Lead poisoning is a serious problem that can lead to adverse health problems. In children, high levels of lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, behavioral and learning problems, slow growth, and hearing problems. In adults, lead poisoning can cause reproductive problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorder, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain.
Lead poisoning is especially a problem in cities with older buildings. Typically, lead is present in the paint from older buildings, in the water supply, and in the environment from cars and buses. Preventing lead poisoning in large cities, where there is such widespread possibility for exposure is both difficult and expensive. Federal programs have attempted to address this problem.
Lead poisoning is also an issue that buyers and sellers need to consider. Houses that were built before 1978 probably have paint that contains lead. Federal law requires that sellers disclose known information on lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a federal form about lead-based paint in the building. Buyers will have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards and are likely to stipulate corrections.
- Analyze why you are selling – If you understand your motives, you will be able to better negotiate and to get what it is that you want, whether it be a quick sale, high price, or somewhere in the middle.
- Prepare your home for the buyer – Maximize the strengths of your property and fix up its weaknesses. You want the buyer to walk away from your home with a lasting good impression.
- Find a good real estate agent that understands your needs – Make sure that your agent is loyal to you, and can negotiate to help you achieve your goals. In addition, they should be assertive and honest with both you and the buyer.
- Be prepared for negotiation – Learn and understand your buyer’s situation; what are their motives? Can you demand a big deposit from them? Try to lock in the buyer so that the deal goes through.
- Negotiate for the best price and the best terms – Learn how to counter offer to get maximum value from every offer.
- Make sure the contract is accurate and complete – Be honest with your disclosures; you do not want to lose the deal because you were lying or diminishing your home’s defects. Insist the buyers get a professional inspection. This will protect both you and the buyer.
With the burst of the housing bubble, credit crisis, and millions of foreclosures across the country, you may wonder if buying a home is such a good idea after all. However, it’s important to consider all of the facts. The important message to take away from these events is not that buying a home is a bad idea, but that you must be smart about buying your home.
The housing market, like every type of market, unavoidably has its ups and downs. That doesn’t mean buying a home is a bad investment. As a long-term investment, homeownership is still one of the best investments for individual households. Historically, real estate has consistently increased in value, despite shorter periods of depreciation due to local markets and/or national economic conditions. The data shows that homes generally appreciate about 5% per year.
Savings & Investment
Five percent may not seem like a great return on investment, but you have to think about it in the context of the situation. For example, let’s say you put 10% down on a $200,000 house. That’s a $20,000 down payment, or initial investment. At a 5% annual appreciation rate, your $200,000 home would gain $10,000 in value during the first year. Earning $10,000 on an investment of $20,000 is a whopping 50% return.
For further perspective, let’s say instead of spending that $20,000 on a down payment, you invested it in the stock market. With a 5% return, you would gain only $1,000 in profit.
So now you’re saying that a home may have a higher return, but that’s before you consider all of the costs of home ownership, such as taxes, etc. Well, think of it this way: your property taxes as well as the interest on your mortgage are both tax deductible. You can deduct those costs from your income, thus reducing your overall taxable income. In other words, the government is subsidizing your home.
It’s easy to get carried away with all of the economic reasons for home ownership, but it’s important to remember that not every reason is financial. Have you ever wanted to paint the walls of your apartment? Well when you’re renting, you can’t. Has anything in your apartment ever needed updating, but the landlord refused to do it? When you own a home, you can make the space yours in almost any way you want. And you benefit when you do home improvements, both financially and psychologically. Homes generally have more space, for storage, living, etc. than other living arrangements. Not to mention that you have space outdoors for barbecuing, pets, and kids. Owning your home carries with it a sense of pride, accomplishment, and even an elevated social status.
So when you’re considering buying a home, consider the broad range of benefits that owning a home can have. And always make sure you have an experienced real estate agent and loan officer to help make sure you’re getting a home that is right for you, both financially and psychologically.
Underground heating oil tanks can pose many potential problems to both home buyers and sellers. They have been the source of many environmental problems such as contamination of surrounding soil and ground water.
Leaks are generally caused by the rust inside underground tanks or by an electrical condition sparked by electric utility lines.
Buyers should always have the tank inspected to make sure that it is structurally sound. Buyers who do not want an underground fuel tank can arrange for an above ground tank to be installed in the basement and the underground tank to be shut off. Cleanup of any leaks will also have to be taken care of.
For buyers, the underground heating oil tank should be written in the sales contract. For sellers, your lawyer should make sure that the description and condition of the underground heating oil tank is accurate and up-to-date.
Lower interest rates have motivated you to refinance your home loan. The lower rate may save you a tremendous amount of money over the life of the loan, but you should also expect to pay the lender the typical closing costs associated with any new loan, including service fees, points, title insurance protection and other expenses.
Why do I need to purchase a new title insurance policy on a refinanced loan?
To the lender, a refinance loan is no different than any other home loan. So, your lender will want to insure that their new loan is protected by title insurance, just as the original lender required. Therefore, when you refinance you are buying a title policy to protect your lender.
Why does a Lender need title insurance?
Most lenders generate loans and then immediately sell those loans to secondary market investors, such as FannieMae.
FannieMae, in order to protect its security interest in the loan, requires title insurance coverage. Even those lenders who keep original loans in their portfolio are wise to get a lenders policy to protect their investment against title related defects.
When I purchased my home, didn’t I also buy a lender’s policy?
Perhaps. Who pays for the lender’s policy on a purchase loan varies regionally and by the terms of individual contracts.
However, even if you did buy a lender’s policy when you purchased your home, the lender’s policy remains in force only during the life of the loan that was insured. If you refinance, the old loan is paid off (the “life” of the loan expires) and a new loan is issued for which the lender will require a new title insurance policy.
What about my original title insurance policy?
When you bought your home, you purchased a Homeowners title policy. The Homeowners’ policy stays in force as long as you or your heirs own the home. When you refinance, your lender will often require that you purchase a new lender’s policy to protect their new security interest in the property. Thus, you are buying a policy to protect your lender, not a new Homeowner’s policy.
What could possibly have happened since I purchased my home which warrants a new lender’s policy?
Since the time that the original loan was made, you may have taken out a second trust deed on the house or had mechanic’s liens, child support liens or legal judgments recorded against you – events that could result in serious financial losses to an unprotected lender. Regardless if it has been only 6 months or less since you purchased or refinanced your home, a myriad of title defects could have occurred. While you may not have any title defects, many Homeowners do. The only way for a lender to adequately protect itself is to get a new lender’s policy each time you purchase or refinance your home.
Are there any discounts available for title insurance on a refinance transaction?
Yes. Title companies offer a refinance transaction discount or a short-term rate. Discounts may also be available if you use the same lender for your refinance loan and your original loan. Be sure to ask your title company how they can save you money.
Article by CLTA
FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo), or For Sale By Owner, is a way of selling your home without the use of a professional real estate agent or broker. The idea behind FSBO is that by selling your home yourself, you save the approximate 6% that would be the agents’ commission.
6% may not sound like a lot, but it can add up, especially on more expensive homes. But before you run off and decide to sell your home FSBO, you must remember that to get a savings like that, there must be a cost. So what’s the catch? Selling FSBO is hard. A lot harder.
Only about 10% of sellers that decide to do FSBO are successful at it. And not all of them end up saving themselves money. FSBO sellers often end up accepting a lower price for their home than they would with an agent.
There are of course other issues as well. Can you afford to make selling your home your full-time job? Because for a lot of FSBO sellers, that’s exactly what it is. Do you have the time and capital to spend on the marketing, advertising, inspections, paperwork, phone calls, showings, and problems that come up when any home is sold?
Selling with a professional agent also has other advantages. An agent can get your home listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and other popular websites where not only homebuyers but also other agents can easily find it. Professional real estate agents also have an extensive network that allows them to more easily find a buyer.
So before you decide to sell your home yourself, thoughtfully consider just how much time and effort you can spare for selling your home, as well as how important it is that your home sell sooner rather than later.
Estate planners often recommend Living Trusts as a viable option when contemplating the manner in which to hold title to real property. When a property is held in a Living Trust, title companies have particular requirements to facilitate the transaction. While not comprehensive, answers to many commonly asked questions are below. If you have questions that are not answered below, your title company representative may be able to assist you, however, one may wish to seek legal counsel.
Who are the parties to a Trust?
A Family Trust is a typical trust in which the Husband and Wife are the Trustees and their children are the Beneficiaries. Those who establish the trust and transfer their property into it are known as Trustors or Settlors. The settlors usually appoint themselves as Trustees and they are the primary beneficiaries during their lifetime. After their passing, their children and grandchildren usually become the primary beneficiaries if the trust is to survive, or the beneficiaries receive distributions directly from the trust if it is to close out.
What is a Living Trust?
Sometimes called an Inter-vivos Trust, the Living Trust is created during the lifetime of the Settlors (as opposed to being created by their Wills after death) and usually terminates after they die and the body of the Trust is distributed to their beneficiaries.
Can a Trust hold title to Real Property?
No, the Trustee holds the property on behalf of the Trust.
Is a Trust the best way to hold my property?
Only your attorney or accountant can answer that question. Some common reasons for holding property in a Trust are to minimize or postpone death taxes, to avoid a time consuming probate, and/or to shield property from attack by certain unsecured creditors.
What taxes can I avoid by putting my property in trust?
Married persons can usually exempt a significant part of their assets from taxation and may postpone taxes after the first of them to die passes. You should check with your attorney or accountant before taking any action.
Can I homestead property that is held in a Trust?
Yes, if the property otherwise qualifies.
Can a Trustee borrow money against the property?
A Trustee can take any action permitted by the terms of the Trust, and the typical Trust Agreement does give the Trustee the authority to borrow and encumber real property. However, not all lenders will lend on a property held in trust, so check with your lender first.
Can someone else hold title for me “in trust?”
Some people who do not wish their names to show as titleholders make private arrangements with a third party Trustee; however, such an arrangement may be illegal, and is always inadvisable because the Trustee of record is the only one who is empowered to convey, or borrow against, the property, and a Title Insurer cannot protect you from a Trustee who is not acting in accordance with your wishes despite the existence of a private agreement you have with the Trustee.
In today’s world of busy probate courts and exorbitant death taxes, the living trust has become a common manner of holding title to real property. The following may help you understand a few of the requirements of the title insurance industry if title to property is conveyed to the trustee of a living trust.
What is a trust?
An agreement between a trustor and trustee for the trustee to hold title to and administer designated assets of the trustor for the use and benefit of one or more beneficiaries.
Can a trust itself acquire and convey interests in real property?
No. The trust is an arrangement between a trustee and the trustor. Only the trustee, on behalf of the trust, may own and convey any interest in real property. The trustee may only exercise the powers granted in the trust.
What will the title company require if a trustee holds the title to the property which is part of the trust?
A certification of trust containing the following information:
- Date of execution of the trust instrument,
- Identity of the trustor and trustee,
- Powers of the trustee,
- Identity of person with power to revoke trust, if any,
- Signature authority of the trustees,
- Manner in which title to the trust assets should be taken,
- Legal description of any interest in the property held by the trust, and
- A statement that the trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended in any manner which would cause the certification to be incorrect and that the certification is being signed by all currently acting trustees of the trust
My trust contains certain amounts of money to be given to various charities which is none of your business. Can I omit these pages?
Because many different provisions may be on the same page, the answer must be no — but if the title company requires a copy of the trust, it may accept a copy with those amounts blacked out.
If there is more than one trustee, can just one sign?
Maybe. The trust must specifically provide for less than all to sign.
Can the trustee give someone a power-of-attorney?
Only if the trust specifically provides for the appointment of an attorney-in-fact.
What will the title company require if all the trustees have died or are unwilling to act?
If the trustor is not able to do so, or the trust provisions prohibit the trustor from appointing a new trustee, the court may do so.
How does a notary acknowledge the signature of the trustee?
Title is vested in the trustee. Hence, if the trustee is an individual or a corporation, then the new general form of acknowledgment will be prepared to reflect the intrinsic nature of the trustee.
How would the deed to the trustee ordinarily be worded to transfer title to the trustee?
“John Doe and Mary Doe, as trustees of the Doe family trust, under declaration of trust dated January 1,1992.”
Are there any limitations on what a trustee may do?
Yes, the trustee is limited principally and most importantly by the provisions of the trust and, thus, may only act within the terms of the trust. The probate code contains general powers which, unless limited by the trust agreement, are sufficient for title insurers to rely on for sale, conveyance, and refinance purposes.
Article by CLTA
This is an extremely competitive market and is advantageous to the seller. Sometimes, homes will sell as soon as they are listed or even before homes are listed. Typically, during a hot market, multiple offers will be made on each home and more often than not, homes will sell for more than the asking price. It is even more crucial to be prepared and to be ready as a buyer when the market is hot. It can be easy to get caught up in the bid for a home, but if you are prepared (pre-approved, solid in price range, realistic about your needs), it is easier to remain focused on your housing needs and price range.
In a normal market, there is a fairly large number of homes available and an average number of buyers. This market does not necessarily favor the buyer or the seller. A seller may not have as many offers on their home, but he or she may not be desperate to sell either. Again, it is the buyer’s responsibility to be prepared. During a normal market, the chances to negotiate are higher than in a hot market. As a buyer, you can expect to make offers at lower than the asking price and negotiate a price at least somewhat less than what the sellers are asking.
In a cold market, houses may be listed for more than a year and the prices of houses listed may drop considerably. This market is advantageous to the buyer. As a buyer, you have the time to make an offer that works to your best interest. It is not uncommon to low-ball and to find that sellers are accommodating to meet your needs. Keep in mind that even though this market is a great time for buyers, you do not want to lose your dream home by being unrealistic. Your goal is to get your dream home at the best possible price.
A professional home inspection protects both you and the buyer. It allows both you and the buyer the opportunity to learn about the property’s defects.
A home inspection usually covers the following:
- Plumbing conditions – if there is leakage or clogging
- Roofing conditions – the extent of deterioration, if there is leakage
- Electrical conditions – if there are inadequate circuits or potential fire hazards
- Structural problems – if there are problems with the underlying foundation of your home
As a seller, the home inspection reports protect you because it establishes the actual condition of the property at the time of sale.