A $9 Million lien on a $729,000 home?

Yes, I had to read it twice too! It sounds crazy but this did just happen to me and what an educational adventure it was!  At first look, when this came up for a home that I was helping my clients buy, I thought the $9 million lien was a typo. It was in their Preliminary Title Report document and this bazaar issue made it clearer to me why it is important that a buyer of a new home thoroughly reads said document.  Most buyers (as well as sellers and realtors) would not know what this item on the report is.  So I discussed this with some other agents and they, too, thought it must be a typo.  But upon further investigation, I confirmed it was not.   

I enlisted the knowledge of a very seasoned realtor and he informed me that there are corporations that buy multiple properties/houses out of foreclosure. They buy them all in one big package, requiring a large payment, in this case, $9 million. Then each house in that “package” is used as a separate piece of collateral for the $9 million loan. When each house is then sold, at the close of escrow, a demand for payment is made in order to clear that individual house off of the $9 million lien, thereby making the title free and clear of that issue for the new buyer.  

So here is my advice: the first thing to do when looking at your preliminary title report is to call the title company so that they can help explain anything that does not make sense, this is part of their job. They will most likely have access to additional documents that can help clarify any issues that you do not understand. They are able to send these documents to you. If any of the statements on the title report or additional documents do not make sense, have a conversation with your realtor to see if they have ever come upon this issue before and can provide some background and/or then speak with your lawyer.

Then make sure that you are cleared from title at the close of escrow. This demand for payment cannot be accomplished until the close of escrow. Discuss with your realtor and/or lawyer to have a clause stating that the removal is contingent on receiving a clear and marketable title at the close of escrow.


Posted on June 27, 2013 .

10 Things You Can Do To Make Sure Your Home Sells Fast and For Top Dollar

10 Things You Can Do To Make Sure Your Home Sells Fast and For Top Dollar

1. Consider the curb appeal. 

Landscaping is nice, but not in everyone’s budget. At minimum, lawns should be freshly mowed, leaves raked, or snow shoveled. Consider a hanging or potted plant for the entrance. Sweep the porch, deck and all walk ways and ensure garbage and recycling are tucked neatly away from the front of the house.

Scrub your front door, porch, outside railings and steps. This is cheaper than repainting and makes a world of difference. Once the outside entrance is clean, decide if the paint really needs a touch up.

2. Get rid of clutter!

Pick one closet or area at a time so the task isn’t as daunting. Look at every item with a very critical eye and ask yourself why you’re keeping it. Forget about hanging onto items for a garage sale. Pick your favorite charity and donate it. You paid for these things long ago, why not just give them away to others who REALLY need them?

You’ll probably have to edit the same closets a number of times to really whittle them down to the “essentials”. If rooms and closets still look cramped, rent a storage locker. A Staging Diva Graduate Home Stager can recommend a location for you.

3. Turn excess inventory into cash.

If you have a collection of items for projects you never got around to, return them. This also applies to the two-year supply of light bulbs, canned goods or paper products sitting in your basement. Without a receipt you won’t get cash, but you will have a store credit that you can use once you move. Less clutter and less stuff to pack, move and unpack again!

4. Watch where the eye goes.

There are speedy and low cost solutions to many of the little problems that together make a home seem shabbier than it needs to. Walk along each corridor and into every room and check where your eye is drawn (better yet, ask a critical friend or family member). If the eye is drawn to the chipped white paint on the door frame, take some “white out” and fill it in. If it’s those old nail holes in the wall, see if you can hang a picture to cover them.

Glue any peeling wallpaper. If it’s really horrible and you can’t afford the time or money to fix it properly, hang pictures and strategically place baskets. You won’t cover the problem entirely (which would be wrong anyway), but you will draw your audience’s attention away from the problem and onto something more visually pleasing to focus on.

5. Find a fix-it person.

Ensure cupboards open and shut and that no taps are dripping. Look in all rooms for things you never got around to fixing and decide which ones might be distracting to potential buyers. No, it’s not OK for door handles to fall off, even if you have learned to ignore it!

6. Clean, clean and clean again.

Most mortals can’t live in a spotless environment all the time. This can be one of the more stressful aspects of having your home on the market— but it’s worth the effort to sell your home for top dollar. You can hire a professional service to come in and deep clean everything; then take 20-30 minutes each day to maintain it.

Appliances should sparkle even if you’re not including them with the house. After all, you might throw them in later as a negotiating tool. Counter tops, taps, sinks and bathtubs should be shiny and free of water spots. If you have a pedestal sink, don’t forget the dust that collects on top of the plumbing where it attaches to the wall. If the whole sink is spotless and the taps aren’t dripping, it will look new!

Dust shelves and vacuum or “Swiffer” the floors. Naturally, all beds should be made. At a recent open house for a home listed over $500,000 (and over 60 days on the market), they hadn’t even bothered with these two simple steps! It made you wonder what bigger things had been neglected.

Remember clean windows let in more light and look newer. Hire a service if you have to— it’s worth the investment.

If all this attention to detail seems over the top, remember that a very clean home leaves the impression that the house is well cared for. This helps put buyers at ease— especially a first time buyer who may be worried about the responsibilities of owning a house.

7. Let in some air.

Open some windows for at least 10 minutes. There is nothing worse than walking into a stuffy house or one that smells of smoke and pet odors.

8. Let in some light.

It might be mood lighting to you, but if you’re trying to sell your home, keep it bright! Dimly lit rooms tend to look small and dingy— especially during the day.
If you have a particularly dark room, consider investing in a floor lamp that will bounce light off the ceiling.

If your walls are so dark that they’re sucking up all the light, consider repainting. You can even buy a small can of a lighter shade of your wall color, mix it with glaze and rub it onto the wall. It will reflect light and give the room a more open feeling. This approach saves much of the preparation and clean up involved in repainting.

9. Don’t forget fresh flowers.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to have fresh flowers throughout your home. Even a daisy in a bud vase brightens a bathroom counter. Ask your florist which blooms last a week. You can also use potted flowering plants that are in season for a low-cost solution. Don’t use plastic or obviously fake flowers, especially in an expensive home!

10. Carefully consider music.

Soft background music can help create a soothing environment and camouflage neighbor and traffic noise. But make sure the volume is very low. Blaring TVs are definitely a no-no, but you’d be surprised how many people leave them on for showings!

Source: http://www.stagingdiva.com

Posted on June 24, 2013 .

Questions to ask a home inspector

Home inspection is one of the most important things you can do when buying a new home. It is important that you understand if there are any issues that the home has that you and your agent may not notice. It is invaluable to get the experience of a professional inspector to inspect the home and explain any and all issues and what they may or may not cost to fix. 

Did you know that anyone can conduct home inspection in Los Angeles, there is no license, credential or certificate required, so here are some qualifying questions to ask when picking a home inspector:

  1. Are you involved in any professional groups or associations? 

Answer should be YES.

  1. Do you carry E&O insurance along with Workmen's Compensation? 

Answer should be YES.

  1. Do you conduct repairs on the properties that you inspect? 

Answer should be NO.

  1. How long has your company been in business? 

Answer should be 5+ YEARS.

Posted on June 24, 2013 .

The real estate market is back!

Within the last year the real estate market has done a complete turnaround. You might be very surprised at what a buyer will pay in today’s market and how quickly the house will sell. There is no doubt, this is the best time to sell a home in the last five years. If you’re interested in moving up or down sizing, this is the perfect time. It is also a great time to make a real estate investment. Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling, real estate is very exciting again.

Posted on June 24, 2013 .

Why is a title report important?

The title report reveals if there are any defects in the title to the property. These are all issues that you want to be aware of before purchasing your house and you will know what you are buying and what the situation is with your neighbors. With the title report you will see the legal description of the property, the current owners name, all underlining encumbrances (a right to, interest in, or legal liability on property), liens, judgments, deeds.  Underlying matters such as easements, covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) and agreements which affect and are part of the land.  Some of the common agreements that “run with the land” include:  building limitations; height restrictions; encroachment issues (like fence lines and gardens, parking); shared driveways; solar panels; and noise. Finally, this preliminary title report is what allows the title company, once approved, to provide the insurance that is required before you’re going to be able to have your loan fund.

Posted on June 24, 2013 .