Archive October 2018

What To Know About Title Insurance

Title insurance protects your ownership right to your home, both from fraudulent claims against your ownership and from mistakes made in earlier sales, such as misspellings of a person’s name or an inaccurate description of the property. In some states it is customary for the seller to purchase the policy on your behalf.

Your mortgage lender will require it.
Title insurance protects the lender (and the secondary markets to which they sell loans) from defects in the title to your home—which could include mistakes made in the local property office, forged documents, and claims from unknown parties. It ensures the validity and enforceability of the mortgage document. The amount of the policy is equal to the amount of your mortgage at its inception. The fee is typically a one-time payment rolled into closing costs.

There are two different policies to consider purchasing.
The first policy, the one your lender will require, protects the lenders investment. You may also purchase an owner’s policy that provides coverage up to the purchase price of the home you are buying.

You have the right to choose your provider.
You can shop around for a lower insurance premium rate at a wide variety of sites online. You should first request quotes from a few companies and then reach out and speak to them. Ask about hidden fees and charges that could make one quote seem more attractive than another. Also, find out if you’re eligible for any discounts. Discounts are sometimes available if the home has been bought within only a few years since the last purchase as not as much work is required to check the title. You can also ask your lender or real estate professional for advice or help with getting quotes. Make sure the title insurance company you choose has a favorable Financial Stability Rating with Demotech Inc.

Even new construction needs coverage.
Even if your home is brand-new, the land isn’t. There may be claims to the land or liens that were placed during construction that could negatively impact your title.

 

How To Lower Homeowners Insurance Costs

The first step is to shop around; quotes on the same home can vary significantly from company to company.

Review the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report.
CLUE reports detail the property’s claims history for the last five years, which insurers may use to deny coverage. Make the sale contingent on a home inspection to ensure that problems identified in the CLUE report have been resolved.

Seek insurance coverage as soon as your offer is approved.
You must obtain insurance in order to buy your home. And you don’t want to find out at closing time that the insurer has denied you coverage.

Maintain good credit.
Insurers often use credit-based insurance scores to determine premiums.

Buy your homeowner’s and auto policies from the same company.
Companies will often offer a bundling discount. But make sure the discount really yields the lowest price.

Raise your deductible.
If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower. Also, avoid making claims for losses of less than $1,000.

Ask about other discounts.
For example, retirees who tend to be home more than full-time workers may qualify for a discount on theft insurance. You also may be able to obtain discounts for having smoke detectors, a security system, and high-quality locks.

Seek group discounts.
If you belong to any associations or alumni organizations, check to see if they offer deals on coverage.

Conduct an annual review.
Take a look at your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions every year. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.

Investigate a government-backed insurance plan.
In some high-risk areas, the federal or state government may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent what’s available.

Insure your house for the correct amount.
Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.

What To Know About Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance…

A homeowners insurance policy will protect you against certain losses and damage to your new home and is generally required by lenders prior to closing. Some lenders will collect the money you owe for homeowners insurance as part of your monthly mortgage payment and place it in an escrow account, paying the insurer on your behalf when the bill is due.

Coverage exclusions:
Most insurance policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item. You may need to buy these types of coverage separately.

Dollar limitations on claims:
Even if you are covered for a risk, there may be a limit on how much the insurer will pay. For example, many policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.

Replacement cost:
If your home is destroyed, you’ll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage, so be sure your insurance is sufficient. This means that if your home is insured for $150,000 and it costs $180,000 to replace it, you’ll still receive only $150,000.

Actual cash value:
If you choose not to replace your home when it’s destroyed, you’ll receive replacement cost minus the depreciation. This is what’s referred to as actual cash value.

Your liability:
Generally, your homeowner’s insurance covers your liability for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court. However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided. Be sure that amount is sufficient, especially if you have significant assets.

 

WHAT TO KNOW About Credit Scores

Credit scores range between 200 and 850, with scores above 620 considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage. The following factors affect your score:

Your payment history.  Did you pay your credit card bills on time? Bankruptcy filing, liens, and collection activity also affect your history.

How much you owe and where.  If you owe a great deal of money on numerous accounts, it can indicate that you are overextended. However, spreading debt among several accounts can help you avoid approaching the maximum on any individual credit line.

The length of your credit history.  In general, the longer an account has been open, the better.

How much new credit you have.  New credit—whether in the form of installment plans or new credit cards—is considered more risky, even if you pay down the debt promptly.

The types of credit you use.   Generally, it’s desirable to have more than one type of credit—such as installment loans, credit cards, and a mortgage.

Checklist For the New Owners

Before the property changes hands, consult this list to make sure these items are transferred with the house.

  • Owner’s manuals and warranties for any appliances left in the house.
  • Garage door opener(s).
  • Extra set of house keys.
  • Other keys. Think beyond the front doors; do you have any cabinets or lockers built into the home that require keys?
  • A list of local service providers, such as the best dry cleaner, yard service, plumber, and so on. You’re not just helping the new owners, but also the local businesses you’re leaving behind.
  • Code to the security alarm and phone number of the monitoring service if not discontinued.
  • Smart home device access. Any devices listed as fixtures need to be reset for the new homeowner. Make sure your account information and usage data are wiped from the device so that they may use it. Check with your device’s manufacture to find out how to do this.
  • Numbers to the local utility companies. This can be especially helpful to owners who may not yet have easy access to the Internet in the new home.
  • Contact info for the condo board or home ownership association, if applicable.