Archive | Seller 101

8 Easy Ways to Improve Curb Appeal


Thinking about selling your home soon? There are a lot of quick and inexpensive things you can do you make your property attract buyers.


1. Paint your front door a fun bright color. Red. Yellow. Orange. Green. Blue. It makes the house look well cared for and adds a pop of color.

2. Replace dated address numbers and/or mailboxes with newer and updated designs.

3. Trim back or remove overgrown trees and shrubs that are hiding the charming architectural details of your home.

4. Add some landscape lighting to you front path to make the house more inviting at night.

5. Add an outdoor bench to your porch or entry sequence. It is inviting place to wait for someone, put on shoes, leave packages, use as a plant stand. Think of it as your outdoor landing strip.

6. If your parkway is empty, consider adding shade trees. The city of Los Angeles gives them away free.

7. Add some potted plants, hanging baskets or window boxes to you front porch/steps.

8. Re-mulch all your front plant beds. The city of Los Angeles gives mulch away free.



See more: Home Maintenance, Seller 101

How Property Taxes are Determined


Property taxes are governed by California State law and collected by the county. The County Assessor must first assess the value of your property to determine the amount of property tax based on the assessed value (cash or market value) at the time of purchase. This value increases not more that 2% per year until the property is sold or new construction is completed. The appropriate tax rates, including the general tax levy, locally voted special taxes and any city or district assessments, are applied by the Auditor-Controller. Based on the Auditor-Controller’s calculations, the tax collector prepares and distributes tax bills and collects the taxes.


On January 1, taxes become a lien at 12:01 a.m. not yet due and payable for the Fiscal Tax Year starting July 1. Thereafter, title evidence must show taxes as a lien for the coming Fiscal Tax Year.

To be eligible for applicable exemptions, you must own and occupy property on March 1.

On December 10, a 10% penalty is added to taxes due. If December 10th  falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.

On April 10, a 10% penalty plus administrative charge attaches. If April 10 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes are not delinquent until 5 p.m. the next business day.

On June 30, if you fail to pay either or both installments by 5 p.m., property tax becomes defaulted and additional costs and penalties accrue.

If June 30 falls on a weekend or holiday, taxes must be paid by 5 p.m. of the preceding business day.

Property may be sold at public auction after five years of delinquency.

(from Title360 Home Seller’s Guide)

Thinking of selling? 
Download a FREE 26 page Home Guide for Seller’s – Click Here to Download

See more: Buyer 101, Seller 101

Buyers and Sellers: Who Pays for What?

(On real estate purchases in Southern California)

The SELLER can generally be expected to pay for:

  • Real Estate Broker’s commission
  • Due and payable property taxes, bonds, assessment
  • Prorated taxes, interest, rent HOA dues (could be credit or debit)
  • Payoff of all loans, other liens and judgments of record against the property (except those to be assumed by Buyer) including, but not limited to: accrued interest, demand/statement fee, re-conveyance fee, forwarding fee, late fees/prepayment penalty, if any
  • Loan fees required by the Buyer’s Lender (specifically on FHA & VA loans)
  • Homeowner’s Association transfer fee, document fee and demand fee
  • Pest control inspection reports and cost for repairs
  • Home warranty plan
  • Title insurance premium for Owner’s Policy
  • Escrow fee (Seller’s portion)
  • Document preparation fee for Grand deed and other recordable
  • Document(s) prepared for Seller’s benefit
  • Demand processing fees
  • Notary Public fees ($10.00 per signature to be notarized)
  • Document signing service, if requested
  • Documents recording charges

The BUYER can generally be expected to pay for:

  • County Transfer Tax ($1.10 per $1,000 of sales price)
  • City Transfer Tax (varies by city)
  • Prorated taxes, interest, rent HOA dues (could be credit or debit)
  • Payable taxes (not yet delinquent) required to be paid in advance by Lender
  • Inspection fees (physical, roofing, geological, etc.)
  • New financing costs, fees, pre-paid interest and impounds, if any (except those costs to be paid by Seller, as required by Lender or as negotiated in Purchase Agreement) or Assumption costs if existing financing is to be assumed by Buyer
  • Hazard insurance premium – year paid in advance
  • Title insurance premium for Lender’s Policy
  • Escrow fee (Buyer’s portion)
  • Document preparation fee for documents prepared for Buyer’s benefit
  • Notary Public fees ($10.00 per signature to be notarized)
  • Document signing service, if requested
  • Special delivery/courier fees/wire transfer, if utilized
  • Document recording charges

(From Title360 Home Seller’s Guide)

Thinking of selling? 
Download a FREE 26 page Home Guide for Seller’s – Click Here to Download

See more: Buyer 101, Seller 101

The History of Title

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 10.32.32 AMIn 1868, the concept of title insurance began as a result of needed improvement to the traditional methods of conveying real property. At the time, the process did not provide confidence and safety to the parties involved in a real estate transaction. Historically, the transfer of title to real property was performed by conveyancers who were recognized authorities on real estate law but generally not lawyers. Conveyancers spearheaded all aspects of the transaction, including a title search, to determine the ownership rights of the seller and any other rights, interests, liens or encumbrances that might “cloud” the property’s title.

From the search, the conveyance then delivered a description (abstract) of the title’s status that laid the groundwork for the conveyancer’s opinion as to how clean or clouded the title. Due to inadequate public records, conveyancers had limited ability to ensure adequate buyer confidence. There was also the risk that their good faith opinion might ignore certain clouds on title or lack thoroughness. As a result, buyers were left to unfortunately bear the full risk of any title issues that might arise following their real estate purchase. The case of Watson v. Muirhead (57 Pa. 161) was filed in Pennsylvania in 1868 which is directly traceable to the limited protection issue of the time concerning the work a conveyancer provided to the purchaser of real property.

Muirhead, a conveyancer, had searched and abstracted a title for Watson, the purchaser of a parcel of real property. Muirhead chose to ignore certain recorded judgments and reported the title as good and unencumbered after consulting an attorney. As a result, Watson purchased the property but was later presented with liens that Muirhead had determined were not title impairments. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that there was no negligence on the conveyancer’s part and dismissed the case. The decision clearly demonstrated that, in the existing conveyancing system, the buyer would bear the full risk should an issue on title come up after purchasing the real estate.

This decision ignited the Pennsylvania legislature to later pass an act “to provide for the incorporation and regulation of title insurance companies” and the first title company, The Law of Property Assurance and Trust Society, was founded in Philadelphia in 1876. Addressing the concerns in Watson v. Muirhead, title insurance provided responsibility without proof of negligence, financial protection through a reduction of the risk of insolvency, and the assumption of risks beyond those disclosed in the public records (for which the abstractor was not liable). Title insurance has become an integral part in the majority of today’s real estate transactions in the United States. Regulated by state insurance agencies, the services of title insurers vary in different states and counties due to different laws, procedures and customary practices. Nonetheless, the critical objective is steadfast – to ensure all parties acquiring or transferring an interest in real estate can do so with the highest level of efficiency, security and safety.

Did You Know? Benjamin Franklin laid the groundwork for the model and concept of title insurance as we know it today?

Title insurance is available in Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, China, Korea, Australia, and throughout Europe?

Unlike other forms of insurance, title insurance emphasizes prevention rather than the assumption of risk.

(From 365Title)

See more: Buyer 101, Seller 101

5 Easy Ways to Save Water

If you are currently watering 3 days a week, watering one less day reduces your outdoor water consumption by 33%.

Depending on your soil type, you may need multiple start and stop times to avoid water run off and wasting water.

Adjusting sprinklers so they are not watering hardscape or sidewalk and/or adjust your sprinkler times so that the water soaks into your soil.

Drips and leaks waste both water and money.

Do not hose or water down hard or paved surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, patios, parking areas, tennis courts or alleys.

See more: Home Maintenance, Seller 101

Seller Checklist: Moving To-Do-List


Discuss costs, insurance, packing, loading, delivery, and the claims procedure with your mover.

Determine what possessions you might like to sell as well as donations for charities.

Obtain copies of your records from doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, and veterinarians, etc.

Make arrangements to transfer your children’s schools records.

Find out from your accountant or the IRS about tax- deducible moving expenses. Make sure you keep accurate records.


If your movers will be packing your belongings, schedule a day or two prior to loading the truck.

Arrange for storage, if needed. Clean or repair furniture, curtains or carpets.

If you are packing yourself, start getting boxes and packing materials.


Assemble packing materials.

Arrange to cancel utilities and services at your old home and have them installed at your new home.

Make travel and hotel reservations.

Begin packing items you won’t need.

Confirm cell phone coverage in your new neighborhood.

Get car license, registration, and insurance in order.


Arrange to transfer all your bank accounts to new branch locations.

Make arrangements for pet travel airline reservations, travel containers, vet appointments for health certificate or medications.

Cancel any direct deposit or automatic payments arrangements on bank accounts that you are closing.

Cancel delivery services.


Transfer all medical prescriptions to pharmacy in your new location.

Arrange for a babysitter for moving day, if needed.

Arrange for cleaning service of your old home for the evening of or day after your move.


Have the movers pack your shipment.

Arrange to have cash, a certified check, or money order ready to pay the driver on delivery day.

Set aside valuables and legal documents to go with you, not on the moving van.

Pack clothes and toiletries to go with you; take a day or two of extra clothes in case of delay.

Pack you first day handy items box to go with you


Do it yourself movers should pick up truck early.

Make a list of every item and box loaded onto the truck.

Let the mover know where you can be reached.

Before your sign it, read the bill of loading.

Keep it in a safe place until your goods are delivered, charges are paid, and any claims settled.

Turn off appliances and the water at old house.

Meet cleaners or clean home day as movers remove items or day after.

Leave the keys and garage door openers in the house.

Lock all doors and windows.

Be on hand to answer questions and give directions to mover.


Make sure the utilities are hooked up
Have locksmith install new locks

Assemble first day handy items:

  • Scissors 
  • Utility Knife
  • Coffee Cups
  • Tea kettle/Coffee Maker
  • Paper plates
  • Toilet Paper
  • Instant coffee/tea/soft drinks
  • Unpack the kid’s toys and pets’ toys
  • Toiletry kit
  • Trash Bags
  • Medicines
  • Vacuum or broom
  • Bath Towels   
  • Masking tap
  • Pencils & Paper
  • Soap

Thinking of selling? 
Download a FREE 26 page Home Guide for Seller’s – Click Here to Download

See more: Seller 101

Understanding Capital Gains

A capital gain is a profit that results from the sale of an asset, such as stocks, bonds or real estate, which amounts to more than the purchase cost. This difference between sale price and original price (cost basis) is the capital gain. Capital gains  are often calculated for tax purposes and are not based on the purchase price but on its adjusted cost basis.

The IRS provides for a tax exemption on capital gains from the sale of a principal residence. Be sure to check with your Accountant or CPA for professional insight.


First, take the purchase price of the home. This is the sales price not the amount of money contributed at closing.

Second, determine the sales price or the final amount received in exchange for its recent sale.

Third, add adjustments:

+ cost of purchase, including inspections, transfer fees, attorney fees

+ with the exception of points paid on a mortgage

+ cost of improvement, including decks, casitas, room additions with the exception of repair or replacement to something already in existence such as a roof or air conditioning unit

+ cost of sale, including inspection fees, attorney’s fees, commissions and money spent on the home to ready it for sale

finally, total the adjusted sale price and subtract the adjusted cost basis from the amount the home is sold for to determine the capital gain.

(from Title360 Home Seller’s Guide)

Thinking of selling? 
Download a FREE 26 page Home Guide for Seller’s – Click Here to Download

See more: Buyer 101, Seller 101

What Escrow Needs from Sellers

The goal of escrow is to ensure that your transaction moves along as smoothly as possible.
You will need to provide your Closing Officer with the following information:

Once escrow is opened with your title agency, you will receive a Statement of Information to complete. Statements of Information provide the information needed to distinguish the Buyers and Sellers of real property from others with similar names so as to disregard matters which do not affect the property to  be insured. After identifying the true Buyers and Sellers, the title company may disregard the judgments, liens or other matters on the public records under similar names. This routinely requested document protects all parties involved and allows the title company to competently carry out its duties without unnecessary delay. You, and your spouse if you are married, will be asked to provide full name, social security number, year of birth, birthplace, and information or citizenship. If you are married, you will be asked the date and place of your marriage along with any previous marriage information, residence and employment information.

Provide names of your existing lien holder(s) along with address, phone number and loan number.

Be sure to bring your driver’s license or other form of picture Id to the closing.

The title company can wire proceeds into your account upon funding of the transaction. Please provide your Closing Officer with wiring information if you choose to have your funds wired.

Any invoices for inspections, repairs or other items to be paid at closing but be submitted to escrow prior to closing.

If you intend to use Power of Attorney and will not be present at closing to sign documents, you must provide the original Power of Attorney prior to closing for approval and recording. The Lender will also need to approve the Power of Attorney. Please provide a contact number so that you can be reached for verification as well as to confirm that Power of Attorney has not been revoked.

(from Title 360 Seller’s Guide)

Thinking of selling? 
Download a FREE 26 page Home Guide for Seller’s – Click Here to Download

See more: Seller 101

What is Escrow?

Escrow is the depositing of funds and documents that establish the terms and conditions for the transfer of property ownership with an impartial third party (title company) for delivery upon completion of the terms of the escrow instruction.

You’ve probably heard the term: documents are held “in escrow” or that the parties have “opened escrow.” The principals of the escrow (Seller, Buyer, Lender) will give to the escrow holder written instructions setting out the terms and conditions under which the further delivery is to be made. The Escrow Officer holds responsibility for seeing that these terms are adhered to. 

The selection of escrow is typically done by agreement between the principals. In most areas of the country, the Seller typically makes the selection but it does vary. Often times, this aspect of a transaction is directed towards the Seller’s preference because if a home has fallen out of escrow prior, disclosures and reports are already ordered and paid for with an escrow company so it makes sense based on cost and efficiency to stay with the same company. Real estate agents or Lenders often recommend an escrow holder but it is the right of the Seller and Buyer to select the company they deem to be most competent and experienced.

The common use of an escrow is to enable the parties in a real estate transaction to deal with each other with less risk, since the escrow holder acts as:

  • Custodian for funds and documents.
  • A clearing house for payment of all demands.
  • An agency to perform the clerical details for the settlement of the accounts between the parties.

An escrow begins with the Realtor® ‘opening the order for title work’ and providing the Purchase Agreement and all executed documentation to escrow. Once received, the escrow agency prepares a preliminary report. Upon receipt of the preliminary report, an analysis is made to determine the necessary action and documents required to complete the transaction:

  • Demands for satisfaction of liens not acceptable to Buyer and/or Lender.
  • Documents for recording.
  • Instructions and requirements of the new Lender.
  • In most areas, Buyer and Seller instructions are prepared for signature from the information gathered.

When all the title and financial requirements are met, and instructions from all parties can be fully complied with, the escrow is said to be ‘in perfection’ and can close. Once the financial settlement takes place, documents are recorded and the title insurance policies are then issued.

(from Title360 Seller’s Guide)

Thinking of selling? 
Download a FREE 26 page Home Guide for Seller’s – Click Here to Download

See more: Buyer 101, Seller 101