More Real Estate Questions Answered

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Question: My recent closing on a home I was buying was scheduled for 5:00 pm. At 4:00 pm when my bank was closing for the day, I still did not know how much money I needed to bring. I was unnerved and furious. Why couldn’t my closing agent get me a figure hours, or even days, earlier?

Answer: Most likely, you can blame your lender for creating this common, yet stressful situation. A closing agent (an attorney or title company) cannot put together the final settlement until they receive all the charges and fees from your lender. Lenders often send those figures (which include bank loan origination fees, daily interest charges, appraisals and more) at the very last minute. If you must go to your bank before you get the final figures, I recommend to my clients that they get about $1,000 more than the estimate amount received from the bank early in the loan process. If that turns out to be more than you need, the closing agent will typically refund you on the spot. To avoid the problem, consider asking your closing agent before you pick a lender which ones are better at providing the figures early.

Question: I am selling my house “as is.” Do I have to tell the buyer about the leak in the roof?

Answer: Yes. Even though your contract says the sale is “as is,” which means you do to have to make any repairs to the property, the law requires you to disclose all the major defects in your house which can’t be obviously seen. You don’t have to point out every paint chip or carpet stain, only problems, as the law puts it, “materially affecting the value of the property.” It is best for this disclosure to be in writing so that later the buyer cannot say you never told him.

Question: I recently sold my home in Palm Beach County and am about to close on a home in Coconut Creek. I know that I paid the owner’s title insurance when I sold my place, but the closing agent says I will be paying again when I buy. How can that be?

Answer: Each county has its own customs, and in Broward as in many other Florida counties, the buyer typically pays for the owner’s title insurance (which protects buyers from claims on the ownership of the property). In Palm Beach County, however it is customary for sellers to pay the title insurance premium. (Legend traces this practice to a fire years ago where many county real estate documents were kept, so sellers didn’t prove their property’s chain of title.) Owner’s title insurance premiums can be pricey – the higher the purchase price of the home, the more the insurance costs – but it is well worth the money. Do know, however, that like everything else in a real estate contract, it is possible to negotiate which party will bear this cost.