Preparing Your Home up for sale
Here are a few items to take care of before listing your home. This can make the sale process quicker and easier in the long run.
Consider a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and seasonal items. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that will need to be replaced soon? Find out how much it will cost to repair an older roof or replace worn carpeting, even if you don’t plan to do so. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and they’ll be handy when negotiations begin.
Locate warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house. It may seem like this task can be left until closing, but you don’t want lost paperwork or last-minute scrambling to cause the deal to fall through.
Spruce up the curb appeal. Walk out to the front of your home, close your eyes, and pretend you’re a prospective buyer seeing the property for the first time. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? What do you see framing the entrance, if anything? Is the walkway free of cracks and impediments?
How to Prepare for the Photo Shoot
With the majority of buyers shopping for homes online, high-resolution slide shows and video tours are a must. Here’s how to make your home shine on camera.
Understand the camera’s perspective.
The camera’s eye is different from the human eye. It magnifies clutter and poor furniture arrangement so that even a home that feels comfortable in person can look jumbled online.
Make it spotless.
Cameras also tend to magnify grime. Don’t forget floor coverings and walls; a spot on a rug might be overlooked during a regular home showing, but it could become a focal point online.
Know what to leave.
You want to avoid clutter, but try to have three items of varying heights on each surface. On an end table you can place a tall lamp (high), a small plant (medium), and a book (low).
Snap practice pictures with your own camera.
This will give you an idea of what the home will look like on camera before the photographer shows up. Examine the photos and make changes to improve each room’s appearance, such as opening blinds to let in natural light, removing magnets from the refrigerator, or taking down distracting art.
Removing one or two pieces of furniture from each room, even if just for the shoot, can make your space appear larger on screen.
Spotlight the flow of your space by creating a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and arranging the other pieces of furniture to make a triangle shape. The focal point may be a bed in a bedroom or a china cabinet in a dining room.
Include a healthy plant in every room; the camera loves greenery. Energize bland decor by placing a bright vase on a mantle or draping an afghan over a couch.
Keep the home in shape.
Buyers who liked what they saw online expect to encounter the same home in person.
The Escrow Process
Starting the process
A sales contract is signed by the buyer and seller, and delivered to the closing agent, usually with a deposit check. The escrow is accepted by the escrow agent, often by written notation on the contract. The escrow agent starts the closing process by opening a title order. The file begins to be processed. Tax information, loan payoffs, survey (if necessary), homeowner/maintenance fees, inspections/reports, and hazard and other insurances as well as legal papers are ordered. A title search is ordered.
Title search and examination
This is a search made of the public records. Records searched include deeds, mortgages, paving assessments, liens, wills, divorce settlements and other documents affecting title to the property. Title examination is the examination of the documents found during the title search that affect the title to the property. This is when verification of the legal owner is made and the debts owed against the property are determined. Upon completion of the search and examination, a title commitment/preliminary report is prepared, and reviewed and sent out to interested parties.
Document preparation and/or request to produce
The closing agent reviews the new lender’s instructions and requirements, reviews instructions from other parties to the transaction, reviews legal and loan documents, assembles charges, prepares closing statements, and schedules the closing.
Settlement or closing the transaction
The escrow or settlement agent oversees closing of the transaction. The seller signs the deed and closing affidavit. Buyer signs the new note and mortgage. The old loan is paid off. Seller, real estate agents, attorneys and other parties present at the closing of the transaction are paid.
After the signing has been completed, the escrow or settlement agent will forward payment to any prior lender, and pay all parties who performed services in connection with your closing (if they have not been paid). The transaction documents are recorded in the county in which the property is located. Title insurance policies are prepared and sent to the new lender and to you. This all happens without any further actions by the buyer or seller.
What is Title Insurance?
What is a title?
Simply stated, the title to a piece of property is the evidence that the owner is in lawful possession of that property.
What is title insurance?
Title insurance protects real estate owners and lenders against any property loss or damage they might experience because of liens, encumbrances or defects in the title to the property. Each title insurance policy is subject to specific terms, conditions and exclusions.
How does title insurance differ from other insurance?
Insurance such as car, life, health, etc., protects against potential future events and is paid for with monthly or annual premiums. A title insurance policy insures against events that occurred in the past of the real estate property and the people who owned it, for a one-time premium paid at the close of the escrow.
What does it cover?
Title insurance protects against claims from defects. Defects are things such as another person claiming an ownership interest, improperly recorded documents, fraud, forgery, liens, encroachments, easements and other items that are specified in the insurance policy.
Who needs it?
Purchasers and lenders need title insurance in order to be insured against various possible title defects. The buyer, seller and lender all benefit from issuance of title insurance.
How is a title insurance policy created?
After the escrow officer or lender opens the title order, the title agent or attorney begins a title search. A Preliminary Report is issued to the customer for review and approval. All closing documents are recorded upon escrow’s instruction. When recording has been confirmed, demands are paid, funds are disbursed, and the actual title insurance policy is created.
What is escrow?
Escrow refers to the process in which the funds of a transaction (such as the sale of a house) are held by a third party, often the title company or an attorney in the case of real estate, pending the fulfillment of the transaction.
What are the title insurance policy types?
The Owner’s Policy insures the new owner/home buyer, and a lender’s policy insures the priority of the lender’s security interest.