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3 Reasons to Give Thanks for Black Friday House Hunting

1. You have the time to focus. If you’ve strung a few days off together, you should have some extra time to do your research and plan your visits carefully. Who knows? With a three-day weekend, you just might find your dream home!

2.  Everyone else is at the mall. Only serious sellers are putting their homes out there over the holidays and only serious buyers are shopping. You’ll have less competition for the homes you want. (And technically, fewer buyers means more sellers willing to wheel and deal.)

3. There’s more downtime in December. Home buying can be labor intensive. If you find something you love in November and have more time off in December, you can use it for the home-buying process. Sellers love having that same time to pack and move!

Take advantage of the free time and the slower traffic. According to realtor.com, traffic on their website drops considerably Wednesday through Friday of Thanksgiving week.

But that doesn’t mean people are finished home shopping for the winter. The website ranks Dec. 28 as one of the busiest days of the year for real estate searches—even though Dec. 24 was the #1 slowest. New Year’s Day is also a hectic house shopping day… New Year’s resolution anyone?

There’s no place like home for the holidays. So give thanks then get out there and house hunt!

And with a new home, you’ll need a clean title and a good closing! With a blend of personal flavor and professionalism, Clean Title, LLC, works to ensure our clients know exactly what’s happening every step of the way, so that they can feel confident that when they sign on the dotted line, they’re signing to turn a house into a home. We’re proud of the reviews our clients have offered. You’ll see these recommendations on our Facebook page and details of our services on our website. Or call 985-277-5095 for details today!

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4 Nightmares You’ll Avoid Thanks to Title Insurance

You’ve filled the bookcases, fluffed the pillows, and the last photograph is nailed to the wall. You stroll out to your new mailbox to discover devastating news: a lawyer’s letter detailing a property lien against a previous owner, and now that expense is all yours.

Title insurance could be your wake-up call from this homeowner’s nightmare.

Title insurance can protect you against any problems with legal ownership of a home. Any outstanding financial expenses placed as a lien against a home’s value can put your investment at risk.

That’s why you need title insurance, for the lender and for you, the owner. lender’s policy, almost always required, covers the bank’s stake, while an owner’s policy covers you.

title search—as part of the mortgage process—should usually turn up any legal claims or rights attached to the house. So, for most people, that search will prevent these problems.

But no matter how careful, a title search can’t rule out a relative of a seller running a good night’s sleep with paperwork that appears to give them claim to a property. Or maybe the paperwork was filed improperly. That’s why insurance is so important.

Here are 4 (unfortunately) common homeowner’s nightmares where title insurance will save the day:

1.     Cousin Fred stakes a claim

Sometimes a distant relative or an ex-spouse might surface with a claim that they actually own the property.

Typically, a judge will sort out the case and you could be faced with buying that claimant out. That could mean losing your down payment and even all the principal you’ve paid into the house. Not to mention court costs. Other options could be negotiating costs, or even sharing the house

Title insurance covers all that.

2.     Those meddling neighbors

No need to keep up with the Jones’ next door—unless that deck-and-shed combo they built turns out to be on your property!

Title insurance will pay the cost of any legal battle or efforts to settle the matter and have the item removed from property that is legally yours.

3.     The case of the missing mortgage

Paperwork, paperwork…. Just as with liens, it’s possible a title search might not uncover an old mortgage until after closing because it was posted incorrectly with the Parish. That means filing a claim and using title insurance to pay the old mortgage off.

4.     And beware the unpaid taxes

Sometimes a buyer will receive notification of delinquent back taxes after closing. And that bill could be heavy—unless the buyer has owner’s title insurance.

 

Even if the chances are low that past owners or outstanding taxes might turn up, it’s worth it to talk to your title company about title insurance. If, as the owner, you’re on the fence about buying the policy, ask yourself a hard question: how you would handle the loss of equity and possible relocation expenses if you were to suddenly wake up to a title-related nightmare?

With a blend of personal flavor and professionalism, Clean Title, LLC, works to ensure our clients know exactly what’s happening every step of the way, so that they can feel confident that when they sign on the dotted line, they’re signing to turn a house into a home. We’re proud of the reviews our clients have offered. You’ll see these recommendations on our Facebook page and details of our services on our website. Or call 985-277-5095 for details today!

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5 Real Estate Stocks to Watch in 2019

In uncertain economic times, investors often bolster their portfolios with safe options, like mutual funds, ETFs, and stocks with high dividend yields. While the broader market has wavered and shown signs of a potential recession in 2019, the real estate market remains one of the strongest industries for investors. So, while real estate offers a safe investment opportunity, it also offers significant growth potential for the future.

That said, you may not be sure which individual stocks or funds will yield the best results in a possible bear market. Thankfully, we’ve already done a lot of the research for you. The following 5 real estate stocks show the greatest promise for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.

Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR)

If you want to invest in real estate while also mitigating risk in your portfolio, REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) are some of the best options for you. Innovative Industrial Properties is primarily involved in the acquisition and management of facilities for cannabis production. While these facilities are generally reserved for experienced, medical cannabis producers, changing legislation throughout North America could increase demand for recreational cannabis facilities as well.

Senior Housing Properties Trust (SNH)

Now that the Baby Boomer generation is reaching retirement age, there is an increased need for medical and nursing facilities for the elderly. There are currently more senior citizens than ever, and Senior Housing Properties Trust continues to be a powerhouse in this section of the real estate market. Additionally, SNH is great for investors who want more high-yield dividend stocks, as the current yield is 13.31.

STAG Industrial (STAG)

Stag Industrial focuses on the ownership of single-tenant industrial properties. This niche has benefited from the rise in Internet sales, as businesses move their storefronts to e-commerce websites, and their real estate to warehouses. STAG Industrial has shown consistent growth over the last 5 years, in addition to providing a dividend yield of 5.71. As e-commerce continues to grow, stocks like STAG will gobble up a greater share of the market.

Retail Opportunity Investments (ROIC)

Like the name implies, Retail Opportunity Investments deals in the ownership and management of retail real estate, with a focus on grocery stores in densely populated regions. While many other retail stores are turning to e-commerce and moving away from brick-and-mortar locales, grocery stores remain consistently strong in the real estate market. ROIC’s stock growth has been relatively small over the last 5 years, but with a dividend yield of 4.91, it is still a strong bet going forward.

GEO Group (GEO)

GEO Group focuses on the management of correctional and rehabilitation facilities. While the GEO Group invests heavily in the public-private detention sector in the United States, it also invests in correctional real estate in South Africa, Australia, and the UK. And though GEO may not be a growth stock for your portfolio, its high dividend yield of 9.54 is a great addition to just about any portfolio.

Are you interested in learning more about real estate investment? Consult the experts at Clean Title today!

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Latest Trends in the 2019 Real Estate Market

We’re more than halfway through 2019, and it has already proven to be a very interesting and tumultuous year in real estate. New listings have been steadily on the rise, even though hikes in the interest rate at the close of 2018 created a lot of uncertainty for this year’s housing market. Additionally, trends that have remained in place for the last decade are beginning to reverse, particularly as it relates to rising wages and stagnating housing prices. But what does the rest of the year have in store for potential home buyers and other real estate investors? Let’s take a look at a few of the latest trends in real estate, as well as our most up-to-date predictions for the rest of the year.

Houses Are Becoming More Affordable Again

While wages have remained relatively stagnant over the last decade, housing prices have continued to rise, making real estate an unrealistic or even impossible investment for many Americans, especially those just entering the job market. However, that trend is beginning to reverse. Average wages are climbing slowly upward, and housing prices continue to rise as well, though the latter category is rising at a much slower rate than in the past.

Surprisingly, analysts have expected this change for a while. When looking at the housing market as it compares to average wages, the market tends to act much like a rubber band. It may be stretched so that prices outpace wages for an extended period of time (as it has in recent years), but at one point or another, the rubber band must snap back together. When this happens, these prices and wages become much more equal, making it easier for consumers to invest in new real estate.

Uncertainty Will Continue In the Short-Term

At the end of 2018, the Fed intended to raise interest rates two times over the following year. However, they seem to have reversed course, though it remains unclear if they will actually lower the benchmark interest rate or follow through with their original projections. Nonetheless, mortgage rates have dropped a full percentage point in anticipation of these changes, giving home buyers more incentive to invest.

That said, mortgage rates could still rise if the Fed does decide to increase interest rates once again. And even if they do lower or maintain interest rates, this does not mean that the housing market will suddenly react. It will take time for these rates to have an effect, and in the meantime, mortgage payments will remain the same. So, until the Federal Reserve makes a clear decision one way or the other, it will be difficult to gauge how mortgage rates will be affected.

Not Every Location Is Following National Trends

While things are generally looking up for home buyers, the situation varies widely depending on the local market. Overall, the country is shifting from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. However, no two states or cities are exactly the same. Cities with lower costs of living have remained strong for home sellers, as job creation and high wages have increased the pool of potential buyers.

However, the market in cities like Chicago is very different. Sellers far outpace buyers, giving those looking to invest in real estate more room to negotiate, driving prices down. Changing laws have also caused an increased desire for mobility. For example, many consumers are choosing to move out of states with higher income taxes.

Prices Will Continue to Drop as Construction Ramps up

Looking to the second half of 2019, analysts are confident that the housing market will continue its upward trend. Though the future is not entirely clear (thanks in large part to uncertainty surrounding interest rates), prices are not rising as quickly as before. Additionally, investors have started to reenter the market, having initially left in the wake of the 2008 crisis.

As investments increase, construction will ramp up, increasing the inventory and driving down prices. Provided that wages continue to rise, this will make for a much more affordable market for buyers going forward. While this may sound like a bad sign for sellers, it will actually lead to a much healthier market.

As it stands now, many younger Americans struggle with the idea of balancing their budget and setting aside money for a home. Many houses remain unsold as a result. However, prices are dropping while wages are rising, and the Fed would like this trend to continue for as long as possible. So, while it is impossible to predict the remainder of 2019 with perfect clarity, it seems that the market will become much more agreeable for buyers, sellers, and investors in the second half of the year.

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How do I Improve my Property Value?

Whether you are looking to sell your house in the near future or you simply want to raise the value of your real estate investment, renovations are a necessary part of home ownership. Often times, when people hear the term “renovations,” they think of major changes that will require a lot of money upfront. Thankfully, this is not always the case. In fact, there are various ways to improve the value of your property without breaking the bank. That said, if you are in a position to invest a larger sum for renovations, this opens the door for even greater financial opportunities. In either case, let’s take a look at the top 5 ways to improve your property value:

Invest in Quality Landscaping

Real estate agents often refer to the “curb appeal” of a home, and this quality should not be underestimated. The first impression that your house gives to prospective home buyers is very important, and this starts with the yard. Taking care of your lawn, garden, shrubbery, and trees can help make your property standout from the rest. If you feel that your house is lacking in visual appeal, consider planting native trees and/or perennial flowers around your home. If you don’t have a green thumb, it may be best to turn to professional landscapers.

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

Weather and regular wear and tear can cause paint to fade over time. So, if you are renovating on a budget, repainting the interior and exterior of your house is one of the best ways to amp up the selling price. However, it is important to wait until you are prepared to sell your house before you start painting. If you paint your house too early, and do not plan on selling it for many years, you may need to paint it a second time before finding a buyer.

Change the Door Knobs

This one is extremely easy and relatively cheap, but it makes all the difference in the world. Old, dingy door knobs on doors and cabinets draw the eye, and may scare off potential buyers. However, if the door knobs shine and have a modern, appealing design, you can set a higher selling price and make a much better first impression during an open house.

Focus on the Kitchen and Bathrooms

While other parts of the house are important, the real estate world puts a lot of importance on kitchens and bathrooms. Both of these rooms have a tendency to age quickly, partly because they require materials and appliances that wear with regular use. Replacing countertops, appliances, cabinets, and light fixtures can transform your rooms, making them more aesthetically pleasing. While budgeting your renovations is important, it is also important that you don’t buy cheap materials just to save a buck. Spending a little bit more for the good stuff now could make you a lot more money when you are ready to sell.

Increase the Square Footage

The square footage is one of the most important factors when calculating property value; the bigger the property, the more it is worth. Obviously, increasing the square footage of your home is no easy task. It will take time and a pretty large investment. However, there are some relatively inexpensive ways to add space and value to your home. For example, adding a garage is generally cheaper than adding an additional room to your home, as it does not necessarily require the same insulation or materials as a normal room.

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