Thursday, February 09, 2017

Owner's Policy questions

Questions about an Owner's Policy?

An owner title insurance policy will protect the homebuyer from many of the risks, but not all. Let me explain...

Owner title insurance does not cover the condition of the structure. A smart homebuyer will take the time to hire professional inspectors and look at their reports before the closing. Keep in mind the age of the house and be realistic about your expectations. Every good home inspector will point out all the flaws they find. You, the homebuyer, will need to decide which ones are really important and then negotiate with the seller for repair.

A consumer should also buy a current up to date survey, making sure the surveyor actually does field work and research. The drawing should accurately show the location of easements, rights of way, and improvements/structures. It’s not safe to rely on the seller’s knowledge of lot line locations. They may be mistaken. Owner title insurance typically does not cover the location of structures or lot lines. So if you close without a survey and find out later that the garage is actually on your neighbor’s property or that lovely area for a garden is not yours, you’re on your own. You’ll either go to court or take your lumps.

I am amazed when a transaction falls apart because the buyer insisted that the seller make the house perfect. Unless you are buying a brand new home, try to keep your expectations realistic. It probably took a long time to find the right house in the right neighborhood at the right price. Don't blow the deal seeking perfection. A willing buyer negotiating with a willing seller will usually find the right balance and resolve their concerns.

Here's some language we use at closing to make sure both buyer and seller have reached an understanding:

"The undersigned buyer(s) and seller(s) agree that all terms and conditions of the sales agreement have been satisfied or waived.

The undersigned buyer(s) confirms that they have had an opportunity to inspect the premises to their satisfaction and that they have personally reviewed and accepted any inspection reports issued by contractors performing tests on their behalf including but not limited to septic dye test, termite/pest inspection, home inspection, etc.

For purposes of holding the real estate agents, real estate companies, Lender, its successors and assigns, and The Closing Specialists® harmless, buyer(s) agrees to accept property in "as is" condition. Representations and warranties from the seller are still being relied upon by the buyer(s) and are not hereby waived.

Buyer(s) and seller(s) further agree to hold harmless all/any real estate agents, real estate companies, Lender, its successors and/or assigns, and The Closing Specialists® from further liabilities and/or remedies related to the physical condition of the premises."

I know it's boring stuff, but signing this document at closing is a sort of "speak now or forever hold your peace" moment. We really do not want you to close until you are satisfied.

Do your homework before you go to the closing table. Order your survey and inspections as soon as the agreement is accepted. Review any concerns directly with the surveyor or inspector. Negotiate repairs, if necessary. Do a final walk thru right before closing to make sure the condition of the house is broom clean and as agreed. Then close knowing you have done as much as possible to protect your interests and enjoy your new home!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Seller should shop around for fees too!

query: does the seller get overcharged on settlement costs

Yes, indeed they do. Sellers, like buyers, should shop for settlement service providers or at the very least make certain that the settlement agent being hired by the buyer isn't overcharging on the seller side.

We see this in the Pittsburgh metro market all the time. A buyer hires a settlement agent. The settlement agent charges the seller a settlement fee. Why? Does the seller have to pay? No, not unless they bargained for the service.

Seller should ask around and find out what is customary in their market and also whether there are options to reduce their settlement costs.