What is home warranty program?

            Beginning the journey of home ownership can be incredibly exciting, but it can also be quite daunting for inexperienced home buyers. This is because there are all kinds of things that could go wrong. If something suddenly breaks down or stops working in the home, the majority of first-time homeowners will likely not even know the first steps they should take to make the necessary repairs. One of the best ways to ensure that you're protected after buying a home is to obtain home warranty coverage. A home warranty plan is especially recommended if you're a first-time home buyer with little to no experienced maintaining a home. Are you a new homeowner or seller thinking about protecting yourself with a home warranty plan? Here's a bit of information about home warranties to give you an idea of why it's so important.

Who Pays for the Home Warranty

Who will be paying for the home warranty really depends on the situation and the local customs. In most instances, the seller is the one to pay for the home protection plan and for home warranty coverage to ensure he or she is covered in case anything goes wrong. It's common for the seller to pay for the home warranty plan because it provides them the most benefit by allowing them to not worry about the home buyer calling on them if something happens to break or malfunction. Instead, the issues will be handled by the home warranty company. Many real estate agents will even give buyers a home warranty at closing as a common courtesy.

How Much Does a Home Warranty Cost?

Generally, a home warranty is fairly inexpensive and affordable for most home buyers. In most states, a basic home warranty plan costs around $200-$400 depending on the type of coverage and the value of the home's electrical or mechanical features. Many home warranty companies sometimes offer home buyers with special discounts and even occasionally run promotions that could lessen the cost of coverage. A home warranty policy is paid upfront once year in advance and covers the homeowner for that entire period. At the end of the year, the warranty expires and the homeowner can then choose to renew the policy or not.

Types of Home Warranty Coverage

The type of home warranty you need is based on a number of factors such as what you want to cover and the age of the home. Since warranty plans vary, you may want to contact your real estate agent in order to find out what would be the best plan for you. Be sure that you pay attention to what the home warranty covers as some will pay for certain repairs, while other do not.

How a Home Warranty Works

Home warranty plans are all different because they're usually constructed around the needs of the home buyer and the specific of the home they purchased. While they may differ, home warranty plans generally follow the same protocol. Below are the steps that are taken when a home buyer need his or her home warranty plan to cover a break or system failure.

  • Once the homeowner realizes that an entire system or a particular appliance is broken or no longer working, he or she calls the warranty company.
  • The representative or agent from the home warranty company notifies a local provider with whom they have a predetermined business arrangement.
  • The provider then calls the homeowner in order to schedule an appointment for a visit to determine a plan of action.
  • After reviewing the break or malfunction, the provider then fixes the problem if possible. If for any reason the provider is not able to repair the system to solve the issue and depending on the kind of coverage the homeowner has, the home warranty company will pay to replace the appliance or system.

What is a Trade Call Fee?

Whenever a service contractor visits a home in order to diagnose a problem, the homeowner is required to pay a “trade call fee”. This small fee covers the visit and the amount is determined in the initial contract.

What Does a Home Warranty Plan Cover?

Below are a few of the aspects of a home that are generally covered by most home warranty plans.

  • Dishwashers
  • Air conditioning
  • Doorbell systems
  • Heater or furnace
  • Ductwork
  • Water heater
  • Garbage disposal
  • Indoor plumbing
  • Electrical systems
  • Oven
  • Telephone wiring
  • ceiling fans

What Is Not Covered by a Home Warranty Plan?

Here are just a few of the things that are typically not covered by most home warranty plans:

  • Faucet repairs
  • Appliances such as refrigerators, garage door openers or washers and dryers
  • Spas or pools (unless added)
  • Permit Fees
  • Outdoor items such as sprinkler systems
  • Haul Aways

Keep in mind that things such as washers and dryers, spas or pools and refrigerators can all be covered by a home warranty if initially added to the plan.

What Can Cause a Denial of Payment?

A home warranty company can actually refuse to pay for the repair or replacement. This usually happens if the homeowner has not been properly maintaining the home, if he or she has violated any codes, if equipment was improperly installed or if there appears to be unusual wear and tear on the property. If you disagree with the diagnosis or denial of payment, you may want to call your real estate agent as he or she can talk to the home warranty company to see what can be worked out.

As you can clearly see, a home warranty plan is always recommended for new homeowners for a number of valid reasons. Since home warranty coverage can vary according to the state you live in, it's highly recommended you discuss your options with your real estate agent before you commit to any warranty plans. He or she will be able to answer any questions you have and make sure you get the proper coverage in order to provide you peace of mind as you move into your new home.

What should a pre-approval letter contain?

Once you find out just how much you can spend on a home, you'll then know which properties you can start looking at. In fact, real estate agents for the most part won't even begin showing you homes until you have submitted a pre-approval statement. There are some lenders who may provide you with a pre-qualification statement before analyzing your credit report, but it's actually recommended you obtain a pre-approval letter instead because they're much more reliable. If you will soon be applying for a mortgage loan in order to buy a home, you'll want to be aware of what all should be included in your pre-approval letter. To become a better informed home buyer, take a look at all of the details your pre-approval letter should contain.

Pre-approved Loan Amount – Of course every pre-approval letter will let you know the loan amount that you could possibly receive from the lender.

Dates – Your pre-approval letter should have the date it was given to you and the date that it expires. If the document is older than 30 days or so, the lender might find it necessary to draw up an entirely new letter.

Terms – Most pre-approval letters will clearly state that the home must have a clear title which can be easily transferred and that it must be appraised for at least the selling price.

Loan Conditions – Your pre-approval letter will also contain information regarding the type of loan program you have been approved for. This will lay out any conditions you need to meet in order to qualify for the loan such as your most recent bank statements, information from your employer, a certain down payment amount or verification of your rental history.

Interest Rate – The letter should also let you know the current interest rate on mortgage loans. It's important to remember that while this interest rate can give you a good estimate, it's likely a floating rate. This means that the rate is subject to change at anytime without any notice.

Payment Information – Pre-approval letters also inform buyers of what the payment process will be like if they are approved for the specified loan amount.

Contact Details – Every pre-approval letter should also feature all of the contact information for your mortgage lender in case you have any questions or concerns regarding lending.

Keep in mind that in some states such as Texas, a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter is required and must adhere to the laws and regulations set by the state. If you live in one of these states, make sure your lender provides you with the right documentation to avoid any confusion or issues that could delay your purchase. When picking up your pre-approval letter, you may also want to ask your lender for a copy of the “Good Faith Estimate” (GFE) in order to get a better idea of what the closing costs might be. All of this information put together can best prepare you to begin the process of finding the perfect home to call your own.

PreApproval vs PreQualification

If you've ever applied for a mortgage, you most likely noticed that there are a variety of specific terms associated with the home buying process. Many of these terms related to the real estate industry are fairly similar, which can easily confuse inexperienced home buyers. For instance, a couple of these particularly confusing terms are pre-approval and pre-qualification. The majority of first-time home buyers think that these two real estate terms have the same meaning, but that's actually not true at all. While both of these terms deal with the amount of lending you may receive from a bank or mortgage company, they are quite a bit different from one another. Take a look at some of the differences between pre-approval and pre-qualification in terms of mortgage loans and real estate transactions.

Pre-Approval – A pre-approval is usually the most dependable and accurate estimate of how much you can afford to spend on a home. This is because a pre-approval is mainly determined according to the information you provide the lender and the results of your credit report. Once the lender looks into your credit history, they're then able to decide what would be the appropriate amount to lend based on data such as your overall credit score and your debt-to-income ratio. Being pre-approved for a certain amount is recommended because then you won't be looking at properties that may be out of your price range, which is the best way to avoid disappointment down the road.

Pre-Qualification – On the other hand, a pre-qualification is a bit more basic than a pre-approval because it is not at all based on your credit history. This means that the lender has no other choice than to rely solely on the information you provide them. If the credit score and amount of debt you provide them with is not accurate, you will most likely get pre-qualified for more than you can actually afford. While some people prefer to go with a pre-qualification when they begin house hunting because it doesn't require them to submit their social security number, it could cause some serious problems. For example, if you get pre-qualified for a loan amount and then find a home that you believe will fit your budget only to find out that you can't afford it based on your credit and debt load. You'll probably be terribly disappointed and will have to start the house hunting process all over again.

Once you begin taking the steps to purchase a new home, you'll soon discover just how stressful it can actually be. Having an idea of the differences between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval can better prepare you to take on the task of find your perfect home. Most home buyers are really best off getting pre-approved instead of pre-qualified so they can be confident when shopping for a home in order to save time and avoid disappointment. As a matter of fact, some mortgage lenders only use pre-approvals and don't even provide pre-qualifications. Keep this bit of information in mind as you begin your search for a place you can officially call your own.

Why do I need a Buyers Consultation Anyways!

Many first-time home buyers get excited and want to rush the buying process in order to get into their new home right away, but there actually are a few really important steps that should be followed. Once you've decided it's time to own your own home, the first thing you'll want to do is schedule a home buyer's consultation with a reputable real estate agent in your area. This is because a home buyer's consultation can help you determine your wants, needs and expectations as a first-time home buyer in addition to giving your agent an idea of what it is you're looking for. If you're a first-time home buyer and don't happen to think you need a home buyer's consultation, you may want to think again. Here are couple of the reasons why you definitely need to consult with a professional real estate agent before beginning the process of buying your first home.

Obtain Helpful Information – The process of buying your first home can get a little confusing at times if you're not familiar with the real estate industry, which is why many first-time home buyers are typically full of questions. If you have any questions regarding the home buying process or local real estate laws and regulations, you can usually get them answered during your home buyer's consultation. Your agent deals with these issues on a daily basis, so he or she will be the best one to provide you with helpful information before you begin your search for a new home.

Narrow Your Search – Many first-time home buyers are easily overwhelmed by all of the paperwork, permits, community ratings, fees and budgets. One of the worst things first-time home buyers can do is blindly start looking homes that are way out of their budget or that don't fit their needs. After attending your home buyer's consultation, you'll have a better idea where to start searching for your new home. This is because your agent can best help you determine which areas you should be looking in by providing you with helpful information about neighborhoods and price ranges. Once you have established your wish list as well as your list of must-haves, your agent can then begin sending you lists of properties you may be interested in.

Affordable or Complimentary – Not many first-time home buyers are aware that home buyer's consultations are usually a complimentary service provided by real estate agents. While most home buyer's consultations are free, some agents may charge a nominal consultation fee. If there is an applicable fee, it's likely a rather small price to pay for such assistance.

A home buyer's consultation is an extremely important step to purchasing a home. If you are a first-time home buyer, the very first thing on your to-do list should be to schedule your consultation. It's best to call your local real estate agent to set up an appointment for your home buyer's consultation or contact me if you would like any further information.

What does title officer do?

Are you in the process of buying or selling a home? If so, there will likely be multiple people you'll be dealing. One of those particular people is known as a title officer. Title officers are usually employed by real estate firms or title insurance companies, while some also may work as freelancers. Most title officers have picked an area of expertise to focus on such as commercial, industrial or residential property titles but some may even choose to be proficient in all three. Not sure what a title officer actually does? Here's a little information about title officers in order to give you a better idea of the role they play during real estate transactions.

Simply put, a title officer is one who investigates property titles prior to a real estate purchase or sale. Besides researching the title, the title officer may also research land maps and past mortgages to get an insight into any previous issues with the property. This kind of research is done in order to determine if there are any irregularities on the title which will interfere with the transaction or with the use of the property. Some irregularities that can affect the transaction or the title company's ability to insure the title are liens, outstanding taxes, easements and zoning restrictions. If a title problem is discovered, the title officer will more than likely first contact the seller to validate the issue. If in fact the issue is legitimate such as unpaid taxes or a lien, the seller and the title officer will work together to resolve the issue before the sale of the property can proceed. The buyer will also be notified of any discrepancies that could delay or possibly cancel the sale all together. If the buyer feels that the investment is worth it, he or she may even agree to take on the responsibility of resolving the issue or issues him or herself.

On the other hand, easements and zoning restrictions are handled a little differently. If the title officer uncovers an easement or restriction that will affect title insurance coverage or the sale of the property, he or she will take the case to the governing boards. The officer will present his or her case to the board members in order to persuade them to eliminate or change these restrictions. If the request is turned down, the title officer will then work with the buyer and seller to reach an amicable agreement.

A title officer may work by him or herself, while others may rely on the help of staff members such as a title searcher or a title abstractor. A title searcher is one who usually locates the necessary documents for the title officer and the title abstractor is one who pulls information from trust deeds and mortgages. The majority of title officers actually begin their careers as underwriters, title searchers or title abstractors and as you can see, they play a major role in the buying and selling of real estate.

Types of agency relationship

It's not uncommon at all for one or even all parties involved in the buying and selling of property to be represented by an agency. Put simply, an agency relationship is one that consists of one person representing the interests of another person. Licensed real estate agents are granted legal permission by the state to represent an individual in the sale, purchase or lease of a particular piece of property. All agents are required to adhere to the local laws in regards to agencies as well the regulations included in the official Realtor's Code of Ethics, which every agent must agree to before attaining a license. The relationship established between a person and the agent is formally known as a fiduciary relationship. This means that it is a relationship built on trusting the agent. There are quite a few duties that are the responsibility of the agent including loyalty, diligence, disclosure, confidentiality and accountability, in addition to reasonable skill and care. Generally, there are five different kinds of agencies used in terms of real estate transactions. To help you get a better idea of what each one involves, here's a brief overview of the five different types of agencies most commonly used when buying and selling property.

Buyer Agency

This type of agency relationship is formed whenever a buyer's agent is the one representing their own interests in a real estate transaction. A few responsibilities of the buyer's agent include scouting properties that meet the buyer's needs and then setting up appointments to show a selected few to them. It's also the responsibility of the agent to research the property and provide the buyers with information such as zoning, schools in the area, taxes and utilities. They also are usually the ones to prepare a competitive market analysis on the property and gather a few details of other properties recently sold in the community in order to facilitate helpful information for the buyer to review. After reviewing this information and going over it with the buyer, the agent then advises what price they should initially offer the seller. The agent will also assist the buyer in writing an offer while keeping their best interests in mind. If any negotiating needs to take place, the agent will handle this on behalf of the buyer. Once a deal has been reached, the agent will also assist the buyer during the loan application process and attend the closing in order to answer any questions. Not to mention, he or she will also keep track of important dates, appointments and documents so the buyer doesn't have to.

Seller Agency

Another type of real estate agency is called a seller agency. This kind of agency takes place when an agent represents the interests of a seller during a real estate transaction. The seller's agent is responsible for preparing a competitive market analysis for the property and implementing effective marketing strategies in order to help the seller determine the best list price. He or she might also be responsible for staging and positioning the property if there's a need for it. It's also the job of the seller's agent to receive all offers on the property, present them to the buyer and then counsel on what price to accept. As with buyer's agents, the seller's agent will also negotiate pricing and terms on behalf of the seller. A few other designated duties of the seller's agent is preparing an estimate of closing costs on the property and keeping track of all important dates and information. The agent will also represent the seller's interest at showings and attend the closing of the transaction with the seller.

Dual Agency

A dual agency occurs when a buyer's agent is the one showing a piece of property that is also represented by that agent's firm. It works the other way around as well. A dual agency can also take place if the listing agency shows property that is represented by the same firm. This particular type of agency is legal in all 50 states, but in the case of most dual agency situations, both the buyer and the seller will be required to sign a consent agreement. In a dual agency, it is the agent's responsibility to treat both parties fairly and keep their information confidential at all times during a transaction.

Designated Agency

A designated agency is closely related to a dual agency. This type of agency is used to assure both the buyer and the seller that the real estate firm is working at their best interest in the instance of a dual agency. With a designated agency, the buyer and the seller are both provided with an individual representative who will handle the transaction on their behalf. Similarly to a dual agency, both parties must agree to a designated agency and sign consent forms provided by the firm.

Unrepresented Persons

If a buyer or seller hasn't yet signed a representation agreement with an agent, he or she is considered an unrepresented person. Any unrepresented persons have the responsibility to protect their own interests and the real estate agent is not allowed to provide him or her with any advice or counsel in regards to purchasing or selling property. Although some unrepresented persons may believe they'll be saving money by not signing a representative agreement with an agent, that's not true at all. An experienced real estate agent has the skills and knowledge needed to get buyers and sellers the best deal possible. If you're not familiar with the local real estate laws and statutes, it really is best to leave the process up to the professionals.

The type of agency can vary from transaction to transaction. Hopefully this overview has given you a better understanding of the different types of agencies associated with buying and selling real estate. As you can see, it's important to be represented by a qualified real estate agent if buying or selling because they have been trained to properly represent both buyers and sellers. It's recommended you get in touch with your agent today to discuss your options.

Holding Titles On Real Property

Titles are used to convey ownership of real property such as real estate or automobiles. When a piece of property is sold to a buyer, the title must then be legally transferred from one party to the other. While this title transfer process seems rather simple, it can get a little tricky at times due to all of the different documents required for special circumstances. There are quite a few different ways one person, a couple or even a group of people can all own a piece of the title. Also, in the instance of a death, a divorce or a sale, the party holding the title may differ. Here's a look at the various types of title transfer methods most commonly used in the buying and selling of real estate. Read over them to decide which method of title holding best fits your situation and specific needs.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is when two or more individuals jointly hold title to real estate with each retaining equal rights. This is only the case while both tenants are living. If one of the partners passes away, their rights and ownership of the property is then passed to the surviving tenant. The advantage of a joint tenancy is that the parties involved in the ownership of the property don't need to be legally married or even related for that matter. The downside to a joint tenancy is that all parties who share ownership of the property must approve of financing decisions or changes made to anything on the title. So, that means that each of the owners takes a huge risk in trusting the financial decision making of the other owner. This is because a creditor can force a sale of property in order to collect on a judgment owed by either of the owner's

Tenancy In Common

Tenancy in common is extremely similar to joint tenancy. The only major difference is that with a tenancy in common, each individual holds the title to each of their respective part of the property and have the ability to dispose of or sell it at their own will. Partial ownership can easily be transferred to any other party while the rightful owner is alive and in the instance of their death, ownership will then be transferred to that owner's designated heir. This type of title hold allows for an individual owner to use the wealth created by their portion of the property as collateral for financial transactions. It also allows creditors to only place liens against one owner's portion of the property, so the other owners and their portion of the property are protected. Although, any liens must be cleared before a total transfer of the property can take place.

Tenants By Entirety

This type of holding refers to real estate ownership under the assumption that the couple are considered one person for legal purposes. In the instance of a death, the title is automatically fully transferred to the other party. Keep in mind that this method of title holding is only available to owners who are legally married. The advantage of having one of these particular titles is that there is no need to take any legal action if one of the spouses passes away, which means there's also no need for a will. If the couple divorces, this type of title automatically converts to a tenancy in common. Either one of the owners then has the ability to transfer ownership of their part of the property to anyone they choose.

Sole Ownership

This type of title holding is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. Sole ownership means that an individual or single party is the only one holding the title. This is why most sole ownership titles are held by singles or married individuals who own property separately from their spouse. Sole ownerships are also common for businesses with a corporate structure that allows them to invest in real estate. It's important to note that in the case of married couples holding property separately, most title insurance companies will require the other spouse to legally relinquish their right to ownership of the property. Sole ownership is preferred by some because it allows the easy transferred because no other party is required to approve before a transaction can take place. If the sole owner dies, it must be specified in his or her legal will who will be taking over the ownership of the property. If no will is left, many problems can arise when the courts try to determine who the rightful owner is.

Community Property

Community property is a type of title ownership that is usually reserved for married couples. Under community property, either spouse has the right to dispose of or transfer his or her half of the property. Property other than real estate which is acquired during the marriage is also considered community property. You don't necessarily have to be married to own community property as it can also apply to couples who are only common-law married. If the couple lives together as common-law spouses and the title is never changed to a sole ownership, the two of them will share ownership of the property.

Community Property With The Right of Survivorship

Although not available in the states of California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada or Wisconsin, community property with the right of survivorship is a common way for unmarried couples to hold title to property. If one of them passes away, their community property and assets are automatically passed to the other.

While every state requires the legal filing of a title when property is transferred during a sale, the laws and regulations can vary. These are just some of the most common methods for holding title to property used in the real estate industry today. There are plenty of other ways to hold title for individuals, single families, corporations, partners and trustees. If you are involved in a unique situation, you may want to contact your title company or a reputable tax professional to learn more about the title holding options which best fit your needs.

Homeowners insurance basics

One of the first things on a new homeowner's to-do list undoubtedly should be to attain the proper coverage for their home and their personal belongings they will be placing inside of it. Getting covered doesn't have to be a tough task. Here's a little information regarding homeowners insurance policies which you may find rather helpful as you embark on the the journey of home ownership.

 Insuring the Structure of Your Home

These are 3 of the most common ways to insure the structure of your home.

  • Replacement Cost – This type of policy pays the homeowner the cost of replacing the damaged property with the exclusion of a deduction for depreciation and limited to a maximum dollar amount.
  • Extended Replacement Cost – An extended replacement cost policy covers a certain percentage over the limit, which gives homeowners protection against things such as a sudden increase in the cost of construction. The overage percentage is usually somewhere around 20%.
  • Actual Cash Value – This kind of coverage pays the homeowner the cost to replace the home minus any depreciation costs for age and use.

 Tips for Insuring Your Home to Value

  • Calculate the Cost to Rebuild Your Home: An easy way to calculate the estimated amount it would take to rebuild your home is to multiply the local building costs per square foot by the total square footage of your house. This by no means is considered an actual estimate, but it should give you a good idea of what the cost to rebuild might be. Other factors that may impact the cost to rebuild your home include the type of materials used, the style of the home in addition to other unique interior or exterior features.
  • Don't Insure Your Home For the Market Value: It's recommended you never insure your home for its market value because the cost of rebuilding can always either increase or decrease.
  • You Might Want to Insure the Amount of Your Mortgage – Most lenders require homeowners to purchase enough insurance to cover the total amount of their mortgage in order to cover the cost of rebuilding.

 Insuring Your Personal Belongings

  • Replacement Cost Coverage: An insurance policy which pays the specific dollar amount required to replace damaged personal property without deduction for depreciation.
  • Actual Cash Value: A policy which covers the amount needed for replacement minus the depreciation. Most homeowners insurance policies cover actual cash value unless specifically stated that it includes replacement cost coverage.

 Be sure that you check the limits of your policy in regard to your personal items such as jewelry, expensive clothing and electronics. Also, keep in mind that you will want to make an inventory of your personal belongings and update that list each year or whenever you make any large purchases.

 What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Every situation is different, but most homeowners insurance policies typically cover total loss or partial damage due to natural events such as fire windstorms, hail or explosions in addition to theft and the cost of relocating while your home is being rebuilt or repaired. They also likely cover the legal liability of the homeowner in the instance that themselves, members of their family or their pets injure other people or damage their property. It's important for homeowners to perform annual checkups in order to keep up with an inventory of their personal belongings as well as the costs of building or remodeling.

The Costs of Homeowners Insurance

The average annual cost of a homeowners insurance policy can differ depending on multiple factors. For instance, the square footage of your property can play a role in the price of your insurance in addition to the crime rates in the neighborhood and how likely it is to be damaged due to natural disasters. As with any other insurance policy, the number of claims submitted by the homeowners over a certain period of time can also affect the price of the premium.

Tips to Help You Save on Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

  • Maintain Good Credit - Some companies who offer homeowners insurance policies base their rates on the applicant's credit history, so it's important to maintain a healthy credit score in order to get the best deal.
  • Increase Safety and Security - The majority of insurance companies offer up to 15% discounts on homeowners premiums if the home features things such as deadbolt locks, premium smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and surveillance systems. It's recommended you ask your insurance representative what is required in order to qualify for this kind of discount.
  • Increase the Deductible – Similar to any type of insurance policy, increasing your out-of-pocket deductible can save you on your premium from month to month.
  • Ask About Multi-Policy Discounts – You could be saving a substantial amount by combining your vehicle, homeowners and any other type of insurance you need. This is because many insurance companies also offer discounts to those who have multiple policies with them.
  • Fortify Your Home – You may also be able to save a bit on your homeowners insurance premium by reinforcing the structure of your home to protect it in the case of a natural disaster. For example, you could look into installing a tougher roof or sturdier windows.
  • Compare Coverage and Costs – Coverage and costs can vary from company to company depending on a number of factors. This is why you of course want to shop around for the best policy which fully covers your insurance needs before committing to just any company.

 All in all, an applicable insurance policy is a must have for any homeowner. As with any other insurance policy, it's important that you understand what exactly your policy covers and how it works. Also, make sure that you review your policy each year to ensure that your property is properly covered. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your coverage or the cost associated with your homeowners policy, you may want to get in touch with your insurance agent in order to have them clarify the details for you.

Property easements — what they are, how they work, types of easements, and more

Property easements are more common than many people think. If you're planning to buy a new piece of property, you may want to check if any easements apply to it before you finalize your purchase. Want to know more about property easements? Here's a little information over the basics including what property easements are, how they work and the different types of them most commonly used today. While reading over this information, keep in mind that the laws can be quite different depending on the state in which the property is located.

What Are Property Easements?

To put it simply, an easement is the legal right to use the property belong to someone else for a specified purpose. Property easements are generally categorized as either negative or affirmative. A negative easement grants the title holder the right to not allow their property to be used by anyone else, while an affirmative easement allows the property to be used for a particular purpose that is legally deemed.

How Do Easements Work?

Any applicable easements are usually referred to in the deed for the property or on the title prepared by the title insurance company or professional real estate attorney. Easements are attached to the property, so they don't ever change if the title is transferred. In most states, it's not necessarily a requirement for previous owners to notify buyers of any easements on the property. This is why it's recommended that new home buyers find out if the property they are interested in has any easements that come with it before agreeing to the sale.

Types of Easements

Below are just a few of the most common types of property easements and what they might encompass. Don't forget that the laws and regulations regarding property easements vary by state to state, so it's important to look up the specific property easement laws in your area before purchasing property to avoid surprises.

- Utility Easements

Utility easements are usually given to a municipal utility company or the city and is by far the most common type of property easement. For example, a utility company may be provided an easement that allows them to use the property to run utility pipe lines and perform maintenance on them. If a piece of property holds this type of easement, the daily lives of the property owners is not really affected. They're able to live on the property, plant on it and even build on it as long as there's no interference with the city's use of the easement. There are many ways to find out which areas of the property are required to be in adherence of the easement laws. If need be, property owners should call the utility company or city hall to ask for a map of the easement locations. An official survey of the land will also display the location of any applicable utility easements.

- Private Easements

Some properties may also have a private easement. These kind of easements allow a private party to use a portion of the property for an explicit reason. Common private easements are in the instance of your neighbor having to take a path through your land in order to get to theirs, for sewer usage or even solar access. For example, if your neighbor has a private easement on your property, you may not be able to build or grow trees or plants that block sunlight from hitting their solar collectors. A few other examples of private easement are pathways or driveways that run through the property. If planning to purchase a piece of property, make sure you do your research in order to find out if it has any private easements attached to it. You should call the country clerk in order to locate the records associated with the property and keep a copy of them with your deed.

- Easements by Necessity

Sometimes a property easement doesn't even have to be written down and documented if it is absolutely necessary. When this occurs, it's known as an easement by necessity. For instance, if it is absolutely necessary for someone to cross your land for a legitimate reason, the law grants rightful access to the property. If the property is subject to an easement by necessity, by law the landowner must not interfere with the neighbor's access.

 - Prescriptive Easements

A prescriptive easement is a type of legal ownership by another party over a particular piece of the property for a specific period of time. This may occur when a neighbor needs access to a driveway, path or shortcut and so they buy the rights. The length of prescriptive easements varies by state, but it's usually somewhere round 10-20 years. Prescriptive easements and adverse possession are fairly similar, but there are a couple of major differences that set the apart. In some states, the neighbors using a portion of the property are not required to pay property taxes on it if they choose to purchase a prescriptive easement. It's really in the best interest of the property owner to avoid prescriptive easements by discussing the terms with the neighbors and granting them written permission to use the property. If you give them written permission, they are no longer legally considered a trespasser, so they are not allowed to file a prescriptive easement on the property.

These are just a few type of easements that may affect property. Since every situation is unique, there are many other special circumstances which may call for a different kind of easement. To prevent any surprises down the road, you definitely want to look into easements on any property you are considering purchasing. As mentioned above, the laws and statutes regarding property easements can vary from state to state. To get a better understanding of the specifics in regards to property easements in your state, you should get in touch with a local real estate attorney. He or she should be able to provide you with the legal documents pertaining to the different kind of property easements applicable to your area.

What Are the Different Types of Property Deeds?

There are many different terms that are related to the buying and selling of property making it quite easy to get a little confused. It's safe to assume that mostly everyone already knows that a property deed is an official document used to transfer real property from a seller (grantor) to a buyer (grantee). While property deeds are fairly common, not many people are aware that there are many different kinds of deeds associated with the transfer of property. This is because each buying or selling experience is unique and the type of deed needed depends on the specific terms and type of property. Whether you're planning to buy a new piece of property, sell your home or perhaps get into the real estate industry yourself, you should know the basics about the most popular types of property deeds. To give you a better understanding of the different options, here is a little about some of the most common property deeds used in today's world of real estate.

General Warranty Deeds

The most basic form of property deed is known as a general warranty deed. This type of deed includes a warranty, which means that the seller will offer protection for the buyer against other interests who attempt to claim ownership or in the case of blemishes on the title such as previous mortgages, liens or judgments. If any problem with the title does arise, the seller will be held responsible and will have to pay the buyer any damages accrued. Most buyers who get a mortgage loan from a banking or lending institution prefer having a general warranty deed because they provide the most protection for the grantee. Also, most title insurance companies are far more likely to insure a piece of property with a general warranty deed.

Special Warranty Deeds

A special warranty deed is actually fairly similar to a general warranty deed. The only big difference is that a special warranty deed limits the guarantee provided by the seller to current or future claims against the property, but not prior to that time. This means that a seller will only be responsible for debts or problems with the title that occur during or shortly after his or her ownership of the property. The laws regarding special warranty deeds varies state to state, so you may want to research the regulations for the state you live in or are planning to purchase property in.

Grant Deeds

A grant deed doesn't actually offer any type of warranty. It's basically used to assure the buyer (or grantee) that the title for the property does not legally belong to anyone else other than the grantor. It also guarantees that there are no other problems associated with the title that would inhibit the transfer of the property. The document itself simply describes the property and contains language granting the grantee ownership. Generally, grant deeds are used in some states such as California, while most other states usually require some type of warranty deed for the transfer of property.

Quitclaim Deeds

A quitclaim deed isn't necessarily a document to convey actual property, but instead is used to divest a party from any current or future interest in a particular piece of property. These type of deeds are commonly used during a divorce when the property was owned by two individuals who agreed that it will be transferred to only one spouse. Other than that, quitclaim deeds provide little to no protection to the person receiving the property. Unlike other types of deeds that include warranties, a title search is not performed to draw up quitclaim documents, so they don't ever guarantee a clear title status. This could mean that the person receiving the property may be left responsible for any claims or title problems that may arise after the signing of the quitclaim.

Deed for Bargain and Sale

Also referred to as a “bargain and sale without covenants”, this type of deed poses the greatest risk for grantees as it is usually used to convey property that has been purchased at a foreclosure auction or sheriff's sales. These documents do identify the bank or other type of lega institution as the legal titleholders for the property, but it does not guarantee that the title is clean. Although, it's important to note that if you do end up purchasing property at a sheriff's sale or auction, any information regarding past due taxes should be made available to the buyer. Just keep in mind that while you may be getting a good deal upfront, you could possibly be surprised down the road by how much you could end up owing.

As you can see, there are many different kinds of property deeds. It's important to keep this information in mind if you are planning to buy or sell your home or property. Most mortgage lenders and title insurance companies prefer buyers to attain a general warranty deed before proceeding with the loan or coverage because it's the deed that provides the most protection. There are some instances when they allow special warranty deeds, but it's not too entirely common. To find out which property deed best suites your situation, you may want to talk with your title insurance representative, your real estate agent, broker or lender. All of the documents needed to establish one of these deeds should be available at your local tax office or courthouse. Make sure you fill out the appropriate forms for the deed you need, then have them signed by both parties and notarized by a qualified notary before being filed with the local county office. Laws regarding the recording of deeds varies by state, so you may want to research the guidelines for the state you live in. As a matter of fact, you might not actually have to do the filing of the documents yourself because it's usually handled by your escrow agent. He or she should then provide you with a copy of the deed and verification that is has been legally recorded.

All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified.