Tips for Home Buyers | Why You Need Title Insurance

A title insurance policy is a contract that insures a buyer’s ownership/interest in a specific piece of real property (a home, land, etc). This insurance protects you from loss based upon an encumbrance, defective title, or adverse claims made against the Title for a long as you and/or your heirs own the property, and in some cases, even longer. Here are some additional things you should know.

Who Pays For It.

The custom in our area is for the seller to pay for the buyer’s title policy and the buyer to pay for the lender’s title policy. There are three different types of title policy that provide differing levels of coverage. The default policy is typically what you want, but there is a less expensive (with lower coverage) and a more expensive (with additional select coverage).  It really depends on the property you are purchasing – something to discuss with your real estate broker or the title officer.

Title Search & Exceptions.

The title company will do a detailed search of all historical records concerning the property – including deeds, court records, tax records, etc.  They will then verify the seller’s right to transfer ownership and attempt to discover any claims, defects, rights or burdens that affect that property and that information will be provided to you in the title report. Make sure you read all of this and ask the Title Officer to explain anything you don’t understand.

Marketable Title.

When you purchase a home, the default is for you to purchase the home with clear and marketable title. This means that any known or identified claims against the home’s title, shall be resolved and, if needed, paid prior to closing or out of the closing proceeds.

Title Contingency.

A title contingency in your purchase & sale agreement, provides you with the right to review the title report and if there is anything that you don’t like, you can get out of the contract. This is subjective, because you are determining if the rules, conditions, and/or easements impact the way you want to use the property. It may not be a problem for someone else.  For example, the community may not allow chickens which could be a deal breaker for you, but others might welcome that rule.

Title Insurance Policy Protection.

So if there is an extensive search done before and during the contract period, why do I need insurance? There are “hidden hazards” that even the most diligent title search may not reveal – and those claims are what you want to be protected from.
Here are 2 such examples:

  1. A prior seller misrepresented their marital status, resulting in a possible claim by a legal spouse.
  2. The seller might not have been mentally competent to sell the house and the heirs dispute it.

If there is a valid claim, and your policy covers the title problem, then the title company may defend you in court (at their expense) or indemnify you against monetary loss or damage due to the covered title defects.

 

It is important that you work with a Real Estate Broker who has the expertise and the team of experts that they can provide to you, to help you make fully informed, great decisions.  If you’d like to explore your buying or selling options, contact The Blue Team at  www.BlueRealEstateTeam.com.

 

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on June 24, 2020 at 3:48 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Buying | Tagged ,

Tips for Home Buying & Selling | Multiple Offers – 3 Things You Should Do

If you are a seller you want to encourage multiple offers and if you are a buyer in a multiple offer situation – you want to win.  Here are some tips for both!

Sellers – You can Encourage Multiple Offers on your home by doing these 3 things

  1. Make A Great 1st Impression. Don’t come on the market until you are ready! Buyers who are willing to bid in multiple offers are much more likely to have made an emotional connection – Love at first sight is key if you want your highest price!
  2. Have Your Home Inspected. Have your home inspected and make a copy of it available to all serious buyers. If there are multiple buyers interested in your home, often buyers will pay to pre-inspect your home, if you have already had it inspected, they can elect to use your inspection and still submit a competitive offer without having to pay for a pre-inspection to do it. This will increase the number of buyers willing to submit an offer, and ultimately your sale price.
  3. Have Your Home Move-in Ready. Buyers are willing to pay more for a house that is done so they don’t have to do work right when they move in.

 

Buyers – You can Win in a Multiple Offer by doing these 3 things

  1. Have your funding locked in. Whether you are paying cash, getting a loan, or doing something “creative” get it figured out before you submit the offer so everyone will feel comfortable that you will able to close on the home as soon as possible and when you commit to.
  2. Pay attention to the little things. Go to the open house and introduce yourself to the listing broker and say nice things about the house, write a “dear seller” letter from the heart, include things in your offer that will make the sales process easier for the seller. When the offers are similar these things can make the difference as to who wins and who doesn’t.
  3. Be educated and know how to minimize risk for everyone. Most sellers want the highest price with the least amount of risk. Get educated on what you can do to minimize risk for the seller without taking on unnecessary risk yourself.  For example, review the preliminary title so you can waive that contingency, do your neighborhood review so you can skip that contingency, etc.  Don’t just waive contingencies that are meant to protect you – do the work prior to making the offer so you protect yourself and make your offer as strong as possible!

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on June 10, 2020 at 12:20 am
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors | Tagged , ,

Home Selling & Buying Tips | Advantages & Disadvantages of Residential CC&Rs

We are often asked by buyers whether it is good to purchase a home in a planned neighborhood that has an active Home Owners Association (HOA) with Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). The answer is really dependent on your lifestyle and preferences.  Here are some of the common advantages and disadvantages that you should consider as you decide whether you want to purchase a home with or without an active HOA.

 

Advantages:

  • Consistent Quality & Appearance of Homes – often there are requirements for the allowed home style, size, finishes, color of paint, type of fence allowed, etc. This can help establish a consistent look and price range for the entire neighborhood.
  • Convenience of Shared Community Services –depending on the neighborhood, there might be shared septic management & septic drain fields; shared neighborhood only common areas like walking trails, playgrounds, clubhouses, golf courses, pools, and waterfront parks; shared maintenance of neighborhood signage, fencing, and landscaping.
  • Access to Community Social Events – some neighborhoods have annual holiday events, block parties, social events like bunko nights or book clubs and websites for sharing information. This can be a nice way to get to know neighbors and build relationships that last a lifetime.
  • Safety – planned neighborhoods are more likely to have shared/locking mailbox areas, neighborhood crime watches (official or unofficial), neighborhood lighting standards, and even sidewalks.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Architectural Committee Rules – If you want to paint your home a color not allowed, have a fence where one isn’t allowed, make landscaping changes that aren’t consistent with the neighborhood, or even select the type of roofing that you want for your home. You might be frustrated with the restrictions.  Make sure the neighborhood reflects your personal preferences and lifestyle choices.
  • Community Expenses – There is an expense to community services and the timing & amount is controlled by the community. Make sure the cost is worth it to you based upon your lifestyle and values.
  • Recreational Vehicles – RVs, boats, cars that you are working on – may not be allowed in your driveway and/or in a visible location on your property.
  • Pets – if you want certain breeds of dogs, chickens, horses, etc…. you might not be allowed.

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on May 10, 2020 at 12:14 am
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors | Tagged , ,

Tips for Home Selling & Buying | Covid19 & Real Estate

There is information overload as we all hunker down and observe the Washington State Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order (SHSHO) and the Federal Social Distancing Guidelines.  We thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the information related to the CARES Act and Staying in your Home and the latest rules related to Buying/Selling Real Estate during the SHSHO.

STAYING HOME
As in, you want to stay in the home you have but are worried about the financial consequences of this Pandemic.  Here are some of the relevant components of the CARES Act signed by the President on 3/27/2020.

  • Mortgage Forbearance – an agreement with your lender to hold back from foreclosure activities when you can’t meet your repayment obligations. If you can pay your mortgage, you should continue to do so. If you can’t make your payment due to a decline in income resulting from the impact of Covid-19, you should call your lender/mortgage servicer.
    • Borrowers of government-backed mortgages can request up to 360-day payment forbearance.
    • Applies to single family homes and condominiums, independent of whether they are owner occupied, a second home, or an investment property.
    • Proof of hardship isn’t necessary
    • No additional fees, interest, or penalties can be assessed for the forbearance.
    • Except for abandoned or vacant property, no foreclosure actions can be initiated for 60 days from 3/18/2020.
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  • Government-Backed Mortgages – this includes loan products from the Veteran’s Administration, USDA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Conventional Loans that are backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Don’t know if your loan qualifies?
  • Non-Government Backed Mortgages – call your lender/mortgage servicer if this is a temporary problem related to Covid19. Many companies are providing assistance and putting plans in place.  Many are willing to provide zero interest & late fee deferral options and have paused in process foreclosure sales, evictions and repossessions. No one wants a repeat of the subprime 2008 mortgage crisis!
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  • Assistance for Renters – There is a 120-day suspension on evictions for renters unable to pay in Federally-assisted properties (single family & multifamily properties) with loans owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
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BUYING & SELLING
Real Estate is not considered an essential services, but given the impact on the economy of real estate, real estate brokers have been given very specific guidelines as to what we can and can’t do to balance the need for housing sales and purchases to continue and to keep people safe.

  • As of April 2nd, we CAN do the following: We are getting daily updates as to what we can and can’t do. Currently we can list homes on the market, stage homes, have professional photography, show homes, facilitate essential services like (lending, title, escrow and county recording) and other limited essential services like moving assistance, home inspections, emergency or structural integrity home repairs, and all of this activity must be by appointment only and observing Covid19 guidelines. We CANNOT hold open houses or brokers opens. However, things might have changed by the time you read this article – so check with your Real Estate Broker for the latest details.
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  • Homes are Selling & Closing: Interest rates are low, there continues to be a demand for housing, and as we navigate the what we can and can’t do, the housing supply is there also. Last week as the SHSHO was in place – we weren’t allowed to do a lot of what we can do today, so the numbers took a slight dip. We expect that to improve in the next few weeks as we carefully and respectfully keep guiding our clients who are selling & buying and closing on their sales. The market is becoming more balanced generally if you have a 3-6 month supply of homes, you have a balanced market and as of April 1st we had 2.3 months of supply on the Eastside.
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Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on April 3, 2020 at 11:53 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Tips for Home Buying | The 3 Things You Should Know When Buying A Condo

Condos are a great alternative to a residential home purchase, but there are some key differences that you should be aware of when purchasing one. Here are the 3 things you need to know before you purchase a condo:

  1.  How Healthy is the HOA?
    The seller is obligated to provide you with a Resale Certificate which includes a variety of information that will allow you to determine if it will be a good fit for you.

    • Financials.
      How much do you pay for monthly dues and what is included? What is the delinquent rate for dues? Is the complex managing its money wisely? Do they rely on just HOA dues or are special assessments a common practice?
    • Reserve Study.
      Most larger complexes have an independent report done by a consultant that forecasts future expenses and cash flows. This is a key indicator of financial health and the risk of having to pay a Special Assessment in the future.
    • Litigation.
      In years past, many complexes had ongoing litigation against the builders for defects – this isn’t as common now – but it is a key piece of information as it can impact your financing, your ability to resell your unit, and can result potentially special assessments.
  1. What are the Community Rules?
    Make sure you can do what you want in the unit!

    • Rules for remodeling and decks/patios: These can control the types of flooring and types & colors of window covering allowed, and what is allowed on decks/patios, etc.
    • Rules for how you use/what you can do in the condo & common areas: Smoking – can you smoke tobacco or marijuana? Rentals – is there a cap on the number of units that can be rented in the complex, is there a requirement that you live there for 1 year before renting it out, can you do Air B&B rentals or is there a minimum lease period?   Parking – what is deeded to your unit and/or otherwise available for you and your guests (reserved spaces, carports, garages, etc. ? Noise –  are you restricted from running your dishwasher or washer/dryer during certain hours?
    • Is the complex “pet free” or can you have a pet – if you can have a pet, what types, is there a weight limit, are any breeds restricted, how many can you have, is there an off-leash area, etc.
  1. Available Financing Options.
    If you are purchasing the condo with cash or conventional financing you can purchase almost any condo- but if you are using a FHA or VA program – you need to know if the complex is approved or if you can get a spot approval.

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate


Posted on March 10, 2020 at 12:03 am
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Investors | Tagged , , ,

Tips for Home Selling : Real Estate Rules You Should Know

Everything can and should go smoothly with your real estate purchase or sale but sometimes it doesn’t.  If you are planning to buy or sell your home and you don’t think it matters who, if anyone, helps you – think again.

The trends, rules and laws having to do with real estate change frequently which is why the best Brokers stay on top of their continuing education and regularly attend their brokerage office meetings to stay current.  Here are just a couple of examples where the right information can make or break your real estate experience.

  1. Home Security Cameras & Sound Recordings.
    While video recording without sound is generally permitted under WA law, audio recordings of private conversations without consent of the persons engaged in the conversations is prohibited. While providing a conspicuous notice to potential Buyers might protect a Seller, it is safer to just turn off the recording function.  Buyers – you should always be aware that your actions and potentially comments might be overheard by the sellers.
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  3. Wire Fraud.
    According to the FBI, cyber criminals stole or attempted to steal almost $1 billion from real estate transactions.  Buyers make sure you know how to protect yourself from wire fraud by always verifying the wire instructions with a trusted source or using a cashier’s check.  Sellers make sure your Buyer has a reputable Broker advising them so this doesn’t happen on your sale.
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  5. Pollution Liability Insurance Agency.
    Does the home you are selling/buying have a heating oil tank on it and has the Seller registered for PLIA insurance? PLIA Insurance is free of charge to the property owner and if there is contamination as a result of a leak that starts after the tank is registered then PLIA will pay up to $60,000 to clean up the contamination. Buyers should know that if they register within 180 days from the date of closing, then there will be no coverage lapse from when the seller registered.
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  7. Fair Housing.
    Make sure you know all of the applicable rules in each stage of the transaction. The specific words that are not allowed in Advertising; the rules with respect to service animals during showings & open house touring; and the offer review process that can help ensure Sellers make decisions about offers appropriately. Careful attention to the Fair Housing rules throughout the sales process will protect both Sellers and Buyers.
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  9. Advertising Bedrooms based upon the Septic System.
    Both Sellers and their Brokers can be held liable for damages by Buyers in the future if they advertise the home as having more bedrooms then the septic system rating. There are ways to communicate room flexibility without putting Buyers or Sellers at risk for unexpected costs in the future.
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Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on January 9, 2020 at 10:57 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Maintenance, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged ,

Home Tips for Seniors : Should you Consider Lifestyle Rightsizing?

Congratulations, you have made it to a key life milestone!  Unfortunately, you no longer need the spaces that your home is designed to support, so how do you find your next home?  Instead of just thinking you need to “downsize” consider the lifestyle you want now and then find a home that will help you achieve that lifestyle.

You may end up with a smaller or larger home, in the same neighborhood or in a different place all together or maybe you just remodel the home you have.  We call this Lifestyle Rightsizing.

  1. Pursuits at Home.
    What activity do you want to take up or spend more time on at that might need a specialized space – such as restoring old cars, painting, wood working, organic gardening, cooking/entertaining, hosting football parties, practicing your putting, etc.
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  3. Activities outside of the Home.
    What do you want to do away from home – that should be facilitated by your home? Maybe you want to travel the country on your RV (RV Parking), ride your bike daily (close proximity to trails, roads with bike lanes, and/or storage for bike equipment), domestic or international traveling (secure home & neighborhood, proximity to the airport), be able to walk to restaurants & businesses (home in the city), or you want have your own chickens & goats (the right property & no HOA).
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  5. Flexible Spaces.
    Maybe you are tired of cleaning & maintaining your large home – and you would rather have a higher quality & cozy home, but one that designed to handle visits from extended family several times during the year. Consider the design principles of the Not So Big® Home by architect Sarah Susanka (www.SarahSusanka.com) where you have rooms that have multiple purposes depending on your need at the time. Efficient & multi-use spaces can really be a win-win – let us know if you need ideas.
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  7. Simplify Your Life.
    This is also a good time to think about how to simplify your life, so you can spend your time and money doing what you really want to do. This can be anything from buying a home or condo without a yard, buying a tiny home that forces you to be efficient, or just changing how you use your current space by getting advice from a space planner & organizer to help you get rid of all of the clutter you have collected over the years so you can live a more efficient life and have more time for doing what really matters.
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Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on September 9, 2019 at 10:07 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged

Home Buying Tips : 6 Ways to Buy Before You Sell Your Home

Many homeowners struggle with the timing of buying & selling homes in the current real estate market.  They don’t think they can or want to own 2 homes at the same time because they bought a home before selling their existing home or go though the stress & hassle associated with moving into temporary housing because they sold before buying to avoid 2 mortgages. Depending on your personal financial situation, there are ways to make this transition much smoother then you think – here are a few of the options that might be available to you.

  1. Cross Collateralization.  This program is designed for a buyer who has a strong equity position in their current home. As a buyer you are able to access this equity with a loan that collateralizes both your current home and new home. When you sell your current home you can pay down the loan to reach your desired payment. It allows for a higher debt to income ratio to assist with qualification.
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  3. Departing Residence Program. This program helps the seller that has the funds for the down payment on the next home, but not the income to qualify. It allows you to utilize the potential rental income you would have from your current house in your income calculation, without having to actually rent out your home.
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  5. Asset Depletion. This program helps the seller who doesn’t have a traditional income, but has assets such as stocks & mutual funds, to derive an asset depletion income to qualify for the loan. This is especially helpful for sellers who are retired.
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  7. Restricted Stock Units. This program helps executives and many in the high-tech industry that can show a 2-year history of receiving RSUs as part of their compensation to be included as reserves or income for qualifying purposes.
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  9. 40-year loan. This program allows you to qualify for a larger loan amount – it is available on all occupancy types, cash-out refinances are allowed, and it can be used in conjunction with one of the other loan programs listed above to provide you with more options.
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  11. Buy/Sell with a long close and/or rent back option. This is a non-financial solution to the problem. Negotiating to purchase or sell with a long close timeline and/or potentially a rent-back option – you may need to look at an off-market purchase or sale for this option.
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There are other options such as bridge loans and utilizing your home equity line of credit – the key message is don’t assume you can’t make the move of your dreams happen – talk to your Broker and Lender to explore your options!

Need a recommendation for a lender, want to know how much equity you have in your home, or want to find out what your selling and buying options are?

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes,  Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on June 9, 2019 at 7:43 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying | Tagged , ,

Home Buying Tips: Know Before You Owe – New Disclosure

Great handout from the Mortgage Bankers Association for Buyers.  Buyers & Sellers should  plan on 45 day closings starting 10/3/15.

Great 


Posted on September 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Buying | Tagged ,

Why Local Expertise is Important

Real estate is local and while it is good to know what is going on nationally and even regionally, what really matters if you are thinking about selling your home and/or buying one, is what is going on in your city and your neighborhood and even for your home style. Local expertise is invaluable in helping you explore your options and knowing what to expect with respect to the numbers, timing and process.  

Here is the data your local Real Estate expert should be able to provide you:

  • What type of market is it? You should know how many homes are Active, Pending (under contract), and Sold in the last 3 months.  This data will indicate the market supply and demand and whether it is a Seller, Buyer, or Balanced market and therefore who has the negotiation advantage and the correct pricing and offer strategy.  This information is available for your city, neighborhood and home style (1-story, 2-story, tri-level, split-level, etc.)
  • How quickly are homes selling? This is especially important if you are planning to sell your current home and buy a new home – there are different timing and financing strategies depending on the availability of home inventory and the average time that homes are on the market.  It is also very helpful knowledge if you have a target move date because then you can determine the optimal time for market preparation & listing, home touring and submittal of offers.
  • How close to list price are homes selling and what is their price per value? If all of the comparable homes are selling at or above list price – then you know that buyers will be searching for homes priced at or below their maximum purchase price.  This is very different from a market where homes are selling at a 5-10% discount so both sellers and buyers should adjust their strategy appropriately. Market time is also critical in both situations – knowing how to deal with multiple offers, single offers, or no offers can make a big impact on the final sales price of a home.

Call us if you want to explore your options and understand the market data specific to your home and goals. We work with buyers & sellers all over the Eastside and we live in and are local experts in Woodinville and its surrounding communities.The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing a team of experts to guide you in all your real estate transitions!

 


Posted on June 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , , ,