Friday, December 8, 2017

Property closing transactions – What you should expect from your title company by Randee McDonald



When a title company is contacted to facilitate the closing for a property transaction, there is a great deal of information that they must gather in order to accurately allocate all monies and ensure that the documents reflect the most current, up to date and accurate information.
 
One of the first things we do here at Cumberland Title is send out a questionnaire to both the buyer and seller, as well as to each realtor. The information on each document asks for vital information that is required by the title company in order for them to expeditiously prepare the lengthy package of closing documents.

For example, some of the information asked on the Seller’s Questionnaire is whether they have any mortgages, loans, etc. that they are looking to pay off with the sale of the property. For obvious reasons, the title company needs to know this information. 

If an existing mortgage is going to be paid off with part of the proceeds, the title company needs to know who holds the mortgage and the account number associated with this, as well as the seller’s signatures and social security numbers. 

Without this information, the title company is unable to order a “payoff” for the existing loan.
Even if there are no outstanding loans associated with the property, it is still vital to have that questionnaire returned stating exactly that, so there are no questions and time isn’t spent trying to follow up with the seller or their real estate agent trying to get this information.

For buyers again, every question asked on the form is information that is required by the title company before the final closing can happen. That includes knowing who has been chosen as the home owner’s insurance company. This will need to be established before the closing so that the binder can be included with the closing package.

Buyers will also be asked if they wish the deed to be held as “joint tenants” or “tenants in common”. A quick way to differentiate between the two: if the buyers are spouses, for example, it is customary to choose “joint tenants”, that way if one of them passes away the ownership transfers to the other surviving spouse. “Tenants in common” would be used if the buyers were business partners, for example, and if one passes away that person’s heirs/family could take over their share, versus all of it passing over to the other remaining names on the deed.

As for the real estate agents, it is vital that we receive those questionnaires back, as this ensures we have not only your most updated contact information so that we can keep them in the loop throughout the process, but it also ensures that the correct commission amounts get applied to the transaction.
In a nutshell, the recurring theme here is communication. In order to ensure that the required information is transferred between parties for a smooth transaction and closing, it is vital that all of the information asked of you by the title company is given to them in a timely and accurate manner. 

And when in doubt, call them before just deciding not to return the form.

As always, Cumberland Title aims to make this as smooth and hassle free of a transaction as possible for all parties involved. If ever you have questions about the process itself or anything specifically on the questionnaire, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at randee@cumberlandtitle.com or 207-899-4900.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Buyer's agent: Why you want one by Amy Krikken

If it has been a few years since you have purchased a home, you may not be familiar with buyer’s agency. Let me get you up to speed. 
 
 In every real estate transaction there are two parties, the sellers and the buyers. The sellers are either representing themselves, as is the case in a for-sale-by-owner situation, or they have hired a listing agent to promote and conduct the sale of their home and their interests. (Note: sometimes an agent will represent both sides of the transaction, this is called dual agency, and can be done successfully if the parties are aware of it and agree, but that is a subject for a whole other article.) 
 If you are a savvy shopper, you already understand why you want to contract with a buyer’s agent. The single most important reason is that they represent your interests in the transaction. They will negotiate on your behalf and represent you throughout the home buying process. 

Even before a buyer enters into a contract the benefits of a buyer’s agent are evident. A great buyer agent will have her eye on the market for you, watching for potential homes that match your criteria and getting you in to see them before others do. In a hot market, this makes all the difference. 

Buyer’s agents understand that today's shopper does a lot of research online, and can find homes for themselves. We appreciate that you are working toward your goal of finding the right home too, and it should be a team effort.
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However, we also know that you have a regular job and you do not have all the time in the world to comb through every listing to see if it might work for you. That is our job, and a great agent loves to do so. 

Agents also work in offices where new inventory comes in regularly, and we learn of listings before they hit the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). That's right, a head start if we know what you are looking for! 

Great buyer’s agents are keenly aware of the inventory in their market, they have probably been in the home that you are considering. They can tell you details about the home and forward you the disclosures so that you can ascertain if you wish to take a tour of the home. 

We not only know the inventory, but we know what that home is worth, we conduct a comparative market analysis just as we would as if you were the seller of the home, we want to make sure you are not over paying! 
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Once you are under contract, the buyer’s agent is there for all of your needs; we are well connected to our community and know which professionals to call to quote a job or repair something.  

We will make sure your transaction goes swimmingly all the way to the closing table. Great agents are not there just to find it and forget it, we are in for the long haul - whatever it takes to find it, put it under contract and get you to that closing table and into the next chapter of your life. 

And as if all of that is not enough, and you need more convincing, know this: buyer’s agency is of no cost to you, the sellers pay our commission. What could you possibly have to lose? Call me today, and let's start shopping! Amy Krikken is a buyer’s agent and a listing agent with Better Homes and Gardens/Masiello. She can be reached at abkrikken@gmail.com or 207-317-1338 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Is your house still on the market? By Matt Trudel


This year has been a fabulous market for both buyers and sellers. Prices have continued to rise, and interest rates have remained low. So why hasn't your property sold? Not only that, but you have had few or no showings, and not a single offer. Before you blame your real estate agent, take a look at these things that might be part of the reason.
 
Pricing is one of the top five reasons houses do not get shown. Overprice your home by 10 percent and you lose over 20 percent of the buyers simply because you priced them out of your market. Also, buyers are very well educated today and have a very good idea of what a house is worth. After all, they are the ones out shopping and walking through homes. Buyers also search homes by price and generally do so in $25,000 increments.  

Condition and upkeep of a home both inside and out are very important. Did you take your realtor’s advice and make the repairs of painting, mowing, and yard clean up? Curb appeal is huge. A house that doesn't look like it has been taken care of probably hasn't been taken care of. New buyers have a hard time thinking they can make all the repairs. Get the interior in order and fresh paint in neutral colors. 

Have you packed up all your extra items in boxes and stacked them neatly? De-cluttering a home is an absolute must. Empty the cabinets and closets, store extra furniture neatly in the garage or basement. A storage unit would be a better option to store items.

When a buyer opens up your cupboards, you want them to see a lot of empty extra storage space, not a jammed packed cupboard with no room inside. This also goes along with staging each room with minimal furniture so the rooms appear open and spacious.

One more thing that is often a deal breaker is a dirty house. So clean! Clean, clean and clean again. I have had buyers turn around at the front door and say, “forget it, not going in there, it smells and is filthy.” If you have to steam clean the rugs, then do it. Get behind and under all furniture and appliances, and don't forget the cabinets, inside, outside and on top. 

If you have done all this and still have had little interest, I would suggest asking several local realtors to stop by and give you their honest opinion of what they think might be the issue. As Realtors®, we all work together and ultimately want to help you get to the goal of selling your home. 
Matt Trudel is the owner of Five Star Realty in Windham


Friday, November 17, 2017

Are you ready for home ownership? By Rick Yost



One of the lessons that we are taught early in life is the value of home ownership. We are taught that it is a goal that we should all strive for and accomplish as soon as possible. The younger the better; but the rules have changed a bit. It is time to evaluate whether you are ready to buy a home or not. There are several questions you must ask yourself to determine your readiness.   The trick is to answer the questions honestly.
 
The number one question to ask yourself is: Can I afford it? You can find mortgage calculators online everywhere. Find one and plug in some base numbers: How much you have for a down payment?

What are the current interest rates? What do homes, that you would want to own, cost in your area? 

And then get an estimated payment. Did you get sticker shocked? If yes, you’re not ready. The truth is that interest rates are low and rents are high. You still may be able to afford more mortgage than you think. 

Do you know the true costs of buying a home? You have the down payment, but there are many other costs associated with closing on a home. You will want a home inspection. Our mortgage company will require an appraisal, pre-paid property taxes, pre-paid mortgage insurance, title insurance, and an origination fee. You also must pay the title company to do your title search, have a mortgage survey done and handle the closing. All these costs add up quickly to thousands of dollars.  If you’re ready to buy a home, you will have these costs saved also.

Do you have some extra? It is important to have a small emergency fund on top of your other expenses associated with buying a house. Emergencies happen, and you should have a savings account just for them. Many things can pop up when first moving into a house; it is important to have the ability to cover those expenses when they arise.

Is the home going to be an investment? A home can be a fine investment, but it is not very liquid. Your ability to pull profits from a home are limited. There may be better places to put your money for the short run or even for the long run, if you are simply looking for an investment vehicle. Make sure you are buying a home to be a home. It is the only way you know the cost is justified.

Those are the tough money questions that you should ask yourself. There are other questions that are very important also. These are more personal and emotional questions, and are just as important:

Are you going to be happy living in that area for the next five to ten years minimum?  Buying a home is very much a commitment to an area and its school system if you have or are having kids.  As your life changes, will the area meet your wants and needs. A condo in the Old Port at 25 might be great, at 35, not as much, and at 45, no thanks. If your job is not stable, your interests are ever changing, or you yearn for far-away places, you are probably not ready to buy a home.

Are you going to have time to care for a home? Maintaining a home is a commitment that cost either time or money: A lawn to mow, snow to shovel, repairs to be made, and general upkeep to do. These things take time and/or money. If you are not ready to make that type of time or money commitment, you are probably not ready to buy a home.

Are you buying for the right reasons? Homeownership is not for everyone. You shouldn’t buy just because you are a certain age or making a certain income. We have always been told that home-ownership is the goal, but maybe it shouldn’t be your goal. At least, not right now.

Rick Yost is a realtor, real estate author, and long-time Windham resident. You can reach him with all your real estate questions and needs at rickyost63@gmail.com.