Self-Care Tips While at Home

The world is a little different right now – which can make for high stress and anxiety.

While quarantine is in place, it’s important that you still take the care that you need both physically and mentally. We’ve got some tips for you below to help ease your worries during this time.

Stick to a Routine

Routines help us feel stable! If you’re lucky enough to work from home during this time, be sure to create a routine and stick with it to help create some form of normalcy.

Set times when you’ll get to work, when you’ll take your lunch break, etc.

Limit Screen Time

We realize this might be more difficult if you’re working from home – but limiting the time you are facing a screen and instead taking a moment to freshen up, to take a quick stretch, or to put together a healthy snack can really help you stay positive. Movement is key!

That, and making sure you’re taking breaks from heavy news is also equally important. While it is essential to stay updated with current events, it’s also crucial to maintain balance and step away from the negativity.

Stay Active

As mentioned above, movement is key! Check out a free yoga, meditation, or exercise routine on Youtube! Put on your favorite song and dance around your home! Take a walk around your neighborhood (following social distance rules, of course).

Get the negative energy out of your body by staying active.

Virtual Hang Outs

Spend time with friends – virtually. Schedule times to chat over FaceTime, Skype, or Facebook Messenger, to name a few. It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and that there are still good things in your life and in the world. Friends and family will remind you of that.

Even though we’re in the midst of social distancing, we can be there for each other! Just, virtually.

For more real estate news, tips, and ideas, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Digital Tools during COVID-19

These are uncertain times – but that doesn’t mean we can’t go through this together, virtually, of course.

As a real estate agent, you might be wondering how you can successfully continue your work with social distancing and shelter-in-place confirmed in your state. Luckily, real estate has been keeping up with technology – and there are plenty of tools for you to use and count on during this time.

Virtual House Tour & Open Houses

Just because you can no longer meet face-to-face with your client (or future clients) doesn’t mean they can’t see the house they’re interested in!

Think about using Facetime, Skype, or Zoom when presenting a home to your client. If you’re trying to interest a buyer, think about hosting a “Live Open House” on Instagram or Facebook live!

Alliance Title & Escrow Corp. Digital Tools

Net Sheet: Through Title Capture, you can access quotes on titles and fees all online.

Profilez on Demand or Agent Intel: Access to property profile information through our online account.

EMTransfer: Our cloud-based service that allows agents, lenders, and buyers, and earnest money holders to securely document, collect and disburse earnest money 100% electronically.

Plat Map & CCR Search

For up-to-date news and tips regarding COVID-19, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

COVID-19: Remote Online Notarization Bill in Congress

With many agents wondering how they can successfully and swiftly close their transactions in the middle of COVID-19, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has sent a letter to congress urging lawmakers to include policy in coronavirus response legislation that would pave the way for remote notarizations.

This would help move transactions towards a 100% digital platform nationwide.

The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020, also known as the SECURE Notarization Act, was introduced last Wednesday by a bipartisan coalition of senators.

Currently, only 23 states have remote online notarization policies – which permit a notary and a signer in different physical locations to safely execute electronic documents. However, some borrowers in these states are still unable to complete the transaction without an in-person notary.

The SECURE Notarization Act would create a safe, multifactor authentication that uses tamper-evident and two-way, real-time audiovisual technology to enable the signer and notary to see and hear each other simultaneously.

NAR Vice President, Vince Malta, explains, “As the nation and world grapple with some of the most difficult and uncertain circumstances of their lives, NAR continues working with the federal government to secure policy and promote public safety and protect this critical driver of our nation’s economy.

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

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Closing on a Home Checklist

You’re at the finish line – you see the light at the end of the tunnel – you can almost hear the sound of your client’s house keys opening the door to their new future…..

BAM. Something was forgotten during the home closing, and there’s a bit of a lag now.

Don’t let this happen to you and your client!

When you’re closing on a home, it’s important that you follow the steps needed to correctly and efficiently close the transaction. 

Here are some tips to help ensure smooth sailing during you and your client’s home closing.

Clear Contingencies

Most purchase agreements will have contingencies. Contingencies are projects that buyers must complete before the transaction becomes official. Here are the most common contingencies:

  • Home inspection contingency
  • Appraisal contingency
  • Financing contingency

Purchase Title Insurance

Buying a home means that the home owner will become the title owner to the property. Make sure you and your client work with the mortgage lender and closing team in completing a title search and purchasing title insurance. This will insure that their title will be cleared from any possible issues (past owners saying they actually own the home, for instance) and can ensure peace of mind.

Wait for Underwriters

Make sure your client understands that they’ll have to wait for their home loan to go through the underwriting process before meeting at the closing table. Underwriters make sure that your client has been truthful during the financial stages and that there isn’t any false information on the loan application.

Be sure to check our tips on what to do and NOT do during the underwriter process, here.

Look over Closing Disclosure

This is also known as the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. Your client will want to read this document that outlies their mortgage payments, the loan’s terms, and the additional fees – like closing costs. Be sure to help them with any confusion over this document.

Bring Documents to Closing

Make sure you and your client bring:

  • Proof of homeowners insurance
  • Home inspection reports
  • A copy of the contract with the seller
  • Paperwork the bank required to approve your loan
  • A government-issued ID

Some sales contracts allow a final walk-through of the property – if yours is the case, you and your client will want to make sure that anything that was asked to be fixed during the home inspection has been updated to code and to the buyer’s liking.

Buying a home isn’t necessarily a walk in the park, but as a real estate agent, it’s your job to help make it smooth and efficient – after all, the client is looking to you for guidance and advice!

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

Generational Trends for Home-Buying Preferences

Yes, Millennials enjoy shopping through Amazon and making avocado toast – but it looks like they also enjoy the same housing preferences as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

According to the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, most age groups were motivated to live near family and friends, with 53% pointing to this major factor when selecting a neighborhood.

Between Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers, newer homes were more enticing – most citing a newer home as the main reason for a purchase.

However, there are differences between the generations:

Those aged 22-29 stated that their main reason in purchasing a home was to own a home of their own (60%), whereas those aged 55-64 fell to 17%.

Younger buyers are also more concerned with their commute time – around 74% of buyers aged 22-29 selected “convenience to job” as a priority to buying a home. For older buyers, “quality of neighborhood” took precedence.

Check out NAR’s infographic below!

For more real estate news, check out Alliance’s Blog.

What to Do (or Not Do) During the Home Loan Process

Hey you – congratulations on almost moving into your new home!

While you’ve done all the paperwork and checked off all the boxes, you still have to sit through the home loan process waiting time.

It can make anyone uneasy to hear back on your loan’s approval! With Alliance Title’s Buyer Checklist, you can take a look at some of the quick tips on ensuring your loan progresses smoothly.

As a quick reference, check out some of the best things you can do while you wait for your loan to process:

  • Don’t switch jobs (at least, not yet)! Continue working at the job shown on your loan application.
  • Do not make any larger purchases until after the deal has been completed. Wait on that new car, furniture, or appliance piece!
  • Keep up with your current loan or credit payments.
  • Refrain from checking your credit score for any other purchases.
  • Avoid switching banks or moving your money to a different bank account.

These are just some of the ways that will help you lock down that dream home. You’re in the final home stretch!

Got Homeowner Worries? Here Are the Top Concerns.

Becoming a homeowner has some amazing perks – equity being a top contender. However, it looks like homeowners still have their fair share of worries.

Once you are a homeowner, you’re now the one in charge, and the one to make decisions. So, what are some of the things homeowners are worrying about?

A recent survey from LendingTree summarized homeowners’ biggest housing worries for 2020. Check out their infographic below:

Nearly one-third of respondents claimed major home repairs as their top housing-related worry. With the 1% rule in mind (1% of the purchase price of your home set aside for your maintenance-saving piggy bank), homeowners might stress over the amount they should be putting away every year.

The next brackets of worry went to home values dropping (17%), and the possibility of mortgage payments increasing (13%).

Although there are underlying worries between all homeowners, 68% of those surveyed still believe that homeownership is a good investment.

Check out Alliance’s Blog for more real estate news!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Preparing for Inspection

As a real estate agent, it’s your job to prepare your buyer for the stages of the home-buying process – one of them being the inspection phase.

While the home-buying process is no walk-in-the-park, you can make it easier on your client just by being open and honest with them through every stage. This way, they’ll know what to expect and what to get ready for.

The inspection phase is often thought of as a “simple” step, but it’s crucial to know what your buyer might have to navigate through towards the end of the transaction. Because this is one of the final steps before closing a deal, you [as the real estate agent] should make your buyer aware of what may come back in the results.

Check out some of our tips below to prepare your client for the inspection phase:

Define the Home Inspection Stage

Your client is looking to you for guidance and advice – especially if they are a first-time homebuyer.

Give your buyer a rundown of what to expect during the home inspection. Remind them that the home inspection will most likely come back with some issues to be fixed, which is very normal. Not every home is perfect.

Take Notes Beforehand

Be sure to tell your client what will and will not be checked during the home inspection – every inspector is different. Components that might be left out include:

  • Trees and landscaping
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Sewer line
  • Swimming pool
  • Fireplace
  • Drainage
  • Odors
  • Internet Service
  • Floors covered by carpet
  • Roof or outdoor covered by snow
  • Mice, rats, or other rodents
  • Wood-destroying pests

If there are any items that are concerning for your buyer before the inspection stage, make sure to relay those to the inspector, as they may be able to explain their inspection process.

Suggest that they also be there on inspection day (if that is allowed by the inspector).

Review the Report

Before reviewing, tell them to take a deep breath. An inspector’s review can seem overwhelming, but as stated before: no home is perfect. This isn’t a pass or fail test, but rather, a future to-do list.

Reviewing the report ensures that you and the buyer understand any dates or repair schedules that might need to happen sooner rather than later.

The report can also give your buyer some negotiating power! While the seller technically doesn’t have to bring the home up to code if there is a problem, you and your buyer might have wiggle room if there aren’t many buyers on the table.

If they love the home, the location, and the price – the inspection report acts as a list that they can tackle as they see fit (if the issues brought up are not time sensitive). Overall, the inspection report is there to help your buyer make a sound investment.

Check out Alliance’s Blog for more real estate tips and guides!

Rental Properties Fur-Going Pet Restrictions

Have you had trouble finding a home or an apartment to rent, simply because your pet isn’t allowed to live there?

Well, it looks like things are changing – as landlords are seeing better profits if they open up their residence to being pet friendly.

Homes with kids under 18 years of age stands at 27% in America, while the share of homes with pets is at 68%. More likely, tenants are going to have a dog than they are to have a child. With that statistic in mind, more and more landlords are opening up their doors to allowing pets.

A study conducted by FIREPAW Inc., an animal welfare nonprofit research firm, showed that pet-friendly rentals increase investors’ profits AND show vacancy rates for rentals that allow pets tend to be lower than those that don’t.

 Landlords are also spending less than half as much money on advertising their pet-friendly properties.

But what about the likely damage caused by said pets?

The survey also found that the tenants with pets tended to cause less damage than tenants with children – even the worst damages caused by pets were cheaper than the average rent or the pet deposit.

Even potential homebuyers are looking for homes that are more pet-friendly – realtor.com®’s survey found that 87% of home buyers with pets say they take their pet’s needs into account when searching for a home.

Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog for more real estate news, tips, and guides!