Category Archives: Interesting Facts

Steps to Lower Homeowners Insurance Costs

The first step is to shop around; quotes on the same home can vary significantly from company to company.

Review the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report.

CLUE reports detail the property’s claims history for the last five years, which insurers may use to deny coverage. Make the sale contingent on a home inspection to ensure that problems identified in the CLUE report have been resolved.

Seek insurance coverage as soon as your offer is approved.

You must obtain insurance in order to buy your home. And you don’t want to find out at closing time that the insurer has denied you coverage.

Maintain good credit.

Insurers often use credit-based insurance scores to determine premiums.

Buy your homeowner’s and auto policies from the same company.

Companies will often offer a bundling discount. But make sure the discount really yields the lowest price.

Raise your deductible.

If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower. Also, avoid making claims for losses of less than $1,000.

Ask about other discounts.

For example, retirees who tend to be home more than full-time workers may qualify for a discount on theft insurance. You also may be able to obtain discounts for having smoke detectors, a security system, and high-quality locks.

Seek group discounts.

If you belong to any associations or alumni organizations, check to see if they offer deals on coverage.

Conduct an annual review.

Take a look at your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions every year. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.

Investigate a government-backed insurance plan.

In some high-risk areas, the federal or state government may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent what’s available.

Insure your house for the correct amount.

Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Ask These Questions When Choosing a Lender

Loan terms, rates, and products can vary significantly from one company to the next. When shopping around, these are a few things you should ask about.

General questions:

What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?

Are your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?

Do you offer discounts for inspections, home ownership classes, or automatic payment set-up?

Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it cost, and how long will it be required?

What escrow requirements do you have?

What kind of bill-pay options do you offer?

Loan-specific questions:

What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc.)?

Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?

Who will service this loan—your bank or another company?

How long will the rate on this loan be in a lock-in period? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during this period?

How long will the loan approval process take?

How long will it take to close the loan?

Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?

How much will I be paying total over the life of this loan?

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Understanding Agency Relationships

The term “agency” is used in real estate to help determine what legal responsibilities your real estate professional owes to you and other parties in the transaction.

The seller’s representative (also known as a listing agent or seller’s agent) is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller, meaning this person’s job is to get the best price and terms for the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a signed listing contract.

The buyer’s representative (also known as a buyer’s agent) is hired by prospective buyers to and works in the buyer’s best interest throughout the transaction. The buyer can pay the agent directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer’s rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller’s agent.

A subagent owes the same fiduciary duties to the agent’s customer as the agent does. Subagency usually arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not the buyer’s agent, shows property to a buyer. The subagent works with the buyer to show the property but owes fiduciary duties to the listing broker and the seller. Although a subagent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller, a buyer customer can expect to be treated honestly by the subagent.

A disclosed dual agent represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. In such relationships, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both buyer and seller clients. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, all parties must give their informed consent. Disclosed dual agency is legal in most states, but often requires written consent from all parties.

Designated agents (also called appointed agents) are chosen by a managing broker to act as an exclusive agent of the seller or buyer. This allows the brokerage to avoid problems arising from dual-agency relationships for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties.

A transaction broker (sometimes referred to as a facilitator) is permitted in states where nonagency relationships are allowed. These relationships vary considerably from state to state. Generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a nonagency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Who Is LeadingRE

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® is a network of 565 of the very best real estate firms that are located in over 70 countries. These firms have 4,300 offices with 130,000 sales associates. In 2017 these firms had sales valued at $372 billion dollars, representing 1.1 million transactions.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®  outperformed our closest competitor in 2017 by 55 billion in sales.

When buying or selling property, select a member firm such as Ferguson Realtors to assist you.

Understanding Title Insurance

Title insurance protects your ownership right to your home, both from fraudulent claims against your ownership and from mistakes made in earlier sales, such as misspellings of a person’s name or an inaccurate description of the property. In some states it is customary for the seller to purchase the policy on your behalf.

Your mortgage lender will require it.

Title insurance protects the lender (and the secondary markets to which they sell loans) from defects in the title to your home—which could include mistakes made in the local property office, forged documents, and claims from unknown parties. It ensures the validity and enforceability of the mortgage document. The amount of the policy is equal to the amount of your mortgage at its inception. The fee is typically a one-time payment rolled into closing costs.

There are two different policies to consider purchasing.

The first policy, the one your lender will require, protects the lenders investment. You may also purchase an owner’s policy that provides coverage up to the purchase price of the home you are buying.

You have the right to choose your provider.

You can shop around for a lower insurance premium rate at a wide variety of sites online. You should first request quotes from a few companies and then reach out and speak to them. Ask about hidden fees and charges that could make one quote seem more attractive than another. Also, find out if you’re eligible for any discounts. Discounts are sometimes available if the home has been bought within only a few years since the last purchase as not as much work is required to check the title. You can also ask your lender or real estate professional for advice or help with getting quotes. Make sure the title insurance company you choose has a favorable Financial Stability Rating with Demotech Inc.

Even new construction needs coverage.

Even if your home is brand-new, the land isn’t. There may be claims to the land or liens that were placed during construction that could negatively impact your title.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Buyers Prepare to Answer These 10 Questions

You can make the home buying process go much smoother for yourself and your agent if you can answer these 10 questions in the beginning:

  • Why buy and why buy now
  • Are you working with a lender
  • How many houses have you looked at already
  • How do you prefer to be contacted
  • What if we found the perfect house tomorrow
  • What are your three favorite neighborhoods
  • What is your favorite room in the house
  • How important is outdoor/garage space
  • How long do you think that you’ll live in the house that you buy
  • What is a deal breaker for you

Prepare Yourself for Homeownership

  1. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
  2. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.
  3. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
  4. Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
  5. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
  6. Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
  7. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
  8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
  9. Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
  10. Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®