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.

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