Category: Buying a Home


What’s an iBuyer?

The real estate agent’s quick guide to everything iBuyer. And, no. iBuyers won’t be taking your job.

blue Home graphic surrounded by tech graphics

If you’ve been living under a rock, you probably haven’t heard the latest buzzword in the real estate industry: iBuyer. Even if you have heard about it, you may still have some questions or concerns.

What is an iBuyer? Is it the right choice for sellers? Are iBuyers taking over real estate agents’ jobs? I-Buy who?

No fear! We’ve gathered all the information you and other real estate agents need to know about iBuyers.

 

WHAT IS AN IBUYER, & HOW DOES IT WORK?

iBuyer services take a modern, technology-based approach to the real estate market and those looking to buy or sell homes. iBuyers use a strategy similar to companies like “We Buy Ugly Houses” by giving you the option to sell your home quickly for cash. However, unlike the “We Buy Ugly Houses” approach, iBuyers focus on homes in good condition. Typically, an iBuyer isn’t looking to flip a property or take on anything that needs extensive repairs.

To get started with iBuyer, a seller visits the website, plugs in the address of the home to be sold, and fills out a questionnaire about the property. Within 24 -48 hours, the seller receives an offer on the home. iBuyers base these offers on technology like the automated valuation model (AVM) to get the quickest “comps” for the property. From there, a seller can decide to move forward with the iBuyer and set a closing date.

 

PROS TO USING AN IBUYER

  1. Speed & Convenience

According to realtor.com data, the median home spends 58 days on the market. However, selling to an iBuyer can take only a handful of days (or longer if the seller prefers). This arrangement would be ideal for an out-of-state property inheritance or a sudden job change resulting in a quick change of living arrangements. It’s also perfect for sellers who just wish to have the control of the time frame. Let’s face it. Selling a home can be somewhat of an inconvenience. Between keeping your home tidy, having the listing agent come in to stage, and leaving at a moment’s notice for a showing, selling your home can become a hassle, and iBuyers can help decrease the time a seller has to deal with these stressors.

  1. Low Risk

When selling with an agent, there’s a certain level of uncertainty. Potential buyers could back out for different reasons, at which point the seller and listing agent are back at square one. When selling with an iBuyer, though, transactions almost never fall through. The only problem a seller may run into is getting a lower appraisal than expected, which may result in a lower offer from the iBuyer.

 

CONS TO USING AN IBUYER

  1. Lower Profits

While convenience is nice, a seller will pay for it. Typically, iBuyers charge a service or convenience fee that can range from 6-9.5% or more. In fact, one MarketWatch study of 26 home sales to iBuyers found that these sellers average around 11% less than owners who sell to a traditional buyer. Granted, traditional home sales have the 5-6% commission fee, but a recent study from Collateral Analytics found that home sellers will pay an average of between 13% and 15% more in fees to an iBuyer than they would to a traditional listing agent.

  1. Limited Availability

Currently, iBuyers are in select major markets only. And while iBuyers are expected to expand, they’re not something available to every home seller. There are some iBuyers that are even more selective than others about buying homes and the condition of each home.

 

HOW TO STAND OUT TO POTENTIAL SELLERS

  1. Show Your Value

For the home seller who’s on the fence about whether to use an iBuyer, you must show them the value of using a listing agent. If a potential seller wants to get as much value as they can for their property, remind them part of that value is the expertise you bring to the process. An iBuyer can’t put a price on the beautiful ocean view or the impeccable 19th-century hardwood floors of a home, but a listing agent can and knows how to use those unique and sometimes intangible selling points.

A great agent knows the amount of work that goes in to preparing comps, creating a marketing strategy, staging the home perfectly, communicating and negotiating with potential buyers, and so much more.  Communicating this value is key to putting yourself above an iBuyer.

  1. Educate the Seller

There is something about a listing agent who’s transparent and helpful to a seller that ensures agent security. Educating your seller and consumers will help them understand the value of each option and give them the opportunity to choose what is right for them. Not every seller will want to use an iBuyer and some won’t want to use a listing agent. Every seller is unique. However, giving consumers their options builds trust with them, and it’s another point on your scoreboard.

  1. Have the Right Tools

What good is all this information if you can’t physically show a real-world example based on their own situation. Our free FANAgent ONE app gives agents the opportunity to compare a potential seller’s net profits with a click of a button. With the iBuyer Comparison Calculator, agents can plug in the information and calculate an instant comparison to show their seller.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

New technology and processes will always shake up any industry. iBuyers are simply one of these “shake ups.” As time passes, consumers will become more educated on the differences between iBuyers and traditional selling techniques, and not every seller will want to use an iBuyer.

Remember these words: DON’T PANIC.

iBuyers, such as Opendoor, Offerpad, Zillow Offers, and others, are expanding into major markets rather quickly. However, iBuyer transactions make up for a small percentage of real estate transactions. In 2018, 620k homes were sold to iBuyers, compared to 5.5 million homes sold without iBuyers. In fact, Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM Data Solutions, a nationwide property database, predicts iBuyers will only account for about 15% of the real estate transactions in the long run.

 

So, don’t panic! There is still value and will always be value in a seller hiring a listing agent.

 

What’s one way you can communicate the value of using a listing agent today?


Common Ways to Take Title When Purchasing a Home in Florida

certificate of title

Closing on your new home can be both exciting and confusing. There are many factors to consider throughout the process. One item to consider is how you’ll hold the title of your new Florida home. Buyers can easily overlook this detail during the closing process, which can be detrimental if you decide to sell your home.

Your title agent can answer general questions or direct you to their real estate attorney to provide more information and answer questions.  Here are the ways for you to hold title to real estate in Florida:

  1. SOLE OWNERSHIP

For a single, unmarried home buyer, this option is the most popular way to hold the title to their home. It’s simple and straight forward. It just means the title will be held solely under their name. Married individuals can hold title as sole ownership as well. For example, with an investment property, one individual may not want any ownership in the property. In this case, that spouse will have the Deed drafted for the property showing only one person holding the title. With this option, you may not receive any special tax breaks or other advantages of holding title in sole ownership. If the sole owner dies, any property held this way may be subject to probate court proceedings, which cost money and takes time.

  1. MARRIED COUPLE

With this option, each spouse owns an equal portion of the property for as long as they are both alive and legally married. Each spouse’s interest passes to the other upon death. This option also has some level of protection, in that a judgement against one spouse may not attach to the property.

  1. JOINT TENANCY WITH RIGHTS OF SURVIVORSHIP

Each tenant owns an undivided pro rata share of the property and must take ownership at the same time. Also, each tenant will have a right of survivorship, so if one of them passes away, their share will transfer to the surviving tenant (or tenants). The will of the tenant who passed away has no impact on the joint tenancy property. Joint tenancy also allows the surviving tenants to avoid probate expenses and delays when one of the tenants dies. The surviving tenants need to record an affidavit and provide a death certificate to clear the title

  1. TENANCY IN COMMON

If there are two or more buyers, the individuals can opt to hold title as tenants in common. Tenancy in common is a popular option for individuals who aren’t married or are investors, friends, or family. As tenants in common, each tenant (individual) owns a certain percentage of the property, typically equal shares among the owners.  In the event any owner should pass, their interest will vest in their estate or heirs at law. Their interest will not pass to survivors.  The property will be subject to probate court expenses and delays.

 

Choosing the most beneficial way to take title is often overlooked by buyers. However, this step is critical to your closing transaction and situations later down the road.

It’s crucial to speak with a real estate attorney when deciding how to hold title on your Florida real estate property. We have in-house attorneys with years of experience in Florida real estate. By choosing to close with any of Florida Agency Network’s title agencies, you and your agent have access to those attorneys, and many more resources throughout your closing transaction.

 

Contacts us today to start your closing journey at one of our local offices.


FAN CEO Educates Title Agents at a Statewide Conference on eClosing

Aaron M. Davis presenting to title agents at Alliant Conference

As technology progresses, title agents must stay up-to-date on trends and advancements – or risk getting left behind. At FAN, we have embraced the digital age and are helping title agents across the State of Florida learn the ins and outs of title closings in this digital era.

Earlier this month, our CEO, Aaron Davis, led a presentation at a conference for licensed title agents at the Gaylord Palms Conference Center in Orlando with the aim of providing resources for title agents to get ahead of the game on upcoming legislation and the changes that will soon sweep the industry.

 

At the conference, attendees enjoyed learning more about the various types of eclosings available. They were also educated on the different types of eClosings, including hybrids, in person, and RON, or Remote Online Notarization, and discussed numerous digital closing topics, such as:

  • Ethics, Laws & Rules Governing RON
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Securities of the Paperless Closing
  • Effects of eClosing on the Industry
  • The digital Closing Room Experience
  • and More!

The attending agents were able to earn CE credit as a result of their participation and are now better prepared to transition into the era of eClosings and remote online notarization.

How are you and your team preparing for the upcoming legislative changes? Are you prepared to offer eClosings and accommodate closers who wish to utilize RON during their closing process? If not, you can now request a course from FAN to better prepare you and your agents before the New Year. Email us now to find out more information or to schedule your course.


5 Safety Tips for Every Real Estate Agent

Picture of a woman being followed

As a real estate agent, leads never take a day off. September is Realtor Safety Month, and we want you to keep safety a priority when meeting with potential leads & clients. According to the National Association of REALTOR® 2018 Member Safety Report, 33% of real estate professionals experienced a situation that made them fear for their safety. Do not become complacent with your safety!

Here are 5 safety tips you can use this month, and beyond:

  1. Meet first in public. While real estate agents are becoming more and more mobile, it’s important to set your initial meeting somewhere public like your broker’s office where you can confirm their professionalism and introduce your potential customer to a few others in your office. If this isn’t available, meet somewhere with lots of activity like a coffee shop or restaurant, and ask for identification as part of your process with all new customers.
  2. Let the client lead the way. During a showing, allow your client to walk in front of you and guide you where they want to see. If you need to lead them to a feature or room, direct them where to go as they walk in front. When leaving open houses have a coworker meet you to check all rooms before locking up together.
  3. Let your smartphone be your safety net. Add your emergency contacts, coworkers and a few family members as favorites in your phone, giving you easier access to the dial them quick, in case of an emergency and research safety apps for further reassurance. Apps like Facebook Messenger, Share My Location, Google Maps and more can share your location with selected friends, while Lifeline Response and bSafe can contact emergency services silently, or even fake a phone call to get out of uncomfortable situations. Find what works for you and your business model.
  4. Keeping it old school. Before the advent of smart phones, the “buddy system” was used to help keep realtors safe. Work with at least one other agent closely to share plans for your day, contact information of new clients, and for hosting events like open houses. Joining networking groups is a great way to make these types of connections.
  5. Automobile maintenance. Be sure to keep up with your car’s maintenance and always keep at least a half a tank of gas. Some agents cover the bottom half of their gas gauge with a post-it note to remind them to fill up sooner. Keeping your car up and running will help prevent breakdowns in areas you might not know very well and get in practice of locking your doors every time you leave the car.

Above all else, trust your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right do not hesitate to cancel a showing, open house or meeting.

 

 


Swipe Right and Match with the Perfect Title Company

Tips on finding the right title insurance company for your real estate transaction.

It's a Match with Florida Agency Network

In a world full of left-swipe worthy businesses, it’s difficult to know which title insurance company to choose for your transaction. Before you swipe right and do business with the wrong title insurance company, here are some things to consider before you choose your perfect match in a title company.

 

Company Longevity

We see it time and time again, a title company seems to pop up overnight and is ready to do business. However, can you trust the work that is being done throughout your transaction? How do you know your private information is protected?

Find out how long the title insurance company has been doing business. A title insurance company that’s been in the industry for a longer period knows the ins and outs and can speak to common questions or issues that come up, with ease. A title insurance company’s longevity shows efficient and effective processes in place. And with experience comes stability and peace of mind for all those experiencing the closing process. That leads to the next point.

 

Company Accommodations

Life can get busy. Going out of your way to get to, or handle anything thing for your closing can become a hassle. Look for a title insurance company that has multiple locations or can accommodate you during the closing process. Do they offer mobile closing or mobile notary services to their clients? Do they offer e-closings or remote online notaries (RON)? These are just a few of the points you’ll want to discuss with your title insurance company.

 

Company Strength & Support

“A great captain is great only if he has a great team.”

Your title insurance company is only as good as the team they provide to their clients. Choosing a title insurance company with a large, experienced, and dedicated staff are the qualities you want in your closing team. It’s critical that your closing team has the correct licensing and educational background to get you through the entire closing process.

Don’t forget to inquire about the title insurances company’s support; Who do they underwrite with? What type of errors & omissions (E&O) policy do they carry? This may all sound foreign to you as a buyer or seller, but this information shows the strength of a title company when difficult situations arise.

 

Company Reputation

A title company with longevity and experience has built a reputation within the real estate industry. You should place your trust in a title company that is the leader in customer and employee satisfaction.

Ask your real estate professional about their experience(s) with the title insurance company. Don’t forget to do your online research. Read through online reviews on their social pages, Google and more. It’s common to have a problem here or there, but is there a trend your finding with each customer experience?

 

There are many points to consider when swiping right on your perfect title insurance company. Florida Agency Network brands not only can close your real estate transaction at any of the many locations throughout the State of Florida, but also close your transaction at any place convenient to you with mobile notaries, e-closing and remote online notarization (RON) partners, FAN brands have the large footprint you want to have on your side.

Our closing staff has many years of experience in title insurance and closings.  We also work with several underwriters which gives us the resources to close deals other title insurance companies cannot.


Do you have the POWER?

When and how a power of attorney for a spouse works in a real estate transaction.

 

Wooden figures hugging

Contrary to popular belief, a marriage license doesn’t necessarily give a spouse automatic power to make decisions on the other spouse’s behalf. While spouses may have rights to things like joint bank accounts and medical records, property rights can be restricted. To conduct a real estate transaction on behalf of a spouse or other person, an approved power of attorney is necessary.

 

 

WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

A power of attorney is a document which gives a person, called an “agent”, legal authority to act and make decisions on behalf of the spouse. The amount of power given to the agent can be limited, depending on what is agreed upon.

For real estate transactions, a power of attorney would need to specify the agent is authorized to make the specific decisions for the buyer or seller’s spouse.

 

WHY DO I NEED A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

Most real estate transactions will not need a power of attorney. However, if your spouse is unable to sign the mortgage or the deed or any other documents needed for various reasons, you will need to have an approved power of attorney.

If there is a power of attorney already created, it’s best to get that over to your title company and lender, if applicable, as soon as possible. That way, your closing team and lender has time to review and make sure the power of attorney is approved and ensuring your closing goes as smooth as possible.

 

WHAT ARE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH A POWER OF ATTORNEY?

If you’re closing with any title brand in The Florida Agency Network and it involves the issuing of your title policy, there is no charges to you for drafting a specific power of attorney for the real estate transaction.

If you need a power of attorney drafted for other reasons or you’ve made arrangements directly with an attorney, there are possible charges for this. Fees may vary, based on the attorney or law office you and your spouse do business with.

 

Before starting your real estate transaction, where a power of attorney is needed, make sure the power of attorney is ready or there is a plan in place to get one drafted. Contact any of our offices for more information on how to get the processes started for your closing.


Darn that DODD-FRANK!

Cropped image of businesswoman writing on checklist

Just imagine, after years of struggling to complete college, your son, little Johnny has finally has his head on straight. He graduated, he’s worked for the family business for two years and is doing well. He met a nice girl and they have married.

He wants to buy a home. Unfortunately, Johnny has not always made the best decisions. His credit is not where it needs to be. Based on the fact that he is now making better decisions, you decide to loan Johnny the money to buy the home. The title company you’re working with will prepare a note and mortgage to secure your loan, what could be easier, right?

That Darn Dodd-Frank! Your loan is probably in violation of this Act. Based on this violation, your note and mortgage may not be enforceable.

Dodd-Frank is federal legislation that came about as a result of the real estate crisis of the last decade. The Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and other laws that regulate all consumer loan transactions.

One of the other laws is the Loan Originator Rule. In general terms, if the borrower will use the home for residential purposes (whether a primary residence, a second home or a vacation home) then the person arranging the loan is defined as a “loan originator.” A loan originator must have a mortgage originator’s or broker’s license. Pursuant to the Act, any person who offers and negotiates terms of a residential mortgage is deed to be a mortgage loan originator. Unfortunately, for mom and dad above, there are no exceptions for a person, who is not a Seller, to secure a mortgage with a residential property.

The Act does provide for certain exceptions. Namely, Seller financing, these exceptions are as follows:

One property exception: A Seller may extend credit, secured by a mortgage encumbering residential property and is not considered a loan originator if:

(a) they are a natural person, estate or trust;

(b) they provide financing for only one property in a 12 month period;

(c) they own the property securing the mortgage;

(d) they did not construct or act as the contractor for the construction of a residence on the property;

(e) repayment of the loan must not result in negative amortization;

(f) balloon payments are allowed, however the term of the balloon is not clear. Most practitioners believe that no shorter time period than 5 years should be used.

(g) while the Act does not prohibit adjustable rates, a fixed rate is suggested. The Act has restrictions, limitations and caps on rate charges.

(h) the seller is not required to investigate the buyer’s ability to repay the loan.

Three Property Exception: A Seller may extend credit, secured by a mortgage encumbering up to three residential properties and is not considered a loan originator if:

(a) they are a natural person, estate, trust or an entity;

(b) they provide financing for three properties or less in any twelve month period;

(c) they own the property securing the mortgage;

(d) they did not construct or act as the contractor for the construction of a residence on the property;

(e) the loan must be fully amortizing and there are no balloon payments or structures allowed;

(f) while the Act does not prohibit adjustable rates, a fixed rate is suggested. In this context, limits and caps are required’

(g) the Seller is required to make a reasonable investigation regarding the Buyer’s ability to repay the loan. Although formal documentation is not required, the investigation should be done in good faith and the results should be maintained.

While other exceptions exist, they are very complicated and are not practical for ordinary Seller financers.

Good news is Dodd-Frank does not apply to every loan. First, it only applies to residential loans. So, if you’re dealing with vacant land, commercial properties, rental properties or properties used solely for investment purposes, Dodd-Frank simply does not apply. Moreover, Dodd-Frank does not apply to non-residential buyers. So, if the buyer is a corporation, limited liability company or partnership etc., Dodd-Frank will not apply and the loan can be made without consideration to its restrictions.

So, now that we know that mom and dad have a problem trying to help little Johnny buy his home, what are we to do?

One solution would be for the mom and dad (the lender) to purchase the property from the underlying Seller first. Then mom and dad as the Seller could sell little Johnny the home and take back the note and mortgage under the one property exception. Yes, the transaction costs would increase, but the creative closers at the Florida Agency Network will work with you to keep these costs down.

Another solution would be for mom and dad to work through a mortgage broker. The mortgage broker will be required to comply with all of the various lending laws and regulations. While the broker will likely charge a fee for this service, it is another option that will allow the transaction to go forward.

What Is A Rate Lock?

Mortgage rates change constantly through an unpredictable combination of government policies and economic conditions. This video explains the common term ‘rate lock.’

A “Rate Lock” is a guarantee that a lender will honor a specific combination of interest rates and points for a given period of time. A lock protects a buyer from rate increases but commits them to a higher rate if mortgage rates fall below the locked rate.

As of 2014, rate locks aren’t usually an option until a purchase offer for a specific property – new-home or resale – has been accepted by the seller. The borrower’s credit score, the loan-to-value ratio property type, location and other factors plus, of course, market rates and market conditions will also affect rate-lock decisions.

Decide whether to lock or “float” based on your capacity for risk and your best rational knowledge about construction and closing schedules. If your rate lock expires an extension might be available but both you and the lender will be looking at current mortgage rates to decide the best option.

 

What Should I Look Out For During The Final Walk-Through?


Well, as this story shows, this will likely be the first opportunity to examine the house without furniture giving you a clear view of everything.
Check the walls and ceilings carefully as well as any work the seller agreed to do in response to the inspection.
Any problems discovered previously that you find uncorrected should be brought up prior to closing. It is the seller’s responsibility to fix them.

What Are “Home Warranties”, And Should I Consider Them?

You’ll see some pictures in this video to help you remember later, but essentially, home warranties offer you protection for a specific period of time, such as one year, against potentially costly problems like unexpected repairs on appliances or home systems which are not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Warranties are becoming more popular because they offer protection during the time immediately following the purchase of a home a time when many people find themselves cash-strapped.