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Home Closing 101
Do you know what to expect on closing day?
Most people don’t. And that can lead to some uneasiness. But help is here. The American Land Title Association, or ALTA, has created a website featuring information every homebuyer can use to help familiarize themselves with the closing process before walking into the closing

The Home Closing 101 Site
At Home Closing 101 you will find information you can use to prepare yourself for closing. The site covers topics such as title insurance, escrow fees and closing costs. So when the time comes to sign on the dotted line you’ll feel fully prepared.

Home Closing 101 is especially helpful for first time buyers. Buying a house is an exciting time and the more you know about the process, the more relaxed you’ll be going through it. Spend a little time on the site and you can walk through the home buying process, receiving explanations for each step and helpful hints on how to find the right people to help you on your journey to homeownership.

Click here to start learning about the home buying process.

What Is American Land Title Association (ALTA)?
Founded in 1907, ALTA is the national trade association and voice of the title insurance industry. ALTA members search, review and insure land titles to protect home buyers and mortgage lenders who invest in real estate.

ALTA members advocate safe and efficient transfer of real estate and insist on high standards when searching land title records and preparing insurance documents. The industry seeks to eliminate risk before insuring, which provides homebuyers with the best possible chance of avoiding land title problems. But, title difficulties can and do occur, and members offer both Owner’s and Lender’s title insurance policies as effective safeguards.

Click here to visit the ALTA website.

About Stewart Title Insurance
Stewart (NYSE: STC) is a leading provider of real estate services, including global residential and commercial title insurance, escrow and settlement services, lender services, underwriting, specialty insurance and other solutions that facilitate successful real estate transactions. Stewart offers personalized service, industry expertise and customized solutions for virtually any type of real estate transaction, through our direct operations, network of approved agencies and other companies within the Stewart family. Through a focus on integrity, smart growth and conservative management, Stewart remains committed to serving our customers, innovating and improving to meet their needs in an ever-changing market. 

Please click on the link below for more information:

WHY TITLE INSURANCE?

Owning real estate is one of the most precious values of freedom in this country. You want the assurance that the property you are buying will be yours. Other than your mortgage holder, no one else should have any claims or restrictions against your home.

Title insurance is issued after a careful examination of the public records. But even the most thorough search cannot absolutely assure that no title faults are present, despite the knowledge and experience of professional title examiners. In addition to matters shown by public records, other title problems may exist that cannot be disclosed in a search. Title insurance eliminates any risks and losses caused by faults in title from an event that occurred before you owned the property.

Title insurance is different from other types of insurance in that it protects you, the insured, from a loss that may occur from matters or faults from the past. Other types of insurance such as auto, life, or health cover you against losses that may occur in the future. Title insurance does not protect against any future faults, but does protect you from risks or undiscovered interests. Another difference is that you pay a one-time premium for a policy that remains effective until the property is sold to a new owner - even if that doesn't occur for decades.

What is a Lender's Policy?

A lender's policy, also known as a loan policy or a mortgage policy, protects the lender against loss due to unknown title defects. It also protects the lender's interest from certain matters which may exist, but may not be known at the time of the sale.

This policy only protects the lender's interest. It does not protect the purchaser. That is why a real estate purchaser needs an owner's policy.

What is an owner's policy?

An owner's policy protects you, the purchaser, against a loss that may occur from a fault in the ownership or interest you have in the property. You should protect the equity in your new home with a title policy.

What does an owner's policy provide?

- Protection from financial loss due to demands that may be charged against the title to your home, up to the cost of the title policy.
- Payment of legal costs if the title insurer has to defend your title against a covered claim.
- Payment of successful claims against the title to your home covered by the policy, up to the cost of the policy.

Why the seller needs to provide title insurance?

Any purchaser will need evidence that his investment in your property is free of title defects. The title insurance policy that you provide the purchaser is a guarantee that you are selling a clear title to your real estate, unencumbered by any legal attachments that might limit or jeopardize ownership. It will reassure your purchaser that he or she is protected from any risks or losses and could help you close your deal.

Why the buyer needs title insurance?

Without title insurance, you may not be fully protected against errors in public records, hidden defects not disclosed by the public records, or mistakes in examination of the title. As a result, you may be held fully accountable for any prior liens, judgments or claims brought against your new property. If this should occur, your title policy insures that you will be defended at no cost against all covered claims up to the amount of the policy.

How much does title insurance cost?

The insurance commission approves and controls the premiums for title insurance policies. The premiums are paid only once and the cost depends upon the purchase price of the property and the policy amount must be equal to the purchase price.

What does title insurance protect from?

  • Fraud
  • Adverse possession
  • Rights of divorced parties
  • Deeds by minors
  • Undisclosed Heirs
  • Errors in tax records
  • False affidavits of death or heirship
  • Probate matters
  • Deeds and wills by persons of unsound mind
  • Conveyances by undisclosed divorced spouses
  • Forfeitures of real property due to criminal acts
  • Deeds by persons falsely representing their marital status
  • Documents executed by a revoked or expired Power of Attorney
  • Defective acknowledgements due to improper or expired notarization
  • Mistakes and omissions resulting in improper abstracting
  • Forged deeds, mortgages, wills, releases and other documents
  • False impersonation of the true land owner
07/08/2024
Preparing for a home appraisal facilitates a smoother transaction process and helps you achieve a more favorable outcome. Learn how to prepare with this post by Schutt Law Firm, P.A. in Fort Myers.

A home appraisal determines your property's market value and can significantly influence the outcome of your transaction. This is why it's a critical step in the real estate transaction process, whether you're selling, refinancing, or applying for a home equity loan. You must prepare thoroughly to ensure it reflects the true worth of your home. Continue reading to learn how to prepare for a home appraisal.

Call Schutt Law Firm, P.A. in Fort Myers, at (239) 540-7007 if you're getting ready to start a real estate process and need guidance!

How to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

Understand the Appraisal Process

Before diving into preparation, you must understand what an appraisal entails. It's conducted by a licensed appraiser who assesses your property's value based on various factors, including location, condition, size, and comparable sales in the area. The appraiser will perform a detailed inspection of your home, both inside and out, and will compile a report based on their findings.

Start with a Clean Slate

First impressions matter, and a clean home can positively impact the appraiser’s perception of your property’s condition. Thoroughly clean every room, including hard-to-reach areas and less frequently used spaces. Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms, as these are critical areas in determining a home's value.

Make Necessary Repairs

Minor repairs can make a significant difference in your home’s appraisal. Address any obvious issues such as leaky faucets, broken windows, or damaged flooring. If there are larger issues that you cannot fix immediately, discuss them with the appraiser and provide any estimates or plans you have for future repairs.

Enhance Curb Appeal

The exterior of your home is the first thing an appraiser will see, so take care of it. Mow the lawn, trim hedges, and clear any debris from your yard. Planting flowers or adding potted plants can also boost your home's curb appeal. Ensure that the exterior paint is in good condition and consider power washing the siding if necessary.

Update Your Home

If you've made any updates or improvements to your home, make the appraiser aware of them. This could include new appliances, upgraded countertops, a remodeled bathroom, or a new roof. Create a list of all significant updates and renovations, including the dates they were completed and the costs involved.

Declutter and Depersonalize

A cluttered home can make it difficult for the appraiser to see the true potential of your space. Remove any unnecessary items, organize closets and storage areas, and keep countertops clear. Additionally, depersonalize your home by removing family photos, personal collections, and other items that may distract from the property itself. A neutral, tidy space allows the appraiser to focus on the home’s features and layout.

Call Schutt Law Firm, P.A. in Fort Myers, at (239) 540-7007 to get professional title services that will allow you to close your process successfully.

Highlight Unique Features

Every home has unique features that can add value. The appraiser should be aware of any special characteristics or upgrades your home has. This could include a home office, a finished basement, energy-efficient windows, or a recently installed HVAC system.

Provide Comparable Sales Data

While the appraiser will conduct their own research on comparable sales in your area, it can be helpful to provide any relevant data you have. This might include information on recent sales of similar homes in your neighborhood or details about homes currently on the market. Ensure the comparables are truly comparable in terms of size, age, and condition.

Prepare for the Visit

On the day of the appraisal, make your home accessible and welcoming. Unlock any gates, doors, or garages that the appraiser may need to access. If you have pets, secured  them or take them off the premises to avoid any disruptions. Be available to answer any questions the appraiser might have, but try to give them space to conduct their inspection thoroughly.

Be Honest and Transparent

If there are any known issues with your home, such as a leaking roof or foundation problems, it's best to be upfront about them. Trying to hide problems can backfire if the appraiser discovers them independently. Being honest allows you to explain the context and any plans you have for addressing these issues.

Follow Up if Necessary

After the appraisal, it may take a few days to receive the report. If the appraisal value is lower than expected, you can request a reconsideration of value. Provide additional evidence, such as recent sales data or documentation of improvements, to support your case. Keep in mind that appraisers must adhere to strict guidelines and may not always adjust the value.

Call Schutt Law Firm, P.A. in Fort Myers, at (239) 540-7007 to make sure you'll have a smoother and more successful real estate process.