States Title raises $150M for home closing tech

Title insurance upstart States Title announced this week $150 million in debt financing from HSCM Bermuda, which will go towards developing a more modern home closing experience.

CEO Max Simkoff said the financing will held them “wipe the system clean” and build a homebuying system from scratch – one that is simple, efficient and digital, he added.

“Home buying, which is already stressful and overwhelming, should set the standard for easing customers’ journeys rather than lagging behind other digital solutions,” Simkoff said in a statement. “[HSCM] sees immense value in how we are overhauling the system and, together, we now have greater capacity to tackle this enormous market, with significant tailwind behind what we’re doing.”

The financing follows a $123 million Series C filed last May, which went towards States Title’s continued goal of digitizing real estate closings.

The debt financing will go towards product development, investment in go-to-market growth, and the refinance of debt to Lennar Corp., which helped fund the 2019 acquisition of North American Title Co. (NATC) and North American Title Insurance Co. 

After acquiring NATC’s underwriting in 2019, State Title’s intelligence platform suddenly had volumes of publicly-available closing data. As a result, State Title was able to patent technology that removed entire chunks of the closing process.

Now, even more cash will be allotted towards the company’s technological advances in the field of homebuying, Simkoff said.

“The platform benefits lenders, real estate professionals, title agents, and homeowners, and has become even more crucial as the impacts of COVID-19 and record-low interest rates have created a huge tailwind behind home purchase and refinance,” he said.

States Title focuses on technology in its services, using data science to “create predictive title insurance based on an assigned risk score to indicate how safe a property is from liens or liabilities, helping to achieve faster title processing and more efficient underwriting.”

From 2018 to 2019, State Title grew transaction volume by 100x, according to the company.

Source: housingwire.com

How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost? – Redfin

Congratulations, you’ve found a home that you’re ready to buy. From the days of saving for a down payment, searching the housing market for your dream home, homeownership is almost in sight. So whether you’re a seasoned homebuyer or a first-time homebuyer, you’ll need to plan for a home appraisal before you can get final approval for your mortgage. 

You may be wondering just what is a home appraisal and how much does a home appraisal cost? Before heading into the final steps of the homebuying process, find out about the different types of home appraisals and what factors can change the price of a home appraisal.

home-appraisal-cost

home-appraisal-cost

What is a home appraisal? 

A home appraisal is a prerequisite for most mortgages, whether you’re living in Houston, TX or looking to buy a house in Philadelphia, PA. It determines a home’s value and your lender will use the house appraisal to generate an appraisal report. The report helps lenders decide an appropriate amount to lend to a potential homebuyer to purchase that property. State-certified professionals conduct appraisals to safeguard both buyers and lenders against inflated property valuations.

Who chooses the home appraiser? 

Your mortgage lender will often recommend from a list of preferred appraisers, chosen for their track records as reliable, high-integrity professionals. As the buyer you’ll have to pay the appraisal cost, which usually is a fee added to your closing costs. However, your lender should inform you how much the appraisal will cost when you begin the pre-qualification process, so you’ll know just what to expect.

How much does a home appraisal cost? 

A typical home appraisal can range from $200 to $450. However, the cost of your home appraisal will depend on the type of appraisal you need. Here are the four types of home appraisals you might run across:

1) Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR)

This is the most common type of home appraisal out there and lenders typically require a URAR before approving your mortgage.

During a URAR, a trained and certified appraiser carefully reviews both the home’s interior and exterior. The home appraisal process takes two to four hours — and costs between $300 and $400. At the end of the evaluation, the appraiser will give you a detailed report breaking down your home’s value. This is the most extensive, and therefore most expensive, type of home appraisal.

Note: The remaining three types of appraisals are generally not considered sufficient to obtain a conventional loan, but there are reasons why you may want one of these appraisals.

2) Restricted-Use, Short-form Report, or Drive-by Appraisal: 

As you might expect, this type of appraisal provides less information than other types. Therefore, this home appraisal cost is generally less expensive, around $100 to $150. However, lenders generally do not accept this type of appraisal for mortgage approval. More likely, homeowners and real estate agents may use it to help determine a home’s listing price. For this type of house appraisal, a trained and certified appraiser evaluates only the outside of the house and relies on the owner to provide information about the home’s condition and other details inside. 

3) Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): 

Real estate agents use a CMA to value a home, considering factors like nearby home values, ratings for school districts, and the home’s general condition for their analysis. CMAs provide a reasonable estimate for a home’s value when setting a listing price. While this report is more likely used as a tool for sellers rather than buyers, you can always ask your real estate agent for a CMA if you’re looking to buy. It’s important to note that lenders do not consider a CMA as a valid appraisal to determine loan value. 

4) Online appraisals: 

Numerous online sites offer home appraisals directly to buyers who want to know how much their house is worth. An online home appraisal can be free or have some cost depending on how much information you request. Lenders do not accept this type of home appraisal as a valid appraisal. 

home-with-land

Factors that affect home appraisal cost

Before you have a home appraised, know the four important factors that can affect the cost of your home appraisal. 

Type of property

The type of property you plan to buy will influence the cost of your home appraisal. For example, an appraisal for a two-bedroom home will be less expensive than one with multiple bedrooms, a finished basement, and an attic. Additionally, if you plan to set up your home as a rental property to generate income, the appraiser will require a rent survey and an income statement, which may increase the cost.

The home’s value

The general value of the home affects the cost of the appraisal. As a rule of thumb, the larger the home, the more expensive the appraisal. A larger home will take more time to evaluate and results in a more extensive report. As a general reference point, properties priced at or less than $500,000 will typically result in an appraisal cost at the lower end of the range.

The home’s location 

How far does the appraiser need to travel to conduct the appraisal? Driving times and mileage are all accounted for these days, so you should expect to pay more for your home appraisal if the house is located out of town.

Type of mortgage you’re applying for

Depending on the type of mortgage you’ve applied for, it may result in a more costly home appraisal. For example, mortgages that involve a federal agency, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), require an appraisal to include additional safety inspections, resulting in a higher cost. 

If you plan on getting a mortgage loan to purchase your new home, getting an appraisal will most likely be a non-negotiable requirement from your lender. Make sure to ask your lender ahead of time what to expect for the home appraisal cost, so you can be sure to set aside that amount to be paid as part of the home closing process. The more prepared you are throughout your homebuying journey, the more likely you’ll find yourself at ease and ready to become a homeowner.

Source: redfin.com

How Much Does a Home Appraisal Cost?

Congratulations, you’ve found a home that you’re ready to buy. From the days of saving for a down payment, searching the housing market for your dream home, homeownership is almost in sight. So whether you’re a seasoned homebuyer or a first-time homebuyer, you’ll need to plan for a home appraisal before you can get final approval for your mortgage. 

You may be wondering just what is a home appraisal and how much does a home appraisal cost? Before heading into the final steps of the homebuying process, find out about the different types of home appraisals and what factors can change the price of a home appraisal.

home-appraisal-cost

home-appraisal-cost

What is a home appraisal? 

A home appraisal is a prerequisite for most mortgages, whether you’re living in Houston, TX or looking to buy a house in Philadelphia, PA. It determines a home’s value and your lender will use the house appraisal to generate an appraisal report. The report helps lenders decide an appropriate amount to lend to a potential homebuyer to purchase that property. State-certified professionals conduct appraisals to safeguard both buyers and lenders against inflated property valuations.

Who chooses the home appraiser? 

Your mortgage lender will often recommend from a list of preferred appraisers, chosen for their track records as reliable, high-integrity professionals. As the buyer you’ll have to pay the appraisal cost, which usually is a fee added to your closing costs. However, your lender should inform you how much the appraisal will cost when you begin the pre-qualification process, so you’ll know just what to expect.

How much does a home appraisal cost? 

A typical home appraisal can range from $200 to $450. However, the cost of your home appraisal will depend on the type of appraisal you need. Here are the four types of home appraisals you might run across:

1) Uniform Residential Appraisal Report (URAR)

This is the most common type of home appraisal out there and lenders typically require a URAR before approving your mortgage.

During a URAR, a trained and certified appraiser carefully reviews both the home’s interior and exterior. The home appraisal process takes two to four hours — and costs between $300 and $400. At the end of the evaluation, the appraiser will give you a detailed report breaking down your home’s value. This is the most extensive, and therefore most expensive, type of home appraisal.

Note: The remaining three types of appraisals are generally not considered sufficient to obtain a conventional loan, but there are reasons why you may want one of these appraisals.

2) Restricted-Use, Short-form Report, or Drive-by Appraisal: 

As you might expect, this type of appraisal provides less information than other types. Therefore, this home appraisal cost is generally less expensive, around $100 to $150. However, lenders generally do not accept this type of appraisal for mortgage approval. More likely, homeowners and real estate agents may use it to help determine a home’s listing price. For this type of house appraisal, a trained and certified appraiser evaluates only the outside of the house and relies on the owner to provide information about the home’s condition and other details inside. 

3) Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): 

Real estate agents use a CMA to value a home, considering factors like nearby home values, ratings for school districts, and the home’s general condition for their analysis. CMAs provide a reasonable estimate for a home’s value when setting a listing price. While this report is more likely used as a tool for sellers rather than buyers, you can always ask your real estate agent for a CMA if you’re looking to buy. It’s important to note that lenders do not consider a CMA as a valid appraisal to determine loan value. 

4) Online appraisals: 

Numerous online sites offer home appraisals directly to buyers who want to know how much their house is worth. An online home appraisal can be free or have some cost depending on how much information you request. Lenders do not accept this type of home appraisal as a valid appraisal. 

home-with-land

Factors that affect home appraisal cost

Before you have a home appraised, know the four important factors that can affect the cost of your home appraisal. 

Type of property

The type of property you plan to buy will influence the cost of your home appraisal. For example, an appraisal for a two-bedroom home will be less expensive than one with multiple bedrooms, a finished basement, and an attic. Additionally, if you plan to set up your home as a rental property to generate income, the appraiser will require a rent survey and an income statement, which may increase the cost.

The home’s value

The general value of the home affects the cost of the appraisal. As a rule of thumb, the larger the home, the more expensive the appraisal. A larger home will take more time to evaluate and results in a more extensive report. As a general reference point, properties priced at or less than $500,000 will typically result in an appraisal cost at the lower end of the range.

The home’s location 

How far does the appraiser need to travel to conduct the appraisal? Driving times and mileage are all accounted for these days, so you should expect to pay more for your home appraisal if the house is located out of town.

Type of mortgage you’re applying for

Depending on the type of mortgage you’ve applied for, it may result in a more costly home appraisal. For example, mortgages that involve a federal agency, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), require an appraisal to include additional safety inspections, resulting in a higher cost. 

If you plan on getting a mortgage loan to purchase your new home, getting an appraisal will most likely be a non-negotiable requirement from your lender. Make sure to ask your lender ahead of time what to expect for the home appraisal cost, so you can be sure to set aside that amount to be paid as part of the home closing process. The more prepared you are throughout your homebuying journey, the more likely you’ll find yourself at ease and ready to become a homeowner.

Source: redfin.com

Closing on a House Checklist: 6 Things Home Buyers Must Do Before They Move In

When you’re a first-time home buyer approaching the finish line in the journey to your new home, you want nothing to go wrong, right?

That’s why we’ve put together a home closing checklist, which outlines your action points in those few days leading up to settlement. Keep this closing process list handy to know you’ve done what you need to in order to close the deal.

1. Get all contingencies squared away

Most purchase agreements have contingencies—things that buyers must do before the real estate transaction is official, explains Jimmy Branham, a Coral Springs, FL, real estate agent at the Keyes Company. These are the most common contingencies that are part of your new home closing process:

  • Home inspection contingency: This gives buyers the right to have the home professionally inspected. If something is wrong, you can request that it be fixed—or you can back out of the sale. It’s rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency. Although the average home inspection costs $300 to $500, it’s a drop in the bucket considering the costly home issues you might uncover, says Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors.
  • Appraisal contingency: With this contingency, a third party hired by your mortgage lender evaluates the fair market value of the home. If the appraised value is less than the sale price, the contingency enables you to back out of the deal without forfeiting your earnest money deposit, says Bishoi Nageh, president of the Petra Cephas Team at Mortgage Network Solutions, in Somerset, NJ.
  • Financing contingency: This contingency gives you the right to back out of the deal if your mortgage approval falls through. You have a specified time period, as stated in the sales contract, during which you have to obtain a loan that will cover the mortgage.

2. Clear the title

When you buy a home, you “take title” to the property and establish legal ownership—a process that’s confirmed by local public land records. As part of the closing process, your mortgage lender will require a title search, and you’ll need to purchase title insurance to protect you from legal claims to the house.

Sometimes distant relatives—or an ex-spouse—may surface with a claim that they actually own the home, and that the seller had no right to sell it to you in the first place. But clearing title will ensure this doesn’t happen, says Marc Israel, president and chief counsel of MiT National Land Services, a title company in New York City.

As the home buyer of this piece of real estate, you’re entitled to choose the title company. You can get recommendations from your real estate agent, mortgage lender, and friends—just be sure to check out the license and reputation of each company online.

3. Get final mortgage approval

You’ve made that down payment, but before you can go to the closing table, your home loan must go through the underwriting process. Underwriters are like real estate detectives—it’s their job to make sure you’ve represented yourself and your finances truthfully, and that you haven’t made any false or misleading claims on your loan application.

The underwriter—employed by your mortgage company—will check your credit score, review your home appraisal, and ensure that your financial portfolio has remained the same since you were pre-approved for the loan.

Since underwriting typically happens shortly before closing, you don’t want to do anything while you’re in contract that’s going to hurt your credit score. That includes making a down payment on a car, boat, or similar large purchase that has to be financed.

If you’re getting a loan, one of the best ways to prepare is to thoroughly review your closing disclosure, also known as a HUD-1 settlement statement.

This official document outlines your exact mortgage payments, the loan’s terms (e.g., the interest rate and duration), and additional fees you’ll pay, called closing costs (which account for anywhere from 2% to 7% of your home’s price).

You’ll want to compare your closing disclosure to the loan estimate your lender gave you at the outset. If you spot any discrepancies, ask your lender to explain them.

Most sales contracts allow buyers to do a walk-through of the home within 24 hours before closing. During this stage, you’re making sure the previous owner has vacated (unless you’ve allowed a rent-back arrangement in which they can stick around for a period of time before moving).

You’re also double-checking that the home is in the condition agreed upon in the contract. If your home inspection revealed problems that the sellers had agreed to fix, you’ll want to make sure those repairs were made.

6. Bring the necessary documentation to closing

Make sure you have the following items when you head to the closing table:

  • Proof of homeowners insurance
  • A copy of your contract with the seller
  • Your home inspection reports
  • Any paperwork the bank required to approve your loan
  • A government-issued photo ID (Note to newlyweds who just changed their name: The ID needs to match the name that will appear on the property’s title and mortgage.)

Plan to sign a ton of paperwork. An attorney or settlement agent will guide you through the process. When you’re done, you’ll collect the keys, and you’re finally home free!

Source: realtor.com

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Forever Changed the Process of Selling a House

In normal circumstances, selling a house involves interacting with a lot of people. In-person house tours, roundtable closings, and handshakes are all standard formalities.

But in a world rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, safety and social distancing are a must, and real estate professionals and sellers have had to adapt to a new way of doing business. That means altering how they approach open houses, closings, and even personal greetings. (We’re all too familiar with the elbow bump.)

“It has been amazing to see how quickly our industry has evolved,” says Tricia Hausler, director of sales for Lexington Homes. “We have banded together throughout the many facets of our industry to create positive solutions that allow us to continue to comfortably and safely serve our prospective clients and buyers.”

Many of these safety solutions—like self-guided house tours while wearing personal protective equipment—are still in place in states seeing surges of the coronavirus infection. But even after rates fall out of the high-risk zone and a COVID-19 vaccine has been widely distributed, experts predict some of these solutions will have staying power.

The pandemic ushered in many new methods to facilitate selling a home. Here are some of the practices experts say are here to stay.

Curbside and no-touch closings

Perhaps the most exciting part of the home-selling process is closing day. It means that your house is finally sold! But curbside and no-touch closings were enacted during the pandemic to comply with social distancing recommendations.

How does a curbside closing work? According to Chicago-based title insurance firm Proper Title LLC, a title expert walks out to the client’s car to gather signatures on paperwork that an attorney has prepared ahead of time, instead of the traditional process of completing all the paperwork with an attorney in a conference room.

And in instances where remote online notarizations or remote ink notarizations are permitted, all documents can be signed remotely through an approved online notary platform (e.g., Notarize) or audiovisual portal (e.g., Microsoft Teams).

Moving forward, experts can see curbside and no-touch closings becoming the norm.

“Everyone is looking to save more time in their lives, and that’s exactly what curbside and no-touch closings let us do,” says Kathy J. Kwak, executive vice president of operations and counsel for Proper Title LLC. “These new closing options not only reduce travel times for most parties involved, but they also help mitigate some of the scheduling challenges that surrounded the closing process before the pandemic.”

Kwak says most of their clients appreciate the changes made and would like to continue with these new closing procedures postpandemic.

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Watch: Tips for Showing Your Home Virtually—at Its Best

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Goodbye, out-of-focus photos and meager listing descriptions

Any well-informed seller knows that high-quality listing photos and a gripping listing description of your home are vital to attract buyers. But presenting your home in its best light online was more important than ever during the pandemic, when in-person open houses were limited.

“The pandemic only accelerated the need for agents to be more virtually literate and use heavy images in their listings,” says Greg Phillips, designated managing broker for Baird & Warner’s Northwest Suburban office in Arlington Heights, IL. “Many agents started to leverage social media by posting video tours of homes on Instagram or Facebook Live, which have been very well-received by buyers.”

Phillips says his company has also seen great responses to its detailed online listings.

From here on out, the more details the better! Standard marketing of a home is likely to include professional photos, virtual tours, and a compelling description of the property.

Virtual showings are here to stay

Open houses—whether limited capacity or not—will always be a part of the process, but virtual showings are truly the future of selling a home.

“Virtual showings through 3D videos have already revolutionized the way our industry does business and likely will continue to do so,” says Kirste Gaudet, broker for @properties in Chicago. “The 3D tours are so realistic that we may be able to put open houses to rest. I find that my clients now want them as part of the marketing effort.”

Phillips says going forward, virtual tours will be used to complement in-person open houses, and that buyers are using virtual tours as a way to narrow down their choices before visiting a property in person.

Buying sight unseen

For some people, buying a home without ever setting foot inside sounds insane. But the pandemic actually saw a spike in these types of sales!

“I had three sales from out-of-town buyers who purchased properties sight unseen,” says Gaudet. “I conducted showings through FaceTime and was able to capture details—showing every nook and cranny—and home in on specifics.”

Liz Brooks, executive vice president of marketing and sales for developer Belgravia Group, says even before the pandemic, they had experience selling homes sight unseen using virtual reality in their sales galleries.

“We expect that after a vaccine is widely available, buyers will embrace this tool again to help them envision their new home before they step foot in it,” say Brooks.

Source: realtor.com