The Closing: The Final Step in a Real Estate Transaction

Buyers and Sellers

You’ve negotiated for the price you want and qualified for a mortgage, and now the only thing standing between you and your new home is the closing, where you’ll sign the paperwork finalizing the deal. But, what happens at a typical closing? Expect many people to be involved, such as your real estate closing attorney, the seller, real estate agents of both parties, and representatives of the title company and lender.

Closings generally take place at the title company that has issued the title policy for the home. This is a neutral place that has access to technology. Documents can be signed, emailed or faxed, and verified. During closing, ownership of a property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. All funds are distributed by the escrow company, and the new deed is registered in the buyer’s name. The buyer also has to bring a check for all of the mortgage and title fees accumulated along the way. A quick rundown:

  • The buyer’s lender provides a check for the amount owed toward the purchase price of the home.
  • The seller signs the deed over to the buyer and hands over the keys to the home. This officially transfers ownership to the buyer.
  • The title company will register the new deed with the appropriate government office and the record will show the buyer as the new homeowner
  • The seller receives any proceeds earned from the sale once their mortgage balance and closing costs have been paid in full.

Once the huge amount of paperwork is signed, everyone in the room will experience a sense of relief. The worst thing that could happen on the closing day is a delay to a future date due to lack of preparation.

The Bottom Line: A good, experienced Realtor, will have made sure that on the actual day of closing, you are prepared with all of your real estate closing documents, a government-issued photo identification, as well as your form of payment to cover the real estate closing cost. This will usually be in the form of a cashier’s check or a wire transfer, but also bring along a checkbook in case any unexpected fees come up.

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Private Banking Services at Title First

man with white glove holding model of house

Title First Agency works with some of the nation’s largest private bankers who trust Title First to provide services for their private banking clients. For those clients, Title First provides a dedicated client account team that handles every detail of the clients’ needs and provides a true white-glove service.

Title First Agency’s private banking services include:
  • A workflow process customized to the specific private lender
  • A web-based portal that is simple, easy-to-use and can be configured according to the lender’s needs
  • A client-dedicated team with more than 30 years of processing experience
  • A proven list of attorneys and notaries that handle private wealth signings
  • Client-specific reports for use by the lender
  • Adherence to Service Level Standards that outline Title First’s promise to act efficiently and accurately to ensure that closings occur on time
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Avoid These Three Mistakes When Selling Your Home

There are plenty of options that sellers can unconsciously do to derail their home selling process and make it more difficult to sell their home.  It’s both an emotional and exhilarating time and even with family history attached to your home, it’s best to shelve any sentimental feelings. There are too many mistakes that can happen and cost you money or even the sale of the home. Here are three mistakes that are the most common:

  • Not hiring a skilled Realtor. All statistics show that homes with representation sell for more money and in a shorter time period. Realtors will research comparable homes in your area, help you price your home right – not overprice it, market your home via social media, mailings, MLS, and newspaper and be the person that deals with the buyers and their agents. After interviewing and looking at past sales histories, and you have picked and hired the best Realtor, they should give you all the tips and tricks they know to get your home sold.
  • Not fixing problem areas – almost every home has them. If you try to cover up these trouble spots like issues with the foundation, any water damage, or mold will most likely come back to bite you and a good home inspector will discover them. This could cost you a sale. If these problems surface after the house is sold, a messy legal battle could arise. It’s best to be upfront and truthful with your Realtor and the buyers. Before your home goes on the market, identify and repair problems.
  • Not setting the right price. The price you want and what the market will pay may be two very different things. Even in the markets where the inventory is tight, a good Realtor will be very careful to not overprice your home. If it is priced too high you take the risk of preventing potential buyers from even considering it, or it could cause the house to sit on the market for an extended period. The longer your home sits, the more it is perceived as overpriced – or perhaps as a home with something wrong with it. Homes that are priced too high usually end up selling for less than they would have if they had been priced correctly from the start. Pricing a home to sell is an art that the Realtor you hire must get right. They will look at the sales in your immediate area, as well as market movement, demand, location, and your home’s condition. You don’t want to be forced to lower your asking price after it’s been on the market the first 30 days which are the most critical where sellers see their most traffic.

The Bottom Line: Selling your home is a lengthy process, so there is no need to rush it. Homes can stay on the market for months, but you should follow the lead of the best Realtor in your town and use their expertise.

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Get Your House on The Market by May, 2019

  • Shop for the best Realtor your area. Ask people that you trust and who have bought or sold a home who they used and how the entire transaction went. Would they use that Realtor again? Look in the local paper and online and see who is hustling up to your standards. Are they using social media? Beautiful pictures? Drone footage? Google the Realtors you like. Be sure they use professional photos. The internet is the first place people go to look for the perfect dream home.
  • Shoot for a day in May to put your house on the market and work backward from that date. Let your Realtor know that the date is when you will be ready for showings.
  • Have your most honest friends over and ask for opinions. We can’t see what’s right in front of us most of the time. We overlook imperfections, but future buyers won’t.
  • De-personalize your house. Start packing photos, awards, and any extra clutter on walls or tables. Do you have pillows, throws, and rugs that are busy? Pack them up. The more neutral your home is, the calmer it will feel to future buyers, and much easier on their eyes.
  • Stage. While your friends are visiting, ask them what they think. Sometimes rearranging furniture will make the biggest difference in opening up a room. Make sure fresh white towels are in the bathrooms, fresh soap on the sink, add a plant and style the shelves and surfaces with interesting, neutral items only.
  • Focus on your curb appeal. A big key to selling your home. The first thing potential buyers see when they pull up. Rent a power washer and get rid of all the past season dirt. Fix trim, clean windows, replace doorknobs as needed. Repaint the front door if it looks weathered. Weed the gardens and plant hardy flowers. Cut back trees and shrubs – make sure they accent your home, not hide it. Your lawn should be beautiful.

To have your home ready to go and on the market as fast as possible, you need to be smart about where you invest your time and resources. Buyers judge homes within 30 seconds, and that is outside the home. The key is to get them in the front door.

Your Realtor should make your home’s listing available to all MLS members within 24 hours of signing the listing agreement. All the marketing online, in the mail and email should be ready to go. The best chance of selling your home is when it is new to the market so make sure you have a Realtor that prices your house properly.

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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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Short Sale and Title Insurance

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The reasons for getting title insurance are not obvious at first. One thing we stress at Title First is the importance of owner’s title insurance policies for real estate transactions. When buying a home, a foreclosed property or a short sale, an owner’s title policy is necessary.

Title insurance helps to safeguard that there are not any legal claims out there against the home you want to buy in a short sale. Usually, the owner can’t afford mortgage payments anymore, so the risk is that there are also liens for other debts such as overdue taxes, unpaid contractors’ bills, etc. More often than not, short sales include unsatisfied obligations and if you are to close on the home with these unsettled claims, you would be held responsible for the outstanding debt. require the title insurer to deal with the seller and lien holders on your behalf;

When you have Title First helping, we can require the seller to take care of the outstanding problems prior to the closing, deal with the lien holders directly, and even ask the seller to lower the price of the house. Without a title policy, you may end up with multiple problems.

What Title First will look for is not only unsettled claims but also for fraud, forgery, clerical errors, omissions, encroachment issues, restrictions, judgments, divorce decrees, missing heirs and other problems that are sometimes impossible to anticipate. Having an owner’s policy ensures that Title First will stand behind you, should a problem occur down the road.

Dedicated to innovation and passionate about service, Title First Agency is your comprehensive, nationwide resource for title and real estate settlement services.

To better serve its customers, Title First has implemented best practices and third-party audits, equipping itself to facilitate compliance efforts. In 2014, Title First instituted ALTA Best Practices and continually reviews its compliance. More importantly, in 2015, Title First completed its examination in conformity with Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16 through an independent third-party auditor. Each year, Title First continues its SSAE examination, and in 2017 earned the SSAE-18 certification. Title First is one of the few title agencies in the industry having an SSAE-18 certification.

In fact, Title First is one of only two title companies in the state of Ohio to earn the SSAE certification. This certification provides reassurance that Title First Agency is in compliance when it comes to financial controls and internal procedures for data security, availability, processing integrity and privacy.

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Home Inspection Deal Breakers

Before you buy a new house, a qualified home inspector is always your best bet for a thorough home evaluation, but you should also have a general understanding of what to look out for. A bad home inspection has the potential to derail a real estate transaction, especially if what’s uncovered is an expensive problem. Here are four issues that have been deal breakers, according to some Realtors.  

Faulty Electrical Wiring:
The electrical system is an important, and potentially hazardous, part of a home, which is why it is included in every thorough home inspection Newer homes have more supply of power and electrical outlets. Older homes do not. A good inspector should check the outlets throughout the home as well as check the interior of the electrical breaker/fuse box assuring that there are no “double taps” – two electrical circuits attached to a single breaker – as it is a fire hazard. The wires, conduits, and boxes should be securely fixed to the building. There should be no visible signs of damage or deterioration. There should be at least one ground rod or other approved grounding means present at the service.

Plumbing:
Some of these issues are obvious. Skilled inspectors are trained to find obvious, like a clogged toilet as well as the not so obvious, like illegal pipes that could result in being cited for plumbing violations. He will look around the entire home for signs of mildew, fungus or mold related to water leaking from broken pipes and cracks in the ceiling or floor.    

Grading Toward the Home:
Water in the basement, damp or wet crawlspaces, foundation movement, cracking and settlement may all be caused by grading. Water in the foundation could lead to rot in the walls, framing members and mold. Some indications of foundation movement include windows that are out of square; interior doors that have large, uneven gaps at the top when the door is closed; or floors visibly out of level. Some of the most experienced home inspectors believe that the most common issue they find during inspections is the lack of grading (improperly sloped soil) away from the home. 

Roofing:
A roof usually lasts about 30 years, so you will need to find out when it was installed. A home inspector will look at the quality of the shingles and know if any are curled, broken, or even missing which are signs that you might need a new roof soon.

The Bottom Line: Whether any of these issues are deal breaker depends on your preferences and needs. Any issue such as the four listed might be too expensive or time-consuming to fix. However, you might find these issues acceptable and have the resources to get them fixed. The home inspector should not tell anyone to buy or not to buy a home. It’s just his job to provide all the information needed so that the home buyer can make the right decision for them.   

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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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Get Your House Ready to Sell in Thirty Days

It can be a lot of work. But it can be done. Getting your house ready to sell in thirty days. The goals being available by the Spring 2019 Market, and getting top dollar. Expert Realtors will tell you that with motivation, hard work and focus it can be done.

Disconnect personally to your home. Invite a friend or family member over to look around to see what you do not. Fresh eyes can see where repairs are needed – it’s funny how a homeowner misses something simple that they see every day – and can be fixed easily.

Depersonalize rooms. Pack up photographs, family heirlooms, Buyers have a tough time seeing past the personal. They will need to imagine their own photos, art and other effects in the home without the distraction. It’s OK to leave a few framed photos around to make the home seem inviting and well lived in.

Declutter. Box up books from bookcases. Pack up knickknacks. Clean kitchen and bathroom counters. This can also mean removing extra pieces of furniture to be able to show the full potential of a room’s size.

Consider hiring someone to come in and make your home shine. Someone to clean beyond the usual day to day or weekly cleaning. Remember the first impression is the strongest. Dirty floors, dusty surfaces, and bad smells can ruin that first visit to your home. Empty out closets, drawers, under beds, and kitchen cabinets. Less makes everything appear more.

Paint the walls. Stick to whites, light grays, and light beiges that will make your home appear bigger, brighter and more welcoming. Adding a fresh coat of paint to your home will also help cover the wall’s imperfections and convey a blank slate to potential buyers.

Spruce up the exterior of the home, even consider hiring a landscaping company. Plenty of times, buyers pull up to a home only to back out because they don’t like the way the exterior looks. Get rid of dead plants, trim overgrown bushes and trees, freshen up the ground cover, add flowers that will survive the March temperatures for a punch of color. Adding new hardware to the front door or giving it a fresh coat of paint is a cheap thing to do and can speak volumes.

Thirty days is ample enough to get your home ready to sell. Find the best Realtor in your area and have them tell you what you will need to do to sell your home fast. The Spring and Summer selling market are typically the very best time to sell, but forewarning: there will be an increased inventory and the competition will be steep. Buyers will be pickier so you will need your home in it’s best shape as well as priced right.

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