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Posts Tagged ‘Real estate news’

How To Win A Bidding War!

A bidding war is when at least two prospective buyers have made legitimate offers for a home that are similar and the Seller wants to select the best offer and terms for themselves. Bidding wars are common—in most of 2020, over half of home offers presented have faced competitive bids, according to Redfin’s study. Although historically low interest rates have sparked buying activity recently, some neighborhoods are always sought-after and attract multiple offers whenever a home comes up for sale.  Exclusive Buyer Agents are experts in winning bidding wars and getting credits during the due diligence period.

Expect to be in a bidding war In a hot housing market, it’s often not enough to quickly make an offer on a house but to have the highest price and best terms.

Here are a dozen ways you can get an edge on the competition.

  1. Offer to Pay in Cash

If you have the ability to offer an all-cash bid, you gain a distinct advantage because you eliminate the possibility of a mortgage falling through before closing. Buying with cash will make the process go quicker because you won’t need to go through the approval process with a lender, who would also request an appraisal. If you can’t cover the entire purchase price in cash, you could agree to a larger down payment on the house, which increases your approval odds and might make your bid more attractive.

  1. Get Pre-Approved

Pre-approval is a step most buyers will take anyway, but it’s absolutely essential for anyone in a competitive bidding situation. Pre-qualification is not enough, as it doesn’t show that the lender conducted the same amount of due diligence—such as checking your earnings and doing a hard credit check—that a pre-approval would require.

  1. Know Your Financial Limits

When you’re preparing for a bidding war, think of it like an auction—you need to know how much house you can afford before you actually bid. Once you know the maximum amount you’re willing to bid, you can include an escalation clause in your purchase offer to ensure you can instantly counteract any other bid. An escalation clause lets you increase your bid to avoid being outbid by another buyer up to a specified amount.

  1. Provide More Earnest Money

Buyers typically provide 1% to 5% of the purchase price as earnest money—a form of a security deposit—in a purchase contract, which gives sellers the assurance that you will follow through with the purchase. If you bail out on the contract without citing a contingency, you will likely lose the earnest money. If you put down more than the typical earnest money amount, it will tell the seller that you’re determined to follow through to the closing.

  1.  Be open to making offers sight-unseen

Speed is key in a seller’s market as competitive as this one. If you’re interested in a home but live far away or just haven’t been able to tour it, you can still throw your hat in the ring. Video tours and 3D walk-throughs have made sight-unseen offers much more feasible. Almost two-thirds (63%) of people who bought a home last year made an offer on a property that they hadn’t seen in person.

  1.  Remove Some or All Contingencies

When you make an offer to purchase a house, you know the deal could fall through for numerous reasons, and you don’t want to lose your earnest money because of it. That’s why you include contingencies in the purchase contract; if the home inspection uncovers major problems or you can’t sell your current home in time to close on the new one, you can get out of the contract without penalty. Almost no offers contingent on the sale of a home will win a bidding war. Sell your home, rent and then start trying to get a home under contract. Simultaneous closings are so 1990’s.

If you can’t waive contingencies, sweeten them for the seller. Opt to expedite the contingency timeline.

  1. Be Flexible on the Move-in Date

First-time home buyers and those who have already sold their previous home might be in a position to be flexible with the sellers on their move-in date. A seller might ask for more time if they have concerns about potential delays for a new home build. In this case, they could go through the closing and then rent the home back from you for a few weeks or a month. This flexibility could be as valuable—if not more valuable—than a higher bid on the house.

  1.  Start low, bid high

A lot of successful buyers today win by making an offer that exceeds the asking price…in fact it is expected. This also means that a lot of buyers end up exceeding their budgets. To prevent this, only search for homes that are listed 10-15% below what you can afford, so that you can make an over list price offer.

  1.  Offer to pay some of the seller’s costs

Home buyers can make their offers more competitive by offering to pay for expenses that are typically covered at least partially by the seller.

  1. Write a Personal Note

Home sellers, especially ones who have lived in a home for a long period of time, can sometimes be swayed by a personal note that explains why you believe this is the home of your dreams. For example, you might know that the current owner raised a family in the home, and you can discuss how you hope to do the same. It might seem a bit over the top, but it’s certainly worth a try when not much separates your offer from others. And yes—sometimes it works.  Avoid putting any personal information in the letter that may expose the Seller of real estate agents from violating Fair Housing laws.

  1.  Prepare to lose before you win 

With more than half of offers facing competition these days, it’s more likely than not that you’ll get into a bidding war if you’re in the market for a home. It’s also wise to know when to walk away. It’s OK to put your search on hold if you reach the point where you’re not comfortable making the aggressive offers that are often necessary to win in today’s market. You don’t want to end up with buyer’s remorse, after all.

  1.  Use an experienced Exclusive Buyer Agent that has been successful with winning bidding wars and speak with their references. Be prepared to ask to be in a Back Up position if you lose the bid. The market is too competitive and offers move too fast for novices to be effective at winning bidding wars in a multiple offer situation.

Life After COVID-19? How Interior Design will Change

Covid Interior Design Trends for Homes
Covid Interior Design Trends for Homes
Spending months in quarantine has already dramatically impacted design, with new trends that will undoubtedly continue to resonate well into 2021 and beyond. The future of interior design will reflect the reality of a world that has been forever changed by incorporating cleanliness and materials to help to mitigate the spread of disease, floor plans that provide separate spaces for home-bound activities, and a focus on personal well-being.
Nature-starved homeowners have been craving what they’ve been denied of late, so expect to see an increased number of plants and lush indoor gardens, earth-toned color schemes, outdoor-style interior flooring, and even the occasional attached greenhouse.
Residences will no longer have a home office, but an office at home. Significant reconsideration of how we can create a beautiful, functional office at home will be designed and set up to accommodate full time satellite workplaces.
If you’re doing your part and social distancing from inside your home, you may start to notice small details of your house or apartment you hadn’t thought about before – like how to help keep your home as clean as possible during the corona virus outbreak. There are few materials that we can use that are more sterile than others and will be used even more in the future of design.
        • Metals such as copper, brasses, and bronzes are natural antimicrobial materials that have intrinsic properties to destroy a wide range of microorganisms. Not only are these metals hygienic, but they are great accents to warm up your home.
        • A separate “casita” or guest house suite can be useful for isolating someone that may be ill, or to provide more distance and privacy for guests.
        •  Office spaces and study areas are more necessary than ever. As more of us work (and learn) from home, a dedicated office and space for studying is essential. Many of us quickly had to convert areas and rooms to our own home offices – showing us the importance of a separate space. Homes with multiple areas for getting work done – offices, libraries, and study areas – will be even more popular in design.
        • Multiple areas for activities and entertainment, such as home gyms, media rooms, and game rooms will be necessary to keep everyone entertained. During this pandemic, we have found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands, so whether it’s a family game night or a workout, the need for a space for everyone at home has only increased.
        • There’s no doubt that the future of kitchen design will look different in a post COVID 19 world. First, we have been forced to alter the way we shop, store, and prepare food. Second, we have more time at home to get organized, tackle lingering projects, and sanitize our homes. Finally, we have had to change the way we interact and socialize with family, friends, and colleagues. More long term storage and larger freezer capacity are in demand. New kitchens will be designed with cleanability in mind. Low maintenance cabinet finishes, faucets, tile, and fixtures will be a top priority. Quartz is one of the hardest non-precious stones on earth, therefore countertops made from quartz are hard, stain and scratch-resistant, and the most sanitary.

Our living spaces greatly influence our physical health – as well as our emotional state of mind (especially during his time). So it will continue to be important to create environments that stimulate our senses in a good way, improve relaxation, and have health and wellness benefits to the people using them. Here are a few ways of living that will be popular.

  • Bringing in nature will be emphasized in many different ways. From larger windows with views outside and using colors that reflect the natural world. Having lots of greenery in a home is also an obvious and easy stimulant to our overall wellbeing (along with lots of health benefits).
  • An increase in organization. Being quarantined at home makes us realize what is really necessary. Clutter can cause anxiety and discomfort – feelings that are more unwanted than ever. Organization will be emphasized, through de-cluttering, smart storage, and built-in shelving and spaces for keeping items organized in smaller spaces.
  • A sense of security and calm will definitely be present in interiors. When the world is full of uncertainty, having a space that feels like an escape from the outside world, with soft and cozy materials, light colors and relaxing vibes, will be a prerequisite of design.

When it comes to colors this year, we’re seeing the return of earth tones in a wide spectrum, from cream to terra cotta.  Expect to see decor that conveys softness, with plenty of light colors, especially pinks, beiges and other neutral tones, for a Zen look promoting rest, tranquility and well-being.

Nature continues its influential role in the world of decor. Vegetal hues have been in the spotlight for several seasons now, and this year we saw a lot of them, ranging from tender green to intense mint to peacock blue. Sky blue has brightened up the pastel palette.

Earth tones aren’t the only trend with staying power of late. While black is becoming less popular, blue has been replacing it. It’s a more versatile and emotionally indulgent hue well suited to sheltering at home.

Should You Refinance During The COVID-19 Situation?

Covid-19 and Refi

Covid-19 and Refi

Rates are lower than ever; when a refinancing is done right, it can save you thousands of dollars. But not every potential refi makes the cut. Sometimes the expenses just don’t justify the potential savings.

It is time to refinance your home mortgage if the terms lower your mortgage interest rate, pay off their mortgage years earlier, or saves thousands in interest over the life of the loan. You can save serious money by refinancing your mortgage. But due to refinancing fees and expenses, not every refi makes financial sense.

COVID-19 is creating changes with lenders and how they are doing business. This is resulting in refinancing taking longer and getting stricter than it has been in the past. Although the mortgage process is considered essential as a financial transaction, depending on where you live, there may be changes related to COVID-19  involving your appraisal, rate lock and closing process.

Rates are quite low and because your home is your biggest financial investment, the equity can be very useful as a resource in times of trouble. But if you’re thinking of financing your home loan there are several steps you should take to make sure that it’s the right move for you.

How Long Do You Plan On Being In Your Home?

Being able to answer this question will help you figure out the term length you want on any refinanced mortgage; but there’s another reason asking this question …

If you plan on moving within the next 5 – 10 years, it could be worth your while to look at an adjustable rate mortgage ( ARM).  You get a lower rate initially with an ARM because the rate can adjust after the teaser period. But if you move before the end of the fixed-rate time frame, you don’t have to worry about whether the rate is going up and down in the end. Additionally, your payment will tend to be lower because most adjustable rate mortgages are based on 30-year terms.

Age Of Current Loan

The age of your current loan sometimes plays a role in whether you can refinance. Even if you can refinance, it does not always make sense.  When you refinance you have to pay closing costs.  If you are not planning on staying in the house past the breakeven point when the savings and the additional expenses paid starts to net to overall reduced costs for home ownership, the it is not the time to refinance.  You may want to accelerate buying a new home to realize the saving from lower interest rates.

Plans For Monthly Savings

If you determine that you’re going to save money by refinancing based on the rate and term you can get, make sure that you have a plan for what you’re going to do with the monthly savings in order to put yourself in a better financial position. No one knows exactly when COVID-19 is going to end and how long it will take for the economy to recover. If you can save money now, you can work on establishing the savings need should the vaccine be delayed or we continue with a longer recession

You could use your savings to build up an emergency fund. Maybe you choose to allow yourself to save money in the future by paying off high-interest debt now. You can also use this to catch up on saving for retirement if you stopped contributing temporarily while dealing with the situation caused by the virus.

It’s a very volatile market right now, so we advise all of our clients to rely on the advice of their Home Loan Expert and Financial Advisors at all times.

The Mortgage Refi Process

Approving a mortgage is a complicated process, one that requires a lender to validate a borrower’s income, check the value of the home being used as collateral and scrutinize the title history of the property.

Just as refinancing applications picked up, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed the way everyone in the mortgage industry works. Loan officers no longer go to the office. Appraisers stopped walking through houses. And no one gathers around the title company’s closing table. The process is a little slower because everybody’s working from home right now. Things that would take an hour to do are taking a day sometimes.

It is more difficult to verify a borrower’s employment. A task once dispatched with a quick call to the borrower’s human resources department now means leaving a voicemail and waiting a day or two for a response.

Meanwhile, homeowners looking to refinance may have to get in line behind buyers who need a mortgage so they can close on a house which are a priority with lenders.

The mortgage industry already had been digitizing, and lenders quickly adapted to many changes. One stumbling block, though, is that most lenders still require some documents to be signed in the presence of a legal witness and notarized.  Florida allows for mobile notaries and they are busier than ever.

Sometimes, documents are being signed remotely and online and mobile notaries are not allowed yet.  You need to allow time for in person notarization and overnight mailing of documents.  Digital closings may be the way of the future, but we are not there yet.

What You Can Do to Secure a Smooth Refinance

Here are a few ways you can make the refi process as smooth as possible:

— Get your paperwork in order. Don’t let something simple like a missing document delay your refinance. Collect PDFs of financial documents, including pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns and retirement accounts.

— Make sure the lender will honor your rate lock. In normal times, lenders extend rate locks for 30 to 60 days, meaning you won’t have to pay more if rates go up before your loan closes. These aren’t normal times, though, and many refinances aren’t closing within 30 to 60 days, so make sure your lender is willing to extend your rate lock if your deal is delayed.

— Keep your credit score tight. Now isn’t the time to miss a payment, take on new debt or otherwise do anything to lower your credit score. Lenders are being especially strict about borrowers’ credit histories.

 

Tax Considerations When Deciding to Relocate.

Florida retains its ranking as one of the nation’s lowest-tax states, according to the latest study released by Florida TaxWatch. Out of 50 states, Florida ranks No. 42 in the average amount of money paid by residents.
Florida TaxWatch findings:
  • Floridians pay an average $5,679 per person in state and local taxes
  • Residents pay an average $2,584 in state taxes – one of the least amounts nationwide. Only the residents of one other state pay less.
  • However, local tax burdens are higher. “Per Capita Local Tax Collections” ranked No. 27 nationally.
  • In the balance between state and local taxes, Florida relies more heavily on local revenue than almost all other states and is No. 2 nationwide. Local taxes account for 53.3 percent of the total.
  • With property taxes, Florida ranks a solid “average” score – No. 25. The state’s per capita property tax ranking is right at the median – 25th.
  • Florida also classifies 38.7 percent of its state and local revenue as non-tax revenue (such as “fees”) – the 7th largest percentage in the nation.
  • Florida relies more heavily on transaction taxes, such as general and sales taxes. They make up, 81.5 percent of all state tax collections compared to the national average of 47.2 percent.
  • Florida has the highest state and local selective sales (excise) taxes on utilities in the nation. The tax on motor fuels is No. 15; the tax on alcoholic beverages is No. 19.
  • Florida’s housing sector produces significant revenue, and the state’s documentary stamp taxes are rising rapidly post-recession. It collected an average of $276 per capita in 2006, $72 in 2009, and $130 per capita in 2016 – the nation’s second-largest doc-tax burden.
  • Florida is one of seven states without a personal income tax. The average state relies on personal income taxes for 37.0 percent of its tax revenue.
  • Businesses pay 51.7 percent of all Florida state and local taxes – the 12th highest percentage in the nation.

Prepare for Hurricane Matthew’s Aftermath

As Hurricane Matthew churns through the Atlantic with a possible landfall in Florida, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) urged property owners to take some basic precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.

“With the potential for Hurricane Matthew to hit somewhere along the East Coast, the Governor has issued a state of emergency for all 67 counties in Florida,” says Logan McFaddin, PCI Florida regional manager. “This caliber of a system could bring major flooding and damages along Florida’s East Coast.”

In addition to making sure residents have emergency kits and plans ready, PCI urges residents and business owners to take precautionary measures to prevent damage to vulnerable property. Flooding from storm surge during hurricanes and tropical storms can be especially dangerous for residents along the coast and further inland. PCI recommends that homeowners who sustain damage report it as early as possible to their insurance company.

McFaddin says flood insurance is advisable, but “there is typically a 30-day waiting period between the date of purchase and when flood coverage will go into effect.”

PCI hurricane precautions

Review your property insurance policy, especially the “declarations” page, and check whether your policy pays replacement costs or actual cash value for a covered loss.

Inventory household items, and photograph or videotape them for further documentation. Keep this information and insurance policies in a safe place.

Keep the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurer and agent in a safe and easily accessible place.

Protect your property by covering all windows with plywood or shutters, moving vehicles into the garage when possible, and placing grills and patio furniture indoors.

Keep all receipts for any repairs so your insurance company can reimburse you.

Check with your insurance adjuster for referrals to professional restoration, cleaning and salvage companies if additional assistance is needed.

Make sure watercraft are stored in a secure area, like a garage or covered boat dock. A typical homeowners policy will cover property damage in limited instances for small watercraft, and separate boat policies will provide broader, more extensive property and liability protection for larger, faster boat, yachts, jet skis and wave runners.

 

There will certainly be an extended period with power outages.  After the storm, empty out your freezer and refrigerator of all perishable items and put in covered trash receptacles.  Unplug all appliances and electronics since there will certainly be surges when power is restored.

Be mindful of downed power lines when going outside after the storm.  Broken branches can also be dangerous and will continue to fall given the winds and rain that follow the storm.  Remove debris from your property to ensure continued safety.

Location, Location, Location!

There are many things that should be considered when buying a home. Since most home buyers expect to buy a bigger and better home someday in the future, resale value is an important factor in decision-making. While no one can guarantee that your home will grow in value, there are steps you can take that maximize your potential gain.
“Location, location, location,” is a common and almost overused phrase in real estate and has been in use at least since 1926, according to the New York Times. It is just as relevant now as it was then.
The idea is to buy a house that will appeal to the largest number of potential future home buyers. A careful choice of location can minimize potential negative influences on future resale value, and maximize positive influences.
So if “location, location, location” is so important, what makes a location good? Here are five characteristics to look for when buying a home. If you can get all five, chances are the home will be a good investment.
Some “good” and “bad” qualities simply vary by community. If you know your local community, you know which parts of town are less or more desirable.
Safety:
People want to live where there’s little or no crime. Naturally, they want to feel safe in their homes and will pay extra for it. A safe neighborhood means people will feel free to walk around, be outdoors and interact with their neighbors.
Good Schools:
Whether you have children, plan on having them, never want children, or they are out of the house; the better the school district, the higher the values of the surrounding homes can be. . The reputation, the quality and the district are additional factors in finding a good school. Homes surrounding good schools are in high demand. Found a home you love but the school district is subpar? Be aware of that issue for resale down the road.
Convenient access to work, popular places, shops and restaurants
Everyone wants to be near the best commercial districts. The closer to the hubbub of a particular town or the best parts of a city, the better the location – and the more someone is willing to pay for a home. The distance from point A to point B is so important. A long commute burns more gas and wastes more time than necessary. Therefore, evaluate the time it takes to travel from the home to the following: work, school, store, hospitals and favorite hangouts. Buyers without cars must live in communities with public transportation access. A community containing local amenities close by is valuable to buyers.
View, Views, Views:
No matter which town or city, someone will always pay for a great view or to be on or near the water.  An interior location with lack of road noise is also an important consideration. If the community does not offer views, then the backyard area and how it is designed is a consideration.
Access to public transit and/or freeways:
In major cities, the farther you live from the bus, subway or other types of mass transit, the less valuable the home. A good location means being very close, and having easy access, to public transportation. Being near a train or bus can get you anywhere in a short amount of time. In some towns, where a commute by car is inevitable, easy access to the freeway makes for a good location. Adding 20 minutes to a commute just to get to the freeway never helps a location.
It’s almost easier to talk about what constitutes a bad location than to discuss good locations. There are some common characteristics that make a location “bad,” no matter where you are. That is because the qualities that make a good location desirable can vary, depending on whether you’re looking in the city, suburbs, the country or the mountains. Bad locations, by their general nature, are easier to pinpoint. Some examples are:
Commercial/industrial areas:
Unless you live downtown, commercial buildings on your block diminish residential real estate values. Part of the reason is because homeowners cannot control loitering. Homes next to gas stations or shopping centers are undesirable because of the noise factor and compromise safely.
 
Railroad tracks, freeways or under flight paths:
Some city dwellers have homes close to railroad tracks and endure rumbling and other noise 24-hours a day. If you have a choice to be in a quiet area, free from road noise within the same community, this is the better choice of residence.
Economically depressed areas:
If owners show no pride of ownership in maintaining their homes, evidenced by lack of maintenance, poor landscaping and junk in the yard, you might think twice about moving into such an area.
Close to hazards:
People don’t want to live next door to power plants or substations. Few home buyers want a transformer in their yard, either. Understand the flooding risks and exposure to natural disasters and the preventative measures that have been taken to minimize them.
Other factors that can make for a “bad” location: very close proximity to a fire station (good if your house is on fire, not so good if you’re trying to sleep); a hospital (frequent ambulance sirens); an airport (sounds of jet engines 18 hours per day) or a school (traffic from buses or parents dropping off children or kids yelling and playing).

Florida’s Housing market: Rising Prices In June

Florida’s housing market reported higher median prices and fewer days to a contract in June, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 27,086 last month – slightly higher (0.4%) than the June 2015 level of 26,973 closed sales.

“Florida’s housing market is experiencing tight supply and pent-up demand.  That is affecting the pace of sales and putting pressure on statewide median prices. Florida’s economic growth, rising jobs outlook and acclaimed quality of life continue to draw new residents eager to call the Sunshine State home.

Home sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table in June: Sellers of existing single-family homes received 96.3 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.6 percent (median percentage).

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $225,000, up 10.8 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in June was $164,000, up 8.6 percent over the year-ago figure.

In June, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for the 55th month in a row.  According to the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2016 was $241,000, up 4.6 percent from the previous year the national median existing condo price was $229,600.  In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $518,760; in Massachusetts, it was $353,000; in Maryland, it was $282,257; and in New York, it was $212,500.

Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 43.2 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 37.2 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“Much of 2016’s slowdown in sales growth is due to the dwindling inventory of distressed properties throughout Florida,” said Florida Realtors® Chief Economist Brad O’Connor. “In June of last year, about 20 percent of sales across all property types were of the distressed variety. This June, by contrast, only 10 percent of sales were distressed. These declines are not due a lack of demand, but rather, a clear lack of supply. Florida’s distressed properties continue to slowly but surely work their way through the pipeline.

“If distressed properties are taken out of the equation, sales growth among non-distressed properties – the traditional market – remains quite strong. Non-distressed single-family home sales were up 13 percent year-over-year in June, while non-distressed sales of townhouses and condos rose by 7.6 percent.”

Inventory was at a 4.3-months’ supply in June for single-family homes and at a 6-months’ supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

What Homeowners Need To Know About Title Insurance

Protecting your home investment:

A home is usually the largest single investment any of us will ever make. When you purchase a home, you will purchase several types of insurance coverage to protect your home and personal property. Homeowners insurance protects against loss from fire, theft or wind damage. Flood insurance protects against rising water. And a unique coverage known as title insurance protects against hidden title hazards that may threaten your financial investment in your home.

Oversimplified, title insurance insures a homebuyer — and a mortgage lender — against loss resulting from title defects, whether these defects are known or unknown at the time of the sale or the refinance. In the language of the title industry, the insurance covers both “on record” and “off record” problems.

Protecting your largest single investment:

Title insurance is not as well understood as other types of home insurance, but it is just as important. When you purchase a home, instead of purchasing the actual building or land, you are really purchasing the title to the property – the right to occupy and use the space. That title may be limited by rights and claims asserted by others, which may limit your use and enjoyment of the property and even bring financial loss. Title insurance protects against these types of title hazards.

Other types of insurance that protect your home focus on possible future events and charge an annual premium. On the other hand, title insurance protects against loss from hazards and defects that already exist in the title and is purchased with a one-time premium.

There are two basic kinds of title insurance:

  • Lender or mortgagee protection
  • Owner’s coverage

Most lenders require mortgagee title insurance as security for their investment in real estate, just as they may call for fire insurance and other types of coverage as investor protection. When title insurance is provided, lenders are willing to make mortgage money to lend.

Owner’s title insurance lasts as long as you, the policyholder – or your heirs – have an interest in the insured property.

When your seller purchased the house several years ago, his title insurance policy covered him — and his lender — for all risks (defects) that existed at time he took title; the policy did not cover future defects.

During the time the Seller owned the property did a mechanic place a mechanic’s lien against the property?

Did a creditor obtain a judgment against the seller and have that judgment recorded? Did the home get sold at a tax sale, without the seller’s knowledge? Did someone forge the seller’s name to a deed and sell the property to a third party? Or did someone accidentally place a lien against your property (Lot 657) when they really meant to place the lien on Lot 567?

Strange as it may sound, these things do happen. Your lender wants assurances that should you not be able to make the monthly mortgage payment, and the lender has to foreclose on your property, that you have clear title. Your new lender is willing to make you a loan; however, since you cannot categorically advise the lender that you have clear title, the lender will insist that you obtain a title insurance policy in favor of the lender.

What does your premium really pay for?

An important part of title insurance is its emphasis on risk elimination before insuring. This gives you, the policyholder, the best possible chance for avoiding title claim and loss.

Title insuring begins with a search of public land records affecting the real estate concerned. An examination is conducted by the title agent or attorney on behalf of its underwriter to determine whether the property is insurable.

The examination of evidence from a search is intended to fully report all material objections to the title. Frequently, documents that don’t clearly transfer title are found in the chain, or history that is assembled from the records in a search. Here are some examples of documents that can present concerns:

  • Deeds, wills and trusts that contain improper wording or incorrect names
  • Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or a lien against the property because the seller has not paid taxes
  • Easements that allow construction of a road or utility line
  • Pending legal action against the property that could affect a purchaser
  • Incorrect notary acknowledgments

Through the search and examination, title problems are disclosed so they can be corrected whenever possible. However, even the most careful preventative work cannot locate all hidden title hazards.

Hidden title hazards – your last defense

In spite of all the expertise and dedication that go into a title search and examination, hidden hazards can emerge after closing, resulting in unpleasant and costly surprises. Some examples of hazards include:

  • A forged signature on the deed, which would mean no transfer of ownership to you
  • An unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of the property
  • Instruments executed under an expired or a fabricated power of attorney
  • Mistakes in the public records
  • A mortgage (deed of trust) is properly recorded on the land records, but there is no legal description identifying the property that is subject to the mortgage. As a result, creditors are not put on notice of the existence of this mortgage lien, and may make another loan, which will not have first-trust priority.
  • A deed (or other legal document) is improperly recorded with the wrong legal description.

The list, unfortunately, can go on and on. There are numerous instances where title to real estate has been found to be defective — either based on substantive grounds or technical, legal procedural reasons (such as improper indexing, misfiling or failure to comply with local recording requirements).

Title insurance offers financial protection against these and other covered title hazards. The title insurer will pay for defending against an attack on title as insured, and will either perfect the title or pay valid claims – all for a one-time charge at closing.

Your home is your most important investment. Before you go to closing, ask about your title insurance protection, and be sure to protect your home with an owner’s title insurance policy.

 

 

2016 Real Estate Forecast

Forecasts for the 2016 housing market are starting to trickle in; analysts are predicting that next year’s market will be a picture of “moderate, but solid growth.”

Several real estate pundits are predicting about a 3% year over year growth in housing prices with price increases being dampened by predictions of mortgage rates increasing to 4.65% for a 30-year fixed by the end of 2016.
Total sales of existing and new homes will reach 6 million for the first time since 2006; new home starts will increase 12 percent and new home sales will grow 16 percent, but it will take continued growth in both the gross domestic product and the job market to get there.
The U.S. economy in 2016 is expected to power forward at a steady, reasonable pace. Surveys of lenders continue to show that credit is becoming more available for homeowners, aided by new jobs for millions more people now working.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® expects a moderate annual increase in sales of existing homes of around 7.3 percent in 2015, rising 2.9 percent in 2016. Even brighter is the outlook for new-homes sales, projected in 2015 to grow at 14.9 percent over 2014 levels, and 16.7 percent in 2016.
2015 may have marked the best year for housing since 2007, but the market will likely get even rosier in 2016, according to a recent real estate forecast by Realtor.com®. One of the main drivers behind the brighter 2016 is the projection that employment will continue to grow, which will add to consumers’ wallets and allow them to purchase their first home or upgrade to a new one.
Realtor.com® highlights the following housing predictions for 2016:
1. ‘Normal’ is coming.
Expect a healthy growth in home sales and prices – at a slower pace than in 2015. “This slowdown is not an indication of a problem-it’s just a return to normalcy,” writes Jonathan Smoke,Realtor.com’s® chief economist. New construction and distressed sales are expected to return to more historical levels, and home prices are expected to follow at “more normal rates consistent with a more balanced market.”
 
2. Generational buying trends shape up.
Young adults’ presence on the housing market has been largely predicted for years, but 2016 may finally be the year they make a move in a larger way. Millennials represented nearly 2 billion sales in 2015 – one-third of home-buyers. They are expected to continue to be a major buying pool in 2016 with the majority of buyers between ages 25 and 34 expected to be first-time home buyers next year.
But two other generations will also have a big presence in 2016: financially recovering GenXers and older baby boomers who are entering retirement, Realtor.com® notes. “Since most of these people are already homeowners, they’ll play a double role, boosting the market as both sellers and buyers,” Smoke notes. “Gen Xers are in their prime earning years and thus able to relocate to better neighborhoods for their families. Older boomers are approaching (or already in) retirement and seeking to downsize and lock in a lower cost of living.”
3. New-home construction focuses more on affordability.
Builders have been faced with higher land costs, limited labor, and concerns about the demand of the entry-level market. As such, they have shifted to constructing more higher-priced homes, which has caused new-home prices to rise significantly faster than existing-home prices. In 2016, they likely will shift to more affordable product to cater to the entry-level buyers.
4. Higher mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates will likely be volatile in 2016. But the recent move by the Federal Reserve to guide interest rates higher should push mortgage rates higher in the New Year than the historical lows they have been at for years. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will likely end 2016 about 60 basis points higher than today’s level. “That level of increase is manageable, as consumers will have multiple tactics to mitigate some of that increase,” Smoke says. “However, higher rates will drive monthly payments higher, and, along with that, debt-to-income ratios will also go higher.” The markets with the highest home prices will see the effects from the higher rates the most.
 
5. Rents to go up even higher.
Rental costs are skyrocketing, and the costs are likely to only go up in the New Year. More than 85 percent of the nation’s markets have rents that exceed 30 percent of the income of renting households. “Rents are accelerating at a more rapid pace than home prices, which are moderating,” Smoke says. “Because of this, it is more affordable to buy in more than three-quarters of the U.S. However, for the majority of renting households, buying is not a near-term option due to poor household credit scores, limited savings, and lack of stable income of the kind necessary to qualify for a mortgage today.”

10 Reasons Why Another Real Estate Crash is Unlikely Today

How concerned should investors and homebuyers be that we’re headed for another real estate crash as we approach the 10-year anniversary of the infamous 2006-2007 housing bubble? Not at all.

Although buyers are paying spectacular prices for commercial properties and trophy homes, just as they did then, this time price increases are being fueled by foreign investors seeking diversification and a haven for their funds, as well as investors on the hunt for a low interest-rate environment.

Real estate is still a favorite life raft for nervous investors, who are seeking safety amid market volatility.

This has led to record real estate prices, which some have interpreted as a sign that the U.S. real estate market is once again climbing into bubble territory and headed for another crash. But a repeat of the 2009 real estate implosion that followed the collapse of the equities market in 2008 is highly unlikely this time.

Here are the top 10 reasons why:

1. Most Americans Have Refinanced to Fixed Rate Loans

Most Americans who could refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage have already done it. As a result, the impact of interest-rate shock when short-term ARMs re-adjust will be minor, compared with what happened in 2008-2009. During that period, many Americans could no longer afford their new mortgage payments and defaulted.

2. Bank Repossessions are Flushing Out Old Distressed Properties

Bank repossessions recently rose to the highest levels in more than two years, signaling that banks are dealing with properties in default and flushing out old distress, rather than ingesting more. Foreclosure activity continues to fall.

3. Loans in Foreclosure Are at the Lowest Level Since 2007

Despite an increase in bank repossessions, the percentage of loans in foreclosure nationwide is just 2.1% — the lowest level since 2007, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

4. There’s Less Risk of a New Mortgage Bubble

The market is no longer fueled by a surge in new housing loans based on loose credit standards. Tighter requirements for loan approvals that followed the 2009 mortgage meltdown reduced the number of foreclosures nationwide to a 10-year low. This tempers the number of real estate bubbles that can pop and, if the market slows down, there may be a contraction, rather than a pop. New TRID requirements are further evidence of guarantying a healthy mortgage market.

5. Interest Rates Are Likely to Remain Low for the Foreseeable Future

The likelihood the Federal Reserve will raise key interest rates recently lessened, following the economic disruption coming out of China. As a result of recent market volatility around the globe, rates have not climbed as expected and the risk of higher rates has diminished for the foreseeable future. It’s also important to mention that China’s slowdown could also positively impact U.S. property values, as global funds seek relative stability in the U.S. real estate market.

6. First-Time Buyer Assistance Programs are Luring New Buyers into the Market

New initiatives have been put in place to assist prospective first-time homebuyers. At the beginning of 2015, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) moved to reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums by up to $900 per year. This move could push home sales up to 5.6 million — the most seen since 2006- and it could introduce as many as 140,000 new buyers to the market, according to the National Association of Realtors. The FHA’s program aims to transition millennials and others from renting to owning a home.

7. Job Creation Indicates the Economy is Getting Stronger

The United States has added jobs at a steady rate over the past five years, and many of the jobs that were lost during the recession have been brought back. Additionally, the quality of jobs being created has improved as the economy has recovered.

8. Average Residential Home Prices Have Risen at a Slow, Steady Pace

Unlike the high-end, luxury market, prices for average residential homes have risen at a slow, steady pace. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Composite 10-Home Price Index, residential home prices remained 15 percent below their April 2006 peak as of July 2015.

9. New-Home Construction Has Not Recovered from the Downturn

The supply of existing homes for sale today is lower than it was in 2000, although the population has grown more than 14%. New, single-family starts are 60% below the 2006 peak and roughly 25% below the average for the past 15 years.

10. Commercial Real Estate Remains Below Peak Levels

Commercial real-estate fundamentals are similarly healthy, and although commercial real estate prices have increased steadily since the crash, they still remain below peak levels. Vacancy rates are at or near all-time lows for apartments and warehouses, and are at their lowest post-crisis point for office and retail properties.

Commercial real-estate development also remains more than 25% below its pre-recession peak, which has led to improved property fundamentals, with both occupancy rates and rents rising.

The real-estate market today has a stronger foundation than it did in 2006, thanks to more disciplined and conservative credit underwriting of debt and a market that is much healthier than it has been at any point during the past decade.

Nearly 10 years after the bubble began, the message to investors is clear: Rest assured you are looking at a chastened and more disciplined market in which to participate — not another looming bubble.

 

By Chris Leavitt, Contributing Writer for The Street