home. After a Realtor helps you with the price, don’t get offended by offers that don’t meet your calculations. If a buyer makes a low offer, it’s good to know that there is someone who loves your home enough to even make an offer. Let your Realtor negotiate and learn what the seller likes and dislikes (which may hurt your feelings) so you are able to keep your emotions out of the selling process.

The Bottom Line: Make sure you are truly ready to sell your home. Make a list of the pros and cons of why you want to move and evaluate. Have an experienced Realtor help you once you have made the decision and realize that sentimental value does not translate to monetary value so you will need help pricing your home accordingly. Keep your emotions in check, make a clean break and put your energy and time into making your new house the home of your dreams!

 

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Upgrading a Home To Sell

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There are certain things buyers want in a home when househunting. There are renovations and upgrades that owners can put money into if they want to sell fast and can be confident knowing that they will get that money back in the sale of their home. With a remodeling budget, what should owners focus on renovating?

Laundry Room: A separate laundry room topped the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) list of most-wanted home features by buyers.  Carrying loads of laundry to a basement and then back upstairs again is a thing of the past. Now, buyers want their laundry rooms in a convenient area – near the kitchen or bedrooms with plenty of folding space and cabinets.

Exterior Lighting: This is the most-wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB. Adds to the curb appeal as well as a security feature.

Windows: Big ticket items buyers want is new energy efficient windows. Not only are they a great selling point, but they will also save the owners money on energy bills while they occupy the home.

Ceiling Fans: The most-wanted decorative home feature by potential buyers, according to the NAHB. Ceiling fans can be inexpensive and practical – they keep the air moving with the air conditioning or the heat. Plus, now they have reversible controls that allow the air to be drawn up, or blown down.

Hardwood Flooring: A cleaner look, easier to maintain and more durable than carpet. If hardwood floors are already in the home, get it sanded and refinished to make it like new again. If there is carpet – it could increase your home’s selling price by 2.5%.  according to Realtor.com

Appliances: Old appliances, especially in kitchens can turn a buyer off. Even with limited funds, a seller can create beautiful kitchens using Energy Star-rated appliances. A Realtor can get a comp report from the neighborhood and see how other homes have sold and what is on the market to know if a seller needs to update appliances or not.

Fresh Walls:  Take the wallpaper down. One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways that can help to increase a home’s value is also one of the simplest.  Freshly painted walls. Neutral colors are best and can make it easier for a potential buyer to see themselves in the home.

The Bottom Line: A home is a person’s biggest investment, so doing what can be done to upgrade it to boost its value, makes sense. Not all renovations will have the same impact. The best advice a person can get is from a knowledgeable Realtor in the location of the home. Have comps pulled, and find out what upgrades will give the home the most bang for the buck.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Do I Need Title Insurance?

Title insurance assures that you someone won’t show up at your door trying to claim ownership of your home. In the process of buying a home, Title First Agency will research the property’s ownership history. We want to make certain that the current owner has complete ownership of the home, without legal claims such as a lien or levy from a lender, creditor or the government. We will make certain that the home is “clear to close”.

Having title insurance on your home is a matter of being safe rather than sorry. What could possibly go wrong? There may be problems that were not found in any public records or unintentionally missed during the title search process, such as public record errors, unknown liens, illegal deeds, and missing heirs.  With title insurance, you will be covered for potential losses for things such as fraud, survey errors, and encroachment issues.

Title First Agency Insurance will protect you especially with an older, renovated home that has the highest number of claims and involves the highest dollar amounts. Even after the clear title search and the closing, there may be something overlooked that is important that could come back to haunt you. Owning title insurance will help you avoid a financial nightmare later on.

The Bottom Line:  Buying a home is never without risk. Having an insurance policy from Title First Agency simply ensures that this huge investment you have made – your home – actually is YOUR home. You won’t have to worry about any legal issues.

 

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Tips For A First Time Home Buyer

Purchasing a first home can be daunting. Here are a few tips that can help make the process a bit easier.

Location. Decide on this first to eliminate “buyers remorse” down the road.  Do the homework and research neighborhoods. School districts, local safety, and crime statistics can affect a home’s value. Even if you have found your “dream home”, the neighborhood could be completely wrong.  Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night and watch the traffic, how are the streets and sidewalks? What are the neighbors like and how do they take care of their homes? Is the home close to places you might frequent (gym, grocery, schools)? Are there children playing safely outside?

Shop Online: Now that you know where you want to buy a home, there are plenty of online options to start the search. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, and any local real estate agency.  Narrow down Realtors that you want to connect with by reading their online reviews, looking at their websites, social media platforms and googling. The Realtor you choose will be the expert you will rely on most. Interview several before settling on one.

Be Frugal: Zero in on homes that are listed for less than the amount of money you have been approved for. Many first time homebuyers don’t calculate the other monthly expenses or problems that go along with homeownership (broken appliances, etc).  Furthermore, other than the down payment, there will be money needed at closing.

Negotiate: This is where having the best Realtor will come in beautifully. Once you make an offer, the seller might come back with a counteroffer and after discussion of the pros and cons with your Realtor, you will know if you should offer more or walk away. Keep your emotions out of the entire process. Too many people pay too much for a home because they have “fallen in love” and this type of emotion can lead to very bad financial decisions.

Do an Exhaustive Inspection: Do the homework and find the very best Home Inspection Company with the top ratings. Be there with the inspector and learn about the home, ask questions – you need to know that the home you are purchasing is structurally sound.  See the good and the bad – what repairs will be needed? Is the electric adequate for today’s use? How are the water pipes, heating, and air conditioning systems?  When the inspection is complete, get a verbal and a written report. Bonus – the company will be available at a later date for more questions.

The Bottom Line: The above tips are just a few important ones to help navigate the process, save money and avoid common mistakes.  Find a Realtor. While it’s easy to go through online homes and narrow down what you want, it’s not so easy to get from that point to the closing. There is the transfer of the deed, title search, negotiating, asking for “extras” that you might be entitled to, completing all paperwork and being the single point of contact with the seller.

 

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Title Agency at Closing

Homeowners oftentimes have more than one mortgage on their property. Once sold, the mortgage has to be released so the buyer gets a clear title.

A mortgage is a debt secured by the collateral of specified real estate property, that the borrower is obliged to pay back with a predetermined set of payments. Mortgages are used by individuals and businesses to make large real estate purchases without paying the entire value of the purchase up front. To sell a house with a mortgage, the loan needs to be paid off the same day of the closing.

There is a lot going on at the closing of a property. Title First Agency plays a crucial role in the process of closing and protecting the seller from any unforeseen legal issues.  Title First Agency can assist with the loan transactions and handle the money between the buyer and seller. One of our agents will receive the money from the buyer, pay off the existing mortgage, remove the lien on the title and transfer the title to the new owner. We will be able to provide the agent with the mortgage payoff amount and account number before closing.

If there is money left over once the mortgage is paid, the seller could receive it within days, if not immediately at closing – each state is different.  Title First Agency, as the closing agent, will coordinate the activity and documentation from a variety of participants, pulling each piece of the transaction together.

Title First will finalize the deposits, wire transfers, and checks. After the closing, we will record the deed and the mortgage at the courthouse and prepare the owner’s and lender’s title policies. Buying or selling a home has become a complex transaction and you need a trusted title search company to guide you through the process.

The experts at Title First oversee and perform thousands of closings each year. When using Title First, you can sign confidently on the dotted line knowing that all details of your title transfer and closing are in proper order. We are here to answer any questions you may have about buying or selling a home, and our team will guide you through the entire process.  Call us today: 614-808-2062

 

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Real Estate & Social Media Marketing

Homebuyers used to open up their newspaper and look for properties for sale. Now, using social media platforms are an absolute must.

Instagram: Agents have the ability to generate leads, sales, and referrals from Instagram. Believed to be the perfect social media platform to showcase a property. There are over 700 million active users who like photos about 4.2 billion times per month. Predominantly accessed on a mobile phone enables the user to be engaged virtually anywhere, all day long, plus it’s user-friendly.  Using the right hashtags is also very important, as people use them to search for a particular topic on Instagram.

Twitter:  Another easy platform to use not only on a desktop computer but on a smartphone. Realtors can not only share their listings but other content, such as links to advice articles, news and anything that has to do with real estate (moving, adding value, advice, renovation and the location). It’s a good place to get into conversations with other Twitter users to make connections in the community.  As with Instagram, using the right hashtags is important, as people use them to search for a particular topic on Twitter.

Facebook:  More than 2 billion users worldwide and easy to set up an account. Post on a variety of topics – there is no need to only post photos. Do something different every day. Only post a “sales” post once every few days. Provide value to the person scrolling by. Every day, Realtors can connect with prospective home buyers and foster business relationships with peers. Most of all maintain these relationships by commenting on other pages, liking other pages’ posts, and never use an auto-scheduler to post on your behalf. Be authentic.

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