Title insurance is a policy that protects you from potential problems when acquiring real estate. When you buy real estate, you’re also buying all of the assets and liabilities associated with that property. So title insurance protects you from any past title problems. Some of these problems can include forgery, fraud, liens, and prior mistakes in legal documents.
Types Of Title Insurance
There are two main types of title insurance: lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance. Most lenders require the borrower (homebuyer) to purchase a lender’s title insurance policy, which protects the lender. It is important to note that a lender’s policy will not cover the homebuyer from any problems with the title. To protect yourself, consider purchasing owner’s title insurance.
Owner’s title insurance will protect you, the homebuyer, from any aforementioned issues. A title search examines public records and legal documents to confirm the legal ownership of a property before a transaction takes place. It is usually performed by an attorney or a title company. Although this procedure will often identify any title issues or mistakes, sometimes mishaps occur. These mistakes can be costly down the road, so buyers often purchase title insurance to protect them and their mortgage lender from financial loss if there’s a problem with the title after the sale.
Some common claims filed against a title are back taxes and liens. Liens are a right to keep possession of property belonging to another person until a person’s debt is cleared. It is rare for title companies to miss a lien, but if that does happen, it can cause quite a legal headache for the homeowner. Title insurance can protect from any issues that arise due to uncleared liens.
A typical title insurance policy covers the following hazards:
- Ownership by a party other than the one who sold it to you
- Incorrect signatures on documents as well as forgery or fraud
- Mistakes in legal papers and inheritance
This type of policy also ensures that there aren’t any outstanding liens for the property. Unlike traditional insurance policies that protect you from future events, title insurance protects you from past events that may not have come up during the purchase of the property.
Title Insurance in Washington State
In Washington state, the owner’s title insurance policy is usually optional and not required by law. You can choose to buy a policy that will cover the full price that you paid for the property. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has more information about the process of purchasing title insurance in Washington state.
It is important to note that the only time it is possible to secure the owner’s title insurance is at closing. You will not be able to purchase a policy if you discover an ownership issue after you’ve bought the property and ownership has been transferred to you.
Having title insurance protects both the buyer and seller from potential risks that can lead to a considerable amount of stress down the road. It’s important to talk to your real estate agent about these details. They should be able to guide you through the process and provide additional insight. Our local Windermere agents are also here to answer any questions you may have.
We have a strong seller’s market, which means it’s an excellent time to sell your home. Inventory remains low and there are many anxious buyers wanting to move out of crowded cities to a beautiful place like Bainbridge Island. In our third quarter, our closed sales were up by 46% year-over-year. But just because our market (or any market) is doing well doesn’t mean you should casually list your home and expect to experience an incredible multiple offer situation. Some sellers are asking our agents this question: “Why do I need to stage my house if the market is so hot?” Our answer: It may be the best way to yield the outcome you want. Here are some key facts and figures for you to consider.
Proper Preparation Still Matters
If you have a good agent, you’ll know how important it is to take the time to make sure your home is ready to put on the market. Even though our market is strong with many success stories, there are still some houses that are sitting on the market for longer than others. Sometimes it’s because they were priced too high or they didn’t take the time to prepare. Most buyers right now don’t want a fixer-upper, in part because of the pandemic. They don’t want to have to deal with workers in their house. So, carefully prepare your home and utilize your agent’s local knowledge, resources, and expertise.
Think Like a Buyer
First impressions are everything and photos are usually buyers’ first glimpse of your property. In fact, 95% of people search for homes online. So, you want to grab their attention with beautiful visuals. In a recent report by the NAR (National Association of Realtors), buyers rated photos as the most important element in their home search process. They rated it higher than the description of the home and higher than the location.
Now, you may think a photographer can simply take photos of your home as it is. However, if your home is cluttered or filled with various personal touches (as most of our homes are), it can be difficult for buyers to imagine themselves living there. Expert stagers can draw people in and provide just the right amount of detail. The research supports this as well. According to the NAR, 83% of buyers’ agents said staging made it easier for buyers to see themselves living in the home they were viewing.
The Potential Return on Your Investment
According to last year’s NAR report, sellers’ agents stated that when staging a home, 39% saw an increase in the dollar value of the home, anywhere from one to ten percent. Additionally, 28% of sellers’ agents saw a decrease in time on the market for staged homes. So if you stage your home using local experts, it could greatly benefit you, especially when you think of how this information applies to our current, local market. Serious buyers are out there but you want to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward in order to achieve success.
Bainbridge Island’s market had an incredibly strong third quarter. We’ve compiled key stats below to provide a comprehensive review of our market, as well as insights and predictions from Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner.
Our Strong Seller’s Market
It’s a hot seller’s market here on Bainbridge Island. Inventory remains low and demand is still high. In our third quarter, closed sales were up 43.6% year-over-year. Buyers should be aware that multiple offer situations are very common. Our Brokers have seen a significant increase in all-cash offers. In September alone (when the market typically starts to cool down), 37% of all Bainbridge Island residential sales were from all-cash buyers.
Although mortgage rates remain historically low and demand is high, our Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, has some concerns about how this may impact real estate down the road. “We may be heading towards a period where we see houses turn over at a far slower pace as we stay in our homes for longer than ever…this could be a problem as it leads to persistently low levels of inventory for sale, which itself could lead to prices continuing to rise at above-average rates and that would further hit affordability.” As for mortgage rates, Gardner does not expect them to rise significantly any time soon. However, he says, “We should all be aware that there could be consequences to very low rates”.
Western Washington Review
Let’s zoom out a bit and look at our area. Below are highlights from The Western Washington Gardner Report provided by Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner.
WESTERN WASHINGTON HOME SALES
- Total Sales: 11.6% increase from Q3/2019, and 45.9% higher than Q2/2020
- Homes for Sale: 41.7% lower than Q3/2019, but up 1.6% from Q2/2020
- Pending Sales: up 29% from Q2/2020
WESTERN WASHINGTON HOME PRICES
- Average: $611,793 (up 17.1% from Q3/2019). Low mortgage rates and limited inventory are clearly pushing prices up.
- Prices will continue to increase as long as mortgage rates and inventory levels stay low. If this continues to be the case, affordability issues will become more apparent in many markets.
DAYS ON MARKET, WESTERN WASHINGTON
- Average: 36 days (an average of 4 fewer days than in Q2/2020 and 2 fewer days than in Q3/2019)
- Kitsap County’s average days on market: 20
In Gardner’s Western Washington Report, he states that, although we have a strong seller’s market that is very buoyant, he’s “starting to see affordability issues increase in many areas—not just in the central Puget Sound region—and this is concerning. Perhaps the winter will act to cool the market, but something is telling me we shouldn’t count on it.”
Windermere Bainbridge Island studies market data each quarter to evaluate trends and stats in order to convey a valuable review to our clients and community. Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner also contributes his broad, expert analysis of the Western Washington market, which we share below to illustrate a complete picture and forecast.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the Bainbridge Island real estate market continues to press on. June 2020 saw a dramatic rise in the number of pending sales from the same month last year. Mortgage rates remain historically low and multiple offers are once again commonplace, indicating our spring market may have been delayed but is now taking hold. For these reasons, our forecast speedometer continues to show a solid seller’s market.
Western Washington Review and Forecast
The following is a summary of The Western Washington Gardner Report provided by Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. He analyzes and interprets economic data and its impact on both local and national levels. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and the U.K.
WESTERN WASHINGTON HOME SALES
- Total Sales: 22.2% drop from Q2/2019, but 30.6% rise from Q1/2020
- Homes for Sale: 37% fewer than Q2/2019, but up 32% from Q1/2020
- Pending Sales: up 35.7% from Q1/2020
WESTERN WASHINGTON HOME PRICES
- Average: $559,194 (up 3.5% from Q2/2019, up 6.6% from Q1/2020, suggesting that any concern regarding negative impacts to home values as a function of COVID-19 may be overblown.)
- What to watch for: Significant price growth in less urbanized areas going forward may be an indication that COVID-19 is affecting where buyers are choosing to live.
DAYS ON MARKET, WESTERN WASHINGTON
- Average: 40 days (matching Q2/2019, 14 fewer days than Q1/2020)
What a difference a quarter makes! Demand has re-appeared remarkably quickly and interest rates remain historically low. It certainly remains a seller’s market and I don’t expect this to change in the foreseeable future.
Adequately preparing your home before putting it on the market will help you successfully sell it. There are some important steps to take that can drastically improve your home’s appeal, ensuring it will sell for the best price and in a timely manner. Here’s our home seller’s checklist to help you get ready.
Preparing Your Home for Market
We highly recommend listing your home at least three months before your ideal “closing date”. The listing date is an important factor and it’s crucial to make data-driven decisions. That’s where a real estate agent with expertise comes in to inform and guide you through the process. An experienced, local real estate agent knows the market and can help you properly prepare your home. Agents can point out necessary changes, but it is important that you take care of any projects you have been avoiding so that everything is done before your listing date.
- Clutter and random items should be packed away, including most or all of your family or personal photos. This gives the prospective buyer a chance to envision themselves in your home.
- If you can move out and allow your agent to stage your home, this will take all of the responsibility off your plate. Here are the benefits of staging your home.
Appearance and Hardware
Before putting your home on the market, take a look at your home’s overall appearance and hardware.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- When was the last coat of fresh paint? (Inside and outside)
- Is the landscaping up to your standards? Are there any patches of dead grass or any dying trees?
- What condition is the flooring in?
- Is the hardware in your home working properly? (Sink hardware, doors, windows, light fixtures, and appliances)
Agents Are Your Best Resource
Any good home seller’s checklist makes one thing clear: it takes work to properly get your home ready to sell. But if you have a great agent, they will help you every step of the way and make this the best experience possible. Here’s what they can do so that it’s not up to you to navigate all of this on your own.
- Help prevent and reduce stress
- Project manage the process of selling your home
- Provide you with a list of priorities
- Offer their up-to-date market expertise
- Utilize their global marketing network and their local connections to excellent stagers, photographers, landscapers, home-repair contractors, etc.
Once your home is ready to be listed, here are some key tips for when your home is being shown.
- Due to the current pandemic, it is important to know the latest CDC guidelines and specific safety standards that the real estate industry is following.
- Make sure your home is set at a comfortable temperature. Usually mid to high 60s is appropriate.
- Light up your home: turn on all the lights inside, and in the evenings turn on your exterior lights.
- Are you a pet person? Make sure to keep them in a separate area, and if you have cats, remove or hide the litter boxes.
- Hide money and valuable items.
- Open up all drapes and curtains to fill your home with as much natural light as you can.
- Interior doors should all be open except for closets.
Sometimes showings can become constant. If you are unable to leave during the showing period, here are some helpful tips.
- A buyer will likely feel more comfortable and spend more time in your home if you are not there.
- Try to keep your distance, and keep children and pets quiet and out of the way.
- Don’t interrupt or follow potential buyers through your home.
- Allow the agent to show and sell your home. Rely on their expertise.
For more information, download our Market Prep Guide and our Pre-Listing Checklist. We also have an extensive Guide to Selling a Home which provides information about the home inspection, settlement and closing, moving, and terms often used. And, if you need further assistance, you’re welcome to contact us.
With the current state of the world, and the beauty and relevance of this new listing, we thought there would be no better time than now to share it. This home is a sunny sustainable retreat. Featuring everything you need and more to be as close to self-sufficient as you can without going off-grid.
Enjoy Everything Sunrise Neighborhood has to Offer
Located in the Sunrise Neighborhood of Bainbridge Island, this home has views of the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains. With easy access to Wilkes School, Rolling Bay shops, and Fay Bainbridge Waterfront park.
This home is situated on just over an acre of flat, grassy land. It has a properly fenced backyard and garden space, landscaped gardens, and a chicken coop for daily, fresh eggs. The vast open yard in front and behind the home gives privacy and tranquility.
Unique Sustainable Retreat
Gleaming hardwood floors, open floor plan, unique spaces, and a traditional brick fireplace give the interior its own charm. There are 4 bedrooms plus two office/den spaces…. Stuck at home in quarantine? Work from home in the main floor office, or turn it into a craft room or playroom. The cozy sunroom off the kitchen features gorgeous exposed beams and views of the backyard and garden.
Play in the yard, soak your long day away in the bathtub, curl up in the sunroom with a good book, or get your hands dirty in the garden. This home has endless opportunities for peaceful living.