Real Estate Tip of the Week: Tips for a Smooth Transaction

New to buying or selling a home? – You’ve come to the right place!

Here at Alliance Title, we take pride in providing the best closing experience for everyone involved – that means agents, lenders, and their customers. In order to help throughout this transaction, we thought it would be best to outline some quick tips and tricks that can ensure a smooth and easy transaction.

COVID has changed some of our signing procedures, so please also read our blog detailing our safety measures.

Outside of COVID’s safety measures, please provide the following to your escrow team:

  • The completed and signed Earnest Money Agreement (EMA). Be sure the EMA is legible.
  • All addendums to the EMA.
  • All commission verification forms.
  • Phone numbers, email addresses, and/or fax numbers for your clients and/or the lender they are using.
  • Any additional insight or information regarding your customer(s) that may help make the process go without a hitch the day of closing, such as:
    • The need for a translator;
    • If they are visually, audibly, or physically impaired;
    • If they require separate signings (i.e., divorce)
  • Homeowner’s Association contact information

Other quick tidbits:

  • Carefully review the title commitment – if any questions arise, contact your escrow team ASAP!
  • Encourage the seller to:
    • Provide payoff authorizations promptly.
    • Review their state withholding requirements with their account (if applicable).
  • Encourage the buyer to:
    • Shop for the best homeowner’s insurance rates and options promptly.
    • Notify your escor team immediately should an issue or problem arise before the closing date.

Alliance Title’s Client-Resource Guide will help get everything organized before the closing date!

Checklist for the Home Buyer

As a potential home buyer, it’s critical to understand where you are in terms of finances and what features of a house matter more to you than others. You never want to go blind into house shopping – the more prepared you are, the better!

Credit Score

Knowing your credit score is a major first step in the home-buying process. This will help you in your home and loan search; you can request a free copy of your credit score from Annual Credit Score or Credit Karma.

But remember, keep inquires to a minimum, or talk to your lender beforehand.

Number Game

How much home can you afford? Before you make an offer, consider the cost of your mortgage payment as well as homeowners’ association dues, taxes, and insurance.

These user friendly calculators from Bankrate and Alliance Title will help you run the numbers and stay informed while you make the important decisions about your home purchase.

You’ll want to be preapproved by a lender first, before you talk to an agent. This will help you and your agent know where you stand in terms of finances. Check out our mortgage shopping how-to article, here!

COVID Rises – But Mortgages Applications Rise, Too

The world continues to adjust to COVID-19, and the real estate market continues to march on.

With the record-low interest rates that have continued, potential homebuyers have jumped at their opportunity to purchase homes.

Although purchase mortgage volume dropped 3% during the week of June 15th, it was still 18% higher than a year prior.

Joel Kan, Mortgage Bankers Association’s Chief Economist, explains, “One factor that may potentially crimp growth in the months ahead is that the release of pent-up demand from earlier this spring is clashing with the right supply of new and existing homes on the market. Additional housing inventory is needed to give buyers more options and to keep home prices from rising too fast.”

2020 has certainly changed many outlooks for the predicted year in real estate, but experts are keeping a close eye on mortgage prices and housing demands.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Agent Guidance Amidst COVID-19

As we try and figure out how to maintain our business while COVID continues on, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself as well as your loved ones during this strange time.

Moving forward, how can you keep your real estate business up and running when COVID is still very much a prominent part of everyone’s daily lives – and with states opening and closing their phases?

Utilize Social Media to Build Relationships

The good news: social distancing is incredibly easy through social media! Focus on one social media platform at a time (create a schedule – check out our past article, here) and attract new clients and maintain a relationship with your past clients.

One example of utilizing your social media page for business would be to highlight resources that buyers or sellers can use (like builders, lenders, etc.) and have them reach out to you for more!

Rethink Your Listings

Your buyers might not be able to (or might not want to) go visit homes in person – so that means you have to think in terms of the buyer. What do buyers want to look at when they are physically in the home they’re interested in?

Take pictures of views from windows, of closet and pantry spaces, and include photos of the entire exterior (driveway, siding, etc.). This will all help them gather a better idea about what the home looks like and offers.

Virtual Meetings & Tours

Instead of putting all of your meetings with potential or current clients on hold, meet with them over GoToMeeting, Skype, or Zoom! Check out our previous article on how to prepare for these kinds of meetings, here.

Another very important tip: remember to enjoy your self-care and your family during these weird times!

Want more real estate tips? Check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

Rethinking Real Estate Space: Commercial Offices Post COVID

With many employees working from home while the world tries to adapt to COVID-19, the idea of the “workspace” might change.

A new survey found that 35% of new remote employees would like to permanently work from home. Of the 35%, a majority would like there to be a hybrid option (85%) – working in the office two days a week and working from home three days a week. 7% said they wanted to work from home just one day a week.

So what does this mean and look like for commercial spaces in the future?

Some experts are predicting that satellite offices will open in suburban communities. These potential spaces can help cut down on public transportation and minimize the amount of people working in one space.

Real estate agents also agree that with the average lease term for commercial spaces usually seven years, and only 14-15% of tenant leases ending at the same time, the worry of many vacant retail spaces happening at one time likely won’t happen.

As for what the future holds in commercial real estate – experts aren’t quite sure. But with the “traditional” 9-5 desk job quickly changing, we’re sure to see spaces change too.

For more real estate news, take a peek at Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Virtual Home Tours

Although states are opening in phases, homebuyers and sellers still might be more comfortable completing parts of their home journey through digital means.

If you’re a homebuyer getting ready to take a virtual tour with your real estate agent, then it’s best that you prepare what you’d like to see and/or hear. Technology has helped the real estate world immensely during COVID-19, but sometimes you miss things that you wouldn’t have if you were there in person – like how a home smells or if there is a lot of traffic in the area.

So what can you do to cover your bases?

Check out our tips here:

Panorama

Before your agent enters the home, have them give you a wide shot of the house – be sure they you’re able to view all corners of the home and yard.

Neighborhood Shot

It’s important that you also like the surrounding area that your home is in! Ask your agent to show you the space surrounding your home. This way, you can see the spacing between homes, and maybe even get a glimpse as to how the neighborhood feel is.

Outside Glimpses

Since you’re not there in person, it’s best that you see all of the features of the home as close as you can. If your home has sprinklers, a fence, a light post, or a shed, be sure that your agent is giving you a good view of them. Have your agent show the driveway – how steep is it? Do you have enough space in the driveway for any extra cars you might have if guests stop by?

Extra Features

If your home has a pool, or playground equipment, have your agent give you an up-close look. How are the pool’s filters? Is the playground equipment rusty?

Listen

At any point in time that your agent is outside, ask them if you could just listen for a moment. Are there many planes flying by? Cars zooming down the street? These are things to consider before moving into a new home – and even when you try to resell it!

While viewing a home digitally doesn’t compare to seeing a home in person, there are still things you can prepare for so you have a better understanding of the home and neighborhood’s atmosphere.

For more real estate tips and tricks, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

How Will the Home Change After COVID?

With more and more people working from home, and college students returning to their parent’s homes to participate in online schooling, and couples or roommates having to maneuver between each other’s zoom meetings – are open floor plans going to be a thing of the past?

Open spaces (the large space that usually combines the family room, dining room, and kitchen), might not seem super ideal when a large majority of people are at home at once trying to accomplish different things.

Some experts are wondering whether homes will move towards a traditional style – where rooms are more separated and have “designations.” Another good reason housing might move back to this style is for economic reasons – HVAC experts claim that open floor spaces take more time to heat or cool, which results in higher bills.

Others have a harder time imagining the open floor plan disappearing. Michael Ackerman, of Coldwell Banker in Seattle, believes that “people won’t go back to a more formal design after getting a taste of natural light and the flow of a great room. [Instead] people are setting up workspaces in their garages, in their spare bedrooms, wherever they find space.”

What do you think? Will open space formats be a pre-covid luxury? Sound off in the comments below!

For more real estate tips and news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

The Need for Real Estate Agents Rise

Potential homebuyers, pre-covid, might have debated whether or not to use a real estate agent – but it looks like many home seekers are more determined to have an agent by their side.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released a new survey that found nearly 47% of home shoppers felt that a real estate agent was more vital than before the pandemic. The main reason?

Peace of mind.

A real estate agent helps guide, explain, and present homes you might not have seen otherwise.

54% of buyers and 62% of sellers agreed that because of the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings, the extra help from a real estate agent was among the top of their lists.

NAR President and Broker, Vince Malta, stated: “While we celebrate homeownership month, we embrace today’s version of homeownership and the unique paths homeowners take to realize their dream. For prospective buyers, the desire to own a home remains strong, and the guidance, expertise, and professionalism Realtors provide is more important now than ever.”

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Market Planning & COVID-19

Usually, market planning is mapped out a year in advance – you already know your goals and steps that you want to accomplish! But with COVID-19 changing much on how we live, planning for your businesses can prove to be a little more difficult.

To adapt in these times, it’s best to market plan just a month (or two) in advance. That way, you can make sure you’re staying relevant to what is currently needed with buyers and sellers.

Take a quick look at some of the ways you can market plan for the immediate future:

  • Following up on leads might not be the most appropriate action to take during a pandemic – instead, think of taking a more moderate form of prospecting.
  • Send personal letters and messages to your past and current clients through the mail! Be compassionate and understanding to current situations. Let them know you’re there for them with whatever assistance they might need.
  • Finally get to organizing and updating your list and notes in CRM!
  • Utilize video! Send heartfelt messages to your clients through email.
  • Make sure any automated email blasts or social media campaigns are stopped or up-to-date to reflect the current situation.

We’re all growing and adapting during this quarantine. Be gentle with yourself and remember to be compassionate and understanding with your clients during this time.

For more real estate tips and news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Homeowners Remodel During Quarantine

What have you found yourself doing while you’ve been stuck at home? Have you picked up a new hobby? Is your home super organized?

Have you remodeled?

While many homeowners have been stuck at home, some of them have dug out their tool box and got to work.

According to Houzz, a home renovation and resource site, outdoor remodels, bathroom updates, and kitchen projects have been on the list of priorities. 79% of homeowners surveyed have considered making remodels to help enjoy their home more – and that makes sense, considering we’re all now spending a majority of our time there.

Here are some of the other projects homeowners are looking forward to:

  • Changing Décor – 47%
  • Upgrading / adding lighting – 30%
  • Changing layout – 27%
  • Upgrading / adding storage space – 25%
  • Upgrading / adding outdoor space – 24%

Some of the reasons why homeowners are remodeling are quiet interesting – homeowners are baking or working out more, so upgrades to the kitchen or adding an additional workout space are also on homeowner’s minds.

Here’s Houzz’s infographic on what homeowners believe is lacking in their homes:

New housing trends will emerge as we spend more and more time at home – what will we see?

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s blog here.