Purchasing a home, especially the first time, is an overwhelming process. It could take months for your head to clear from signing endless mountains of paperwork, making sure that you had your finances in order and pouring through countless dwellings during your quest for your dream home. Now that your offer has been accepted and the closing date is now in sight, the last thing on your mind is insuring the deed to your home.
What is it and why do I need it?
Title insurance serves to protect both the buyer and seller against financial losses from defects in the title or liens against the property. If institutional financing is necessary, you’ll find that almost all lenders require title insurance. The liability limit is usually the purchase price of the home and, in Michigan, is usually paid by the seller unless otherwise arranged.
There is more than one type of policy that can be purchased. An owner’s policy reassures the purchaser that the property title is without flaws and covers any losses or damages should any be discovered post-closing.
A lender’s policy does the same, but protects the financial institution should there be any inaccuracies uncovered during the lifetime of the mortgage.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Title insurance protects the homeowner or financial institution from many inaccuracies including unknown liens, undisclosed heirs, mistakes in the public records, boundary disputes- the list goes on. A good example of one of the main flaws that you can unknowingly inherit with your new home is acquiring a lien that you had previously no idea of. One recent transaction entailed a new homeowner receiving a $6000 water bill upon taking possession of their new house. Upon questioning the seller, it was discovered that they were sent a final bill which was their normal monthly amount of $37 and it had been paid prior to the sale closing.
The question then went to the listing agent who had only taken the final reading on the estimated exterior meter and hadn’t gotten the final numbers from the remote reader inside the home. It was then discovered that for years, there was a very slow leak in the water lines somewhere in the home and had accumulated an additional $6000 worth of water costs.
With both the current and previous owners refusing to pay it and the city not allowing any leniency on the bill whatsoever, who would bear this financial burden? That would be the title company that held the policy; the unknown water bill was technically an unknown lien and was covered by the policy purchased by the sellers.
What’s the process involved in getting insured?
Acquiring title insurance is actually a two-part transaction. The first part typically includes a very thorough search where property records are combed through in order to find any errors, liens or even undisclosed heirs of said property.
The second part consists of the actual underwriting of the loan. During the first process, 1 out of every 3 of those property examinations exposes an issue that was previously unattended to.
Purchasing a home can be stressful enough; having title insurance gives you a little more added protection as well as peace of mind. It’s important to not only protect yourself but also know what that protection extends to; don’t be afraid to ask questions of your agent about insurance. It’s essential to be prepared for the worst- it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Recent events in the real estate community have brought to light the necessary precautions that all agents must take to protect themselves. The very recent slaying of Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter, along with the string of thefts that have happened in Oakland County over the last few months, make it critical to remember that there are, in fact, many ways to keep yourself safe as an agent and even a few technologies that can help with that.
Any Realtor should have a couple basic guidelines to should follow when they go on every showing. No matter who the client may be, always verify their info; making a copy of their driver’s license before showing a home is a policy of many agents already. Many also employ the buddy system; enlisting a fellow agent to accompany isn’t entirely unheard of either.
Once you enter the home, keep your cell phone in hand at all times and always keep the client insight. It may be beneficial to scope out the home real quick first in order to know the location of all possible exits.
Taking a self-defense class can leave you prepared for being in vulnerable situations frequently; enrolling in a class can be a life-saving decision. Even if you don’t have the time to take a class, consider purchasing a defense spray like Mugger Slugger; a quick spritz will incapacitate any threat you encounter and the product itself can even be attached to a key chain.
In addition, putting your technology to work for you can also be life-saving. Make sure that your phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) is always enabled. That way, emergency services can locate you based on the position of your phone. There are also apps available for purchase, such as Guardly, that can automatically connect you to law enforcement as well as providing a real-time notification of your location to people you have designated.
If all else fails and you do have access to your phone, a dial to 911 would provide an emergency response as well. Even if you have to hang up without reporting an incident or even speaking at all, the authorities will dispatch regardless and locate you based on your phone’s GPS.
Statistics from the FBI tell us that a crime is committed every 2 seconds and recent incidents prove that protecting yourself can make all the difference. Thinking ahead and being prepared can save your life, especially when working in an industry where men and women are constantly in situations that could potentially have a very high risk.
With the surge of real estate information being readily available on the internet, hosting an open house has certainly taken a backseat. The priorities of Realtors have definitely shifted; having an online presence through social media and even a blog has now become crucial to maintaining a great reputation as an agent.
While Realtors holding open houses for listings has seen a slight decrease in the last few years, more agents are beginning to realize that they must not only take on today’s required digital persona but also juggle the traditional ways of the Realtor- such as hosting an open house to the general public. As an excellent method intended to not only market the property but also the agent as a real estate professional, the open house is making a comeback.
Let’s look at the stats.
According to the National Association of Realtors, almost half of all home buyers attended an open house and regarded it as a crucial part of their search process. Of those attendees, 47% of them found out about the open houses online, demonstrating how important it is for Realtors to make sure that their open houses are listed somewhere on the web.
In 2013, 9% of all buyers found the home that they purchased at an open house, and 6% of all buyers and 4% of all sellers met their agent at one. If done properly, hosting an open can benefit you greatly as an agent.
Holding a successful open house.
If done correctly, the open house can not only be a great way to market your seller’s property but can also be an excellent networking tool for yourself. The biggest mistake that so many agents make is deciding to host an open house at the last minute. Start planning for your open house on Monday, not Friday, so that you have plenty of time to assess what the home needs in order to be in “open condition”. If you can, sending out a mailing announcing the details in advance can also help get the word out.
Talk to your clients about home staging.
Don’t be afraid to offer your professional opinion. It’s an important conversation to have, even if you aren’t exactly not keen on having it with your client. Some clients may find it insulting when you ask them to remove their favorite plaid recliner that one can tell has seen some definite use over the last 25 years, but it’s important to remind them that you’re on their side 100%. As a Realtor, you’ve seen what works and what doesn’t so be sure to give your clients the benefit of your experiences.
Tips: Landscaping can be a major factor; it can either get people out of their cars and into your open or it can cause them to slowly drive by, examining the home and never stopping to come in. Sometimes talking to your seller about investing a little in their exterior can go a long way.
How hosting a Broker Tour can give any Realtor an edge.
If done correctly, a Broker open can be extremely useful in piquing interest in your listing and is a great way to network with fellow agents. It may take some money to make money though- offer eats from a great local restaurant or have a plate of delicious goods from a nearby bakery. It’s important to elevate the Broker tour from a regular open house.
Reaching out to brokers yourself instead of waiting for agents to come to you is essential. Also crucial is your knowledge of the property; since it’s your listing, you must demonstrate that you have a commanding grasp of its features.
Also, always follow up with your visitors- never be afraid to call them and answer any questions they may have. Having other Realtors tour the home can provide useful feedback when it comes to pricing and how the shows.
The internet as we know it is about to drastically change. After becoming accustomed to everything having its own .com, .net or .org, the online world is preparing for an expansion like we never imagined. Over 1,900 new domains are about to be unleashed; in fact, some are already able to be registered and others can be reserved.
On behalf of its members, The National Association of Realtors has not only reserved the .Realtor extension but is also providing free domain names for the first 500,000 Realtors who register. Registration will begin on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 11:00am. For those who are unable to be within the 500,000 registrants, the annual cost to have your .Realtor name will be $32.
Of course, like anything else, there are some restrictions. For example, the word “realtor” cannot occur before the dot- so that means that something like JoeSchmoeRealtor.realtor will be prohibited. The main requirement is that there must be a full first OR full last name before the dot so something like TopSellerJoeSchmoe.realtor will be permitted. Even Joe.realtor would be allowed, if you can snag it before anyone else does.
According to recent research by NAR, 9 out of every 10 buyers begins their home search online, making maintaining an excellent online presence an essential for every Realtor. Even social media can be a great tool for resourceful agents. Even if you already have your own .com or .net, covering all of your bases as an agent couldn’t hurt, especially if you have a more common name.
So let’s embrace the change and be the first to do so; visit www.claim.realtor on October 23rd to take advantage of this opportunity! For more information about the domain name and a few more of the parameters, go to http://www.dotrealtor.org.
August 2014 brought with it the “Great Flood” in Metro Detroit and impacted the housing market for some of Southeastern Michigan’s markets.
Dan Elsea’s Market Video goes into detail about how things are looking in our area and what might be in-store for this coming fall.
Join us for a 5K run sponsored by Max Broock for our Real Estate One Charitable Foundation which supports The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Special Olympics of Michigan, Forgotten Harvest Food Bank, The Alzheimer’s Association and The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The run is a great way to support these great causes while getting some exercise. The 3-mile run will take place through some really great Birmingham neighborhoods with beautiful homes. Whether you run or walk it, it will be a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning. Register at http://www.runonthetown.com!