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Deck the Halls and Get Ready to List!

During this time of the year, all that’s going through your mind right now is decorating, planning meals and your family’s wish list. The thought of listing your house hasn’t crossed your mind since the holiday hustle and bustle started and you don’t plan on revisiting the notion until well after the New Year. Although it’s not thought of as the best time to list, putting your home on the market during the holidays can actually give you a few advantages that you won’t get any other time of year.

Since it’s not the preferred moving season, you’ll find that buyers who are shopping during the winter months tend to be a little more serious when it comes to selecting their home. January is the month in which the most work transfers occur so you’ll find that these buyers generally have a truncated shopping period and can be much more decisive since they cannot wait until for the spring market.

On another note, is there a time of year when your home looks better than it does right now? Your twinkling lights and garland wrapped around the banister makes your house feel even more like a home and can help potential buyers see it as so. Your curb appeal may be masked by the 3 inches of snow covering the ground, but it’s nothing that your outdoor holiday decorations can’t bring back.

It’s also not uncommon to have less showings that you would in the spring time, but the few buyers that will be touring your home usually are already pre-qualified and very motivated. Moreover, it is also a time when the ratio of homes sold becomes significantly higher than homes going onto the market. With that comes less competition for you and a very good possibility of multiple buyers competing for your home.

It might seem to be a daunting task to add onto your hectic to-do list but it’s never a bad time to start thinking about making a move. Depending on your home and the current market, it may very well be the perfect time for you to sell and when you list with a Real Estate One agent, you can trust them to handle the sale of your home professionally and with care so that the holidays are still your only concern this time of year.

Understanding the Basics of Title Insurance

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.

Realtor Safety 101

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.

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