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.
The REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics was established in 1913 by the National Association of REALTORS®. It’s a set of rules that were established to raise the standards of professionalism and service in the real estate industry. The rules are divided into three areas: 1) a broker’s duties to his clients, 2) a broker’s duties to his fellow brokers and 3) a broker’s duties to the public. The current Code of Ethics contains seventeen articles.
Over its one hundred year history, the Code of Ethics has been amended and revised to keep up with the changing times. Local REALTOR® Associations are charged with enforcing the Code of Ethics and handing down punishment to those found to be in violation of one or more of the articles.
To keep REALTORS® up to date on the Code of Ethics, the National Association of REALTORS® requires all REALTORS® to take a training course on the subject every four years.
In recognition and appreciation of their obligations to clients, customers, the public, and each other, REALTORS® continuously strive to become and remain informed on issues affecting real estate and, as knowledgeable professionals, they willingly share the fruit of their experience and study with others.
Develop a household budget. Instead of creating a budget of what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget that reflects your actual spending habits over the last several months. This approach will factor in unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, as well as predictable costs such as rent, utility bills, and groceries.
Reduce your debt. Lenders generally look for a total debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. This figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 and 28 percent of your net household income. So you need to get monthly payments on the rest of your installment debt — car loans, student loans, and revolving balances on credit cards — down to between 8 and 10 percent of your net monthly income.
Look for ways to save. You probably know how much you spend on rent and utilities, but little expenses add up, too. Try writing down everything you spend for one month. You’ll probably spot some great ways to save, whether it’s cutting out that morning trip to Starbucks or eating dinner at home more often.
Increase your income. Now’s the time to ask for a raise! If that’s not an option, you may want to consider taking on a second job to get your income at a level high enough to qualify for the home you want.
Save for a down payment. Designate a certain amount of money each month to put away in your savings account. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with only 5 percent down, or even less, you can usually get a better rate if you put down a larger percentage of the total purchase. Aim for a 20 percent down payment.
Keep your job. While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify for a home loan, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.
Establish a good credit history. Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills, too. Pay off the entire balance promptly.
Appraisals provide an objective opinion of value, but it’s not an exact science so appraisals may differ.
For buying and selling purposes, appraisals are usually based on market value — what the property could probably be sold for. Other types of value include insurance value, replacement value, and assessed value for property tax purposes.
Appraised value is not a constant number. Changes in market conditions can dramatically alter appraised value.
Appraised value doesn’t take into account special considerations, like the need to sell rapidly.
Lenders usually use either the appraised value or the sale price, whichever is less, to determine the amount of the mortgage they will offer.
Used with permission from Kim Daugherty, Real Estate Checklists and Systems, www.realestatechecklists.com
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