Title insurance “insures” the title of the property. Title insurance makes the title marketable and insures the homeowner against claims to the title. Examples of title issues are claims from prior heirs, instances of bad foreclosures and prior liens such as construction or tax liens.
For example, a friend of mine bought a bank-owned house in Maryland that had been foreclosed on. After she did extensive renovations on the house, it was discovered that the prior foreclosure had been improper. The former owner was not provided with the due process that is required to foreclose a home. This occurred during the housing recession when large numbers of homes were being foreclosed on and there were many instances of process and paperwork errors. Luckily, my friend had title insurance that protected her, and the problem was resolved (and not at her expense).
Most buyers will not buy a house without title being insured. And, the vast majority of lenders require that both the buyer and seller have title insurance. The title policy purchased by the buyer protects the buyer and the lender while the seller’s policy protects the seller.
So for sellers – a seller’s policy is required unless you have a cash buyer, and even cash buyers often want title insurance. There’s nothing that makes it mandatory for the seller to pay for the owner’s policy, however, it is customary and requiring the buyer to pay it would be a disincentive to the buyer. After all, they are already paying for their own policy. I personally have not encountered a seller asking for a buyer to pay for both policies.
Other closing fees fall under recording & transfer taxes and doc stamps and are government fees. The title company that handles the closing and conducts all the liens searches, obtains title policy and holds the escrow funds also has a closing fee of a few hundred dollars. A seller’s title policy is typically $5.75 per every $100,000 of the sale price plus $5.00 per every $1,000. Recording and transfer fees to the seller are typically .70 cents per every thousand dollars. When working with sellers, I provide an estimated closing statement that details these fees.
Many home buyers begin the home buying process with a mindset of wanting to find their “dream house.” They come with a long list of criteria that is often unattainable or is unattainable in their budget. The best approach is to prioritize needs and wants and determine what things aren’t necessary and what things can be done to the home after it becomes yours. Sometimes these priorities change during the process of looking at homes.
For example, a buyer may start with a list like: 3 bed, 2 bath, 2-car garage with a pool and an updated kitchen. Perhaps they find a house that meets all their requirements except it doesn’t have a pool, but it does have room to add one. Or, a buyer wants to be in a certain neighborhood and their list is similar – 3 bed, 2 bath with a garage, but they want a craftsman bungalow that doesn’t need a lot of work. Craftsman bungalows that don’t need a lot of work are not in abundance. Instead, they opt for one without a garage, that has a parking pad off the alley.
When I initially started my home search for my current home in St. Pete, I did not want to undertake extensive renovations. However, after looking for a while and not finding the right house, I opted to buy a home at a lower price point that needed an entire kitchen renovation. By doing it myself, I got to design the kitchen that I wanted, and that included the Spanish tiles that I wanted!
To read more on this subject, view this article Real estate Q&A: Looking for your dream house? Here’s help
Back to Econ 101 and Supply & Demand –
Most of the nation is currently in a seller’s market and has been for some time. While it may seem obvious this means that the market favors home sellers over buyers, what does it really mean?
A seller’s market means that there are more buyers than sellers active in the market. The inventory of homes is low. This creates a competitive marketplace where homes sell at a faster rate and often get multiple offers on the same home. This is also contributing to the increase in home prices (think supply and demand). In a seller’s market, buyers have less bargaining power. Currently, a buyer may feel they don’t have an abundance of homes to chose from and in some cases are waiting for new homes to come on the market.
To gauge just how strong of a seller’s market we are in and what direction the market is heading, look at the month’s supply of inventory. The industry standard for a balanced market is 5.5 months of inventory. The statistics below are provided by Florida Realtors (Association).
Pinellas County (St. Petersburg/ Clearwater) – Median Sale Price & home inventory
The above chart shows that the median sale price for single family homes in Pinellas County have gone up 8.7% in the past year and the inventory has gone down 14.8%. The median sale price of condominiums and townhomes went up an ever greater amount of 14.4% and the inventory was down a whopping 17.6% over the prior year.
To read more on a seller’s market, read my Blog “The Best Time of Year to List a House for Sale,” which explains the absorption rate and it’s correlation to seller’s and buyer’s markets.