Understanding 4 types of property surveys

To determine the exact location of her property lines, Dianne hired a surveyor to
At Federal Title and Escrow, we require a property survey for single family home purchase closings. Homebuyers frequently ask us why it is necessary to have a survey.

The main reason we obtain a survey is that the lender providing the purchase financing requires that we issue a lender’s title insurance policy that does not take exception to survey matters, and in order to do that, we need to review a survey.

My recent post discussing encroachments onto neighboring property is an example of how important obtaining a survey can be from a homebuyer’s perspective.

There are several different types of surveys. Click beyond the jump to read about each one.

6 real estate apps that make you look like a genius

6 real estate apps that make you look like a genius
Want to look smart in front of your clients? It’s gonna take a lot more than just having a smart phone with access to email and Internet. You need to know what real estate apps can increase your productivity, expand your networks and, well, make you look like a tech genius in front of your clients.

The desire for transparency in the real estate market was brewing long before the housing market collapse, but now more than ever your clients demand access to instant information – so much so that they are sidestepping real estate agents with growing frequency. To stay top of mind and on the cutting edge, check out these awesome apps.

Find homes faster with Homesnap

This innovative – “fast and easy-to-use application,” according to the Los Angeles Times – is probably the coolest way to shop for homes as well as one of the smartest ways real estate agents can market themselves. What’s makes this app so special?

Well, for starters Homesnap can pull up all kinds of information about any house or condo when you snap a picture of the property using the app’s camera. How cool is that? And creating a profile within the app allows you to keep a diary of your snaps in an Instragram-like photo feed.

Beyond the photo feed, real estate agents will also appreciate the client-sync feature. It allows them to import their clients’ contact information then see their snaps in real time while the app adds the agent’s branding to every snap. Clients can reach out to their agent in just one tap to schedule a showing or get more info on the property.

The developers of Homesnap recently launched a Foursquare-esque check-in feature that lets agents “check in” to houses. By having the most check-ins, an agent becomes the neighborhood’s equivalent of the Foursquare “mayor.” Potential buyers see this as they use the app to search for homes, increasing the agent’s credibility and visibility at the same time!

To get the word out about this new feature, the Homesnap team has announced a contest for real estate agents.

I just bought a property in Maryland. How do I qualify for the Homestead Tax Credit?

If you just bought a property in Maryland, there is nothing that you need to do right now to qualify for the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit.

The property taxes you pay are calculated based upon the assessed value of your property. If the assessed value goes up, your property taxes go up.

The Maryland Homestead Tax Credit operates to limit how much your property taxes can go up each year, if you live in the property as a principal residence. A homeowner pays no property tax on the amount of any increase of the assessed value that is above a cap.

The cap is the lower of 10% or the number set by your local government. Maryland’s State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) has an example of how this works on their website.

As a new purchaser of a property in Maryland, SDAT will mail you a homestead application when the new deed is recorded and their records have been updated. After you receive the application, you can mail it in, fax it in, or file electronically. Once you have filed the application, you should check the status with the SDAT Real Property Data Search page.

For additional information on the application process, see Joe’s post "MD homestead tax credit eligibility application deadline is Dec. 31."

Close It! for iPad ready for download

Free mobile app calculates cash to close for homebuyers and cash in pocket for home sellers with great accuracy

Close It! for iPad ready for download

Ever wonder what your total cash to close would be to buy your home? Or how much money you will pocket from the sale of your home? Now there's an app for that.

"Close It! is like Turbo Tax for real estate transactions," said Todd Ewing, president of Federal Title who first conceived of the app last summer. "And the results are accurate within one-tenth of 1 percent on average."

Download the app now >>

Close It! is the first mobile app that produces a complete, picture of cash to close and monthly mortgage payments for homebuyers and cash in pocket for home sellers. It's free to download for iPad.

Title professionals across the country have used technology like this in-house for years now, but Close It! is the first app that makes it easy for homebuyers and sellers to produce a HUD-1 Settlement Statement – such as what would be reviewed and signed at the closing table – right from their mobile device.

Getting started with the app is as easy as entering a purchase or sales price. Then fine tune the results on a live, dynamic worksheet and instantly narrow down cash to close or cash in pocket with great accuracy.

Whether you're shopping for homes or getting ready to sell, calculate your costs right on the spot with Close It!

Save Our Homes in Florida

To homebuyers in Florida: beware of misleading annual property tax assessments when researching homes online.

An amendment to the state constitution known as Save Our Homes, around since 1995, caps annual increases to assessed property value at 3% or the change in the Consumer Price Index – whichever is lower.

When the property changes ownership, the SOH property assessment value expires at the end of that calendar year. The new owner must apply for her own Homestead Exemption, and the property will receive the SOH benefit beginning the second year. I'm paraphrasing this article.

Homebuyers who are unaware of the program may view the annual property tax assessment listed on a real estate website or government database and mistakenly think their property tax assessment will be roughly the same. But in many cases the new assessment will be significantly higher than the old one, resulting in a large jump in annual property taxes that are due.

SOH is only good for homes that are receiving the Homestead Exemption. Rental and investment properties do not qualify. In the majority of cases SOH may not be inherited. If the house is a duplex and 50% is owner-occupied principal residence, only 50% of the property assessment is shielded by SOH.

Florida homeowners enjoy a Homestead Exemption of $50,000 for if their Florida property is their permanent residence, but they must apply for it. That amount is deducted from their property's assessed value and the taxes are based on that lower number. There are a number of other exemptions available ranging from persons with disabilities to veterans to widows and surviving spouses of service members.
  • Ways to save at closing

    Title charges are the largest chunk of closing costs and can vary by hundreds of dollars.

    Learn more

  • What are closing costs?

    The real estate closing process involves loan steps, legal steps and title steps.

    Learn more

  • What's title insurance?

    Insure your legal ownership just like you'd insure the building, but for lots cheaper.

    Learn more

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