Integrity Title & Escrow Company recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Shina Parker, founder and CEO, and her partner, Monzella Saunders-Owings, Esq. (president and COO), have made their primary focus the “education of the smart buyer.”
Parker has been managing and investigating risks of real estate sales in and around Baltimore for over a decade. Most people are likely unaware of how a title company brings together buyers and sellers.
Many people requiring a title and settlement company don’t often make the choice for themselves. Parker knows how important this knowledge can be to people wanting some control over risk; she has some real-life horror stories about people who didn’t choose.
For the buyer, not doing this invaluable homework can lead to costly discoveries later on: unsettled liens on properties due to the seller’s marital/custody status, court-ordered judgments, collections and unsatisfied debts are just a few challenges that can impede the sale of a property. If not thoroughly researched, these things can become a buyer’s nightmare.
Parker said this is really the best time to buy a property; in the past, it was a seller’s market, but today’s buyers can acquire properties at better price points. Essentially, the contract price does not matter; it is now relative to the whole locale/community’s market price.
The appraisal system has also become more realistic, as both estimators and lenders are more conservative. When the buyer is more likely to benefit, it means there is less risk. Parker said today’s buyer is really not taking a chance or risk — home shoppers are more likely taking advantage of the home buying situation. In contrast, sellers see more risk, usually in the form of a reduced asking price. The ability to sell and receive a fair price when a home is not a short-sale or foreclosure can be a challenge. If all goes well, it’s more of a win-win situation, and even more of a reason to have a reliable, proven title company at your disposal.
A past phenomenon is also re-emerging: a large percentage of the buyers in today’s market are first-time home buyers. One incentive for these buyers is the $8,000 government rebate, which makes the decision to buy (that may have been easier to pass up in the recent market) even more attractive. There has never been so generous an offer to promote home ownership.
However, some of the unscrupulous brokers and risky financials that were plentiful a few years ago may still exist. One just needs to be educated to avoid them. The greatest risk in real estate today, Parker said, is the uneducated buyer.
That education begins with knowing about some of the simple but significant changes in the Maryland laws for home buyers. One such change states that while builders can offer a new home buyer incentives by way of an in-house settlement service and mortgage company, the builder cannot legally exclude buyers from choosing their own.
Parker’s last note to the buyer is “It’s your choice to choose a settlement company.” If you are in the market to buy or sell your home, educate yourself, and weigh your options.