The 2015 Housing Market Is Off to a Great Start!

Great news!  The housing market data in contrast to one year ago shows that January 2015 has kick started the new year with trends better than 2014.

According to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report, January home sales increased 4.9 percent statewide in comparison to last January. In addition, prices were also better with the media home sale price in January of $115,000. This is a 4.5 percent increase from 2014.

Texas-Housing-Inventory-IncreaseHere are some other year-over-year comparisons from the January report:

·    The number of pending home sales increased 17.7 percent to 4,886
·    The percent of original list price received increased 1.3 percent to 92.6 percent
·    The number of new listings increased 11.9 percent to 7,790
·    The inventory of homes for sale decreased 3.7 percent to 36,504

“The increase in December pending home sales suggested that 2015 would be off to a faster start than last year, and it proved true,” said Brownsburg’s Bruce Bright, 2015 President of the Indiana Association of REALTORS®. “The credit for some of that increase is due to milder weather. Credit is also due to high consumer confidence fueled by low interest rates and the growth in the number of private-sector jobs.

“The increase in January pending home sales suggests that February will follow suit with good news, though the weather may push activity into March,” continued Bright. “Whether real estate stays on this positive path depends on the job market, particularly wages, access to credit, and interest rates.”

Are you in the market to buy or sell a home? Contact us to help with your title and closing needs!

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Looking to Sell Your Home? Get Financially Fit.

If you’re planning to sell your home, you want to make your next move a fit for your life. A financially smart decision. The home of your dreams, but with a sound financial plan in place. Now is the time to do some money management to review your financial health.

imagesGet a credit status check-up. It’s just so important. This is the time to uncover any credit snags, bills that need whittled down a bit, or settle up any errors on your credit report. Sometimes rebuilding or repairing credit situations can take months, or even a year, so the sooner you begin this work, the better. Many free credit report checking services are available online. Your mortgage broker can also be a great resource in reviewing your credit situation.

Determine your housing budget. Look at it from a standpoint of what your mortgage payment will be. Maybe your new job or raise is the kick start to a move, which is great…but don’t forget to factor in how much you’ll potentially net on the sale of your current home. You’ll need cash to close on your next home, pay property taxes, insurance, utilities, HOA fees, moving expenses, and more.

Partner with a mortgage broker who can help explain financial scenarios based upon purchase price, down payments, monthly mortgage and taxes. Also, seek input from a tax advisor who can review your income tax outcomes from the move and a financial planner who give you an expert opinion on your financial health and help you plan for the future.

Get inspections. You know a potential home buyer will get a home inspection. So why wait? Even though you may feel as though you know your home well, a home inspections can prevent any inspection surprises. It also allows you to make repairs before you list your home and prevent any negative property condition reports. Your Realtor can aid in the preliminary escrow report so you know of any outstanding liens.

Prepare a financial plan. As a seller, you need to factor in the average 5 – 6% of the purchase price to cover the listing agent’s work and the buyer’s agent as well. Build in a home repair budget to get your home ready-to-list. Whether it is a collection of small updates, or a hefty repair you know needs done to pass inspection, plan ahead for those expenses. Be sure to project other costs of selling your home such as property transfer taxes, buyer’s home warranty and other costs that are covered by home sellers.

Get your financial health picture as you plan to list your home. Be a smart seller. This work in preparation to list your home will pay off!

And, when it’s comes to closing time for your new home purchase, contact us. We will be your partner in all of your title and closing needs.

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Title Insurance. Let Us Be Your Guide.

Purchasing a home will be the most expensive transaction you will make in your lifetime. And, with that comes the need to have great partners. From your Realtor and your home inspector, to your title company. That’s where we come in to help you.

rowland titleAs your title company, it is our job to protect you, as a home buyer, when buying your new home.

You will have the option of two types of title policies. Typically, a mortgage lender will require a lender’s title insurance policy, which protects the mortgage on your home. As the buyer, you also have the option to an owner’s title insurance policy. This policy protects your financial investment in your home.

Title insurance financially protects you, as the homeowner, from having to pay any legal fees and claims that weren’t discovered during the title search in your home purchase. This could be something like the previous owner of your home owing back taxes or compensating a missing heir from a previously unknown interest in the home. It also includes any fraudulent or a forged signature on the home’s deed.

And, for a one-time fee paid at closing, you are covered by the policy as long as you own the home. The owner’s title insurance policy protects you, as the home buyer, from any undiscovered defects in the title.

If you are in the market to buy a home and have questions, please contact us! We look forward to working with you.

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Have You Been to Madisons in Pendleton?

Watching my social media feed over Valentine’s Day weekend, it seems that our downtown Pendleton Madisons restaurant was a popular venue to celebrate!

imagesHave you dined there? It’s fun to see our town as host to new restaurants with diverse menus. Madisons is located on State Street and offers an upscale menu of tried-and-true dishes created by Chef Dan, who has been in the culinary business for a long time. Based upon what I am hearing, his love for quality ingredients is evident in every dish he creates.

From blackened chicken Caesar salad, homemade salad dressings, creamy potato leek soup, the charcuterie and cheese board, to sesame ginger tuna tartare, ruby red trout, shrimp scampi, grilled swordfish, filet, and dessert offerings such as peach cobbler and cannoli…this restaurant offers a new, European cuisine. Madisons is a welcomed addition to the other great local eateries downtown.

So shop local and dine local! Support our downtown businesses. Add Madisons to your list to try.

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Billy Ocean at Hoosier Park Friday!

Get outta my dreams and get into my car…well, that’s what Grammy-award winner Billy Ocean will be singing this Friday, the 20th at Hoosier Park.

thCoined as the biggest African-American recording star Britain has ever produced, Billy Ocean has sold over 30 million records. In addition to his “Get Outta My Dreams; Get Into My Car,” and the million selling American number one single “Caribbean Queen,” and his hits Loverboy, and Suddenly, which became the first of his killer ballads.

So grab your friends and enjoy a night out reliving many of his 80s classic hits. Click here for tickets.

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Channel Your Inner Artist!

This Saturday, February 16th, channel your inner artist at Painting in the Park. This spring-themed painting class will take place at the Mounds State Park Nature Center from 10a to 12:30p.

imagesYou’ll receive all the materials you need, as well as instruction for the painting and refreshments.

This class is for ages 12 and up. The fee is $30 and registration is required. Click here to join the class.

Have fun!

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What Are Tax Sales? Read On.

All homeowners are required to pay real estate tax to the government; which fund numerous services, such as public schools, law enforcement, fire and EMS, road construction, libraries, and parks.

If a homeowner fails to pay taxes on a home, the county will offer the property at a tax sale auction to help recoup the lost tax revenue. It may be via a tax lien sale or a tax deed sale. Both result in a flexible and secure investment with little market risk.

With tax lien sales, the county government sells their right to the tax lien on the real estate property, typically via public auction. The buyer would be bidding on the tax debt, not the deed to the property, for the right to collect on the unpaid taxpayer’s debt. Typically a property tax lien is sold for a small fraction of a property’s market value allowing the new buyer to bid on the tax debt for a favorable return on investment.

In tax deed sales, the county government sells full ownership and possession rights of the property to the investor.

Tax Lien Sales
This can be a lucrative investment, as a property tax lien is usually sold for a small fraction of a property’s market value. The purchaser pays the delinquent taxes to the county on behalf of the delinquent property owner. In exchange, the purchaser is given first lien position on title, ahead of mortgages, deeds of trust, and other private liens, secondary only to state tax liens. The purchaser then receives a certificate of purchase or a “tax lien certificate.”

Under the terms of the sale, the investor has the right to receive interest penalty charges when the lien is paid off by the delinquent property owner, many times at a high rate of 16 to 24 percent. The purchaser also has the right to foreclose the tax lien and take title to the property if the lien is not paid.

Usually, tax lien investing is a win-win for the investor: if the delinquent taxpayer pays off the late taxes, the investor will receive the principal paid for the lien plus any interest that has accrued. If the late taxes are not paid by a specified date, the investor can foreclose and take title to the property.

Tax Deed Sales
Unlike a tax lien sale, a tax deed sale is when the deed to the property of a delinquent taxpayer is auctioned. The winning bidder purchases the deed to the property, becoming the new owner and obtaining all of the rights to the property free of all liens, mortgages, deeds of trust, etc.

In a tax deed sale, the property is usually sold for the back tax amount plus any fees, interest charges, and court costs. Like a tax lien sale, investors purchasing a tax deed can acquire full property rights at a fraction of the market price, since property taxes are a small percentage of market value.

How Do I Find a Tax Sale?

If you are interested in participating in a tax lien or tax deed sale, probably the fastest way to find a sale is to contact your county government’s office for specific information and details about potential sales and the properties involved. Once you find out what properties are for sale, you don’t have to wait for a property’s auction to begin the purchasing process. You may be able to use the list of tax sales from the county to find motivated sellers who want to sell their lien or deed before the auction. Or, you can get an old tax sale list and contact the new owners of the lien or deed to see if they are interested in reselling their purchase.

As with any real estate investment, proper research of a property involved in a tax lien or tax deed sale beforehand will minimize any risks that may arise. Before your purchase, be sure to view the property and research its value. In addition, it is important to research the title for current property, in addition to any tax, judgment and/or mortgage liens, and trust deeds.

Finally, know and understand which type of sale you are attending, a tax lien or tax deed sale. Each has specific rules and guidelines which must be followed, which can differ from county to county. In addition, not all states allow tax lien and tax deed sales, so it is important to investigate your particular state’s tax laws before pursuing a tax sale.

For more information and to find Madison County properties for sale: click here.

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Selling Your Home? Stage It Well.

When selling your home during the winter, you benefit from typically less homes on the market. In addition to lower inventory, the market will be filled with more serious buyers who are prepared to make a purchasing decision.

imagesSo here are a few tips to make your home offer-ready:

Make a great first impression. It is important to keep your home easy for potential buyers to access and inviting once they step inside the front door. Most importantly, keep snow and ice cleared on your driveway and the sidewalks approaching the front door. Curb appeal is trickier with dormant grass, snow and the lack of color from flowers and plant materials. Make sure your front door gives an instant “welcome home” impression with a great paint color, a beautiful wreath and welcoming doormat.

Be inviting. When you begin staging the inside of your home for buyers, think of it as welcoming them to your home as guests at a party. Make sure your thermostat is set to a warm temperature so potential buyers feel comfortable. Consider setting the formal dining room table with place settings and glasses, a nice centerpiece and flatware. Add some color with fresh flowers in the kitchen and make sure there’s a pleasant aroma within your home. You may not have time for a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, but popular candle scents are cinnamon, apple pie or cider and vanilla. Keep it simple, though…and limited to one room. Too many fragrances will make the buyer feel as though you are masking an unpleasant odor from pets, smoke or musty areas. Have the carpets cleaned and replace any curtains, carpets or rugs that need it.

Cozy up your home. Toss warm throws across the sofas and master bed, hang a plush robe in your bathroom and put together a grouping of soaps and washcloths like a hotel or spa. Turn on soft jazz or classical music. Light a gas fireplace or candles if you the timing of the showing permits.

Keep it bright. Since daylight hours are minimal during the winter season, take advantage of natural light hours for showings when possible. In addition, wash your windows and leave curtains and blinds open to allow as much daylight as possible to illuminate your home. Turn on all the lights when expecting a showing and use high-wattage bulbs to help with the gray winter days.

Protect your home. To keep your carpets and rugs clean during wet and snowy seasons, you may ask potential buyers to remove their shoes or use “booties” to cover their shoes. Buyers will view that positively…that you respect your home and want to keep it clean.

If you’re ready to list your home, contact a real estate professional to get you started. And, be sure to contact us for help with your title needs!

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Looking to Make Plans for Valentine’s Day?

If you’ve ordered the flowers and bought the card and chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but would like to make plans for you and your Valentine, here are some local goings on for you to consider.

imagesToscana Event Centre is hosting a Chocolate & Wine Tasting on Saturday the 14th from 4 to 6 p.m. This event benefits Anderson Symphony Orchestra and includes chocolates from around the world with delicious wine pairings, hors d’oeuvres and cheeses. Tickets are $35 per person. You’ll receive a complimentary tasting glass when you attend. Call 765.644.2111 or click here for tickets.

Hoosier Park will feature Comedy Magic with Ken Mate on Saturday the 14th at 10 p.m. Make a date night at Hoosier Park and enjoy this free Saturday Night Variety Show in the Terrace Room.

Gallery 119 in Pendleton, located at 119 W. State Street, will be featuring the New Beginnings Art Show all day.

Blu Falls, Art from the Heart Valentine’s Dinner/Dance Saturday the 14th from 6 to 11 p.m.  Tickets to this semi-formal event are $40 per person and include dinner, dancing, art auction, live music and activities. A 10% discount is given for tables of eight people. The Pendleton Artists Society members and supporters will be donating works or art for the auction. For tickets or information, call 765-778-8548.

Have fun!

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Housing Market Demand: Good News for the Midwest.

According to recent reports, 2015 has the potential to support home buyer demand with its strong housing recovery. And, the Midwest is leading the trend in balancing the market demand among all housing segments.

imagesThe low-tier price segment of homes, which was once driven by investors, is key for first-time home buyers. The good news: this low-tier market has sustained national price growth. In addition, move-up buyers are seeing some relief from negative equity in their homes with the rise of home prices.

With that gain in home equity, mid-tier homeowners may decide to move up, therefore driving demand in the low and mid tiers of the housing market. That said, the top tier rate of appreciation is stalling; while the low tier is continuing to see double digit gains year-over-year at 10.2 percent. The divide between the healthy low tier and the stagnant top tier could allow traditional buyers a moment to see equity in their homes. This equity may motivate potential move-up buyers to enter the top-tier segment of the housing market; seeing stalled top tier prices as a good deal. In direct correlation, it opens up more opportunity for low-tier homeowners to move up to the mid tier.

At the same time, these moves up provide new inventory for potential first-time buyers to enter the housing market. This domino effect could allow balanced demand across all sectors of the housing market this year.

Across the nation, we lead the pack in the Midwest with double digit year-over-year gains in the low tier at 13.6 percent and a 3.3 percent drop in the top tier. The Midwest led the nation in the all tier segment and is the only region currently seeing price appreciation in the low and mid tiers. These numbers could be the indicator that the Midwest will be the first region to realize full buyer momentum across all segments of the housing market. So, if you’re considering buying a new home, or a home for the first time, this year may just be “the” year for you.

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