For Sale By Owner – Going it alone The Closing – Part III

After all the nuts and bolts have been completed and ironed out, it’s time to get to the closing table. For most it’s a sigh of relief that their Cape Coral or Fort Myers For Sale by Owner is actually closing.

The closing

If you’ve done all your homework along the way, “the closing” — the day you sign on the dotted line and the deed is transferred from seller to buyer — should be relatively easy. So then, just a few more things to wrap up to get to the table.

Do a final walk-through inspection of the home. This should be done with buyer and seller and it can be completed a few days before closing up to the morning of closing. If you have worked together closely there should be no outstanding problems. You will want to make sure that seller has removed all items and left what they said they would and any repairs that may have been agreed upon are completed.

When you go to closing — at your title company’s office — take your time to review over your closing statement. Ensure that you completely understand it and that you were only charged what you were supposed to be charged. Sometimes the buyers lender will attend, which is always a plus for the buyer.

As a seller you will not want to cancel homeowner’s insurance until the deed of sale is recorded. You own that home until you don’t  — including all the liability. Ask your title agent if you have any further questions before you leave the closing table.

Congratulations — one of you is proud new homeowner and the other is moving on!

For Sale By Owner – Going it alone The Nuts and Bolts– Part II

Last time we left off with the offer and negotiations. Once the deal has been made all parties can move on to doing the homework. In any Fort Myers or Cape Coral For Sale by Owner transaction all parties need to work together.

So now the real work begins and there are lots of people involved to accomplish the task.

Nuts and Bolts

Who do we need to hire and what do they all do?

You will want to start calling in the pros. Most people think when they sell a home themselves that they will do everything themselves — from marketing to closing — and save accordingly! Be ready to bring in some professionals when needed, though.   As you weed through the contract and contingencies there will be the “crew” that you will need to call in. The inspector, the surveyor, the insurance agent, the title insurance company, the appraiser , the lender and the list could go on.

While all of these are needed it can be a simple process. This is where the buyer and the seller will need to work together to get these items done. The seller will need to be flexible to allow for buyers people to access the home to do inspections and or repairs. And of course the buyer will need to be courteous of the seller and their time.

The buyer will need to make sure they have a closing checklist so they can schedule their time for lender requirements. And the seller a timeline to close so they can move on.

For all of this to come together smoothly, you will want to choose a local, reputable title insurance company. They will handle the escrow (good faith) deposit and act as a neutral party for funds. They will be very helpful is assisting the seller and buyer in getting to the closing table and keep you informed of what is going on.

Between the buyer and seller finalizing the sale of the house, many things have to happen — some taken care of by the buyer, some by a third party and some by the seller. Make sure you’ve hired a title insurance company to handle your closing for you — someone who will take care of several requirements, such as a survey and title search, as well as provide the proof of a marketable title and deed.

And then we can get to the closing table.

Part III – coming soon!

For Sale By Owner – Going it Alone (Offer and Negotiations – Part I)

Go on, admit it, you’ve thought about selling your home yourself, instead of hiring a real estate agent? If so, you’re not alone — especially these days. More and more homeowners are planting “for sale by owner” signs in their front yards.

One of the biggest reasons is the savings on real estate commissions – 6% being the standard commission amount. The next biggest reason is control, many people like to make their own decisions.  No one knows the home like the seller, they know it inside and out!

While there are many ways to go about the Cape Coral and Fort Myers For Sale By Owner route, here are a few tips on how to proceed once a seller already has a buyer.

Offer and Negotiations

Someone wants to make an offer on your home. Now what?

First, make sure your buyer can buy it. Simple, right?  You want a buyer who can afford your home, before signing anything ask for proof of funds or a pre-approval letter from their mortgage contact.  You don’t want to waste time with unqualified buyers, so recruit a mortgage officer to meet with potential buyers. The officer can preapprove or prequalify the buyer — potentially saving you time and aggravation — while drumming up business.

The offer stage is one of the most important points in the whole For Sale By Owner process

You are going to want to brush up on how to negotiate to get the outcome you want.

Be ready for some buyer expectation that you’re going to provide a bargain, let’s face it, you are doing this yourself and saving a lot of money! A deal is made when everyone will feel as though they’ve won.

It is also very important where the offer presentation will occur. Think about it, it’s a business conversation, you may want to recommend that the buyer present the offer at a coffee shop or even at a title company, however the best would be at your home, at the kitchen table – not sitting by the pool or on the sofa – it’s going to be one more opportunity to sell the property.

So now you and your buyer have settled on a price.

Now, a rule of thumb when selling your home yourself: Put every last thing in writing. Including the offer from the buyer, any counteroffers, the final agreed-upon price, and of course contingencies -making sure all parties sign off.

Remember this is not the end, there are many nuts and bolts that need to be put together.

Part II – coming soon!

What to expect from your Cape Coral or Fort Myers title insurance company

There are many expectations that we have of people we do business with. Here we outline what you should expect from your Cape Coral or Fort Myers title insurance company. A title company should not be looked at like you are going to McDonald’s for lunch. They are working for you on your real estate transaction.

The duties of a title company include:

Serving as a neutral party.  – Title agents and employees should not be taking sides as to protect a seller over a buyer. They work for the whole transaction in a neutral fashion.

Receiving authorization for escrow monies. – This can be done through a contract for a purchase. One party will designate the title company to hold escrow from the buyer (usually the seller).

Following instructions precisely and in a timely manner. – The seller, buyer, real estate agents and lender all have some instructions that will pertain to closing. It is important for the title company to work with these given to have a smooth transaction.

Paying bills as authorized. – A title company will be given invoices to pay through a closing. They will advise if this is able to be done or not.

Provide an accounting for the transaction. – All fees that will need to be collected or disbursed and paid will need to be shown on a settlement statement (HUD1).

Disbursing of funds. – It is most important that the funds be disbursed according to the settlement statement.

Transferring title and recording liens. – A title company should be sure that all documents are processed correctly in the correct county for transferring of property.

If you are ever unsure about a process, you should get a second opinion. Although you may be tied to the title company you are using, you should know what is expected from the one you use.

The Title Agency: Making Your For Sale By Owner Transaction Smooth And Hassle-Free

A reputable and qualified real estate title agency can make your for sale by owner property transaction flow smoothly with minimal delays.  Many people who are involved in a for sale by owner transaction question the role of the title agency and how the agent and agency can assist them with their purchase, but title agencies provide important services and safeguards throughout the sale process.

Your For Sale By Owner Property Purchase And Title Services

A real estate title agency performs many important functions during any property transfer, including for sale by owner transactions.  One of the most basic services provided by the agency is to conduct a title search on the property being sold.  This search will uncover any liens against the for sale by owner property, and ensures the property is legally eligible for sale.  A title company has extensive experience doing this type of records research.  They know where to look, what different terms and findings mean and how to comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws.  The title agency can be selected by either the buyer or seller and is a negotiable part of most real estate transactions.  In either case, the title agency serves as an impartial party that works to ensure a smooth closing for both buyer and seller.

Another primary function of the title agency is to provide the for sale by owner property purchaser and the mortgage lender with title insurance.  This indemnity insurance policy protects the buyer and lender from unseen claims that may arise against the property in the future, such as unpaid taxes or property liens, as a result of past owners’ actions.  Although the title search is supposed to find these liens, it’s always possible for a lien to be missed or a claim to arise against the property from an unknown source.  That’s where title insurance comes in.  The policy will help protect you from losses if such a claim does come up.

While conducting the title search, a title agency will also order a survey of the property, which will uncover any encroachments onto the land that the buyer may be unaware of.  Both title insurance and property surveys are examples of safeguards provided by title agencies.

Additional Services Of The Title Agency

Many title agencies also act as escrow agents which means they can hold the earnest money, pay off the seller’s mortgage and pay any necessary taxes after closing.  Title agencies also file the transaction records with the appropriate governmental entities so that the transfer of the for sale by owner property is properly recorded.

You will also find a notary public on staff at most title agencies.  Notaries assist during property closings and property transactions by verifying the identities of those involved.  This helps prevent fraud.

Last but not least, title agencies also often host the actual closing and facilitate the closing process.  From the moment the earnest money check is signed to the moment the last signature is written on sale documents, the title agency is involved.  The agency handles correspondence and forms from the buyer, the seller, any real estate agents involved, banks, mortgage lenders and more.  The agency will keep track of all of this correspondence and make sure everything is in order for the closing to take place.

It is important for buyers and sellers of for sale by owner properties to work with an experienced, full-service title agency.  These agencies will guide you through the closing process, ensuring all of the necessary transaction paperwork is in order and that the property is eligible for sale.

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.

Understanding Real Estate Title Insurance Terminology

Like any industry, the title insurance business has a lingo all its own.  The Florida and Cape Coral real estate title insurance agents at Title Junction can walk you through anything you don’t understand and explain any unfamiliar terms to you.  But it always helps to do a little research on your own, which is why we’ve compiled a short list of some of the most commonly used title insurance terms.

Basic Definitions To Know

One thing that is often confused is the difference between a real estate title and a property deed.  Often referred to as “holding title to a property”, a Title provides you with legal use and possession or ownership of the property.  However, it is not a physical piece of ownership evidence; that is the Deed.

Title Insurance, itself, is an indemnity or loss-prevention insurance policy that protects the buyer from legal defects in the title that occurred prior to taking ownership of the property.  In cases where a mortgage is taken out, two title insurance policies will be issued: An Owner’s Policy for the homeowner and a Lender’s Policy, or mortgage insurance, for the mortgage lender.

Understanding Other Terms

You may hear or see the word “ALTA” as you go through the title insurance process.  ALTA stands for American Land Title Association, which is the leading trade association of title insurers. 

Another commonly used term is Escrow.  Escrow has many different meanings, depending on how it is being used.  As it relates to title insurance, it refers to the funds that you provided as earnest money when you made the initial offer on the property.  Those funds have been sitting in a special account set up by your escrow holder, often the title company.  The Closing, which is the final meeting between the buyer, the seller, the lender, title agency, realtors and possibly lawyers where property ownership is transferred.

The Title Report

One of the main duties of a Fort Myers title insurance agency like Title Junction is to conduct a Title Search on the property in question.  A Title Search is an in depth check of public records to make sure the property is legally available for sale and there are no encumbrances or liens against it.  This also shows the ownership history of the property, including mortgages and liens against it.

A Lien is a financial claim to the property.  It may be a mortgage, mechanic or contractor lien or court judgment.  Liens generally must be paid off before a mortgage lender will allow the property sale to take place.  A property may also have an Encumbrance, a legal interest in the land that may affect its value.  Encumbrances could be easement rights, zoning ordinances, claims or liens, unpaid taxes or restrictive covenants.  Encumbrances do not restrict the sale of the property.

The best way to ensure you are comfortable with these terms is to speak with your title agent.  Title agents use these terms all the time and can explain exactly how each is relevant to your personal transaction.  An open relationship with your title agent will ease any pre-closing anxiety you may have.

Real Estate Title Info & More: Key Details About For Sale By Owner Property Transactions

When it comes to person to person selling, the Internet truly has changed everything.  It seems like no matter what it is you’re looking to offload, you can simply take an ad out on a website dedicated to posting an promoting your items and casually wait for interested parties to contact you.  Sellers have quickly learned that size of merchandise proves no obstacle; both large and small wares alike can be advertised with the same straightforward ease, unilaterally affecting a wide range of industries.

Even the Florida real estate industry has experienced a huge surge of person to person selling.  Recent trends have shown that the state has shown a steady uptick in Fort Myers/Cape Coral for sale by owner listings.  Empowered with the virtually endless online promotional opportunities, Floridians have recognized that a Cape Coral/Fort Myers for sale by owner process is to employ the help of a professional real estate title insurance agency.

What Real Estate Title Insurance Is… And Why You Need It

It’s no secret that residents can quickly garner online attention and interested buyers with their Cape Coral for sale by owner properties.  However, it’s critical to keep in mind that not using a realtor does bring with it some specific factors that will require focus and consideration throughout the process.  Both buyers and sellers must ensure that all the necessary paperwork and legal requirements of the transaction are met.  Both sides of the sale are learning that the best way to meet all necessary mandates throughout the Cape Coral/Fort Myers for sale by owner process is to employ the help of a professional real estate title insurance agency.

Understanding some of the basic facts about real estate title insurance can help determine if these services make sense for your Fort Myers/Cape Coral for sale by owner property.  In its simplest form, real estate title insurance offers third party approval that the title of the house and land involved in a Fort Myers for sale by owner transaction has no concerning red flags associated with it.  A diligent real estate title insurance firm will dig back to the property’s origin and ensure there are no liens, unpaid taxes or other possible weak links that could disrupt the sale.  Teaming with a provider that specializes in real estate title insurance is not only the best way to keep your transaction on track, lender facilities often require it before they’ll agree to loaning out the funds needed for purchase.

A Qualified Real Estate Title Insurance Firm Will Offer Comprehensive Services

When searching for a qualified real estate title insurance firm, it’s important to remember to look for a wide range of service offerings to ensure all your transactional needs are met.  Escrow management is always a crucial consideration that often requires third party navigation to avoid unexpected glitches.  Additionally, even the most straightforward Cape Coral for sale by owner transaction is full of legal documentation.  Always look for an agency that offers Cape Coral/Fort Myers notary services and even access to consultation to completely streamline the paperwork process and ensure you’re precisely following the law.

5 To Do’s Prior To Listing Your Fort Myers For Sale By Owner Property

Now that you’ve decided to sell your home in Florida or Fort Myers for sale by owner, what do you need to do?  Selling a home for sale by owner takes more than just putting a For Sale sign up in the yard.  These tips can get you started on the path to a successful Fort Myers for sale by owner home sale.

Before Putting Your Home On The Market

Tidy Up The House – There’s prep work to be done before a home even goes on the market.  First, make sure everything is in working order.  Then give your house a special glow – deep clean the carpeting, put a coat of fresh paint on the walls, tidy up the yard and remove clutter.  These little touches are inexpensive and easy for you to do and give buyers a great first impression of your home.

Think About Pricing – Once you’re home is in tip-top shape, it’s time to think about price.  Most sellers have a number in mind when they go to sell their home, but in order for the property to sell it must be priced correctly.  Your price needs to reflect actual buying conditions and purchase prices in the area in which you are selling.  This might not necessarily be the price you’re looking for, but if you’re serious about selling, it is a must.

Advertising Your Florida Or Fort Myers For Sale By Owner Property

List Your House Online – Once you have settled on a price for the home, start advertising.  Get a sign for your yard and put an ad in the local paper, but don’t neglect advertising online to reach the greatest number of potential buyers.  You can advertise your home on sites like Craigslist and you local newspaper, but your best bet is to get the house into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  You can also search for sale by owner sites like and on which to list your home. 

Use Social Media and WOM – Don’t underestimate the power of networking and word of mouth (WOM) either.  Let anyone and everyone know your house is for sale.  Put the word out on LinkedIn and Facebook and to colleagues and friends.  The more exposure you can get the better.

Prepare For Closing – In the meantime, gather all the forms and paperwork necessary for your sale to close.  You’ll want to have the title to your property, any mortgage documents you may have, and make sure your tax ID and identification forms are current.  This is especially important if you are a foreign seller, a non-US resident selling property in the United States.  If that is the case, you must become familiar with FIRPTA, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act.  FIRPTA is an IRS law which states that 10% of the purchase price of the home must be paid to the IRS upon closing.  In order for this to happen, the foreign seller must have a tax ID number.  If you don’t have one of these, apply for one right away, preferably before your home goes on the market or immediately following.

By putting forth a little effort beforehand you can turn your Florida or Fort Myers for sale by owner process into a hassle free transaction.

I’m Buying A Home – Do I Really Need A Realtor?

With Cape Coral and Fort Myers for sale by owner (FSBO) transactions becoming more and more popular with sellers, we see a lot of buyers asking whether or not they really need representation when purchasing a home. The short answer is, it depends. If you choose not to enlist the help of a buyer’s agent, you’ll need to familiarize yourself on today’s real estate market, make lots of phone calls to FSBO sellers and listing agents, be prepared to do research on pricing, and be able to understand the legalese in your purchase agreement and closing documents.

On the flip side, a Realtor can help you navigate the entire process – from starting your home search online, to recommending trusted inspectors and contractors, right up until you get the keys at the closing table.

At the end of the day, it really is your choice! Here’s some information to help you navigate your options.

What A Buyer’s Agent Does

A buyer’s agent is a licensed Realtor that represents you, the buyer, throughout the home buying process. Most of the time, a friend, neighbor or family member will be more than happy to give you a referral to an agent that they have used in the past with success. If not, you can find a realtor online.

Some key responsibilities of a buyer’s agent:

 Refer you to a lender for pre-approval to see how much buying power you have before beginning your home search.

→  Look for properties that match your criteria. While there are many online sites that allow buyers to search on their own, a Realtor has access to additional listings and information about the status of properties.

→  Communicate with the listing agent or seller to schedule a time to show you properties.

→  Provide valuable area and neighborhood knowledge.

→  Research comparable homes and help you determine a fair offer on a home you’re interested in.

→  Prepare offers, communicate with the seller’s agent, deliver deposits and handle the negotiations on your behalf.

→  Give you a checklist of items to complete during your due diligence period, and offer recommendations for inspectors and other resources.

→  Will often be present at closing to help you navigate the closing documents and finalize the sale.

 Breaking Down The Commission Issue

Here’s something that confuses a lot of people. Often times, buyers assume that they are the one paying their Realtor’s commission out of their closing costs. In reality, the seller is responsible for paying the listing agent a predetermined commission, and from that the listing agent is responsible for paying a commission to the brokerage who brought the buyer to the table. So the seller actually pays all commissions in a standard real estate transaction.

If you don’t have a buyer’s agent, the seller saves a bit of money by not having to pay a brokerage a commission. If you have a buyer’s agent and are working with a FSBO seller, the seller should pay your brokerage a commission directly at closing, unless you negotiate that you, the buyer will pay your realtor. And if it’s a FSBO seller and a buyer with no representation, there is NO commission involved whatsoever.

Still Going It Alone?

If you choose to represent yourself when buying a home, we won’t hesitate to caution you about the importance of a professional title search and subsequent title insurance to safeguard your investment. The average person could spend countless hours trying to trace a property’s title to ensure it’s totally clear of liens, unpaid taxes, judgments or any other obligations to third parties. Failure to find just one small infraction could lead to hefty penalties down the road once you’re the rightful owner of the home.

This is where a title insurance company can be a valuable resource if you represent yourself. A title company can also provide escrow services, act as a notary public and perform witness courtesy closings, all the while ensuring your paperwork is in order and your closing goes off without a hitch.