Teresa Dennison
Long & Foster 
145 Main Street 
Annapolis, MD 21401
443-223-1364
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Land Contract

An alternative to a non-conforming loan is the use of a land contract, which is allowed in some states. A land contract is an agreement between a buyer and a seller, where the buyer agrees to make periodic payments to the seller. The title to the property only transfers to the land contract buyer on fulfillment of the land contract obligations.

A land contract can be helpful for those who need time to establish or improve their credit rating. There are only small closing costs, and payment can help establish a good mortgage payment record. This can help establish an overall good credit rating, and it is possible for the buyer to later refinance the land contract with a conforming loan.

On the other hand, there are risks associated with land contracts. Land contract purchases are not necessarily recorded in the public record, and there are no guarantees that the seller will be able to transfer a clear title to the buyer upon fulfillment of the land contract. There also is no lender assuring that the purchase price for the property is justified, and no inspection of the property’s condition.

Another alternative to a non-conforming loan is assuming the seller’s mortgage. By assuming a mortgage, if the mortgage is assumable, it is possible to save on closing costs, and may allow you to obtain a favorable interest rate.

Title Insurance Requirements for Insuring Trusts

In today’s world of busy probate courts and exorbitant death taxes, the living trust has become a common manner of holding title to real property. The following may help you understand a few of the requirements of the title insurance industry if title to property is conveyed to the trustee of a living trust.

What is a trust?

An agreement between a trustor and trustee for the trustee to hold title to and administer designated assets of the trustor for the use and benefit of one or more beneficiaries.

Can a trust itself acquire and convey interests in real property?

No. The trust is an arrangement between a trustee and the trustor. Only the trustee, on behalf of the trust, may own and convey any interest in real property. The trustee may only exercise the powers granted in the trust.

What will the title company require if a trustee holds the title to the property which is part of the trust?

A certification of trust containing the following information:

  1. Date of execution of the trust instrument,
  2. Identity of the trustor and trustee,
  3. Powers of the trustee,
  4. Identity of person with power to revoke trust, if any,
  5. Signature authority of the trustees,
  6. Manner in which title to the trust assets should be taken,
  7. Legal description of any interest in the property held by the trust, and
  8. A statement that the trust has not been revoked, modified, or amended in any manner which would cause the certification to be incorrect and that the certification is being signed by all currently acting trustees of the trust

My trust contains certain amounts of money to be given to various charities which is none of your business. Can I omit these pages?

Because many different provisions may be on the same page, the answer must be no -- but if the title company requires a copy of the trust, it may accept a copy with those amounts blacked out.

If there is more than one trustee, can just one sign?

Maybe. The trust must specifically provide for less than all to sign.

Can the trustee give someone a power-of-attorney?

Only if the trust specifically provides for the appointment of an attorney-in-fact.

What will the title company require if all the trustees have died or are unwilling to act?

If the trustor is not able to do so, or the trust provisions prohibit the trustor from appointing a new trustee, the court may do so.

How does a notary acknowledge the signature of the trustee?

Title is vested in the trustee. Hence, if the trustee is an individual or a corporation, then the new general form of acknowledgment will be prepared to reflect the intrinsic nature of the trustee.

How would the deed to the trustee ordinarily be worded to transfer title to the trustee?

“John Doe and Mary Doe, as trustees of the Doe family trust, under declaration of trust dated January 1,1992.”

Are there any limitations on what a trustee may do?

Yes, the trustee is limited principally and most importantly by the provisions of the trust and, thus, may only act within the terms of the trust. The probate code contains general powers which, unless limited by the trust agreement, are sufficient for title insurers to rely on for sale, conveyance, and refinance purposes.

Article by CLTA

Living Trusts

living trust

Estate planners often recommend Living Trusts as a viable option when contemplating the manner in which to hold title to real property. When a property is held in a Living Trust, title companies have particular requirements to facilitate the transaction. While not comprehensive, answers to many commonly asked questions are below. If you have questions that are not answered below, your title company representative may be able to assist you, however, one may wish to seek legal counsel.

Who are the parties to a Trust?

A Family Trust is a typical trust in which the Husband and Wife are the Trustees and their children are the Beneficiaries. Those who establish the trust and transfer their property into it are known as Trustors or Settlors. The settlors usually appoint themselves as Trustees and they are the primary beneficiaries during their lifetime. After their passing, their children and grandchildren usually become the primary beneficiaries if the trust is to survive, or the beneficiaries receive distributions directly from the trust if it is to close out.

What is a Living Trust?

Sometimes called an Inter-vivos Trust, the Living Trust is created during the lifetime of the Settlors (as opposed to being created by their Wills after death) and usually terminates after they die and the body of the Trust is distributed to their beneficiaries.

Can a Trust hold title to Real Property?

No, the Trustee holds the property on behalf of the Trust.

Is a Trust the best way to hold my property?

Only your attorney or accountant can answer that question. Some common reasons for holding property in a Trust are to minimize or postpone death taxes, to avoid a time consuming probate, and/or to shield property from attack by certain unsecured creditors.

What taxes can I avoid by putting my property in trust?

Married persons can usually exempt a significant part of their assets from taxation and may postpone taxes after the first of them to die passes. You should check with your attorney or accountant before taking any action.

Can I homestead property that is held in a Trust?

Yes, if the property otherwise qualifies.

Can a Trustee borrow money against the property?

A Trustee can take any action permitted by the terms of the Trust, and the typical Trust Agreement does give the Trustee the authority to borrow and encumber real property. However, not all lenders will lend on a property held in trust, so check with your lender first.

Can someone else hold title for me “in trust?”

Some people who do not wish their names to show as titleholders make private arrangements with a third party Trustee; however, such an arrangement may be illegal, and is always inadvisable because the Trustee of record is the only one who is empowered to convey, or borrow against, the property, and a Title Insurer cannot protect you from a Trustee who is not acting in accordance with your wishes despite the existence of a private agreement you have with the Trustee.

What Your Agent Wants You to Know When Selling Your Home

If you are ready to sell your home, it does require some work on your part to prepare your home to sell and make it through the selling period. Your real estate agent will be a wonderful advisor when it is time to sell your home, but it is important to remember that there is only so much your agent can do and they will need your help. Here are three things your agent wants you to know before you list your home.

  1. Declutter Your Home

When buyers come to view your home, they need to be able to picture themselves in your home. This can be really hard if your home is cluttered and full of personal items that distract them from the home. Before your list your home for sale, take time to put away most of your personal items and truly declutter the home. This applies to all parts of your home. Just because it is hidden behind a door or cabinet doesn’t mean buyers won’t look there. Declutter and organize closets, cabinets and laundry rooms along with the more public parts of your home.

  1. Don’t Stay Home for Showings and Open Houses

Think about if you were the one buying a house. A house is a huge commitment and when you are shopping for one, you will want privacy to discuss it openly without feeling uncomfortable in front of the owners of the home. Remember this when buyers want to look at your home. They should feel completely comfortable and able to speak freely. With this in mind, make every effort to leave home during showings and open houses so buyers feel comfortable. The biggest problem with being home is that buyers may be uncomfortable and leave your home before they have adequate time to fall in love with it.

  1. Listen to Your Agent

When you hire a real estate agent, you are saying that you trust them and want their help. When you have that help, it is then important to follow their advice. Like a doctor, attorney or other professional, a real estate agent is the expert in their field and if you have chosen them to help you, you should follow their advice. This doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing they suggest but listen and try to understand their logic if you want to give your home the best opportunity to sell.

It is important that you invest yourself in selling your home and that means both your time and using all of the resources you have available to you including your real estate agent. When you are ready to discuss selling your home, give me a call and let’s talk about your property and how I can help. For additional ideas for selling your home, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find a new home or determine the value of your existing property.

 

Teresa Dennison
Certified Negotiation Expert(CNE®)
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.
Annapolis Fine Homes Office
145 Main Street | Annapolis, MD 21401
Cell: 443.223.1364
Office: 410.263.3400
eFax: 1.866.214.8475
TDennison@LNF.com
www.GoAnnapolis.com
 

Teresa Dennison is your ultimate real estate resource for Annapolis, MD and the surrounding area. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay 

Insist on a Home Inspection

A professional home inspection protects both you and the buyer. It allows both you and the buyer the opportunity to learn about the property’s defects.

A home inspection usually covers the following:

  • Plumbing conditions - if there is leakage or clogging
  • Roofing conditions - the extent of deterioration, if there is leakage
  • Electrical conditions - if there are inadequate circuits or potential fire hazards
  • Structural problems - if there are problems with the underlying foundation of your home

As a seller, the home inspection reports protect you because it establishes the actual condition of the property at the time of sale.

Avoiding Financial Stress

By asking the right questions, and knowing exactly what your needs are, you can find the right loan for you. There are certain approaches that you can take while mortgage shopping that can cost or save you money.

It is still true that the better qualifications you have, the lower your interest rate will be. However, there are mortgages available for almost everyone; it's the interest rates or the down payments that vary.

Before speaking with a lender, know what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Then when you discuss mortgage pre-approval with your lender, it is easier for you to determine the monthly amount and what value of home the monthly amount translates into. Do not put yourself in the position where you will be paying more each month than you intended simply because the dream home requires it.

Do your research on the types of mortgages available to you and find the one that best suits your needs. There are a number of considerations to be made in terms of finding the best mortgage for each individual:

  • What type of market are you in? Are the interest rates falling or rising?
  • Do you want a fixed mortgage rate, where you will always know what your payment is going to be?
  • What are your long-term goals? Do you intend to resell the property? Do you only need the mortgage for a short time?

The No-Cost Thirty Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

There really is no such thing as a no-cost mortgage loan. There are always costs, such as appraisal fees, escrow fees, title insurance fees, document fees, processing fees, flood certification fees, recording fees, notary fees, tax service fees, wire fees, and so on, depending on whether the loan is a purchase or a refinance. The term “no-cost” actually means that your lender is paying the costs of the loan. All a no-cost loan means is that there is no cost to you, the borrower.

Except that you pay a higher interest rate.

Understand How Loans Are Priced

A variation of the no-cost loan is the “no points” loan, or even the “no points, no lender fees” loan. On these loans you pay all the costs associated with buying a house or refinancing, but you do not have to pay the lender associated fees or points. However, since lenders and loan officers do not do anything for free, the profit has to come from somewhere.

So where does it come from?

First, you have to understand how loans are priced and how mortgage lenders and loan officers earn income. Each morning mortgage companies create rate sheets for loan officers. The rates usually change slightly from day to day. In volatile markets they change several times a day. On the rate sheet, there are many different programs, including the thirty year fixed rate.

There will be one column that lists several different interest rates and another column that lists the cost for that particular rate. For example:

Rate Cost (points)
6.250% 2.000
6.375% 1.500
6.500% 1.000
6.625% 0.500
6.750% 0.000
6.875% (0.500)
7.000% (1.000)
7.125% (1.500)
7.250% (2.000)

In the above example, 6.75% has a “par” price, which means it has a zero cost. The lower in rate you go, the higher the cost, or points. A point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. The parentheses in the cost column for the higher interest rates indicate a negative number. For example, (1.500) equals -1.500, which means instead of having a cost associated with the loan, the lender is willing to pay out money for those interest rates. This is called premium or rebate pricing.

Zero Cost Loans

How Mortgage Companies and Loan Officers Make Money

The above rate sheet is not a rate sheet designed for public review. In fact, most lenders have a policy that the public cannot see their internal rate sheet. This rate sheet is designed for loan officers and the cost column is the loan officer’s cost, not the cost to the borrower. When the loan officer gives you an interest rate quote, he will add on a certain amount, usually one to one and a half points. Most companies leave it up to the loan officer’s discretion how much to add on to the base cost. However, they usually require at least a minimum add-on, which is usually one point.

The loan officer’s commission depends on his split with the company, which varies. He receives a portion of the add-on and the rest goes to the company.

If we assume the loan officer is adding on one point, and you were willing to pay one point for your loan, then your rate would be (according to this rate sheet) 6.75%. You would pay one percentage point and receive an interest rate of six and three-quarters. If you wanted a lower rate and were willing to pay two points, you could get 6.5%. If you wanted a “no points” loan, then your rate would be 7%. The loan officer and the mortgage company would split the one point rebate, listed as (1.000) on the rate sheet.

See how it works?

In addition to the cost noted on the rate sheet above, lenders have certain other fees they collect, too. These can include document fees, processing fees, underwriting fees, warehouse fees, flood certification fees, wire transfer fees, tax service fees, and so on. Usually, you will not be charged all of these fees, it is just that different lenders call them different things. Some of them are legitimate costs to the lender and some of them are simply fees designed to generate additional income to the mortgage company. They are customary in today’s mortgage market and can vary from around $600 to $1,300. In addition, there will usually be an appraisal fee and a credit report fee. Appraisals and credit reports are usually contracted out to independent companies even though these are considered to be lender fees.

Note that it is common for companies who charge higher fees to have a slightly lower interest rate and companies that charge lower fees will usually have a slightly higher interest rate. So if you shop entirely based on fees, you may actually spend more money in the long run because your interest rate may be higher.

The point is that if you want a “no points - no lender fees” loan, then on our rate sheet above, you may get an interest rate of 7.125%. That is because the loan officer has to bump the interest rate even further than on a “no points” loan in order to cover his own company’s fees.

If you want a “no cost” loan, then the loan officer has to bump your interest rate even further. That is because all of the costs on your purchase or refinance do not come from the lender. The escrow or settlement company involved in your transaction will charge a fee that must be paid. The lender will require title insurance and the title insurance company charges a fee for providing this insurance. If your new lender requires information from your homeowner’s association (if you have one) then the homeowner’s association will most likely charge a fee for providing those documents. If you are refinancing, your current lender will usually charge at least two fees: a demand fee, and a reconveyance fee. The demand fee is charged simply for providing payoff information. The reconveyance fee is charged because your current lender prepares a document that releases your property as collateral for their outstanding loan. This document is called a reconveyance.

These charges will add about one additional point to how much the loan officer must collect in premium pricing in order to cover the costs associated with your refinance or purchase. For a zero cost loan, he will normally need to collect somewhere in the neighborhood of two and a half points. Because points are a percentage of your loan amount and most of the costs are fixed, it takes fewer points to provide zero costs on higher loan amounts. On smaller loan amounts it takes more. One percent of $200,000 is $2,000 and one percent of $100,000 is only $1,000, so you can see how it is easier to cover costs on larger loans.

Does it make sense to do a zero cost loan?

On a $200,000 thirty year fixed rate loan, the difference in monthly mortgage payments will be about $87, using the example rate sheet on the first page. Over thirty years, it works out that you will pay more than $30,000 extra for getting a zero cost loan. So if you intend to remain in the home for a long period of time it just doesn’t make sense.

Suppose you intend to stay for only five years. On a purchase, using the $200,000 example, if you stayed longer than fifty-five months, it would make more sense to pay your own costs and get the lower interest rate. If you kept the loan for a shorter time, then it makes more sense to pay zero costs and get a higher interest rate.

Except for one thing.

If you knew you were only going to be staying in the home for five years you would probably not want a thirty-year fixed rate, anyway. You would get a loan that has a fixed payment for the first five years, then convert to an adjustable rate or whatever fixed rates are five years from now. These loans have an interest rate almost a half percent lower than thirty year fixed rate loans. Since it is practically impossible to do a zero cost loan on this type of loan, you would have to compare a zero cost thirty year fixed rate loan to paying points on a loan with a fixed payment for five years.

The difference in payments would be about $150. The two and a half point rebate equals $5,000. Working out the math, if you stayed in the home longer than thirty-three months, it would make more sense to pay the points and get the loan with the five-year fixed rate.

Finally, carry the discussion one step further. Suppose you know you are going to be in the new loan for less than three years? Doesn’t it make sense to get a “zero cost” loan then?

No.

Then you get an adjustable rate loan. As long as the start rate is two percent lower than the current fixed rate, you cannot lose. The first year you will save a lot of money. The second year you will probably break even. The third year, you will probably give up some of the savings from the first year, but not all of it.

Zero cost loans just don’t make sense for most homebuyers.

But they sound really good in an advertisement!

Exceptions:

  • On a FHA Streamline Refinance Without an Appraisal (not a purchase - which is what the article talks about), it makes sense to do a zero cost loan. This is mostly because the new loan has to be exactly the same amount as the existing balance of the current loan.
  • If the homebuyer only has enough money for a down payment and none to cover closing costs, PLUS no arrangement can be made for the seller to pay closing costs, then zero cost may make sense. (However, I would still recommend negotiating terms with the seller - be willing to pay a higher price in exchange for the seller paying your costs.)

Title Insurance - Where Does Your Dollar Go?

Title Insurance: As a homebuyer, the term is probably familiar - but is it understood? What is your dollar actually paying for when you purchase a title policy?

Title Insurers, unlike property or casualty insurance companies, operate under the theory of risk elimination. Title companies spend a high percentage of their operating income each year collecting, storing, maintaining and analyzing official records for information that affects title to real property. Their technical experts are trained to identify the rights others may have in your property, such as recorded liens, legal actions, disputed interests, rights of way or other encumbrances on your title. Before closing your transaction, the title company will proceed to clear those encumbrances which you do not wish to assume.

This theory is different from that of most other insurance where, for example, rates and anticipated losses are based on actuarial studies and premiums are pooled on the assumption that a certain number of claims will be made. The distinction is important: title insurance premiums are paid to identify and eliminate potential risks and claims before they happen. Medical and casualty insurance premiums, for example, are paid to insure against an unpredictable future event, knowing that risks exist and claims will occur. Furthermore, title insurance involves a one-time premium, paid when you close the real estate transaction, while property, casualty and medical insurance require regular renewal premiums.

The goal of title companies is to conduct such a thorough search and evaluation of public records that no claims will ever arise. Of course, this is impossible -- we live in an imperfect world, where human error and changing legal interpretations make 100% risk elimination impossible. When claims arise, professional claims personnel are assigned to handle them according to the terms of the title insurance policy.

As in all competitive business environments, rates vary from company to company, so you should make comparisons before deciding on a particular title company. Your real estate professional can help you do this. In addition, there are many helpful customer services provided by title companies which you and your real estate professional may find helpful to your transaction.

The issuance of a title insurance policy is highly labor-intensive. It is based upon the maintenance of a title plant, or library of title records, in many cases dating back over a hundred years. Each day, recorded documents affecting real property and property owners are posted to these title plants so that when a title search on a particular parcel is requested, the information is already organized for rapid and accurate retrieval. This investment in skilled personnel and advanced data processing represents a major part of the title insurance premium dollar.

Article by CLTA

Environmental Issues

environmental testing

When purchasing a piece of property, it is important to be aware of any environmental liabilities associated with it. For example, you should find out if there are any registered underground tanks within several miles of the property, known contaminated properties in the neighborhood, or property owners who have been fined by the government for failing to meet environmental safety standards.

Before, it took a costly site investigation to acquire this type of information, but now there are online environmental databases available at a fraction of the cost. Anyone can access reports on otherwise hard to detect environmental issues. With these databases, it is possible to obtain a list of hazards near a property, or spills and violations attributed to businesses nearby.

Some reputable databases include VISTA Information Systems, located in San Diego, California, which allows you to register and search the data bank for free, and E Data Resources, which is located in Southport, Connecticut. These services are all relatively inexpensive, but can provide you with priceless information that is useful before you make a purchase.

Be Safe During Grilling Season

With the warm weather here to stay for a while, the amount of time you spend outdoors is likely to increase as you indulge in summer favorites like nights on the porch, walks after dark and dinner on the grill. Before you start using the grill for the season, it is important to take some precautions and prepare your grill for the season. Take an afternoon to get the grill ready before you plan to use it. Gas grills

Gas Grills

With any gas appliance, there are components which deteriorate over time and this can easily happen during the colder months when the grill isn’t in use. Time in storage is still time; even if a grill is not exposed to the elements, time itself may cause damage to critical components. Whether your gas grill is brand new or not, take the time to check it is working properly before firing it up for the season. For gas grill hoses, easy to do soap and water checks for leaks could avoid a serious accident. Make sure to check connectors and tighten if loose. If a leak is detected, do not use the appliance until it has been serviced by a professional. If a lingering odor of gas is noted, notify the fire department and avoid close proximity to the grill. If you suspect an issue, it may be cheaper to replace the grill than to have it fixed depending on the age and complexity of the grill.

Charcoal grills

Charcoal grills offer safety issues just like gas grills. It is important to use proper caution and only use elements that are intended for grilling. Never use general lighter fluid, only use charcoal lighter fluid and it is important that you never add lighter fluid to an already burning fire.

Make sure you are aware of your surroundings when you are grilling. You should never use a grill in an enclosed space, close to the house or under a covered area. It is important to remember that a grill uses an open flame and any fire can present danger. Make sure anyone around you when you are grilling, and especially children, are aware of the dangers of fire and know the grill will be hot even long after you are finished cooking on it.

Purchasing special utensils that are made for grilling is also a good idea as they frequently have longer handles and are made of metal or other materials that are resistant to the higher temperatures common with grilling. Make sure you are cautious and attentive at all times when using grills of any type to ensure your family and home are safe all summer long. For additional ideas for outdoor entertaining or home maintenance, feel free to contact me today for a consultation. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, help you to find a new home or determine the value of your existing property.

 

 

Teresa Dennison
Certified Negotiation Expert(CNE®)
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.
Annapolis Fine Homes Office
145 Main Street | Annapolis, MD 21401
Cell: 443.223.1364
Office: 410.263.3400
eFax: 1.866.214.8475
TDennison@LNF.com
www.GoAnnapolis.com


Image by suju from Pixabay 


Teresa Dennison
Long & Foster
145 Main Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
443-223-1364
tdennison@LNF.com

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We moved to the area as part of a corporate relocation - Teresa did an amazing job of teaching us the area, finding a neighborhood that checked all of the boxes and also acting as a counselor for us through the process. We would highly recommend Teresa! Nick F.
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