Real Estate Tip of the Week: When to Follow-Up

The dreaded call-back. The terrifying email pursue.

What all agents know and fear: the follow-up.

Now, maybe not all agents fear the follow-up – but there is always a certain pause as to when an agent should follow-up with a potential lead.

So, how do you know?

Rely on Previous Conversation

Each client will be different in terms of when to follow-up. Think back on your conversation with them: what was their urgency, what was their main topic (finances, finding a lender, finding an agent, finding the right neighborhood, etc.).

Gather exactly what it is they were needing and pursuing, and obviously, how quickly they needed results. Follow your gut with your past conversation with them, and base that off when to reach out to them. Be sure that when you reach out to them, you include information that touches on what they were looking for previously and how you can help.

Try and Schedule a Meeting

One major piece of advice is to not try and win a lead over phone call, text, or email. You should always push to meet in person (or Zoom, etc.) when selling exactly who you are, your commission prices, etc.

After you’ve reminded them of who you are, and mentioning that you remember they were trying to find a home in “X” neighborhood, ask if they’d like to schedule a time to chat in person or through a web-video platform to learn more about the ways you can help.

Looking for more real estate tips and tricks? Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

What’s A Closing? – A Homebuyer Guide

You searched for months on Zillow, you hired a real estate agent to guide you through the homebuying process, and now – closing time.

Except….what is a closing, anyway?

We get lots of questions like this all the time. But essentially – the closing (or the settlement, as it can be called in some states) is the important part of the purchasing process. This is the stage you legally commit to your mortgage loan.

Title insurance – an Owner’s Policy – protects your property rights. This one-time fee protects your important property rights for as long as you or your heirs own the property. Without title insurance, real-life title problems could affect your property rights.

Owner’s Policy protects you from:

  • Unpaid mortgages
  • Unpaid property taxes
  • Child support liens
  • Missing heirs who could claim the property belongs to him or her
  • Missed easements or rights of way that could limit your use of the property

Here’s what you can expect when you go to your title & escrow office for your closing:

  • Talk with your real estate agent on where to “shop” for the closing agent who will gather all your legal documents, close the loan, and handle the money involved in your purchase (ahem, us!)
  • During the closing, you’ll sign many documents. Some of the documents you’ll sign include:
    • Closing Disclosure: This contains the terms and cost of your transaction. Your lender, by law, must provide the Closing Disclosure to you three days before your closing appointment.
    • Promissory Note: This is your promise to repay the mortgage to your lender. It details the amount you owe, the interest rate, the dates when payments are to be made, the length of time for repayment, and where the payments will be sent. It also details consequences if you fail to make payments.
    • Deed of trust: Also called a Security Instrument or Mortgage, this document transfers legal ownership of the property with the condition that the lender may foreclose on your home if you fail to repay your mortgage.

Don’t be scared of your closing and your title insurance. It’s put in place to protect YOU, the buyer, from any real-life title problems that may occur on your property. And you don’t want that.

Enjoy your home, and congratulations on your closing!

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

Real Estate Tip of the Week: What’s a Reverse Mortgage?

You might have heard about reverse mortgages – but what are they, exactly?

These are a type of loan that allows homeowners – aged 62 and older – to borrow some of their home’s equity as tax-free income. Most of these homeowners have already paid off their mortgage.

“Regular” mortgages consist of the homeowner paying the lender, but in a reverse, the lender pays the homeowner.

How the heck does that work, you may ask?

First, it comes down to how much the homeowner can actually borrow. This is known as the principal limit, and it varies based on the age of the youngest borrower or eligible non-borrowing spouse, current interest rates, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) limit, and the home’s value.

So – why would homeowners think about applying for a reverse mortgage? How does this help them?

These mortgages can be used for supplementing retirement income, covering the cost of any needed home repairs, or paying for any sort of out-of-pocket expenses.

And just like “regular” mortgages, there are several types of reverse mortgages:

  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM): this is the most popular type and are federally insured. These usually have higher upfront costs, but the funds can be used for any purpose.
  • Proprietary Reverse Mortgage: This is a private loan, so it is not backed by the government.
  • Single-purpose Reverse Mortgage: These are usually offered by nonprofit organizations as well as state and local government agencies. This loan can only be used to cover one specific purpose.

Reverse mortgages offer older homeowners to supplement income in retirement, pay for renovations, or other expenses. Although this might seem like the perfect option for you, it’s always best to talk with your lender to discuss your finances and how things might look in the long run. You can also speak with a HUD-approved counselor before committing to a reverse mortgage by visiting HUD’s online locator, here.

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

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Seller Disclosures

We hope we didn’t lose you at the title – Seller Disclosures! They aren’t meant to be scary…in fact, they’re there to protect not only the seller, but the buyer too!! It’s important to understand what a disclosure is and how it benefits you.

So, what is a seller disclosure?

In real estate, seller disclosures are the seller’s legal responsibilities to reveal known defects about the home or property they are selling.

These vary by state and must be in writing. Seller disclosures are different from an inspection report – which should be done separately. Think of it this way: the inspection report lets the seller/buyer know what needs to be fixed or updated, which should then be listed on the seller disclosure.

Buyers are given the disclosure so they can assess if they’d like to move forward with the sale. They can make preparations if they choose to move forward, possibly negotiate a lower price – pretty much whatever they’d like to do. That could even be just “ignoring” any sort of issue in the home to deal with later. But essentially – these disclosures protect the buyer from making any unwanted sale or accidental problems in the future.

If a seller doesn’t include something (that has been told to them by the inspection report), then the seller may face legal trouble for not having it disclosed.

What’s usually on a seller disclosure?

  • Health & safety: mold, radon, asbestos, or foundation problems are common examples.
  • Renovations: any work the seller has put into the home, whether it was permitted or not.
  • Pests: termites, rodents, etc.
  • Mechanical: Water, sewer, AC/HVAC, appliance problems, etc.

Who can help with a seller disclosure?

You don’t technically need the help of a real estate agent for this – but it would greatly help both parties if an agent was on the case. Agents can make sure things that need to be included are on the report, and they can help the buyer make a good choice.

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

How to Prep Your Home for Summer

Spring sprung exactly a month ago – which means the warmer weather is bound to be heading your way (if it hasn’t already)!

Have you planed the updates your home needs to better protect itself in those warmer months? Not sure what those updates are? Check out our tips below:

Air Conditioning Unit

Make sure you’ve changed any clogged or dirty filters – if you ignore this step, your HVAC will run longer than it needs to, which means you’re paying more money.

Set your AC to the highest comfortable temperature – set it higher while you’re away and turn it down when you return. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests increasing your thermostat to warmer temperatures while you’re away and programming it to around 78°F when you’re at home for the best energy savings.

Roof

Your roof might have gone through some stuff during the winter months – ice, snow, and wind storms all could have damaged your roof in some way shape or form. As soon as you’re able, take a look and check for any missing or damaged shingles, check flashing around pipes and chimneys, and inspect any caulked areas (skylights).

Lawn Care

Make sure your lawnmower and other yard tools are ready for use before you get your yard looking in tip-top shape! Check for any fallen debris from trees and make sure you take a look at your sprinklers before turning them back on – i.e., checking for broken, clogged or missing sprinkler heads, sunken heads that have dipped below the ground, or high vegetation, to name a few.

Your home should be safe, comfortable, and efficient for summer use!

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

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Home Insurance

If you’re in the process of buying a home, you might start to wonder exactly what home insurance is and if you even need it to purchase the home.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it:

Homeowners Insurance – What is it?

As with other types of coverage, you’ll pay an amount either monthly or annually in exchange for your provider helping you pay for any unexpected costs that might arise as a homeowner.

What does it cover?

When you’re a homeowner, there are plenty of things that could pop up that you can’t control – things like natural disasters, fires, accidents, crimes, flooding, etc. Without home insurance, you might have to pay an incredibly expensive bill to update your home. Home insurance offers protection that will help pay for any unexpected expenses.

Mortgages & Home Insurance

Most lenders will require you to get home insurance before they approve a loan and close the deal. This is because lenders are investing in your property – so if flooding occurs in your home, your lender will want you to have a home insurance plan to help rebuild and restore anything you lost (because it would be like they are potentially losing it).

No Mortgage?

If you are able to buy a home without a mortgage and/or help from a lender, then technically – no, you do not need to pay for homeowner’s insurance. However, many experts and employees in the field will still strongly suggest that you pay for home insurance.

It’s a way to have a backup in a worst-case scenario that you didn’t plan for – because let’s face it, there’s a lot of things that we don’t plan for.

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

Real Estate Tip of the Month: Refinancing Your Mortgage

If you remember our recent article discussing homeowner’s and their regrets on not completing a refinance on their mortgage, then it might be a good time to dive into what a refinance is and how you go about the process.

What is a refinance?

A mortgage refinance replaces your current home loan with a new one – usually this is done to reduce the interest rate, cut monthly payments, tap into the home’s equity, rid of FHA mortgage insurance, or switch from an adjustable-rate to a fixed-rate loan.

How do you start a refinance?

Just like signing for the original loan, you’ll have to qualify for a refinance, file an application, go through the underwriting process, and go to closing – just like you did when you bought the home originally.

Work with same lender or new lender?

If you’re curious how a refinance might look for you, check out NerdWallet’s mortgage refinance calculator before you talk with a lender. Seeing the cost through a calculator might help you determine which lender might offer you the best deal on a refinance.

Mentioned in our previous article on refinancing, many homeowners incorrectly believe that they have to refinance with their current lender, which isn’t true. Like all of our guides on shopping for a mortgage, the same applies for a refinance. Shop, compare, and find the best lender for you.

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

Real Estate Vocabulary for First-Time Homebuyers

Congratulations – you’re in the arena to purchase your first ever home! That in itself is an amazing accomplishment.

Because you’re a first-time homebuyer, there will be a lot of real estate vocabulary that you might not be totally familiar with. But don’t fret! This is where we come in to help.

Check out some of the top real estate vocabulary to familiarize yourself with:

  • Adjustable-rate Mortgage: After a period of time that could be anywhere from three to 10 years, the interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage will be adjusted by the lender in accordance with current interest rates.
  • Annual Percentage Rate: These are also known as an APR. This is the standardized method of showing you the total cost of borrowing money. This will be a combination of the interest rate charged by your creditor, in addition to any fees you may be charged for.
  • Appraisal: These are professional opinions of the market value of a property. Appraisers use a number of methods to determine the appropriate value of the home, including the current market value and seeing what prices homes nearby sold for.
  • Closing Costs: These fees will come up after the completion of a sale. They may be related to insurance fees, survey fees, or attorney fees and will vary from location to location.
  • Fixed-rate Mortgage: This mortgage’s interest rate will never change – even if the term of the loan is 30 years.
  • Title Insurance: This policy protects a lender’s or owner’s interest in real estate property from assorted types of unexpected claims of ownership.

Understanding real estate terminology can help arm you with the knowledge and confidence needed to make the best decisions for you!

Check out Alliance’s Buyer-Seller Guide for more information and tips!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Working on Real Estate Bios

When a buyer or seller is on the search to find a real estate agent, don’t be the one to fall into the loud mesh and not been seen! There are a lot of real estate agents out there – how can you stand out from the crowd?

Your bio on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Blog is a great way to separate yourself from the Plain Janes in the real estate world! What you write about yourself can really make a big impact to the audience you’re trying to reach.

Here are some quick tips to up your real estate game:

The Lead

Be sure to introduce what brought you into this industry, how long you’ve been helping clients, and some of the goals you’ve accomplished since becoming an agent!

The Action

You should be telling your clients why you’re a good fit for them – yes, you’re the number one real estate in the area, but be sure to be specific about what you do!

Talk about what you love about your work, the clients you help, and your goals as an agent. Mention the clients you’ve helped purchase or sell homes for; are they retirees, first-time homebuyers, or newlyweds?

The Personal

It’s important to be relatable. Write about something quirky or unique about you – maybe your favorite sports team, your favorite hobby, what you’re passionate about. Show potential clients that you’re more than a real estate agent – you can be someone they connect with as they go on to purchase or sell their home.

You are YOUR brand – so be sure to use your voice in the way that highlights the best you!

How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

It’s about that time – spring allergy time! If you’ve started to notice the sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, then it’s about time you notice that there’s something you can do to help!

Your home contains allergens that make you feel like spring is against you. But, as a homeowner, it’s important that you learn the ways you can help clean and de-allergen your home. Check out our tips below:

Vacuum

Dust settles, and dust carries a lot of those allergens that annoy you! If you can, try and upgrade with a vacuum that includes a HEPA filter. These trap particles as tiny as.3 microns, which means they’ll get rid of most of the allergens in your home.

Air Filters

Don’t forget to replace the filters in your heating and cooling system. Check out our previous article that dives into it!

Microfiber Cloths

As mentioned before, dust is a true allergy culprit! Instead of just brushing dust away with a towel or a duster, try and use a damp microfiber cloth. These will trap the dust instead of moving them around.

Wash Bed Sheets

Be sure to wash your pillow cases and sheets every 3 weeks.

Air Purifier

Indoor air is twice as polluted as outdoor air with all the dust, mold, and chemicals that stay in an enclosed space over time. If you can, think about investing in an air purifier. Make sure it uses a HEPA filter (like mentioned for the vacuum).

Allergies can be a real downer! But if you work hard at maintaining your home during the spring and summer months, you’ll feel the benefits!