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Technology and the Real Estate Closing

Technology and the Real Estate Closing

There is no doubt that technology and modern conveniences touch almost every aspect of our lives. The modern day consumer can purchase almost anything online, and with regard to a real estate loan closing our television promotes how easy it is to apply for a loan online or to close on your loan “faster than a speeding bullet.” At what point must the consumer ask the question, “What quality is being compromised for the sake of instantaneous gratification?” We suggest that real estate closings, loan closings and particularly title examinations involved in assuring those acquiring real estate are not to be compromised for the sake of speed and desire to be finished. Speed is not always synonymous with quality and correctness. In my years practicing law in North Carolina, and my years prior to practice assisting attorneys with real estate closings and completing title searches, I have encountered both simple title examinations and extremely complex title examinations. The complexity of the title exam does not discriminate due to the amount of the purchase price, whether it is a cash closing or financed through a loan. Despite the fact that many counties have conveniently provided public records for searching on the internet, every title is different and the time is different. This can be taken for granted by the seller, the realtor, the lender, the buyer, attorneys that do not engage in many real estate transactions, and by your friend who had a transaction that went smoothly in the past. For a title searcher with the goal of performing their task correctly, his or her goal going in is to...
Will Interest Rate Increase Impact Spring Home Sales?

Will Interest Rate Increase Impact Spring Home Sales?

In mid-March, the Federal Reserve announced a .25% rate increase, the first of what is expected to be three small interest rate increases in 2017. According to NerdWallet, mortgage rates prior to the 2016 election were around 3.75%; after the election, rates began to inch upward in anticipation of rate increases by the Fed. For that reason, yesterday’s announcement did not cause an immediate jump in rates. Rates in North Carolina for a 30-year mortgage are currently around 4% (see current NC mortgage rates at Bankrate.com). Experts expect mortgage rates may be in the 4.6 to 4.8% range by the end of the year, though those estimates could be impacted by changes made by the current administration. Spring in North Carolina typically sees a jump in home sales. The rate increase is not expected to have a big impact on the market, but may cause potential buyers to re-evaluate the amount of house they can afford. Rates are not expected to decrease in 2017, so anyone looking to buy, sell or refinance may wish to do so early in the year. Seller’s Checklist Here are some things to remember if you are considering selling your home this spring: Look at your home with a “buyers eye.” The half-finished repair job that doesn’t bother you may detract buyers. If there are outstanding maintenance issues, take care of them before you put the house on the market. Clean and declutter to make your house look larger and better. Trim bushes, cut grass and spruce up your yard. A welcoming pot of flowers on the porch is always a good idea. Make...
Common Landlord-Tenant Concerns

Common Landlord-Tenant Concerns

By E. Drew Nelson, Attorney Home ownership rates in the United States reached an all-time high of 69.20% in 2004; while there have been a few upticks, there has been a gradual decline in home ownership over the past decade. During the fourth quarter of 2016, the average home ownership rate was 63.7%[1]. Some people rent because they cannot afford to purchase a home, while others do so for convenience – they may move frequently and like the flexibility of renting, or they may prefer having a landlord to handle all the maintenance and repairs on the property. Whether you are a tenant (also called the renter or lessee) or the landlord (the owner or lessor), having a signed lease agreement provides protection for both parties. If you will be renting a property from another party, here are some common things to look for: What is the term? Commonly leases may be for 12 months, but you may find leases that are written for shorter (or longer) terms, or operate on a month-to-month basis. What are the notice requirements? If you wish to terminate the lease or not to renew it, how much notice must you give to the other party? Can you terminate the lease verbally or via email, or do you have to sign a form at the rental office? Many leases have automatic renewal clauses, so you may end up obligated for another 12 months if you do not provide sufficient notice in the form the lease specifies. Are there extra costs involved? A friend leased an apartment that required all tenants to pay for valet...
What Do I Need to Know About Renting (or Renting Out) a House?

What Do I Need to Know About Renting (or Renting Out) a House?

In North Carolina, many people are connected to the residential rental world. Most individuals rent an apartment or house before purchasing a home, and even parents with a child in college who is renting a place to live off campus find themselves with residential landlord/tenant questions. On the other side of things, some people have investment properties that they lease, and some have inherited an older home they desire to fix up and rent to supplement their income. Do you need an attorney for these transactions? Below are some instances that may offer a direction for both tenants and landlords of when to seek legal counsel. Instances when a residential tenant should consider consulting with a legal professional: Written lease agreements can be complex and may contain clauses that strongly favor the landlord. I recommend the tenant consult a legal professional to review and explain the provisions of the written lease agreement before signing it; For assistance with notice to the landlord for repairs, with notice of the tenant’s intention to vacate the premises, and with notice of the tenant’s intention to terminate a lease; While leasing the premises, the tenant encounters an issue with the leased premises that makes the premises uninhabitable or not suitable for living; If the tenant receives a notice for past due rents or notice to vacate, and has questions about the proper procedure or his/her rights; and If the tenant has questions regarding the status of his/her security deposit. Instances when a residential landlord should consider consulting with a legal professional: If you, as the landlord, have used the same written lease for...
What Does the Closing Attorney Do?

What Does the Closing Attorney Do?

Whether buying a house or refinancing your existing mortgage, you as the purchaser/borrower may ask, ‘what is the role of the closing attorney’? There are five primary functions handled by the closing attorney during a real estate transaction: Title examination: The buyer and lender will both want a clear title for the property. Without clear title, the sale may become much more complicated. Upon receipt of a real estate purchase agreement or a request from a bank or mortgage broker, the closing attorney will begin to check the title to the property being sold. The title examination is for the purchaser and the lender to evaluate title to the real estate. The purchaser will need to know whether there are certain restrictions of use, easements, encroachments or whether the title is marketable and clear for the seller to transfer the property to the purchaser. The closing attorney will identify any existing mortgages against the real estate that will need to be satisfied at closing in order to transfer good title. The lender will want to have an overview of what liens, judgments and mortgages, if any, exist that must be addressed prior to or at closing so it can secure a 1st lien position on the real estate. Also, the title examination provides the lender’s underwriters with opportunity to raise concern with the status of the title. Title insurance: Title insurance protects the buyer and the lender in the event a future problem is found with the title. Once the title examination is completed, the closing attorney prepares an opinion on the title that is offered to a title...
3 Situations Where Your HOA Board Needs Legal Advice

3 Situations Where Your HOA Board Needs Legal Advice

By Ryan McNeill, Attorney at Law If you serve on the Board of your Homeowner’s Association, you may quickly find out how much you need to learn! In addition to the Covenant’s and Bylaws that govern your HOA, there are other local, state and federal laws and regulations that can come into play. As long as all homeowners abide by the rules and pay their dues on time, being on the Board can be relatively simple. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t read (or perhaps understand) these thick documents and others ignore them. Evenly and fairly enforcing the Covenants and Bylaws for the benefit of the Association members (the homeowners) as a whole becomes the responsibility of the Board. Many issues that come up have very specific guidelines the Board must follow. For example, the Smith’s lawn is overgrown and tangled with weeds. The Covenants state that lawns must be kept in neatly trimmed and free of weeds. The Board’s response (generally handled by a property management company) is to send a letter to the homeowner giving them a set period of time to rectify the situation. If the homeowner fails to fix the problem, the Board is able to take the next step of holding a hearing. If the situation remains unresolved, the Board may then permitted to hire a third-party to mow and treat the lawn and charge the homeowner. [The actual steps to resolve the issue will depend on the governing documents and applicable laws in your area.] But what happens when the situation is not as clear cut? Here are some common examples where you might want...