Why Do I need Title Insurance?
- Owning property in Florida involves more than simply having a deed in your name. A deed alone does not extinguish prior rights or claims of others to the property. Insuring your interest in a property against these prior claims is what Title insurance is all about.
- Protecting Your Rights – What protection does a North Florida property owner have against such claims? How can a home buyer be sure a property is really theirs? The answer to both of those questions is Real Estate Ownership Insurance, commonly known as Title Insurance.
- Title Insurance insures your interest in the property against claims arising out of errors and omissions in the past. Through the years, a given piece of property may have changes hands a number of times. With each transfer there exists the possibility of an error in title to arise. Time does not extinguish the rights of others to make claims based on these errors. A Title Insurance Policy guarantees that the property you are purchasing is free from disclosed liens, free from confusion in the chain of ownership and free from other uncertainties which affect the title. In short, it guarantees that you own the property for which you are paying.
- An Owner’s Title Policy provides you with peace of mind by removing the hidden risks of acquiring a piece of property whose legal history is unkown to you. Additionally the title insurance company will, at its own expense, defend the title and will pay losses within the coverage of the policy if they occur.
- Hillcrest Title & Trust Agency is here to help North Florida homeowners understand the home buying process and ensure that it is a smooth process.
What is Involved in a Title Search?
- A title search is a means of determining that the person who is selling the property actually has the right to sell it and that the buyer is getting all the rights to the property (title) for which they are paying. In addition to determining who owns the right to the property, the title search will determine what limitations to ownership exist. Such as encumbrances or easements. In most real estate transactions today, an Owner’s Title Insurance policy is purchased to assure the buyer that they have purchased a valid title. Once an Owner’s Title policy is issued, the title company will defend the title against any claims.
- Chain of Title – First the chain of title is examined. This is simply a history of the ownership of the property. It states who bought it, who sold it and when.
- Tax Search – A tax search is completed to determine the present status of the general real estate taxes and assessments against the subject property. The tax search will reveal if the taxes and assessments are current or delinquent and in what amounts. Any taxes or assessments which are due and are as yet unpaid or which are delinquent represent a lien or claim on the property which take priority against any other lien holder. A buyer purchasing property with delinquent taxes or assessments is likely to discover that the taxing authority has placed the property up for sale to satisfy these delinquencies. An Owner’s Title policy protects the buyer against loss from unpaid and past due taxes and assessments.
- Judgement and Name Search – One of the most important parts of the title search is to determine if there are any unsatisfied judgments against the seller or previous owners which were in existence while they owned the title. A judgement is a general lien against the subject property which constitutes a security interest for any monies owed by the property owner as derived from the judgement. Just as with delinquent taxes, the taxing authority can force the subject property to be sold to satisfy the judgement. Additionally, if the seller has a common last name such as “Jones”, it is important to be certain that any claims against “Jones” are not claims against the seller. If a judgement is discovered which constitutes a defect in the title, the seller must eliminate it before the title of the new buyer can be insured. The purpose of the search is to property the buyer by finding and curing any defects in the title prior to closing. Only an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy can protect you from unforeseen claims such as these.
- When these searches have been completed, Hillcrest will issue a commitment to insure, stating the conditions under which it will insure the title. The buyer, the seller and the mortgage lender can proceed with the closing of the transaction after clearing up any defects in the title which may have been uncovered by the search and examination.
- The mortgage lender is as concerned as the buyer about the quality of the title because the property is to be security for the new mortgage loan. The lender requires assurance that it has a valid mortgage lien on the property. This is not only common sense, but generally is a legal requirement of regulated mortgage lenders.
- The lender’s title insurance, however, doesn’t protect the new buyer of the property. Although the land is the same, the interest of the buyer and the interest of the lender are very different. The provisions of a lender’s title insurance policy are very different from those of an owner’s policy, so the buyer should obtain their own policy.
Buying and Selling a Home
- Congratulations! The purchase or sale of your home is one of the most important and exciting decisions of your life! Buying or selling property can be a stressful and exhausting experience. For some, the process can be tedious and confusing. This is why consulting a professional is wise. We want to help you through this process and direct you to other professionals in this business that be of assistance.
- When putting property up for sale, whether selling a home or commercial real estate in Northeast Florida, there are several things you need to keep in mind in order to get your home sold quickly and at the highest price possible. Here are a few tips that you should follow in order to get the best possible sale price in the shortest amount of time.
- The first step in getting your home ready for the market is to make all necessary repairs and upgrades. Unless you plan to sell your home as a fixer-upper, you will need to make repairs before you put your home on the market. Walk around your home with an eagle eye, or enlist a friend to help. Remember to take care of cracked file, dripping faucets, chipped paint and to make other repairs that many homeowners overlook. You should also make an effort to make some upgrades, particularly in the kitchen and in the bathrooms. Something as simple as installing new faucets, a new light fixture, or a new toilet can go a long way toward attracting buyers.
- Perhaps the most important step toward getting your home sold quickly and at the best possible price is to be sure to ask for the right amount in the first place. Some sellers make the mistake of trying to ask for far more than the home is worth. While it may seem logical to build some wiggle room into the price, asking too much is a surefire way to run off potential buyers. It might stop your ideal buyer from ever coming in your door. Therefore, it is in your best interest to talk to a real estate agent or an appraiser in order to determine a fair asking price.
- Before you allow potential buyers to view your home, be sure you have cleaned up any clutter and have taken the steps necessary to make your home look presentable. This can be even more of a challenge if you plan to continue living in the home while it is on the market. Some things you should do before potential buyers arrive include:
- Clean appliances, range hoods, fixtures, tile grout, mirrors
- Deodorize the dishwasher, garbage disposal and refrigerator
- Organize cupboards and remove unnecessary items
- Remove soap, mildew, mold and lime deposits from the shower, tub and sink
- Check electrical switches and outlets to ensure they are working properly
- Consider repainting any areas that look shabby
- The more clutter you can remove and the cleaner you can make your home, the more appealing it will be to potential buyers. Your goal should be to make it look like a show home that no one lives in, so the buyer can imagine themselves moving right in.
- Create Curb Appeal – In order to make a good first impression on potential buyers, you want to create curb appeal. In other words, the home should look attractive and inviting as soon as the buyer sees it from the street. This includes doing things such as keeping the lawn mowed, trimming bushes and otherwise keeping the landscaping looking neat and tidy. You may also need to make some repairs to the exterior of your home, and adding a few potted flowers at your entry will also go a long way toward making your home more attractive to potential buyers.