What is Title Insurance?

Title Defect

Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects mortgage lenders and homeowners against claims questioning the legal ownership of a home or property. If disputes over title ownership arise after the purchase, the insurance policy pays for any legal fees to resolve them.

Unlike other types of insurance that help cover future mishaps, title insurance is designed to protect the policyholder from any past title discrepancies. For instance, when you buy car insurance, you are protected in case your car is in an accident. When you buy health insurance, you are protected against the cost of future medical care. Title insurance, on the other hand, protects an investment in real estate that might be at risk due to a past event, such as an undiscovered lien against the property.

Title insurance does not just protect you, as a purchaser of the property. Your mortgage lender will likely require you to have title insurance in order to protect their security interest in the property you are buying.

In any real estate transaction requiring a mortgage, the title company runs a public record search to ensure that the home being purchased is free and clear of any liens or ownership disputes. This process confirms the seller’s legal right to sell the home. If any defects in title, also known as “clouds”, are found during the title search, they are the responsibility of the seller. He or she may be able to cure the defects, or you can walk away during the sale. If defects in title are missed, however, you could be on the hook.

For example, a lien travels with the property, not the debtor. For example, let’s say a previous owner of your house had the kitchen remodeled. He failed to pay the contractor the $30,000 owed, and the contractor had a lien against the house for that amount.

If the title search failed to discover the lien, and you purchased the property, the lien would become your problem. Now that it is known, you will have to satisfy it, most likely out of the proceeds of the house if and when you sell it.

While this process usually goes smoothly, title insurance comes into play when disputes arise. Here are some of the more common title issues:

  • Title forgeries
  • Back taxes
  • Filing errors
  • Unknown heirs to the estate who claim ownership
  • Inconsistent or conflicting wills
  • Liens, commonly from unpaid home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or contractor bills
  • Undocumented easements

There are two types of title policy; a Lender’s policy and an Owner’s policy.

A lender’s title policy is designed to protect the financial institution providing your mortgage from title claims that would put their stake in your home at risk. Lenders almost always require borrowers to purchase title insurance on the lender’s behalf as part of the loan-approval process. It’s considered a closing cost.

The owner’s title policy is designed to protect the homeowner in case of any claims against their ownership of the home. In most cases, owner’s title insurance is not required in a home purchase, but it is recommended. It can be paid for by the seller at closing, so you may want to negotiate for it when you are purchasing a home. Generally, in Michigan, the seller’s real estate agent will choose the Title Company that will provide the buyer’s owner’s policy and that Title Company will conduct the closing. The buyer may use the same Title Company for the Lenders policy, or the buyer can use a different Title Company.

If you are buying a home in cash or your lender doesn’t require title insurance, you can request that the seller provide a warranty of title, which states that they are the sole party with a right to sell the home.

How much does title insurance cost?

Title insurance policy costs often range between $500 and $3,500 for each policy but vary based on the purchase price, mortgage amount, the sales price of the home, and the extent of the coverage.

Your title insurance premium is a one-time charge that’s paid at closing. In addition to the insurance itself, you may be responsible for other related fees, like wire transfer fees, closing fees, and recording with the county (register of deeds).

You should watch out for unnecessary fees from title companies.  Anything outside of the title premium, title closing, recording, and wire transfer are unnecessary fees that you should NOT be paying.

In many states, you can compare the prices of different title insurance companies. But in Michigan all title companies are required to provide the same level of coverage at the same price, so shopping around isn’t required in terms of title premiums.

I hope you found this information informative and helpful. If you have any real estate related questions, I am always happy to talk with you, and I’m available via phone, text, email and social media.

To your health and happiness, Dani

Michigan Principal Residence Exemptions (PRE)

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Michigan Senate Moves Bill to Allow for Principal Residence Exemptions (PRE) Until June 30th

Over the past several weeks Michigan Realtors® has worked with the Legislature and the Department of Treasury to allow additional time for buyers to file their Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) for 2020. With the traditional deadline expiring this past Monday, June 1st, Michigan Realtors® is urging expedited movement on this important legislation to provide buyers with property tax relief and the greatest amount of certainty during the month of June.

Today, the Michigan Senate passed Senate Bill 940, sponsored by Senator Roger Victory (R- Hudsonville) extending the time frame to file a 2020 PRE until June 30th. With the overwhelming support of the Senate and work with the Department of Treasury, it is anticipated that the bill will see continued movement in the Michigan House next week.

While there are no certainties, Realtors® should advise their buyer closing in the month of June to file their PRE before June 30th in order to receive the PRE rate for their July property tax bill.

What is a Principal Residence Exemption (PRE)?

A PRE exempts a principal residence from the tax levied by a local school district for school operating purposes up to 18 mills. To qualify for a PRE on a parcel of land, a person must be a Michigan resident who owns and occupies the property as a principal residence. The PRE is a separate program from the Homestead Property Tax Credit, which is filed annually with your Michigan Individual Income Tax Return.

What this means to a homebuyer: If you close on a property in the month of June and file for the Michigan Principal Residence Exemption by June 30th, your summer tax bill will be lower due to the PRE.

Have questions about this subject, or any other real estate related topics, I’m always available to talk with you!

Dani

Buying Incentives to Discuss with Your Mortgage Professional

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Federal homebuying incentives make taking out a mortgage easy and affordable. If you’re a first-time buyer worried about having to make a large down payment and upping your credit score before beginning the process, consider taking out a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, which is meant for first-timers. FHA down payments could be as low as 3.5% and you don’t have to worry about having impeccable credit to get prequalified. Plus, part of your closing costs could be covered or supported by another federal incentive.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Homeownership voucher is an option available for first-time buyers who have at least one member of the household working full-time and are willing to participate in a homeownership counseling program. The voucher is offered to those who meet a low-income requirement.

Other opportunities include those available to rural residents, service members or veterans, and state-level incentives. The U.S. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act currently offers mortgage assistance as part of the pandemic economic stimulus package.

Source: Level One Bank

For more information on these programs, give me a call today! Dani

Forecast Calls for Housing Market Rebound Later This Year

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Typically, economic forecasts rely on a mix of current and historical data. If you understand where things are today and what’s happened in the past, you can make an educated guess about what the future might look like. This becomes harder, though, when there aren’t obvious historical precedents to use for comparison.

Despite this, Freddie Mac’s most recent quarterly forecast attempts to predict how well the housing market will endure the economic impact of the coronavirus. So, what do they see? According to Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, we may begin to see a rebound during the second half of the year.

Specifically, Freddie Mac sees home sales and price increases slowing this year before rebounding in 2021.

Source: National Association of REALTORS

Start your Ann Arbor Area home search today by visiting https://nexthomevictors.realgeeks.com/dani-hallsell/

To your health, Dani

COVID-19’s Effect on the Michigan Real Estate Market

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During these unprecedented times, I have received a lot of questions regarding the home buying/selling process and how it is being affected by the government order to “stay in place”.  Here are the major take-aways:

  • Real estate brokers and salespersons are not “critical infrastructure workers”and therefore may not leave their homes for work.  The only narrow exception to the order is the instance where work is absolutely necessary to assist those with a genuine and emergent need, such as an immediate lack of shelter.   Real estate services, like the showing of homes and other property, open houses, and other client contact should be considered to be non-critical and travel to do so is prohibited through April 13, 2020.
  • Mortgage Lenders and Title Companies fall under the “critical infrastructure workers” category and will continue working. Lenders are working remotely, so you can still get a pre-approval, apply for a mortgage, re-finance a mortgage, and receive funds to close on a home. Title companies are offering “drive up” closing; they overnight the closing package to the buyer & seller for signatures, then you drive to the office where an employee will collect the closing documents and payments. If the buyer/seller requests to close in the building, the real estate agent will not be allowed to attend. Real estate brokerages have the ability to participate in closings via conference calls or other video conferencing methods to comply with the Governor’s order.
  • Home inspectors do not fall into the “critical infrastructure workers” category. If you have an accepted offer during the “stay in place” order, have your real estate agent include an addendum for a delayed inspection.
  • Michigan Realtors® have provided real estate agents an “Addendum to Purchase Agreement COVID-19 Condition Extension”. This addendum states that if COVID-19 causes a shutdown or work stoppage of a governmental entity or settlement service provider makes it temporarily impossible for either party to perform as required under a Purchase Agreement, or in the event Purchaser or Seller becomes the subject of a medically required quarantine, then all outstanding contract deadlines may be extended for as long as these conditions continue, but in no event longer than thirty calendar days.

If you are planning to make a move this year, this is a good time to plan. Talk to a lender to find out how much you can afford to pay each month, what amount you will need for a down payment and how much you will need to save for closing cost. Use the links above to search homes for sale, this will give you an idea of what is available in your price range. If you have a home to sell, use the link above to get an idea of your current market value.

In closing, I am always available to answer questions and provide recommendations for local lenders and service providers. You can reach me via phone, text, email or visit me on social media.

Wishing you good health, Dani

 

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership | MyKCM

There are many clear financial benefits to owning a home: increasing equity, building net worth, growing appreciation, and more. If you’re a renter, it’s never too early to make a plan for how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here’s a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater stability, savings, and predictability.

1. You Won’t Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment

According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things.”

As a homeowner, someday you can eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That’s a huge win and a big factor in how homeownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs will begin to work for you as forced savings, coming in the form of equity. As you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.

2. Homeownership Is a Tax Break

One thing people who have never owned a home don’t always think about are the tax advantages of homeownership. The same piece states:

“Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return.”

Whether you’re living in your first home or your fifth, it’s a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It’s one thing you definitely don’t get when you’re renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.

3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable

A third item noted in the article is how monthly costs become more predictable with homeownership:

As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting.”

With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs steady and predictable. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today’s low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you’re going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, let’s get together to determine if buying a home sooner rather than later is right for you.

Ready to start looking for a new home? Begin your search at https://nexthomevictors.realgeeks.com/dani-hallsell/ .  Have a real estate related question? Call, text or email me; I answer questions for free!

Dani

Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey

Three Reasons Why Pre-Approval Is the First Step in the 2020 Homebuying Journey | MyKCM

When the number of buyers in the housing market outnumbers the number of homes for sale, it’s called a “seller’s market.” The advantage tips toward the seller as low inventory heats up the competition among those searching for a place to call their own. This can create multiple offer scenarios and bidding wars, making it tough for buyers to land their dream homes – unless they stand out from the crowd. Here are three reasons why pre-approval should be your first step in the homebuying process.

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Low inventory, like we have today, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong impression and close the deal. One of the best ways to get one step ahead of other buyers is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you make an offer. For one, it shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed up the homebuying process, so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. In a competitive arena like we have today, being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

3. Know What You Can Borrow and Afford

Here’s the other thing: if you’re pre-approved, you also have a better sense of your budget, what you can afford, and ultimately how much you’re eligible to borrow for your mortgage. This way, you’re less apt to fall in love with a home that may be out of your reach.

Freddie Mac sets out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

Local real estate professionals also have relationships with lenders who can help you through this process, so partnering with a trusted advisor will be key for that introduction. Once you select a lender, you’ll need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”

Freddie Mac also describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you’ll be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or Cash Reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

While there are still many additional steps you’ll need to take in the homebuying process, it’s clear why pre-approval is always the best place to begin. It’s your chance to gain the competitive edge you may need if you’re serious about owning a home.

Looking for a reputable local lender to get your pre-approval started? Call, text, email or PM me today! 

Dani

December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low

December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low | MyKCM

The reality of what we’re seeing this month is that homes are selling fast. In today’s strong seller’s market, bidding wars are common and expected with starter or entry-level homes.

In most areas of the country, first-time buyers have been met with fierce competition throughout their homebuying experience. Some have been out-bid multiple times before finally going into contract on a home to call their own.

Right now, inventory is the big challenge. Here’s what we know today:

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is currently a 3.9-month supply of homes for sale, which can drive this kind of hefty buyer competition. Remember, anything less than 6 months of inventory is a seller’s market.

Even though the month’s supply of inventory is not increasing, ironically, the number of homes for sale is. This means homes are coming up for sale, but they’re being sold quickly. The graph below shows the year-over-year change in inventory over the last 12 months.December 2019: The Buyer Stakes Are High Because Inventory Is Low | MyKCMAs depicted above, the percentage of available inventory has fallen for four consecutive months when compared to the previous year.

So, what does this mean? If you’re a buyer, be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage and be ready to make a competitive offer, so you can move quickly. Chances are, homes high on your wish list are likely going to go fast.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, make sure you’re taking the right steps at the beginning of the process, so you’re a top contender if you ultimately find yourself in a bidding war. Let’s get together to discuss what you need to do to make your move toward homeownership.

Ready to start looking for a new home? Begin your search at https://nexthomevictors.realgeeks.com/dani-hallsell/ .  Have a real estate related question? Call, text or email me; I answer questions for free!

Dani

Have You Budgeted for Closing Costs?

Have You Budgeted for Closing Costs? | MyKCM

Saving for a down payment is a key step in the homebuying process, and it’s not the only piece you need to include in your budget. Another factor that’s important to plan for is the closing costs required to obtain a mortgage.

What Are Closing Costs?

According to Trulia,

When you close on a home, a number of fees are due. They typically range from 2% to 5% of the total cost of the home, and can include title insurance, origination fees, underwriting fees, document preparation fees, and more.”

For those who buy a $250,000 home, for example, that amount could be between $5,000 and $12,500 in closing fees. Keep in mind, if you’re in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. As mentioned before,

Closing costs are typically between 2% and 5% of your purchase price.

 Trulia gives more great advice, saying,

“There will be lots of paperwork in front of you on closing day, and not enough time to read them all. Work closely with your real estate agent, lender, and attorney, if you have one, to get all the documents you need ahead of time.

The most important thing to read is the closing disclosure, which shows your loan terms, final closing costs, and any outstanding fees. You’ll get this form about three days before closing since, once you (the borrower) sign it, there’s a three-day waiting period before you can sign the mortgage loan docs. If you have any questions about the numbers or what any of the mortgage terms mean, this is the time to ask—your real estate agent is a great resource for getting you all the answers you need.”

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss the homebuying process, to be sure your plan includes budgeting for what you need to purchase your dream home – without any surprises!

Thinking about buying a home? Download my free Buyers Guide, “Things to consider when buying a home”.

Dani

Millennial’s, The True Cost of Not Owning Your Home

The True Cost of Not Owning Your Home | MyKCM

There are great advantages to owning a home, yet many people continue to rent. The financial benefits are just some of the reasons why homeownership has been a part of the long-standing American dream.

Realtor.com reported that:

“Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option…as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”

Why is owning a home financially better than renting?

Here are the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  2. Homeownership provides tax savings.
  3. Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  4. Buying a home is less expensive than renting.
  5. No other investment lets you live inside of it.

Studies have also shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

A family that purchased a median-priced home at the start of 2019 would build more than
$37,750 in family wealth over the next five years with projected price appreciation alone.

Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has many social and financial benefits that cannot be achieved by renting. Let’s connect to determine if buying a home is your best move.

Begin your journey by downloading “A Millennial’s Guid to Homeownership”

Dani