Bye, 2020! There are certainly things we won’t miss about this past year. Looking back, however, one of the things we are thankful for is the real estate boom. In many parts of Florida and throughout the country, the real estate market has been hot!
That’s been due to record low mortgage rates, but inventory is lower than what is needed to keep up with demand. This means prices are moving up sharply, and many buyers are willing to offer more than the asking price.
This sounds like a great thing for sellers, but there’s a step that can be forgotten until it’s too late – *dun dun dun* - the appraisal.
Unless you’re paying in cash, the bank needs to ensure that they’re not giving too high of a loan for the property. Just because a buyer really wants to buy it for $15,000 more than asking doesn't mean the bank does.
Ways to Avoid a Low Appraisal
1. Don’t Be Zillowed - Price the home correctly. Avoid the urge to overprice because of the market. Find a comfortable price that has some room for negotiation - up or down.
2. Consider Upgrades – According to a local appraiser, the usual upgrades are always great ways to increase your appraisal value:
3. Prepare the Home for Occupancy – A home that’s ready to live in will likely earn a higher appraisal. Touch up walls and base boards with paint, pressure wash the exterior of the home and driveway, declutter every room, mow the lawn, and finish any incomplete projects.
“I Did All That, but My Appraisal Was Still Low! What Now?!”
Receiving a low appraisal can be stressful for the seller and buyer. The buyer thinks they are going to get a better deal, but they might actually lose the deal by staying with the original appraisal. The seller is not happy since they believe their property is worth more. So, how do you save the sale?
Negotiate a Lower Sales Price
Dispute the Appraisal with the Original Lender
Request a New Appraisal from a New Lender
Our final piece of advice when dealing with an appraisal is to relax and let the system work. It’s in place to make sure everyone has a safe transaction.
It’s October, season of carving pumpkins and munching on candy corn. However, there’s something lurking just around the corner or hiding in the front yard creeping up on your customer, and if your customers are not careful – these monsters can jump out and KILL YOUR NEXT DEAL!
To help ensure your customers don’t unwittingly cast themselves as the victims in their own horror movie this season, check out the tips below on some of the biggest KILLERS of a real estate transaction!
Don't Spend Like a PSYCHO!
After signing the contract for their new home, but before closing, some customers just get into a spending mood! It may be tempting to use a new line of credit to fill the new house with furniture or purchase a shiny new SUV for the driveway, but these transactions can QUICKLY change your lender’s opinion about your credit-worthiness and cause your deal to go down the drain!
Avoid the Home of FRANKENSTEIN.
Some homes look great on the outside and even through the buying process, only for the future homeowners to find out the home has not been properly upgraded throughout the years and is, instead, a mishmash of a lot of parts like Frankenstein’s monster. That home may not pass inspection, and when that happens, the sale is gone. Don’t let your buyers be sad. It’s a good thing to keep their family safe from plumbing, foundation, or electrical issues... as Frankie says – FIRE BAD.
Steer Clear of the INVISIBLE ZOMBIE.
A surprisingly common issue when someone is selling their home is that their legal spouse has gone as invisible as Claude Raine. When people move away from each other without filing the correct legal documents, they may forget that technically BOTH parties still own the home, and there’s been instances where the former spouse cannot be found in time – bringing the closing to a screeching halt.
Don't Let Liens Drain You Like DRACULA.
Imagine getting excited about your new home, only to find the solar panels that you thought were a nice addition come with a $20,000 lien on the property. Just like Dracula – that sucks! Make sure you ask your title company for a comprehensive title search so that these kinds of liens don’t suck the life out of your customers' bank accounts!
As you can see, it may seem like there’s danger lurking around every corner, but with a little bit of preparation - and choosing a title company backed with the power of Florida Agency Network - you can help your customers avoid turning their experience into a horror film!
One side effect of the COVID crisis has been an increase in the use of online based video chat services like Zoom. Unfortunately, this also has created a new type of online cyber-criminal... the ZOOMPIRE!
This "vampire" isn't after your blood but, instead, specializes in sending fake zoom meetings to users to steal their personal data with specialized links used to fool the person into believing they’ve been invited to an online meeting.
Researchers at INKY say that these new attacks are even fooling some Secure Email Gateways (SEGs), making them harder to catch.
In addition, they can send a direct link, preventing your browser’s fraud prevention, as well. "If the hacker includes a fake attachment, it leads to a fake login page that’s locally hosted on the recipient’s computer, not the internet," the researchers write.
The solution here may be a low tech one. By texting or calling to confirm any meetings you didn’t set up yourself, you can be sure you’re only joining meetings you’re supposed to join - and prevent the ZOOMPIRE!
Have you heard about Alanna, Florida Agency Network's new virtual assistant?
She helps answer all your closing questions day or night, right from your text messages. The service is free to all our clients when they close with any of the offices in The Network.
You’ve just bought a house. You and your spouse are enjoying your new home, your new neighborhood, and your new back yard. In fact, you’re out back sipping coffee one morning when you open a letter from your city and find that you now owe $34,000 in code violations. The previous owner let the lawn grow too tall and didn’t fix it for months.
This sounds like a horror story, and it is! But, it’s also a true story! This is one of the many dangers in not getting a municipal lien search – an additional search that must be requested.
That’s why Florida Agency Network offers a wide variety of additional comprehensive searches that go above and beyond the typical lien and title searches required by law.
Here are some of our additional searches and the value they hold:
This search allows us to find liens from the local city or town that may be placed for various reasons, such as unpaid taxes, water, or sewer charges. These can come back to the new owners, as the lien is on the property not the person who owned the property.
This is a national database that tracks mortgage servicers to ensure interests in loans for residential real estate. This ensures that the mortgages have been moved properly and your current servicer is the correct one.
When an owner has open or expired permits left on the home, they can cause trouble for the new owners – especially if they want to do some work that requires a permit. It’s important to get these items resolved before closing.
CODE & CODE ENFORCEMENT SEARCHES
Code violations are the responsibility of the homeowner, regardless of when the violation happened. This means tall grass, pest extermination, or other code violations can come back to cost the new owner.
These are just some of the ways that not doing a comprehensive search for your customers can come back and cost them. Your Florida Agency Network agency is ready to help! To share this information with others, we have a downloadable PDF.
Surveys, also called boundary or land surveys, map out your real estate property, show its boundary lines, improvements made to the property, and all access to the property.
FIVE GREAT REASONS TO PURCHASE A SURVEY
1. UNDISCLOSED RIGHTS AND EASEMENTS
You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but someone else might have a right to use a portion of your property. A survey will show physical evidence of the rights of others to use your property for access, parking, utilities, and other situations.
2. UNDISCOVERED ENCROACHMENTS
A survey may be the only way to tell if a third party holds a claim to part of your property because their improvements, such as a garage, fence, or swimming pool, are on your land.
3. IS THE PROPERTY BUILT ON THE CORRECT LOT
It may seem impossible, but sometimes a house is built on the wrong lot. A survey provides peace of mind by showing the exact location of the house you are buying.
4. KNOWING THE SIZE OF YOUR PROPERTY
A survey shows the exact dimensions of the property’s boundary lines and how much land is included within those lines.
5. FUTURE ADDITIONS
Many residential plotted lots can have building restrictions, which could prohibit you from building close to the boundary lines. If you are thinking of building future additions on your property, a survey can help determine if the lot is right for both your current and future plans.
These are a few reasons why you should purchase a survey when making one of the largest investments in your life. We've created a downloadable PDF of this information for you to keep or share.
At Strategic Title, we are always available to answer questions about your survey or your closing. Feel free to contact our office with any further questions you may have.
It’s Spring, which means it's time for new growth and sales! Let’s make sure your new customers are ready to buy a home in the busy season by ensuring they know the importance of a land survey! Getting a survey is more important now than ever and can help your customers ensure that they’re getting everything they paid for - and nothing they didn’t!
It may seem obvious where the lines of a property are when you’re on the land, but because of easements and agreements between neighbors, those property lines might not have been legally recorded, which means the property divisions might not be as clear as you think!
If your customers do not clearly define their property lines, they might fall victim to a full range of unpleasant scenarios. Take a look at these common situations that your customers may face:
When the property lines are not defined and a neighbor’s fence or building ends up in your customer's yard, old neighbor agreements that may have been in place at one time might no longer be agreed upon. This can lead to disputes or, worse, legal liability.
A common easement is a piece of your customer's property that they allow utility companies to access, but other easements exist, like those for drainage or dock maintenance. Building on these easements can be illegal and costly.
Each property has requirements for how close or far from the property lines your customer can build. If a new structure, such as shed or pool enclosure, is within these lines your customer could be forced to take them down, which means time and money wasted!
In addition to the situations listed above, surveyors also maintain a true legal description of a property to ensure buyers are purchasing the right property and can certify the new survey to the buyer (new owner).
So, as the real estate season heats up with the Florida weather, encourage your customers to get a land survey before closing. It's one more step they can take to protect themselves when purchasing their property.
Each year, the country is hit with hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, super storms, flooding, and more. With hurricane season running from June 1st to November 30th, coastal and inland region homeowners must prepare for potential storms annually. Of course, you have insurance to help you recover. But knowing and doing a few things now—while the weather’s fair—can help you and your family stay safe and help you protect your property if the unexpected happens.
Here are 10 Ways to Prepare You and Your Clients for Hurricane Season:
10. Know Your Closing Options
Know your closing options in case of an evacuation. Our options include, but are not limited to, Remote Online Notarization (RON), Mobile Notary to come to your location, or a Traditional Closing (in-person at the office).
9. Trim Your Landscape
Trim trees and shrubbery to help protect your house in case of a storm. Keep in mind this is a tip if you are about to list your home or have purchased a new home.
8. Stock Up
Stock up on important items such as canned goods, water, pet food, paper goods, flashlights, batteries, and most importantly – adult beverages.
7. Think About Your Outdoor Items
Consider where to store outside items if a storm comes, such as a boat, a trailer, pool chairs/equipment, etc.
6. Take Photos
Take photos of the property, inside and out, prior to the storm.
5. Secure Important Documents
Be sure all important documents are stored in a waterproof safe, in the cloud, or in a secure portal online. These documents should include your Homeowners Insurance policy, survey, marriage license, wills, social security card, title policy, etc.
4. Consider Flood Insurance
Consider Flood Insurance, even if you are not in a flood zone. Be sure to purchase early – it can take 30+ days for the insurance company to finalize your policy.
3. Bind Your Homeowners Insurance Early
Homeowners Insurance – obtain quotes prior to signing your contract and consider binding the policy early, even before your closing day.
2. Don't Host the Hurricane Party
Find out who’s hosting the local Hurricane Party… because you don’t want to be volunteered to host it at your new house!
1. STOCK UP ON TOILET PAPER!!!
In addition to these tips, be sure to stay up to date on local news and have a battery-operated radio on hand to stay informed during power outages.
Covid-19 has been a challenge for every American, and while we are dealing with an ever-evolving landscape of quarantine and modified stay-at-home orders still, the real estate industry continues to chug along. That means your potential customers are still thinking about buying their first home, upgrading to a bigger home, or selling their starter home, and they're going to be looking for real estate agent to help them.
The good news? We know where your customers are probably spending most of their day – at home. And, if they’re anything like us (don’t worry, they are), they’re also spending a lot of that time on their phones and computers. 32% of Americans have admitted to spending longer online since the beginning of this crisis, and that number is only climbing.
That means it’s time for some online marketing! Getting in front of your customers may be easier than ever, so here are 5 tools to help you beef up your marketing game:
Create Cute Content on Canva. If you haven’t heard of Canva before, your competitors have! Canva.com is a platform that allows you to design pictures to post on social media. Pictures produce 650% more engagement when compared to text posts. It only makes sense to turn those words into pictures!
Seamlessly & Safely Stage to Sell. Open houses and walk-throughs may have trickled to all time lows, but buyers still aren’t too keen on buying a house they haven’t seen from the inside. The solution is virtual staging! Check out these virtual staging solutions and post the pictures to your social media platform of choice!
Perfectly Plan Your Posts. Homeschooling, trips to the grocery stores, binging TV shows – life can still be busy when stuck inside. That means you might not be able to post at the best times, and planning ahead could really come in handy. Check out Hootsuite or Post Planner to manage your social media, but remember to put the popcorn down when the customers start calling!
Elevate Your Emails. Email marketing is still one of the most profitable forms of advertising, with an average ROI of $38 to every $1 spent. (3) Mailchimp is the tried-and-true favorite, but there are alternatives that can be better for some people here. No matter what software you decide to use, check out BombBomb to add a personal touch. This software can add a small video to your email for added engagement.
Tech Up Your Toolkit. If you’ve talked to one of our account representatives, they have probably mentioned FanAgent One as a great tool for fast net sheet quotes, but did you know it’s also a great tool for marketing? Check out the filters for social media and the info sheets that allow you to add your picture and info to send to your customers.
We all hope that we get back to normal in no time, but in the meantime, the above tools can help keep you top of mind for your customers.