The Process, Step-by-Step

Expediting the Process

The basics:

  • Written records are imperative. Even all verbal agreements must be kept in writing and signed by both parties. We’ll keep that on track for you.
  • There will be a deadline for every step of the process. All dates must be met in order to avoid a breach of the agreement and to keep the process moving forward. The Teach team will make sure you and the seller meet all requirements.

The Closing Agent

Unless otherwise stated in your contract, one of the brokers involved in the transaction will hold your deposit in escrow (simply a holding account), research the property’s history, ensure clear title make sure any new encumbrances are attached. A property might be subject to building or other restrictions, and there could be recorded easements and encroachments that might interfere with property use rights. A title search generally picks up these and any other “issues” affecting the seller’s ability to sell the property.

Picking the Best Way to Hold Title

“Holding title” is legal talk for the who and the how the property is owned. The five most common types are:

  1. Sole Ownership–you and only you own this property. If we’re talking pie, you own the entire thing–to sell or to will as you alone see fit.
  2. Joint Tenancy with right of survivorship–usually the option selected by persons who are married who are purchasing the property. Again, if we’re talking pie, you both own the whole pie together, but equally. (You’ll see a variation of this in Tenants in Common.) If one or the other of you dies, the entire pie belongs to the other owner.
  3. Tenants in Common–often selected by persons not married to each other and here’s why: Each person owns equal slices in the pie. If someone dies, that slice goes to their heirs–not directly to the other owner(s).
  4. Community property–There are still community property states but neither Maryland nor Pennsylvania are.
  5. Living Trust–For those who prefer more privacy, a revocable living trust is a way to title property that never becomes part of a probate process. Disappointed relatives have little access to and ability to challenge property disbursements from a living trust.

Inspections
Once your offer is made, including your request for any repairs, and the offer is accepted, you should have the property inspected by a licensed property inspector within the time frame specified in the agreement. We’ll discuss any specific concerns that might require specialized inspections. The outcome of all inspections will determine the removal of related specific contingencies.

Appraisal and Lending
Close communication with your lender is imperative. The institution will specify documents needed and will notify you and your agents of an approved licensed appraiser. You can check in with your lender at any time; however, Lisa Teach employs two full-time transaction coordinators who track the transaction every step of the way and keep it moving.

Association Approval
Per your transaction contract, the seller may be required to provide you a copy of homeowners’ association (HOA) documents. You will have a period of time to review those documents with the right to walk away from the deal without a reason. The HOA management company will also provide the title company with any funding needs related to transfer, capital contributions, start-ups and so on. Those amounts will be included on the settlement statement, often called  HUD sheet (named after the agency that developed it).

Property Insurance
Another thing you’ll need to arrange for is property insurance. Here are a few tips that will save you money:

  • A higher deductible, perhaps? It might be difficult to believe, but raising the deductible amount by even a small amount can result in a significant decrease in your premium.
  • Discounts are often there for the asking. All you have to do is ask your insurance representative. With many insurers and policies, things such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security alarms, weather-proofing, and more can result in offers of lower premiums. Additional savings might be available if you are a senior citizen, long-term customer, and if you carry other types of insurance with the company.
  • Try insuring your house, not the land under it. Although this one’s less common and many insurers will simply lump together the structure(s) and land, asking is worth a try since most home losses are limited to the structure. The land will still be there.
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