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Archive for December, 2015|Monthly archive page

Survey of Buyer Agents Shows Consumers Should Be Prepared for Delayed Real Estate Closings

In Buying a Home, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on December 18, 2015 at 8:58 pm

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA) shows that some real estate closings are already being affected by the new “Know Before You Owe/TRID” regulations that went into effect October 3. The survey went out to brokers across the United States and nearly 20 percent stated they are already seeing issues, mostly delays in closing.

According to one respondent, “Lenders are almost all asking for 45 days to closing vs. previous 30 days.”  Another respondent stated, “We’ve been advised to prepare for further delays until everyone has more experience with the new CFPB/TRID Regulations.”

The study also showed that most NAEBA buyer agents are educating themselves about the new regulations. 72 percent of the buyer agents that are part of the NAEBA Referral Service stated that they have attended a class or workshop on the new regulations in order to better assist their buyer clients. “We wanted to make sure any agents to which we are referring consumers are informed and can help buyers plan for any delays,” states NAEBA Referral Service President Ken Reid.

“At NAEBA, we applaud the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for its efforts in educating consumers and giving them the tools they need to understand their mortgage,” states Dawn Rae, NAEBA President. “We believe, though, that this survey shows that consumers should also be prepared for real estate transactions to take longer to close at least in the near future as lenders adjust to the new regulations, and that it’s important to have an Exclusive Buyer Agent on their side to help them navigate through this complicated process.”

For more information about the NAEBA Referral Service, visit

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.


If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at (713) 249-4177  or visit  or


Helping Buyers and Sellers Understand the New Closing Process

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on December 14, 2015 at 7:39 pm

The new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, also known as “TRID,” is the start of a new chapter for residential real estate.  With all the documentation the clients need to provide, review and sign along the way (not to mention prepping for their big move), it’s understandable if they feel overwhelmed. That’s where you can help offer them reassurance and bring order to the chaos.

The new TRID closing begins well before the actual meeting, when the final documents are signed and keys change hands. If your buyer gets prequalified for a mortgage, they will get a prequalification letter and likely will not get the new loan estimate at that time. Some lenders may choose to do a preliminary loan estimate, though it is not required with a mortgage prequalification. Once an actual offer is made and accepted, the buyer will make Application for a mortgage and the buyer’s lender will create a Loan Estimate in line with the terms and conditions related to the financing of the pending transaction*.

The title search is still as important now as it was pre-TRID.  Be sure to share with your clients the results of their title search – even if no problems exist. It is good to reassure them that things are moving along and on the right path.  If any issues do arise, though, your communication with all parties involved will be even more critical to cure any title discrepancies. These might include a lien against the property, illegal deeds, forgery, boundary/survey disputes or missing heirs, among other issues.

Assuming all goes well with inspections and other aspects of the process, the new TILA-RESPA requirements require a new form to the process called the Closing Disclosure**. The new Closing Disclosure looks a lot like the Loan Estimate, and this is by design to assure the consumer has an easier overall process understanding their transaction from start to finish. The Closing Disclosure now replaces the old HUD-1.

In the new TRID world, however, the borrower must receive their Closing Disclosure three days prior to closing  to give ample time to review the documents (legal public holidays and Sundays don’t count in that timeframe). Make sure your client understands what each line item represents and that special attention is paid to closing terms and fees. Also, make sure your clients are aware of the exact amount needed for Closing if funds are required at closing.

Under the new rules, there are only three changes that require a new three-day review and could impact the closing date. They are: the APR increasing by more than 1/8 of a percent for fixed-rate loans, or ¼ of a percent for adjustable-rate loans; a prepayment penalty is added; or the basic loan product changes. So be sure your clients are firm on their offer and mortgage terms as the closing date approaches.  Any other changes outside of those listed will not require a new three-day review period, but an updated Closing Disclosure must be provided which could cause a delay with the lender so be sure to be in constant contact with the lender to know what may cause a delay in their process.

In addition to the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure, there may also be an additional document called the Settlement Statement. This document will outline all the money flows of who paid for what, including agent commissions and loan fees. The Closing Disclosure is just that–a disclosure, and it does not account for all the funds in the transaction and the charges and credits to the buyer and the seller involved. The Settlement Statement will serve this purpose and assure all the funds are properly accounted for all parties involved.

By communicating each step of the closing process and setting expectations with all parties early on, you play an integral role in helping the transaction end in a successful closing.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at (713) 249-4177  or visit  or

21 Signs Your Home is Ready for Winter

In Buying a Home, Home Upgrades, Home Values, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on December 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Shorter days, cooler temperatures, Thanksgiving – these are all signs that winter’s right around the corner. While the weather is still suitable for working outside, put on your work boots and gloves, head outside and give your property a once-over. Then, work your way inside the home to check its winter-readiness.

Here are 21 signs that your home is ready for winter. You’ve:

  • Cleaned out the gutters. This step prevents leaves and debris from blocking drainage.
  • Checked that downspouts are directed away from the home and free of blockages.
  • Put away outdoor furniture. Leaving it outside and under the influence of the weather will cause it to age quicker, or it may even get damaged in storms.
  • Drained and stored garden hoses. Once freezing temperatures hit, any water remaining in the hose (and the home’s spicket and pipes) will freeze and expand, causing them to burst.
  • Winterized the air conditioning unit.
  • Tested smoke and CO detectors. Working detectors are critical, as the early-warning systems will alert your family to problems.
  • Hired a professional to evaluate the insulation. Not sure what’s lurking beneath your walls or attic? A pro can tell you where insulation is failing and where it needs a boost.
  • Boosted wall and attic insulation where it’s lacking. Retrofitting homes with energy-efficient injection foam insulation is cost-effective, and the job will help keep your family warm all winter long.
  • Sealed air leaks around doors and windows.
  • Trimmed tree branches and other landscaping.
  • Inspected the furnace. Every furnace requires annual maintenance to keep it in good working condition.
  • Installed a new air filter on the furnace. A dirty filter stops air movement in the furnace, a factor critical to efficient operations.
  • Purchased a programmable thermostat.
  • Readied portable humidifiers (or finally installed that whole-house humidifier you’ve been eyeing).
  • Inspected the roof, replacing worn or missing shingles.
  • Installed storm windows. If your home only has single-pane windows, storm windows are essential for blocking the cold from coming inside.
  • Checked the siding, identifying and repairing cracks or damaged areas.
  • Shifted ceiling fans to clockwise mode, so they’ll push heat at the ceiling down toward the floor.
  • Weatherized the attic to prevent ice dams. Stopping snow on roof from melting – and potentially damaging the roof – involves three steps: ventilating, insulating and sealing the attic.
  • Performed a final lawn mowing with leaves on the ground to nourish the lawn throughout winter.
  • Stored summer equipment such as the lawn mower, leaf blower, etc. for the season.

With a little attention to detail around the home’s interior and exterior, you’ll be ready for winter’s brutal assault and rest comfortably inside of your well-insulated, tightly sealed cozy home.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for real estate tips and trends for you and your clients.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at (713) 249-4177  or visit  or