Why Your Closing Date Makes a Big Difference

There are countless steps in a home purchase or a refinance that folks need to navigate. By the time the topic of a closing date comes up, it’s easy to succumb to fatigue or anxiety and just confirm the first available date to get it over with.

Yet your closing date is quite important and can impact the entire closing experience both financially and administratively.

Should I Close on a Friday?

Fridays are typically the most sought-after date for a close. Work tends to be lighter that day, and many opt to take the day off to celebrate, spend time in their new home (if they are purchasing,) and to give themselves a 3-day weekend.

Yet Friday can come with significant delays. For the reasons stated above, there are typically more Friday closings than on any other day of the week, which means that title companies and lenders alike are busy with paperwork, closing the books on all the transactions at hand, etc. If there are any delays, it’s likely your closing will get pushed through the weekend and into the following week.

This is likely not ideal if you have prepared for an on time closing by requested time off from work, move, made plans to meet with contractors, etc. It’s worth trying to make a mid-week close work and allow some buffer time between your closing and your first big weekend with your property.

If you do need to close on a Friday, voice your desire to close early in the day. If any issues arise with walk-throughs, etc., there is still time in the day to get the closing accomplished. Additionally, giving the balance of the day for title agents and lenders to carry out wire transfers and the like will additionally speed things up.

Avoid the Last Few Days of the Month

For several strategic reasons, it’s smart to close well before the end of the month. For one, a purchaser pays interest in advance for the balance of the month, so the cash to close figure remains lower in the earlier days of the month.

Another reason to eye a closing earlier in the month is that buyers typically skip that first month’s payment. This can come as a relief to many who can take a breath after a large transaction, allow the dust to settle, and recover some cash that would otherwise go towards your mortgage payment.

It also takes some time for lenders to send out information/welcome packets, instructions on how to pay that first payment, etc. This allows for a more relaxed transition with plenty of time to get acquainted with your new lender.

Principle Abstract and Settlement Services works with each of our clients to ensure a smooth transaction, but also a well informed one. If you have questions or goals concerning your closing date, feel free to ask and we can work towards it. At the end of the day, all parties involved want a smooth, on-time transaction. We will do everything we can to ensure that happens but also let you know of any issues that come along which may impact that goal.

Interested in learning more or have a home purchase or refinance you are working on? Contact us today and a member of our team will be happy to speak with you.

Safety and Privacy Concerns During Real Estate Transactions

Real estate transactions, whether you are buying, selling or refinancing, requires a lot of access to your personal life. This takes the form of physical access during open houses, home showings, etc. It also takes the form of digital access due to the types of paperwork required to close a transaction. These can include bank statements, forms of Identification, paperwork containing social security numbers, etc. No real estate transaction should come at the risk of any breach in privacy.

In this month’s blog, we discuss the steps you can take to ensure that your data and privacy can be better protected.

Physical Documents

Physical documents are often printed out and stored in various locations within someone’s home. Hopefully, that includes a safe or locked filing cabinet at a minimum. Yet during an active transaction, such as a home sale, it’s easy to lose track of or leave out paperwork that is being generated. Coupled with regular home showings and open houses, it’s easy to leave your privacy in a vulnerable state.

Steps to Consider:

  • Ensure you are consolidating all your paperwork in a single location. Try not to leave paperwork on a printer tray, for instance.
  • When not reviewing the paperwork, set it aside somewhere out of site – or better, locked away in a safe or in a locked filing cabinet or desk drawer.
  • Once you’ve digitally scanned and/or no longer have use for a particular document, destroy it in a shredder.
  • Don’t leave documentation in a car overnight. It’s easy to leave a briefcase in the back seat of your car – it’s worth the chore of running back to the car and grabbing it to keep your overall risk down.

Digital Documentation

While the internet has made storing and sharing documents a lot easier, your digital environment is vulnerable to hacking and other forms of cybercrime and proper care should be taken to ensure that your documents are well protected.

Steps to consider:

  • Password protect sensitive materials if at all possible (keeping your password in a safe place.)
  • Properly name and file your documents so that they are not lost within your computer and forgotten.
  • Do not leave documents that are no longer needed in your recycle bin.
  • Create backups of your documents via a physical memory source like a USB hard drive or cloud storage solution.
  • Do not leave sensitive information in an email client.
  • Be extremely cautious when sending information over email.

Work with Reputable Professionals

Working with reputable and well-established professionals will make all the difference. Real estate agents should be quick to coach you on many of these topics and will have security protocols in place to ensure that documents are being properly stored and protected between all parties involved. The same goes for lenders and title insurance professionals, most of whom should have secure file sharing services that allow their clients to safely upload and organize all the required documents, collect all signatures, etc. It’s in all our best interest to ensure and maintain a high level of trust.

Any of the professionals involved with your transaction should be able to clearly and thoroughly answer questions about their data and privacy mitigation procedures and consider it a paramount priority.

Principle Abstract and Settlement Services only works with the area’s most highly reputable agents and lenders, and works tirelessly to ensure that our information is properly stored and maintained. If you would like to learn more or would like to get started on a real estate transaction, contact us today.

Save on Your Home Purchase or Refinance

Save on your home purchase or refinance

Real estate transactions can often appear daunting, especially for a first time home purchase. There are many steps, an onslaught of forms, disclosures, releases and contracts to sign throughout the mortgage application process and then there is the closing itself.

For many, it’s easy enough to glance through the paperwork and/or pass it off to an attorney without looking at the fine details. The impulse to simply get through the process can be strong!

Perhaps the worst kept secret with real estate transactions is that at the end of the day, many of the parties involved, from the lender to the real estate agent and any lawyers are primarily interested in one thing – that the deal closes. After all, that’s when everyone gets paid.

There is nothing wrong with that.

The bigger point is that no one is going to stick up for you and the dollars you spend more than yourself. For this reason, you owe it to yourself to pay close attention to the fees that are charged and within your control, and to stick up for yourself. People do this when shopping for cars and other large ticket items. Why not something as big as a home purchase?

In truth, most loan estimate forms are identical, and once you have one from a lender and know how to read it, you can potentially find several hundred dollars in savings.

Shop Around

As the loan estimate form is pretty much standardized, once you have one you can go and shop around with lenders – see if their fees are competitive compared to other area lenders. There will be a section that says, ‘Services you can shop for,’ and it quite literally spells out where you can shop for competitive pricing.

Some of the line items can include:

  1. Appraisal fees
  2. Surveys
  3. Title search/binders
  4. Settlement agent

Title insurance is often the most expensive of closing costs in this list, but you may be able to soften the blow by shopping around.

Lender Fees

Some lenders can include excessive fees, sometimes with vague, non-descriptive names. It’s within your right to ask about them to better understand what these fees are and what a lender might be able to do to reduce or remove some of them.

No Closing Cost Mortgage

You may be able to close on a home purchase with no closing costs if cash is tight. Keep in mind however that the total cost of closing on your loan will be folded into the total loan amount and will increase your monthly payments. Still, if cash is tight or your money is better served doing renovations on the home, as an example, it may be the right choice for you.

Ask for Discounts

As the adage goes: The squeakiest wheel gets the most oil. In this case, it simply doesn’t hurt to ask your bank for any discounts. For instance, if you are a long-time customer of the bank you are getting your mortgage through, they may have programs or incentives that may help you reduce your closing costs or even reduce your rate for you home purchase.

A Title Insurance Service You Can Trust

You do not need to use the title insurance company that the real estate agent provides by default, and buyers are well within their rights to shop around for title service.

Principle Abstract and Settlement Services is an independent title insurance agency that works solely in the interest of our clients. For more information or to get a competitive quote for our services, contact us today.

Do You Know the Most Common Title Search Issues?

A title search should be conducted to uncover any potential issue before a purchase takes place. This is true for land, residential or commercial transactions. It is also required during refinancing.

Title issues can come from several areas, and the consequences of not having a thorough title search can have real consequences, including lengthy and expensive legal exercises, the inability to use your property the way you wish to use it and more.

Below we list the more common issues that could come up in a title search.

Will Issues

There are several scenarios where wills can cause major issues when it comes to property ownership. For example, a person may die with no known will, heirs, etc. That property may subsequently be sold by a state or local government, only for a will to be uncovered years later. Any listed heirs may be able to challenge the ownership of that property and jeopardize your legal claim to it.

Similarly, disputing estates who wish to dispute an inheritance, for example, can later claim ownership rights of named properties. These issues can form well beyond the closing date of your home.

Liens

It’s not always clear what the financial position of a seller may have been or what outstanding debts may have remained after the sale of a large asset like a home or building. Entities may choose to place a lien on the property in question in an attempt to recover that debt.

Survey disputes

While most properties have a survey on file, not all surveys are accurate, or other surveys conducted by neighbors may produce different property lines. This can especially be true with older homes where surveys were not standardized and might reference landmarks such as a rock or a tree that are long gone. These issues may allow neighbors or towns to lay claim on a portion of your land.

Along the same line, easements may exist on a property that may impact your ability to use the land or building as intended. For instance, you may have a water main under your property that would not only allow the utility company access to your land but will prevent you from building a shed, garage or driveway over it, as examples.

Public Record Issues

Another common issue can be issues with public record. These errors can alter surveys, deeds and more which can negatively impact the value of your home.

Illegal Documents

Unfortunately, property transactions can take place using falsified information, forgeries, etc. They can also be made by individuals who are not in a legal position to do so. This can include undocumented immigrants, minors, or individuals that are deemed mentally unfit to enter any legal agreement, as examples.

Title searches help to uncover all of these issues before any transaction, allowing buyers to move forward with their investment with confidence.

Need title work done for a residential of commercial transaction? Give our office a call and a member of our staff will be happy to assist you.

Title Insurance on New Construction? Yes.

The real estate market has been a perfect storm of sorts in 2020. Record low interest rates have people buying or refinancing at a record pace. This is coupled with large population movements due to the pandemic as people flock from urban centers for either a change in lifestyle or as their professional life goes more virtual. The greater Bucks County area has become a desirable area as a result.

The issue becomes a matter of supply – there are not enough existing homes to satisfy demand so many have turned to new construction.

A question that is often raised is whether or not title insurance is required on new construction. The short answer is: Yes.

The Dwelling is New but the Land is Not

Whether the dwelling is being built on a lot or is part of a bigger development project, the land that it is being built on has a history of being bought and sold over time. Conflicts or claims of ownership are just as much a possibility as it would be if there was already a dwelling on site.

Developer and Builder Issues

Development communities involve a lot of parties to prepare the site and complete development. It takes excavation companies to prepare the site, contractors to install the various utilities such as power, sewer, etc and finally the homebuilders themselves. With all the hands involved in the overall development project, it’s possible for legal or financial issues to arise. The result could mean liens being placed on the developer. Title insurance protects homebuyers against any subsequent issues between the developer and the various parties that were involved in the development of the community.

Administrative Issues Down the Road

An often overseen fact is that the value of your title insurance lasts for as long as you own your property. This will come in handy should there ever be an issue such as the ones already mentioned above but also against any recording issues with the deed.

Title Insurance Offers Piece of Mind

Whether you are refinancing or buying a property, title insurance offers piece of mind. Real estate is almost always one of the largest investments anyone can make and nothing should be left to chance.

Principle Abstract and Settlement Service takes the role we play in your investment with the upmost care, ensuring that there are no issues with the property involved. And as an independent provider, we work to ensure that the interests of the buyer is at the forefront.

Interested in buying a plot to build your home on or purchase a new construction home? Give our office a call to speak with one of our representatives.

Property Settlements in the Midst of a Pandemic

The pandemic continues to hold a firm grip on the world and has impacted all of our lives in significant ways. While we all personally do our part to help curb the spread of coronavirus through the use of masks, sanitizers and social distancing, the pandemic is mostly out of our control; and so we must adapt.

Companies must also adapt; and they have. Restaurants now offer curbside pickup or even delivery. Many companies have switched to remote working and healthcare has seen a significant shift to telemedicine. Real estate and the various industries that it involves have also found ways to adapt.  

What We Are Doing to Help Our Clients During the Pandemic

Principle Abstract has taken several measures over these past few months to not only help facilitate the closing of real estate transactions, but to also ensure that everyone involved are as safe and comfortable as possible.

Drive Through Settlements

Over the past several months, we have helped dozens of clients close from the comfort of their own vehicles. Clients remain in their cars as paperwork is passed through the windows, where documents are then signed and processed in an organized and seamless process.

Outside Settlements

We have also performed dozens of settlements in an outdoor space, such as a park, so long as weather permits. The present parties can either sit or stand at a table and process the paperwork in a comfortable, open-air setting.

Driveway / Garage Closings

If agreed to, the property location itself is a viable option for closings. We’ve performed many closings right in the driveway or in an open garage, allowing for plenty of space with adequate airflow to keep all parties safe.  This option has been quite convenient, particularly for moving day closings and can save a lot of time and travel for everyone involved.

Traditional Closings

We continue to offer our office as a location for settlement. Of course, all recommended precautions are taken to ensure a safe visit to our office, including face masks, hand sanitizers and frequent office disinfection.

No one was handed a manual on how to deal with or thrive in the midst of a global pandemic. Yet so many people and companies have done an admirable job to learn and adapt to our current realities. This is particularly true for industries where little can be done. Principle Abstract is proud to count itself among the companies that have embraced these necessary changes from the onset to ensure that our clients are both safe and comfortable.

If you are interested in our services or would like more information on our disinfection procedures during the pandemic, contact our office today and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.

WHY 20% OF HOMEBUYERS MAY NOT SLEEP TONIGHT

Each year, approximately 20% of homebuyers fail to protect themselves by not getting owner’s title insurance. Unfortunately, this leaves them exposed to serious financial risk—causing endless worry and regret.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your property rights, so you can rest assured once you’ve purchased your home.

 Looking For Potential Threats

During the home-closing process, your title professional will help transition the home from the seller to you, the homebuyer, by examining public records. Generally, if a problem is discovered, the title professional works to resolve them before you purchase the home.

However, even after a title search is performed and you purchase your home, problems could arise that threaten your ownership rights. Examples include:

  • Undiscovered tax liens
  • Forged signatures in the chain of title
  • Recording errors
  • Undisclosed easements
  • Title claims by missing heirs* or ex-spouses

 Getting owner’s title insurance protects your property rights from threats like these. Here’s a real-life example of how it works.

 True Story

A family in Missouri unknowingly purchased their home from a seller who had taken out a separate $419,000 loan on the property. But this fact was not discovered during the closing process, and the family’s lender paid the seller directly instead of paying off the existing loan.

Soon, the family faced foreclosure because someone else had claim against their title. Fortunately, the family had owner’s title insurance. So the title company paid the debt and the family kept their home—and peace of mind.

 This story has a positive ending, but without owner’s title insurance, the family could have faced serious costs, and even eviction.

 Protect Yourself

There are two types of title insurance: lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance.

Lender’s title insurance is required by most lenders and banks because it protects their loan investments. Usually, you purchase this policy as the homebuyer. If you only have a lender’s policy, where the outstanding loan is covered, your equity is not protected. Therefore, you could have your property rights taken away if someone else has claim to your home.

Owner’s title insurance is the policy that protects your property rights from legal and financial threats like those mentioned in the story you just read. That’s why millions of homebuyers each year make the smart decision to get owner’s title insurance. It’s a low, one-time fee that provides the peace of mind that every homebuyer deserves, for as long as you or your family* own your home.

 

*This advertising offers a brief description of insurance coverages, products and services and is meant for informational purposes only. Actual coverages may vary by state, company or locality. You may not be eligible for all of the insurance products, coverages or services described in this advertising. For exact terms, conditions, exclusions, and limitations, please contact a title insurance company authorized to do business in your location.

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