How A Real Estate Title Insurance Company Works For You

At Title Junction, we meet with many clients and handle numerous real estate closings every year.  Some of our clients are veteran homebuyers and others are going through their first property purchase.  Homebuyers and sellers alike sometimes wonder what the role of our Cape Coral title insurance agency plays in their transaction.  What services do we provide to them?  How does our work assist their transaction in going through?  And whose interests do we represent?

Investigating Properties

A real estate title agency’s services may be best described by using the words investigation and facilitation.  We investigate property histories and facilitate real estate closings.

One of the primary roles of our title agency is to conduct a derailed search of the public record for the property that is to be closed on.  This search is called a title examination or a title search.  Real estate title agencies will examine public records going as far back as the records exist to ensure that the property is unencumbered and legally available for sale.  We look for things such as back taxes owed or liens on the property and research the ownership history, survey data and property tax history.  This information is then compiled in a document called an Abstract of Title.

Facilitating Closings Through Notary And Other Services

In addition to investigating the history of the property, we also offer real estate closing services including Fort Myers escrow and notary services.  At Title Junction, we handle residential and commercial real estate transactions by conducting title searches, acting as a closing agent, escrow agent or notary, providing title insurance or even hosting outside closings at our offices.

As the closing agent, a real estate title agent will oversee the transfer of interests, ownership and funds during the closing.  The closing agent makes sure that no funds change hands until all of the necessary paperwork has been completed properly.  If our title agency is also acting as the escrow agent, they have a fiduciary responsibility to hold the buyer’s escrow payment until the closing is complete.

Protecting Your Investment With Title Insurance

Last but not least, the real estate title agency often provides title insurance for the property.  Title insurance is an indemnity policy that protects both the buyer and the lender from unforeseen claims as a result of past ownership activities.  Separate policies are issued for the owner and lender and they will protect each party from financial loss due to claims that arise as a result of title problems.  These one-time only policy purchases are paid for at closing.

Impartial Service Provider

Perhaps the greatest service a real estate title company can offer is its impartiality.  The job of the title agent is to follow the rule of law, closing instructions, transaction documentation and to generally make sure everything is in order for the sale to close successfully.  This impartiality safeguards everyone’s interest in the property and defines title agencies as a trustworthy place to do business.

What Is Equity?

 

Equity is the value YOU own in property such as a house. It’s the difference between what’s OWED and what the property is WORTH in the current market.

The example this video shows – you have a house worth $300,000 today and you owe the bank $200,000.  Your equity would be $100,000.

If the house is valued at $500,000 in five years, and you still owe $150,000 your equity will be $350,000.

Equity grows if the property value goes up or if the amount owed goes down.  The key thing to remember, simple as it sounds, is that you “own” increases in value. The bank’s loan doesn’t go up if the home’s value goes up.

Equity in a home can be used as collateral for loans but a house is not a piggy bank. Home equity can become a key financial asset over time; treat it wisely.

What Are Real Estate Commissions?

 

Like the video says – real estate agents aren’t paid by the hour!They’re paid a percentage of the purchase price in a successful real estate transaction.

When one agent represents the sellers and another represents the buyers the commission is typically split between them.
In the US, real estate commissions are commonly 6% of the transaction usually 3%/3% when split.

No government or industry body sets commission rates.  Legally, commission rates ARE negotiable.  However, remember that agents only earn their commission on successful sales.

Consider the work you want them to do for you to evaluate the value you should put on the commission they earn.

What Is “Prime”?

 

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  – is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.

The video shows  an example.

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%
  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%
  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

Closing Costs Explained Visually

 

Purchasing a home is exciting. Once escrow begins, the excitement can change to frustration, particularly if you are not ready for the closing costs that quickly accumulate.

Closing costs simply refer to the fees associated with various things associated with the escrow process in a real estate transaction. In the excitement of having an offer accepted for your dream home, you can easily lose track of the fact you are going to need to have some serious cash on hand to pay them. Many people make the mistake of only assuming they need the down payment money, and have to rush around town trying to come up with money for the closing fees.

Do yourself a favor, and discuss closing costs in advance with your real estate or mortgage person.  And watch this video to have a good mental picture of the costs that you’re likely to incur.

 

Title Insurance Explained Visually

 

What is title insurance and why should any buyer get it when purchasing a home (single family, townhouse, condo, apartment, or whatever format your home purchase takes)? Doesn’t the attorney or settlement company handling the closing see to it that you have a clear title? Isn’t this just another way for someone to siphon a few coins off a real estate transaction?

Title insurance prevents the property owner from suffering financial loss if, at any time during his ownership of the property, someone comes along who can show that they have full, or partial, ownership of the property instead.

A careful title search is done at the time property changes hands. On rare occasions mistakes are made anyway. Property can change hands in a number of ways including by deed, by will and by court action. Typically, these proceedings are recorded in different places. Searching the history of ownership to be sure nothing has fallen through the cracks is a tedious job that requires alertness, intelligence, and skill.

It is very likely that the value of your property will go up over the years. As time passes, these elements are likely to result in your home equity’s being your largest asset. Just how devastating would it be if you eventually discovered that someone else owned what you’d always thought was your home?

Do yourself a favor. When you buy a home, buy title insurance.  And watch the video to understand the essentials.

How Should I Prepare For Internet Showing?

 

Today, your first “showing” will be on the Internet – you’re watching this on the Internet, right?

Your price, listing description and PHOTOS determine whether someone will visit in person.  Consider professional staging advice or help.

Prep for photos and video just as carefully as real visits.

Ask your realtor if they use a professional photographer

If they do look at prior photos and pick someone who understands the job.

Photos should make the most of your home’s features and give prospective buyers an emotional connection that invites them to visit in person.

Help them envision their lifestyle in the house not just the counters and walls.

If your realtor recommends video, just as with  photography stage it carefully and hire a professional it will pay off.

And look over your listing when it goes live on a computer AND a mobile device to make sure it’s accurate, pleasant and compels people to show up.

Remember – your first showing these days will be on a screen.

 

How Should I Prepare The Outside For An Open House?

 

Professional “staging” may include the exterior, but if you’re doing it all yourself, try the five things outlined in this video.

1 – Landscape & lawn.

That’s the first impression; make it a good one.

Mow, prune, edge and get rid of junk!

2 – Paint And Clean!

You don’t have to do the whole house, but the front door and lintels should either be painted or cleaned.

3 – Leaks & Repairs

Small visible problems can become large mental objections and change how someone feels about your house.

Fix ‘em beforehand.

4 – Pets

Some people have allergies and concerns.

Time for Fido to visit a friend.

You weren’t including him with the house anyway.

5 – Get Fresh Eyes

Have your realtor or a friend who’s willing to be candid tell you what you missed. Or pay a staging professional for a report.

We don’t really see familiar things well – so let them be your

‘test buyer’ so you can present the best first impression to the real ones.

 

How Should I Prepare The Inside For An Open House?

 

For many homes and markets, professional help from someone in “staging” makes good financial sense.  Like this video say, check your staging options first.
If you are doing it yourself, here are 5 key tips.

One – Depersonalize.

You want the buyer to envision this house being their home?

Remove the things that make it YOUR home – photos, awards, collections, and STUFF.

Two – MOVE the stuff.

It’s tempting to shove things in closets and attics but your prospective buyer will see a much smaller house if those spaces are full.

Move it to a storage space or a friend’s garage.

Three – Warm it up.

Baking bread or cookies

adding fresh flowers

and colorful pillows and throws

are touches used by professional stagers to make a place warm without your stuff.

Four – Light it up!

  • Light sells homes.
  • Clean windows, inside and out.
  • Light bulbs all working and curtains open or even gone.

Five – Go Away.

Don’t hover – leave.

Pack for a day trip and have your realtor tell you when to return

Buyers won’t envision themselves buying if you’re around.

Depersonalize and move stuff out;

Warm it up and light it up.

Then leave and let your realtor do their job.

Which Square Footage Figure Should I Use?

 

Home size is one of the key figures used in comparisons.

But you may have different measurements to choose from,  as you’ll learn in this video, including builder, appraiser, tax records and possibly owner records.

Which one is right, and which one is best?

The official figure is the one in tax records – typically, the county.

Any other figure must be documented by a builder’s floor plan

an appraisal or an official floor plan, prepared by a company for a fee.

If your house has been remodeled and you’re planning to sell

you may want to confirm that the official record matches your actual house – and update if required.

Most lenders will require an appraisal which will verify the figures you used. So be accurate and keep records to make the most of your sale.