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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Photos Can Sell A Home

Selling your home? A picture is worth a thousand words. Take photos that show off your home at its very best. It’s Spring, the temperature is fabulous, flowers are in bloom, the grass is green and now is a perfect time to sell your house. Get some good pictures!

Do your homework and find the best Realtor in your area. Have her give you staging tips. You should declutter, clean up, take down personal family photos, maybe even rent a storage unit.  Do a deep cleaning. Get rid of any pet smells in your carpet and window treatments.

Photos Inside: Natural light is best for photos. A camera flash can add shadows and reflect off of mirrors or windows. Open your blinds and turn the lights on. The earlier in the day, the better and especially on a sunny day. Notice of all the reflective objects in your home and be sure to thoroughly clean them. Dust, dirt, or streaks from poor cleaning can easily show up in the photographs. Wipe and refresh your refrigerator, bathroom faucets, and kitchen appliances like the microwave and oven.

Photos Outside: The best time of day for outdoors will be when the sun is behind you to minimize shadows, so, the time of day will depend on which way your home faces. Remove any cars from the driveway. Of course, make sure that your front yard is cleaned up, your lawn is mowed and all of the landscaping is trimmed back and tidy. The outside picture is usually the very first that a potential buyer will see to it must be presented in the very best condition.

Hide any garbage cans, lawn equipment, and any toys. They will distract from the pictures. Show off your patio or deck and open up the umbrella on your table. Throw some fresh outdoor pillows on any furniture to add color.

The Bottom Line: One of the biggest mistakes made is poor quality photos. If you have found the best Realtor, she should have a list of photographers that will come to your home. The average cell phone can’t get the most beautiful photos needed to sell your home. Using quality photos in real estate listings can make all the difference. Capture the best images possible by make your home look its best, using high-quality equipment and consideration of what potential buyers want to see.

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NATIONAL REACH. LOCAL TOUCH

Title companies offer one of the most important types of insurance that one can buy. For most people, a residence or commercial property may be the most expensive asset they own. Title insurance in a real estate transaction has great value to the average consumer.

Think about it this way, what is the first thing you do when you go buy a car? You probably (hopefully!) pick up the phone and call your insurance agent to insure the vehicle. So naturally, insuring your real estate would be more pressing, since the value of it can be quite substantial.

So what should a good title company offer? Since the Ohio Department of Insurance regulates title insurance in the state of Ohio, and the Ohio Title Insurance Rating Bureau dictates all premiums, a title company can set itself apart by the customer service they offer along with the partner networks they share. Working with a large title company that does business on a national level has many advantages.

Title companies with the ability to write on multiple underwriter paper have the ability to provide more options and flexibility to their clients. For instance, Title First Agency is licensed in 33 states and can conduct business in all 50 states through its partner network and affiliations. Title First utilizes five of the leading title insurance underwriters in the business to issue title insurance policies to end consumers. (Check them out at https://titlefirst.com/underwriters/) This benefits the consumer in many ways, especially when a potential title issue arises and one underwriter is willing to take the risk while another may not be so willing.

Another benefit of a national title company is the increased level of protection of private information of both clients and consumers. There is a vast amount of private information necessary in conducting a real estate transaction. Some title companies have specific protocols as well as various checks and balances in place to ensure consumer privacy, which is paramount in today’s world. At Title First, we pride ourselves on achieving the highest certification for cyber security audits, without exception, known as SSAE 18. In addition, Title First is Best Practices Certified by the American Land Title Association. In order to obtain these certifications, Title First has participated in rigorous, outside, third party audits that test our systems and ensures the company maintains privacy at every level. What does this mean for you and your clients? It means that you can rest easy knowing your client’s information and financials are safe within our company.

Larger, national title companies, such as Title First, have a strong network of contacts in the real estate industry. Whether it be lenders, national vendors, realtors, or private attorneys – national title companies have access to all of these partners and more, which provides consumers and clients with access to any resources they may need during their transaction. This access creates the best overall experience at the closing table for the consumer and their realtors! Some lenders will only work with certain title companies – some have a “preferred vendors” list. Title First has built these affiliations and relationships over more than 60 years in the business. A trusted partner can provide you with peace of mind so you can make it to your next listing appointment or showing, on time and without a worry.

Why not use a company with a proven history, and a large network of providers to ensure you get the most for your client? Title First does just that – “National Reach, Local Touch” – at every step of the way.


By: Angie W. Sherry, Esq.

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Do I Need Title Insurance?

Title insurance. What would happen if you didn’t have it? What if you decided it’s not worth it? For starters, you would have bought a home that you can’t prove you bought legally. The title is the your right to possess and use the property .

What can happen without it? Problems arise when there are parties who want to be repaid loans and bills collateralized by the same property. There is the lender that made the first mortgage; the lender that opened the home equity line of credit; contractors whose unpaid bills resulted in liens on the property; taxing districts; and even homeowners’ associations waiting to be repaid from the proceeds of the house. Who will get paid and when? Without a title to the home? You are on the hook for the bills.

Title First will do a title search so that you don’t end up buying all those problems with the house. Being the new owner doesn’t mean that the problems go away. If you don’t have title insurance, you might have to sell the house just to repay the outstanding bills which have become yours.

A title search is usually required by all lenders. They want to make sure that title problems are cleared up before you buy the house. If the lender makes a mortgage with the home as collateral and it already has claims against it, the lender will lose money.

During the process of buying a home, Title First will check the property’s ownership history. Ideally, there is a “clear title”, meaning the current owner, who is selling to you, has a complete ownership stake in the property, without any legal claims against it. 

If Title First does not find any outstanding claims or title defects, know that there could be a “yet to be discovered” issue that could arise and sully the ownership of the property years after the purchase. Maybe there was a mistake in the ownership history, an oversight committed by the title researcher, even a previously unknown heir. There could be a possible pending lawsuit or legal judgment.

A title defect that arises after a loan closing could, at the very least, mean a variety of legal costs — and, in a worst-case event, the loss of your property and the money you’ve put in it.

The Bottom Line: Title First works hard to ensure a seamless experience for you and your clients. From contract to closing, Title First handles all the details to help your transactions run smoothly and close on time.

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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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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.

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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.

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