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Closing on a property can be both thrilling and daunting. Whether you're a seasoned investor or a first-time homebuyer, navigating the intricacies of the closing process is crucial for a smooth transition of property ownership. In Indiana, like in many other states, this process involves various legal and financial steps that demand attention to detail. To shed light on this often opaque procedure, we've consulted title experts to compile essential tips for navigating the closing process in the Hoosier state.

Understanding the Closing Process:

The closing process in Indiana typically involves several key steps:

1. Contract Review: Once a purchase agreement is signed, it's crucial to review the contract thoroughly. Ensure that all terms and conditions are clearly outlined and that there are no discrepancies or ambiguities.

2. Title Search: Conducting a title search is essential to uncover any existing liens, encumbrances, or ownership disputes associated with the property. This step helps identify potential obstacles that may affect the transfer of title.

3. Title Insurance: Securing title insurance is a fundamental aspect of the closing process. Title insurance protects both the buyer and the lender against any unforeseen defects in the title that may arise after the transaction is complete.

4. Property Inspection: Prior to closing, it's advisable to conduct a comprehensive inspection of the property to identify any structural issues or defects. Addressing these concerns beforehand can prevent complications during the closing process.

5. Finalizing Financing: For buyers relying on financing, ensuring that all mortgage documents are in order is essential. This includes providing necessary financial documentation and finalizing loan details with the lender.

Tips from Title Experts:

To navigate the closing process with confidence, consider the following tips from title experts:

1. Work with a Reputable Title Company: Partnering with a reputable title company can streamline the closing process and provide invaluable expertise. Choose a company with a proven track record of excellence and a commitment to customer satisfaction.

2. Communicate Openly: Effective communication is key throughout the closing process. Stay in regular contact with your real estate agent, lender, and title company to address any concerns or questions promptly.

3. Review Documents Carefully: Take the time to review all closing documents thoroughly before signing. If anything is unclear or requires clarification, don't hesitate to seek guidance from your title agent or attorney.

4. Be Prepared for Delays: While everyone aims for a smooth and timely closing, it's essential to be prepared for potential delays. Factors such as financing issues, title complications, or last-minute negotiations can prolong the process.

5. Stay Flexible: Flexibility is essential when navigating the closing process. Be prepared to accommodate scheduling changes, document revisions, or unexpected developments that may arise.

Closing on a property in Indiana can be a complex yet manageable process with the right knowledge and guidance. By understanding the key steps involved and heeding advice from title experts, buyers and sellers can navigate the intricacies of the closing process with confidence. Remember to prioritize communication, diligence, and flexibility to ensure a successful and stress-free closing experience.

Buying a property is an exciting and overwhelming adventure. From choosing the location to negotiating and buying the home, every process is a new challenge to face. That stays true even during the closing transaction.

It requires a plethora of paperwork, signings, and payments. Knowing what to expect when closing a home can help you learn more about the process and get ready.

What Is The Closing Process?

The last stage of what is frequently a drawn-out real estate transaction process is closing. It might take many months to go from the signing of a purchase and sell agreement to sitting down at the closing table. 

Closing is the day that buyers receive the keys and formally become the property's owner. On the other hand, closing is the day that sellers get paid for the sale.

Numerous crucial tasks need to be finished by the time of closing. The potential buyer will have obtained the mortgage required to buy the house unless they are paying cash. There will have been an evaluation of the house and a condition inspection by an impartial third party. All further conversations regarding expenses, repairs, and fittings will have been resolved to a satisfactory degree. The purchaser is going to do a last inspection of the property. Usually, the vendor has left after packing.

The buyer of the property must sign a ton of documents on closing day to complete the transaction. On closing day, several additional parties are frequently present, such as the seller, the lender, real estate agents, the closing agent, and frequently an attorney who will also be reviewing the documents being signed.

How Long Does It Take To Close On A House?

There can be a range of times between putting in an offer and finalizing the deal. The typical closing period for mortgage-financed home acquisitions is 47 days, as reported by mortgage consulting and technology platform ICE Mortgage Technologies. Closings, however, can happen as quickly as thirty days, particularly in all-cash transactions.

homebuyer paying cash to home seller

Steps To Prepare For Closing On A House

The process of closing on a home is difficult. What you should do to prepare is as follows:

Consult A Real Estate Lawyer

Purchasing a home involves more than just the buyer and seller doing business. It's also a somewhat intricate legal procedure. You might find it helpful to work with a real estate lawyer to guide you through the process and make sure everything closes without a hitch. Generally optional, however having legal representation can help you steer clear of unforeseen problems later on.

Create An Escrow Account

At the beginning of the closing process, the majority of homebuyers open an escrow account, which is normally handled by a title company. This account contains all the cash related to the sale, including an earnest money deposit, before you formally close on the property. After closing, the mortgage provider transfers the monies to the buyer and seller, respectively, guaranteeing a safe and secure transaction.

Do A Title Search

Early in the closing process, do a title search on the property you are buying. Any problems or claims against the house, including unpaid property taxes or liens placed on it by contractors, will be revealed by a title search and might potentially threaten your ability to legally buy and occupy the property. During this time, you should also consider purchasing title insurance, which would pay for any title disputes that arise while you are the owner.

Get A Home Inspection

One of the most crucial aspects of closing is getting a house inspected. There may be hidden problems in even the most exquisite homes.

A contractor or qualified inspector will look for significant problems such as leaks, cracks in the foundation, faults with the plumbing or electrical system, and possible safety risks during a house inspection. You may choose to back out of the agreement based on the inspection's findings, or you may request that the seller remedy the problems as a condition of the sale.

Negotiate On Your Closing Costs

Certain charges are negotiable even if closing costs can be high. Check to see if your lender may waive the application fee or reduce the origination fee. Ask your mortgage company whether you can shop around for the cheapest rate instead of paying a set charge to the insurance company of their choice if you need a lender's title insurance.

Confirm Your Closing Date

Verifying the date of your closure is the next step. On this date, the seller will vacate the property completely and you will have the opportunity to move in. Remember that the closing date comes at least one month following the acceptance of the purchase offer. If you encounter unforeseen obstacles when shutting, it may take much longer. You can begin packing your belongings and contacting moving companies as soon as you have the closing date confirmed.

Do A Final Walkthrough

Doing a last walk-through just before moving into a new home is a good idea, even if your initial home inspection went well. There's always a chance that damage happened in the interim between the initial inspection and the day of your move-in. Make sure the seller repaired everything that needed to be fixed and cleared the house and property of everything that wasn't covered by the purchase and selling agreement at the last walk-through.

Understand Your Closing Documents

You will receive many crucial paperwork at the closing. Ask your real estate lawyer or Realtor to go over each document's purpose as there may be up to 100 pages in it. Some of the documents you might anticipate receiving are as follows:

Loan estimate: Key details about your loan, including terms, interest rate, and closing fees, are included in this document. Verify that everything is accurate, including how your name is spelled.

Closing disclosure: This document provides information about your mortgage, just like the loan estimate. This form should be sent to you at least three days before the closure. You have the opportunity to compare the information on the loan estimate and the closing disclosure within this window of time.

Initial escrow statement: Any payments made from your escrow account by the lender during the first year of your mortgage are included on this form. Insurance and taxes are included in these costs.

Mortgage note: This paperwork formally commits you to paying back the mortgage. It outlines the loan's conditions and amount as well as what will happen if you don't make your installments.

Mortgage or deed of trust: If you default on the mortgage note, this instrument secures the note and grants your lender a claim against the house.

Certificate of occupancy: This legal document is required for you to move into a freshly built home. Additionally, get a copy of the survey and title policy.

What Takes Place When A House Is Closed?

The two main things you will need to accomplish on closing day are signing legal paperwork and paying escrow items and closing expenses. The documents you will sign will cover the terms and conditions of your mortgage from your lender as well as the agreement between you and the seller, who is transferring ownership of the home. To ensure you understand exactly what you're committing to, it's crucial that you thoroughly read each of these contracts.

On closing day, you will also need to pay for all escrow goods and closing charges. Getting a mortgage and changing ownership of real estate comes with several costs. These costs consist of HOA dues, utility bills, and property taxes. Typically, the money is sent to the escrow business via wire transfer certified check, or cashier's check made payable to the bank. Personal checks are frequently prohibited.

It's also crucial to find out what kind of identification is needed before closing day. Though some businesses demand two, typically just one form of ID is required. Usually, you have to bring the following items:

Factors That May Cause Closing Delays

Closing delays can be caused by a variety of factors, such as inadequate appraisal, unfulfilled conditions, title issues, and issues with the mortgage money.

Low Appraisal

An appraisal is a professional evaluation, mandated by the mortgage lender, of the value of the house you are considering purchasing. Ensuring the home's sale price is in line with its fair market worth is the aim of an appraisal. If the home appraises for less than the purchase price and/or the amount you are trying to borrow, this step could affect the closing process. The maximum amount the lender will lend you is the appraised value. Therefore, your agreement can collapse if you lack the funds to close the assessment gap.

Failing To Secure Financing

Closing may be slowed down or the loan may be canceled completely if you are unable to obtain a mortgage due to a change in your circumstances, nonpayment of the loan, or other delays.

Unfulfilled Contingencies

In a real estate contract, contingencies give either party the option to withdraw from the agreement if specific requirements are not fulfilled. This could be the result of a home inspection that finds significant issues, the purchase is conditional on the buyer obtaining financing (see above), or the seller buying a new residence. These and other contingency-related issues could stop the deal or make it completely collapse.

Issues With Title

Any real estate transaction requiring a closing needs to have a clear title, meaning there should be no questions or claims regarding ownership. This implies that the closure cannot take place until any form of lien or claim against the property is resolved. If a seller owes unpaid income or property taxes, the Internal Revenue Service or the state government may lay liens on the property.

These are some of the basic things you need to know when closing a home. In Part 2, we’ll dive deeper into the closing transaction and talk about the importance of a title service company.

While buying a house is an exciting accomplishment, the formal process of becoming a homeowner involves several steps, from making an offer to signing papers at the closing table.

Every action you take is essential to safeguarding your future investment. Obtaining an inspection, a house appraisal, and a property title search are some of the most important steps. 

To help understand how doing a property title search might protect your new house, let's examine the significance of this process.

What Is A Title Search?

Usually, we assume that the home seller has the right to sell the house when you purchase one. That presumption, however, may come back to haunt you if someone else knocks on your front door and has a lien or claim on the property.

To establish the true, legal owner of a piece of land, a property title search is conducted to look through public records. Any liens or claims made against a property that can have an impact on a purchase should also be found through a title search.

Why Is A Title Search Necessary?

Discovering the property's owner is only the first step towards purchasing it. It's possible that the present owner isn't even aware of any prior claims to the title of the property. Because mortgage liens and other comparable debts, along with easements and restrictive covenants, follow the property and not the owner, you may be responsible for the debts of a prior owner.

If you choose not to have a title search performed or if the search reveals encumbrances such as unpaid property taxes, homeowners association (HOA) dues, and unpaid invoices for prior home modifications, you may be responsible for them. This is the reason that, as part of the mortgage underwriting procedure, mortgage lenders demand title searches and title insurance.

homeowner doing research about title company

How Do Title Searches Determine A Property's Owner?

A title search examines public records about a property. To establish a chain of title and verify that a sale is the legitimate owner, an attorney or title business will typically employ several legal documents. Additionally, the title search locates any monetary or legal claims made against the property.

The Process

The expert who searches public records for titles is known as a title abstractor. To create an abstract of the title, they compile all the pertinent data and court records they can locate about a property. A chronology of all obtainable documents and transactions about a property is included in the abstract of the title.w

The abstract may contain information about the property's historical and present owners, easements that traverse it, and any relevant wills or lawsuits.

The Findings

Financial rulings against the property's owner that could have an impact on your finances down the road can be found via a title search. Liens against the home, easements, and unpaid property taxes are a few possible issues with the title. You're happily ever after in your new house could be jeopardized by outstanding claims.

Your home title search needs to show that the property is free and clear to avoid problems in the future.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the possibility of a title claim against a property. For instance, you can obtain a title warranty or buy title insurance. 

For many house buyers, the one-time payment of a title insurance policy—which is typically between 0.5% and 1% of the purchase price of the home and included in closing costs—is worth it because it can help safeguard your ownership claim to the property.

Who Does The Title Search?

The title firm or lawyer usually handles the title search, although the lender or home buyer may also conduct this.

Should you choose to conduct the title search on your own, locations such as the county courthouse, recorder's office, and assessor's office will have the necessary records.

Allowing experts, like real estate lawyers, to manage this aspect of the house-buying process might be a wise decision. Untrained eyes may find legal paperwork confusing, leading you to miss something crucial.

How Long Does A Title Search Take?

Depending on how complicated the papers are related to a property, a title search's speed will change.

Multiple sources must be consulted to collect records for a title search, which could cause a delay if an office takes a long time to reply.

It can take a few hours or weeks for the title company Indiana examiner or attorney to go through the documents and find any unresolved claims once they are in their possession. However, title searches usually take a week or two to finish.

Old Home Vs New Home

There are usually fewer papers to look up in a newer house than in an older one. Due to its lengthier time on the market, an older home will probably have more records to evaluate. This may cause the title search to take longer.

You shouldn't rush your attorney or the title company Indiana examiner, even if it can be annoying to wait. To assist you in avoiding any future problems with the home, give them the time they need to complete their work completely.

How Much Does A Title Search Cost?

A title search typically costs between $75 and $200. Depending on the state you're buying in, the pricing may change. Upon completion of the investigation, you ought to obtain a report that is straightforward to read and highlights any encumbrances that need to be cleared up before proceeding with the acquisition.

If you conduct a title search yourself, the cost can be significantly reduced. However, this approach can take a while, and if you are uncomfortable using "legalese," you might overlook a lien or debt and fail to recognize that your title isn't free and clear. A title search will provide you confidence and peace of mind as you proceed with your property purchase, so it could be a smart idea to leave this stage to the experts and budget for the cost of title fees.

If you conduct a title search yourself, the cost can be significantly reduced. However, this approach can take a while, and if you are uncomfortable using "legalese," you might overlook a lien or debt and fail to recognize that your title isn't free and clear. A title search will provide you confidence and peace of mind as you proceed with your property purchase, so it could be a smart idea to leave this stage to the experts and budget for the cost of title fees.

Buying a home involves a long process, including a title search. And while it may take your time, money, and energy, it can help a lot, especially in avoiding bigger problems in the future. 

If you're planning to buy a home and conduct a title search, we're here to help. Call us at 317-214-6023 to learn more.

Whether you've started the home-buying process or you're planning to refinance, you've probably heard of loan estimates.

In essence, a loan estimate gives you a list of the things you need to know about the loan you're applying for. This includes the interest rate, other charges, etc. Once you have it, you can know and adjust your budget and get ready for the down payment.

Loan Estimate Form

It consists of a three-page document providing loan information, including interest rate, monthly payment, and the total closing cost of the loan. It also contains information about the estimated cost of taxes and insurance and how the interest rate and payments may change in the future.

The form also specifies if the loan has special features you want to include, any penalties you might pay off for early or late repayment, negative amortization, etc. Therefore, you mustn't just read the form but also, understand it.

The loan estimate is usually easy to read and understand. It often comes with a complete explanation of the loan and what it covers. All lenders use a standard loan estimate form, so the simple format makes comparing much easier to see which loan provider offers the best option. 

Normally, you can expect your loan estimate in as fast as three business days, unless you don’t meet the lender's qualifications and your application is rejected. 

When this happens, lenders must give you a written notice within 30 days and state why your application is being rejected. A loan estimate has no cost, the only fee you will pay to get a loan estimate is the credit report fee.  

When you do get a loan estimate, its validity is within 10 business days. So, you need to evaluate carefully within this period if you will accept the loan offer or not. You may request the lender to change the terms and give you a new loan estimate if you need more time to think and compare with other offers. However, even if lenders give you a new estimate, it doesn't necessarily mean it has a different or worse offer. 

Nonetheless, it may change depending on the market conditions and your credit. Like stocks, mortgage rates can change multiple times within a single day, So, you need to be sure of the property you want to buy and that you like it before making an offer and deciding to move forward. 

You need to review your loan estimate carefully before you move forward to the underwriting process to make sure you understand the loan and can afford to pay it. You can and should get a loan estimate before finding a property you want to buy, especially in a seller’s market where buyers need to act quickly to make a purchase offer. In case you still don’t have the address of the home you want, you can provide a similar type of home and its price since a loan estimate is not an official pre-approval, lenders can still issue a revised estimate after you have chosen a property. If you do move forward, lenders will then ask for additional financial information.

Having a mortgage pre-approval and even a pre-underwriting can make you feel confident about getting the financing. You can check your loan estimate against closing disclosure before you sign your closing documents. 

couple looking at new spacious home

Requirements To Get A Loan Estimate 

Getting a more detailed estimate means you need to provide more information such as your debts, specific loan type, and other financial information.

Details To Look For In A Loan Estimate Form:

You may ask the lender if there are any inaccurate details on your name. Having a misspelled name can lead to major issues and can cause delays.

Check this information to make sure that what is written is what you discuss with your lender.

Take a look if the loan amount is what you are expecting. On a house purchase, the loan amount plus your down payment should equal the sale price of the house. 

The principal is the amount you will borrow from the lender while the interest is the charge lenders put for lending you money. Expect that your total will be higher and pay more due to taxes and insurance.

Check if there are charges related to homeownership that are bundled in your monthly payment.

Make sure that the total here is what you expected since this will be your monthly payment including the insurance.

Do you have items in this section that are not escrowed? If you do, you’ll need to pay this cost directly in large lump sum payments and ask how often you need to make these payments. 

This is the upfront cost you will be charged to get your loan and transfer ownership of your property This is included in your payment at closing. 

This is an additional payment you have to pay, so having extra funding is a must. 

Terms You Need to Know When Looking On Your Loan Estimate:

These are the things you need to know about loan estimates. If you have more questions, feel free to drop them in the comments or call us at 317-316-8224 we can assist you.

Buying or selling a home isn’t as simple as buying clothes in exchange for money. Selling a property is a big deal. For most people, it is one of the biggest transactions, especially for first-time homebuyers. And when you decide to sell or buy a house, you’ll need a title company's services.

When you decide to sell a property, that’s where the title company comes in. They provide a variety of title services to handle the concerns of both the buyers and sellers about the title. 

They also make sure that the seller has the right to transfer the property to the buyer. In short, selling your house means needing the title company’s services. They will process everything you require from conducting a title search until its closing day. To know more about what title services can do to sellers, here is some helpful information. 

Attorney’s Contract

A title company will help sellers with various documents that are needed when they sell their property. This is where the lawyer comes in. They will help you to review the contract and other documents to see if they are valid. 

Most title companies have real estate lawyers, but you can always ask friends or family members for referrals.

Title Searches 

One of the main responsibilities of a title company is to conduct a title search, which is very important. But, what is a title search? 

It is a public record examination of the property’s title you are selling which also includes deeds, mortgages, liens, and other claims that could affect the property’s ownership. This ensures that what the seller sells is clear and eligible for sale. A good title search will help to sell the house and solve issues (if there are any) before the closing process.

Title Insurance

Title insurance is also important not only to buyers but also to sellers. It protects lenders, sellers, and buyers from having a financial loss or unseen defects. In most cases, defects usually don’t show up when a title search is being conducted, which is why additional protection is required. It also remains valid as long as the seller remains interested in the property. Two kinds of title insurance policies:

If these are delayed, it can cause closing to be delayed. If issues arise, you should resolve them as soon as possible to avoid leading the deal to fall through. 

Paperwork Filling and Notary Services

Title companies will help the seller with the closing paperwork. They will handle all necessary documents that are relevant to government agencies, ensuring that the buyer and mortgage agency has a copy of closing documents. 

While the title company also provides notary services to the seller. 

Lien Negotiation

When you are selling a property, you need to ensure that the liens are done and paid off. 

What are liens, you ask? It is a legal claim or right made against the asset that is held as collateral to pay off a debt. This process can be very complicated and sometimes hinder the closing process. This is where the title company helps to negotiate and ensure that you still get to keep most of the sales price. 

Payoff Coordination

The title company will coordinate the payoff process if the seller has an outstanding mortgage or liens on the property. This is to secure that these obligations are satisfied during the closing process. 

Document Preparation

The title company prepares all the legal documents and paperwork that is needed for sale. They make sure that all necessary documents and documentation are accurate and that it complies with the laws and regulation. 

Closing Process

Up until the closing process, the title company will help coordinate with all parties involved, confirming that they have the correct documents, that all funds and documents are properly handled and disbursed, and that the process goes smoothly. They will only give the documents once the buyer completed the conditions and payments that have been set. 

Title companies also provide settlement services like facilitating escrow, notarization of documents, or recording the deed with the county. They act as a neutral third party to assist the buyer and seller in the transaction. 

real estate agent walking in the neighborhood

Disbursement Of Funds

After everything is set and the closing is complete, the title company distributes the proceeds from the sale to the seller. The title company will deduct any outstanding amounts owed like closing costs and commissions. 

How Much Will It Cost For Title Company Services?

Title services may vary depending on where you live. The amount will depend on the kind of service you will require. The cost usually ranges from $1,000 but will not exceed $1,500. 

As mentioned above, the cost depends heavily on which state you live in and is regulated by the state’s Department Of Insurance. So even if you look for different title insurance, the cost will only be the same; however, it might also vary depending on the coverage amount you select. 

Who Pays The Title Insurance?

This will still vary on what state you live in, but for most states, the buyer is the one who pays for the title services and title insurance. Meanwhile, the closing cost can be negotiable and both the buyer and seller can discuss who will pay for the services. It can be a fifty-fifty cost or solely charged to the buyer. 

How To Choose A Title Company

Title companies can often be recommended by the buyer’s real estate agent, lender, or attorney involved in the home sale, or as mentioned above, you can also ask for referrals from a friend or a family member. 

Doing the right research and reading reviews can help you decide which title company is best to take services from. 

Asking around and knowing their rates and fees can also help you decide, but just make sure that the company you’ll choose is licensed and accredited.

If you're looking for a reliable title company in Indiana, our team at Indy Legal is here to help. Call us at 317-214-6023 or send us a message by clicking this link.

Are you wondering how loans work? If yes, then you’re in the right place!

In this post, we’ll talk about the basic things you need to know about loans, including how it works, the types of loans, short-term and long-term loans, and more.

The Basics

When it comes to loans, personal loans are the most popular. Its terms, cost, and interest can vary from one lender to another. Whether you use it for family, medical costs, paying for a title company, or unemployment funds, this type of credit is one of the easiest ways to address financial struggle and difficulty. 

However, it should not be taken lightly. Whether it’s your first time taking out a personal loan or not, it’s important to know how to compare loans from different lenders. If you have multiple loan options, you can look for the best deals for you and compare the fees, interest, and terms before making any decisions. 

Here are a few things to consider when choosing the best loan for you.

Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Loans

The best personal loan for your purpose depends on your current financial status. You may look for the basic type of personal loan with monthly interest and regular repayments that will be made over a stated period.

Short-term loans have higher monthly mortgage payments but often have a lower interest rate. Depending on your loan term, when you pay off your balance shorter than expected, you may pay less in interest overall. It usually has a 6-month to less than 3-year payment. 

The long-term loan has higher repayment tenures and can be repaid over an extended period. It usually takes from 3 years to 30 years. 

You can compare the different loan terms and then choose the shortest term available for you. As mentioned above, it can have a higher monthly payment but has a lower overall interest rate and you can finish your loan sooner. If, for some reason, you can’t take the short-term loan, then you may consider taking the longer-term loan. 

Interest Rates And Annual Percentage Rates

The interest rate and annual percentage rate is one of the important factors that you need to consider in deciding which loan is best for you. 

The interest rate on your loan is the percentage of the total amount of loan you’re borrowing and will have an impact on its cost. The annual percentage rate that is sometimes offered in the loan includes the interest rate plus loan fees and can give you a better sense of the loan's true cost. 

loan approved documents

The interest rate has two types: Fixed rate and variable – A fixed-rate interest stays during the loan, you’ll pay the same rate until you finish paying for your loan. While a variable can change and can increase during the loan payment term. You can compare the interest rates and also review and take a good look at the annual percentage rate. 

Having good credit means lenders can give you low-interest rates because you’re a less risky borrower. So, maintain good credit to earn you a better offer.

Secured And Unsecured Loans

Secured loans are debts protected by collateral. This means that when you apply for a loan, the lender will want to know your assets and use them as a backup for the loan. In case of default, the lender will acquire your property to compensate for the remaining payments.

It is risky, however, it usually has lower charges and interest rates, better repayment terms, and a higher chance of approval.

One example of a secured loan is a title loan wherein the car is the collateral. In exchange for the loan amount, the borrower must surrender a physical copy of the car title and get it back once the loan is fully paid.

Meanwhile, there are unsecured loans that won’t require any guarantee or collateral from the borrower. That means you can borrow from the lender without surrendering a title or any of your property. While it sounds less risky, it often comes with higher interest rates and fees. 


Collateral is an item or property of the borrower that is of value and pledged to the lender to secure a loan. With collateral, lenders can reduce the risk of not getting paid. The lender has the right to take hold of and sell the property to get its losses if the borrower is unable to pay on the loan agreement. 


These are the charges lenders can apply on a loan. Fees help lenders to cover the costs associated with processing a loan. Here are some common fees: 

Monthly Payment And Long Term Affordability

Monthly payment is the amount that you have to pay each month until your loan is fully settled. 

Therefore, you have to take into consideration the amount you have to pay every month. Make sure that it doesn’t affect your budget so you can still pay your other bills while repaying your loan.

While some loans may provide a lower monthly payment than other loans, you have to think thrice before accepting offers. If you are on a tight budget and are looking for an interest-only payment or other types of low-payment loan, weigh things and think of what you can afford.

Generally, getting a loan with the lowest interest rate and loan term is ideal so it’s easier to afford the monthly repayments.

Consider The Total Amount Owed

The total amount owed includes the amount of money borrowed plus the interest and fees. You need to think and evaluate and choose a loan that has the least amount of money owed on the entire agreement term of course. If it’s too big or out of budget, you might want to look for another loan option.

Final Thoughts

A loan might sound like a good solution, especially when you’re running out of cash and you have no other options. However, you have to consider a lot of things, including the kind of loan you’ll get, the properties to surrender, and the interest rate.

Knowing the terms, and features of the loan, and how to shop for options give you an advantage in finding the one that suits you and may help you avoid falling prey to bad debts.

Looking for the right house is both exciting and exhausting as it takes a lot of time, energy, and work. That’s why getting the help you need, such as from a real estate agent, is important. However, before looking for a real estate professional, it is necessary to take your time writing down questions that you might ask when viewing your potential home.

Make sure that you have a full understanding of the features you want. A little research won't hurt. And once you have the details, you can look and compare them when viewing houses until you have decided on the right house suitable for you and your family. 

Bring a Real Estate Agent

Having a real estate agent is important when viewing a house. They can look for a specific house you want or get a better understanding of what are the things you like or dislike in a home. They are also more knowledgeable in answering all your queries and questions and can also give you advice if a house is good or not based on what you want. 

Bring Your Partner Or Family

You should consider having your partner or family attend the house viewing so they can also see the house first-hand and you can both decide together. This will also save time on your and your agent's end by eliminating houses that are not to your liking. Conversation with your partner or family is important to determine what kind of house you will be having and for this reason, it's ideal for both of you to look at every house. 

Bringing family doesn't mean you need to bring your children. It's best that you don't bring them with you as they will need more attention and you will likely not be able to focus on looking at or viewing the house. Though considering their ideas and opinions can help you choose a house, especially the young adults. You can write down their ideas and have that with you when viewing without bringing them.

couple looking at their new home

What To Look For

While bringing a real estate agent is convenient, they are proposing and sometimes encouraging you with houses that are way out of your budget. It's tempting especially when you are carried away with excitement. It's ok if you do have a budget, but what if you don't have one? It'll disappoint you and stress you out. So, focus on viewing houses that are within your budget and you can also learn to say NO if it doesn't fit within your requirements. 

Having research also on the location that you want will help you pick the right house. Make sure that you do like the place and the neighborhood you wanted to live in. Check if it's safe and a friendly environment. You don't want to be stressed out with it later on.

Know The House's History

You can ask if you are wondering why the house is being sold. This way, you will know why such a beautiful home is being sold by the owner. Some reasons might be because it's too far from their work or could be that they are moving to another state or abroad. By knowing this you can negotiate with your real estate agent, especially if the owner is selling it in a rush. 

Checking how long the property has been on the market should also be on your list of questions. If it's been on the market for quite a long time, you can ask why it isn't selling. Ask the real estate agent specifically if anyone else has previously made an offer and why they then decided to withdraw it. 

Or it could be for another reason. Sometimes the property is just overpriced and it stays too long on the market. This can be a good opportunity for you to make an offer to lower the price of the house by knowing the value of the property as a start. 

Natural Disaster Zone

Do research on the area you want to live in or ask your real estate agent if there are natural calamities frequently happening. It might be floods, earthquakes, tornados, or typhoons, to name some. You can also check on the disaster map zone if the area is safe to live in. 

Comparable Houses Within The Area

Look for comparable prices with other houses. The price or value of the house should be reasonable enough compared to other houses. If the costs are higher than expected, be prepared to negotiate if you want to make an offer. Having a lower offer could mean there is a problem with the home that they are not telling you about. 

Taking a Good Look at the Utilities

Ask your real estate agent if the house has been on a house inspection, though it's really in the process you have to make sure that everything is good. You don't want to burn money on the things that the seller should have been responsible for. You might want to take a look at the attics, basements, sinks, heaters, furnace filters, breaker boxes, and other areas.

Although sellers won't reveal everything, you have to listen carefully to any information they will give you about the home's condition. You can also ask if the house has been on any additional renovation. Sometimes, additions or renovations aren't reflected in the house's official record. 

Surveying markers are also important as they will determine the boundaries of your yard. Make sure to look for it and that there are no fences or other structures that are beyond the line.  

Know If There Are Any Easements

An easement is a neighbor's legal right to access your property. This may happen if, for example, a shared driveway or parking lot begins on your property and branches off to other homes. So, before you make any plans for your yard, you should know if there is anything you cannot change.
Again, writing down the questions based on the requirements of your home is helpful and will save you a lot of time. The real estate agent may also suggest additional questions based on what you are looking for. It's also important to write down the answers on the properties that you've viewed that can help you in considering which house to buy. Getting answers and knowing what to expect can help make the home viewing and buying process go more smoothly.

When you’re almost at the finish line of the home-buying process, getting a final walkthrough is important. It would help make sure that everything is in order before you move into your new home.

But First, What Is A Final Walkthrough?

As the word suggests, your final walk-through is the last task you do before you become the official owner of the house. It is an essential step in the home-buying process as this allows you to inspect everything before the official closing. It will allow you and the real estate agent to go through the house room by room. Therefore, you should take this seriously. 

Checking the house for the last time gives you the chance to see if any necessary changes or repairs are made after the initial walk-through or home inspection. Before doing this, create a checklist to make sure that you won’t miss anything. 

How Long Will It Take?

The time that will be spent in the walk-through will depend on the size of the house. For most houses that are big, it takes at least an hour depending on if there are many questions the buyer has on the house. While smaller houses can take up to 20 minutes. 

What Should Be On Your Checklist?


Check all the appliances. Look for the following:

Inspecting all of the appliances on your walk-through can save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

real estate agent showing home to new buyers

Purchase Agreement On The Sale

The agreement you both agreed on after you make an offer will state what’s included in the sale. For example appliances, such as chandeliers, ceiling fans, blinds, or other window treatments, etc.

Make sure that the seller has already moved out. Why? First, walking through an empty house will make it easier to move around and see or spot new defects that have accidentally occurred when the previous owner is moving out. And, ensuring that the homeowner has left the property clean and most of all damage free as possible.

Windows, Locks, and Doors

Make sure your home is secure and safe before you move in. You can try and test all the window latches and door locks to make sure everything is working properly. You can also open them to test if they are easy to open or have door sticks (which can be a major hazard in the event of a fire or other emergency). 

Check if any window screens are missing. Additionally, you can equip your home with an alarm system that signals you if a window or exterior door is open. Arm your alarm on all your doors and windows and make sure the sensors are working.


Never forget the requests for repairs that you make to the seller. The last opportunity to confirm all these required repairs is through the final walk-through because this will be the last time you can ensure that all repairs are up to your standards and all are in quality work. 

The seller must agree to make repairs before closing. Double-check if all requested repairs have been completed. It’s a bonus when the seller provides all the receipts and warranty of the repair so you can follow up with them if something breaks and is still under the warranty. 

Molds and Pests

None of us wants to have mold in our house. Aside from molds becoming large, it can also be an expensive problem. It can spring up anywhere that is moist so carefully inspect areas that have moisture, like the kitchen and bathroom. 

Pest can move in at any time even if the seller has cleaned the house during the inspection. Make sure there are no critters, rodents, and ants, especially in areas like garbage. You can also check for termites by looking for dry rot, spongy floor, and crumbly timbers that have signs of it. Wood mark bites are also signs of other invaders, such as mice.


Buying a home might sound tedious because of the steps you have to follow. However, this will help make sure that everything is ready before you and your family finally move to your new place.

For instance, the final walk-through will give you the last chance to inspect the house thoroughly and look for house issues, if there are any. Usually, buyers always go through this in good condition as they already fixed all the problems on the initial walk-through. So the best thing to do is to keep a closer look at your checklist thoroughly.

If you still found a problem along the walk-through you can address this to the seller or consult your real estate agent. You can also ask the seller to repair it or delay the closing until all of the issues are addressed. 

In case you want to change or update anything in your new home, you can always do so by discussing the improvements once you finally move into your dream house. As long as you have the budget, you can always consult an expert for these improvements on your house without stress.

When you're buying a home for the first time, the process can be scary. It may seem impossible to meet all the standards for financing. Typically, conventional mortgages need a minimum credit score of 620 and a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 36%. Additionally, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance if you put down less than 20%. 

For first-time buyers, meeting these requirements can be challenging, especially if you're young. Thankfully, there are numerous loans and programs available. By providing loans with lower down payments, less stringent credit standards, and aid with closing expenses, they can lessen the barrier to entry into homeownership. 

To be eligible for these programs, you must fulfill specific requirements. But compared to traditional loans, these loans and grants have less stringent criteria for securing a mortgage.

Who Qualifies As A First-Time Homebuyer:

One of the most popular first-time homebuyer programs comes from the Federal Housing Administration, though program requirements may differ. Anyone who meets any of the following requirements is considered a first-time homebuyer according to the FHA:

Three years have passed since you last owned a home before buying a property. For married couples, only one partner needs to have been without a home for the previous three years. 

You are a divorced or separated homemaker who has only ever co-owned a house as a couple. 

Either you've only possessed real estate that wasn't "permanently affixed to a permanent foundation" or that didn't adhere to local, state, or model building requirements. 

For first-time homebuyers, the following 6 loan and program types are available: 

Government-Backed Loan

Federal agencies guarantee government-backed mortgages, in contrast to conventional loans. If you miss a payment, the agency will pay the lender on your behalf. With the help of this guarantee, lenders will be able to give you a mortgage even if you don't match the standard requirements for a traditional loan.

Government-backed mortgages often fall under one of three categories:

FHA Loan

The minimum down payment required for a Federal Housing Administration loan is 3.5%. 

DTI ratios of 43% or less and credit scores of 580 or higher are what lenders prefer to see. If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you can still apply, but a 10% down payment is required.

However, there are some premiums that you must pay. You will pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) equal to 1.75% of your loan at closing. Then, depending on the term length, loan size, and loan-to-value ratio, you will pay an annual premium ranging from 0.45% to 1.05% of your loan.

FHA Loan Requirements

  • Minimum 580 credit score to get a 3.5% down payment 
  • 500-579 credit score for a 10% down payment
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of less than 43%
  • Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) required
  • Steady income and proof of employment
  • One of the main benefits of these loans is that you can accumulate equity instead of paying rent. The borrower may experience drawbacks from the mortgage insurance they pay to safeguard their lender.

There are loan limits as well, and they change based on your region and the property type. To use an FHA loan, a house must be in good condition.

Important: Due to the less stringent rules for FHA applicants, using FHA financing may have an impact on how the seller perceives your purchase offer. 


If you a) purchase a property in a rural or suburban location b) and make a low to moderate income, you may be eligible for a mortgage via the United States Department of Agriculture. States have different minimum income standards.

A USDA-backed loan does not require a down payment.

USDA Loan Requirements

  • Low to middle class (exclusions vary by location)
  • houses in suburban or rural locations when the population is below a specific level
  • US national, non-citizen, or eligible alien
  • Must be the primary place of residence
  • Income eligibility: Cannot earn more than 115% of the area's median household income.
  • No minimum credit score is needed, but applicants must "demonstrate a willingness and ability to manage and handle debt"
  • only available with a 30-year fixed rate 
  • Must be able to afford the payment, which must not be more than 29% of monthly income, including taxes and homeowners insurance.
  • DTI: 41% for additional debt
real estate agent talking to first time home buyers

VA Loan

Veterans Affairs may offer loans to current and former service members. There is no requirement for a down payment, and the VA does not have a minimum DTI or credit score. Even though the loan is VA-backed, you'll still apply for it through a typical lender, and the lender will determine the required credit score and DTI ratio.

Instead of paying mortgage insurance, you will pay a financing fee that safeguards the lender if you stop making payments. 

Your funding cost will vary depending on several variables, such as the amount of the loan, the amount of the down payment, and if this is your first VA loan. The funding charge can either be included in your monthly mortgage payments or paid in full at closing. The financing fee is not charged to veterans who receive VA benefits for a disability related to their military service.

VA Home Loan Requirements

  • Must be a veteran, active-duty service member, or the spouse of a deceased veteran.
  • a minimum of 24 months of service, or fewer in circumstances of disability discharge
  • With rare exclusions, a minimum credit score of low to mid-600 is required.
  • DTI: 41%
  • The house must adhere to the VA's Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs). 

Important: Borrowers cannot refuse to have their homes inspected or valued when applying for VA loans. There are restrictions on the type of property you can purchase as well as its state. 

Conventional mortgages with low down payments

Two mortgage businesses that are supported by the government are the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). To those with good credit who meet the requirements, each offers traditional first-time homebuyer loans with as little as a 3% down payment. Until they have at least 20% equity in the property, borrowers will be required to pay mortgage insurance on these loans. 

Although only a 3% down payment is required, you still need a credit score of 620. The soundness of the rest of your financial profile will determine the maximum DTI ratio that is permitted.

These are a few of the loans that are offered:

Fixer-Upper Loan Programs

Look into home loans that allow flexibility for fixer-uppers if you're looking to buy a house and don't mind a house that needs some maintenance. Some mortgages include financing for improvements along with the overall cost of the property acquisition, saving the borrower time and money. 

First-time buyers may have access to a wider selection of properties thanks to fixer-upper financing. 

Here are a few possibilities:

Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan

For homes that require repairs following a move-in, use the HomeStyle loan. If both you and at least one other borrower are first-time homebuyers, you'll only need a 3% down payment if you're living in the property rather than renting it out or letting someone else live in it.

Freddie Mac CHOICERenovation loan

The Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan and the CHOICERenovation loan are comparable. More precisely, if you want to disaster-proof your house with additions like retaining walls or flood barriers, it might be a suitable alternative.

The building or remodeling work must be finished before the mortgage may be "delivered" to Freddie Mac. The CHOICEReno eXPress is a scaled-down variation of this loan. 

The maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratios for CHOICERenovation loans are typically up to 75% of the appraised value of the finished upgrades or the total of the purchase and renovation expenditures. 

FHA 203(k) Loan

Compared to the HomeStyle or CHOICERenovation loans, this loan has tougher restrictions on the kinds of modifications that may be done, but you may still be eligible with a lower credit score. If your credit score is 580 or higher, you can put down as little as 3.5%, and if it's between 500 and 579, you can put down 10%. 

When you wish to renovate your first house, FHA 203(k) loans can be helpful. By offering finance for a fixer-upper that other buyers might pass by due to the additional work required, they might offer an affordable entry point into a competitive market. 

Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

With an EEM, you can refinance the cost of energy-efficient renovations without increasing your down payment. An EEM can help you make improvements to things like your heater, insulation, and thermostat system. 

If your credit score is at least 580, a down payment of 3.5% is required; if it is between 500 and 579, a down payment of 10% is required.

An EEM can only be used to fund improvements that are considered cost-effective. Over the anticipated lifespan of the upgrades, costs for existing dwellings must balance. The most affordable upgrades for brand-new structures are those that abide by the most recent version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Borrowers are required to have a qualified energy assessment performed. 

State And Local First-Time Homebuyer Programs

For first-time homebuyers, many state programs offer a variety of assistance. Before choosing a certain form of loan, it's a good idea to look into your alternatives in your state to make the most of the best programs available to you.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to get funding support for your down payment, closing charges, and other expenses. Additionally, several jurisdictions offer tax credits to borrowers with low to moderate incomes. 

The program details vary by state and location, however the following are a few examples of the kinds of assistance that are offered:

Down Payment Assistance

The largest barrier to becoming a house is frequent down payments. 

You should look into any down-payment aid plans offered by your state or local. You'll probably need to meet requirements such as a minimum credit score, a certain income level, and a particular DTI ratio. 

The Iowa Finance Authority, for instance, offers a $2,500 grant or up to a $5,000 loan to cover closing fees and down payments. 

Other Government Loan Programs

Other government initiatives for home loans are targeted toward particular demographics. These consist of:

Good Neighbor Next Door

If you work as a teacher, fireman, police officer, or emergency medical responder and reside in a "revitalization area," you might be eligible for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Good Neighbor Next Door program.

To look for homes in your neighborhood, visit the Good Neighbor Next Door website. You can buy a home for 50% off the asking price for the first seven days that it is posted.

Native American Direct Loan

Veterans of Native American descent are eligible for the NADL, which is provided by the VA. You won't pay private mortgage insurance and you won't require money for a down payment.

A standard VA loan involves a lender providing you with a mortgage that is supported by the VA. With a NADL, your true lender is the VA.

Final Note

The largest challenge for first-time homeowners is frequently saving enough money for a sizable down payment, even though they can acquire financing through traditional channels.

First-time homebuyer loans and programs come with many advantages but also have certain restrictions. Therefore, carefully weigh all of your options before deciding how to finance your mortgage. The drawbacks of lesser down payments, such as mortgage insurance and the possibility of owing more on your mortgage than the value of your home, occasionally outweigh their advantages.

A notary signing agent is a crucial component of the closing process that will expedite the time it takes for you to move into your new property.

What Is A Notary Signing Agent?

A notary signing agent, often known as an NSA, is a person who manages the processing of loan paperwork on behalf of an organization or an individual. These agents are a vital component of closing services since they are familiar with all of the specifics of the documents as well as the complexities of the laws that govern their state. 

What Does A Notary Signing Agent Do?

One of the responsibilities of a notary signing agent is to verify the identity of the person putting their name on a document to make sure that person is who they claim to be. This proves that the documents being signed are legal.

Notary signing agents are responsible for confirming the identity of homebuyers and ensuring that any recent changes to the property's title are reported accurately as part of the obligations that fall within their purview. Due to the fact that they are accountable for the correctness of the loan documents, they will also review the findings of a title search. This will help ensure that there are no problems with the loan.

The following are some of the duties of a notary signing agent:

Why Should Transactions Have Notary Signing Agents And Notary Public?

This is a reasonable question to ask. Both parties contribute to the real estate closing process in their unique ways. The primary distinction between a notary public and a notary signing agent is that notary publics are only authorized to witness signatures. In contrast, notary signing agents are not only authorized to witness signatures but also have the authority to guide borrowers through obtaining a loan. 

Notary signing agents are subjected to additional training than typical public notaries. As a result, they can explain the various loan paperwork in greater depth and know precisely where a borrower must sign, date, and initial on all the loan documents.

male notary signing agent working in the office

Some notary signing agents may provide remote online notarizations through a safe and reliable digital platform. Because of this, you don't need to be physically there during the closure process, which not only helps save time but also cuts down on the amount of paper used.

A loan closing typically involves completing between 100 and 150 pieces of paperwork; a notary signing agent can guide you through all of them, ensuring that your loan is completed accurately and that your loan closing goes off without a hitch.

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