Congratulations on your decision to purchase your Florida Home!
The process of home buying can be a bit confusing and stressful, but selecting our attorney staffed title company will not only make your closing experience smooth and pleasant – it will also save you money!
Click the ‘Quick Quote’ button below or Call us at 888-412-5674.
We take the fear out of home buying!
Take a minute to read up on “What is title insurance.”
Now let’s look at some of the common situations and decisions you will need to address along the way to home ownership:
Getting pre-approved by a mortgage lender allows you to know how much of a house you can afford, if any. There are many variables involved, including: credit history, income, debt, special mortgage programs and variations in qualifying guidelines between different mortgage guidelines. The mortgage prequalification step is a relatively simple one that begins with the completion of a loan application with your mortgage lender. Getting prequalified benefits you, your realtor, and potential sellers, by identifying your buying power and price range. Suppose your seller has 2 offers on the table for his/her house. One from a fully prequalified buyer and the other from a non-prequalified buyer. Suffice it to say that your offer is the stronger one that will be considered.
There will be a few main decisions that you will have to make in the process of selecting a mortgage that is right for you.
Once you have selected a loan product, your mortgage professional is obligated to provide you with a Loan Estimate. This document outlines all of the fees associated with the closing (lender, government, title insurance, homeowners insurance, etc) and estimates how much you will need to show up to closing with. Keep in mind that this is an approximation and some fees will vary.
Finding the right real estate agent to help you find the right home is a very important step in your home buying experience. Real estate transactions can be complicated, so having someone look out for your best interest can save you time and money. All real estate agents aren’t created equal. Some realtors get personally involved every step of the way, while some farm out a lot of the work to other brokers.
It is highly recommended that you interview real estate agents you’re interested in working with. Sitting down with at least three prospective realtors will give you a feel for them and what they can do for you. Don’t be afraid to ask them how well they know your neighborhood and exactly how often you’ll hear from them. Ask for references and check them. Evaluate prospective agents based on personality as well. Your relationship with your real estate agent will be a working one, and if you don’t think you’d work well with him or her, it won’t work out.
Some questions to ask your realtor:
Now that you have courted your realtor and been pre-approved for a mortgage, let the hunt begin. Your realtor will pull up a list of properties in your price range and desired neighborhoods. There will be many in the first weeks of searching, and hopefully you will fall in love with one. If not, your realtor will put you on email auto-notification of the homes that come to market with your specifications. When viewing properties, go in with an open mind. Paint, carpet, and furniture are very easily changed – so don’t place too much value on them in your decision.
Looking at prospective homes can be a very exciting process, especially for first time buyers. It can be easy to lose focus as to what are the most important factors in making your decision. Evaluate the properties that you are looking at using a home buyer’s checklists. This is a great way to stay on track and establish some guidelines to consider before making the important step of making an offer. At the very minimum, take a mental note of the questions listed on our home buyer’s checklist.
Once you have found the property that you love, it is time to make an offer. First, remember that what you are signing is a legal contract. No matter what anyone says, you are not just making an “offer” here. Most sales contracts will have some paraphrase of the following: “This is a legally binding contract. If not understood, seek competent advice before signing.” To put it simply, if what is written on the contract regarding selling price and provisions is accepted by the seller, you have bought a home. Unlike other negotiable businesses, such as the automobile business, “would you take?” is defined in Real Estate by a legally binding contract backed with a monetary deposit.
Some of the things to consider before you submit your offer:
Inspections are designed to disclose defects in the property that could materially affect its safety, livability, or resale value. They are not designed to disclose cosmetic deficiencies (for example, an interior wall that needs paint touch up). You will need to determine on your own those types of items that will need attention: don’t expect a whole house inspection to reveal them to you. A typical home inspection will run you between $250 and $500. This is one of the best investments you can make in your home buying transaction. Any offer to purchase you make should be contingent upon a whole house inspection with a satisfactory report. Do not let anyone dissuade you from having the property thoroughly inspected! A professional inspection can give you an escape hatch from a contract on a defective house – even an ‘as-is’ Contract. If the contract is written contingent on an acceptable inspection, any defects in the home must be either repaired or monetarily compensated for. If you are not satisfied, you have the option to cancel.
After all of the negotiations have been completed and agreed – you have yourself a deal. Now comes the time for you to select our attorney staffed title insurance company to coordinate the closing and perfect your title. Keep in mind that it is your choice to choose the title company, if you are paying for the owner’s title insurance. Communication is very important throughout the real estate purchase transaction. The title agent is the ‘hub’ that ties all parties together. Your realtor and mortgage lender will work closely with us. Olympia Title & Escrow has handled thousands of real estate closings, claim-free, which means we do it right the first time. Additionally, our ‘Client Login’ function allows you to track the progression of your closing. We stand by to answer any pre-closing questions you may have, before ultimately “signing on the dotted line.” Our job is to clear any obstacles in the way of issuing a clear title to you. We order a title search of the public records to determine what liens, judgments, or other encumbrances need to be paid off at the closing. If you are purchasing a condominium or house in a planned unit development, we also obtain an ‘Estoppel’ search. This identifies any encumbrances at your condo or homeowner’s association level. The last place to search for potential liens is at the municipal level. We obtain and clear outstanding water bill balances, open permits, code enforcement, and building department issues. Click our ‘Quick Quote’ function for a custom taylored estimate.
Some things to look into while the gears of your escrow are in motion:
The purpose of a walk thru is to verify that all items for which you have contracted for are in the home. On the flip side, you want to be sure that any items you have not contracted for are removed. For example, you do not want to arrive at your new house after closing to find that the beautiful chandelier in the dining room has somehow been replaced by a cheap overhead fixture, or that the draperies and window treatments that were specifically referenced in the contract have been packed and moved away. Additionally, you do not want to move in to find that numerous items have been left by the sellers because they did not want to move them or take them to the dump. When you perform your walk-thru, pay particular attention to attics, crawl spaces or basements, and garages. If the sellers have not moved yet, you still may get a clear picture that there are certain items (since they may not be boxed or appear to be ready to move) that they have no intention of taking with them. Bring this to the attention of your Agent to avoid the hassles that can surface on moving day.
Take your time when you are doing your walk through inspection. Try to be as calm as possible. Many buyers have been gotten lost dreaming of themselves in the new home, that they neglect to take a good look around. Have a copy of your Sales Contract and a walk-thru checklist with you so that you can review any items that should be included with the house. Here are some bullet points to consider:
With all other tasks handled, now comes the process which will put the title to the house in your name – The Closing. A closing date and time will be coordinated between all parties, and scheduled by your title company. Even though your closing date has been scheduled, you may be missing some information – such as “How much do I need for closing?”
The day before the closing (or sometimes the day of), your mortgage lender will send instructions and documents to the title company. The instructions will be used to prepare a Settlement Statement – the document containing all fees, payments, deposits, and disbursements to be made upon closing. At this point, your title agent will call you with the amount you need for closing – in the form of a cashier’s check. The documents sent by your lender require your signature to perfect their lien – The Mortgage. Be sure to bring a valid ID for the settlement agent to copy. Some documents require notarization and the verification of your identity. Click to see a Sample FHA Loan package.
At the end of the closing, you will be given copies of all documents signed, a settlement statement, and the keys (house, pool, gate, garage door, etc) to your new home. Within a month or two, your title company will send your original Warranty Deed and Owner’s Title Insurance policy – showing that the transfer of property into your name has been perfected. Keep these documents in a safe place, as they can be of considerable value in the future if you refinance or sell the home.
If your plan on occupying your home as a primary residence, you may be eligible to file for Homestead Exemption. This exemption will entitle you to a $50,000 reduction of your county assessment, and cap the subsequent yearly increases of your property tax bill. You must take title to your property before December 31of the prior year and file by March 1of the exemption year. Visit our links page for additional homestead filing information.