Century 21 AA Realty

How to Work With Clients Who Are Using a Power of Attorney

May 2nd, 2017

By Deborah Kearns

Under extenuating circumstances, buyers or sellers may need a Power of Attorney authorizing someone else to act on their behalf in a real estate transaction. It’s critical for agents to understand how to process a transaction when the buyer or seller can’t physically be present to sign documents at or before a closing.

So what exactly is a “Power of Attorney,” or POA? It’s a legal document that grants authority for someone to act as an agent (or “attorney-in-fact”) on behalf of someone else who is incapacitated or unable to be present to sign legal documents (a military deployment or business trip overseas, for example). In a home purchase or sale, an attorney-in-fact under a POA may sign certain transactional paperwork on behalf of the buyer or seller.

When working with clients who intend to use a POA in a transaction, you should have the principal provide a copy of the POA form to the title company immediately for review and approval; it is possible that it could take a few weeks to review the documentation and do the legwork to confirm its validity.

As a closing agent, it is our role to ensure the POA form complies with the title underwriter’s guidelines. Each lender also has its own policies and criteria for using a POA, so it’s important that you provide the POA as early in the process as possible to remedy any issues that might arise and ensure a smooth closing.

Anytime a POA is presented you should ask whether or not the principal is incapacitated. Understanding the reason why a POA is being used will help determine whether additional evidence is needed to evaluate the legal competence of the principal and the necessity for a POA. The principal’s physician will typically provide a signed letter to confirm incapacity, and you’ll need that documentation (dated within six months) for approval of the POA form.

In a majority of cases, the principal should sign deed documents in person if they’re available, rather than having someone else do so. If a seller, for example, is leaving town prior to closing, you should make arrangements for them to sign the deed before they leave. 

Generally, a POA should list the property being sold or mortgaged, and it should be dated within the last six months in order to meet underwriting regulations. You’ll want to look at the POA form to ensure there are no limitations on the power to act, and for any date of termination.

Don’t forget that a POA must be recorded in the appropriate Recorder’s Office. If you have a POA that is expired, or if the scope of the powers does not include the transfer of real estate ownership, call your escrow officer for assistance.
 
Deborah Kearns is an award-winning writer based in Denver with more than a decade of experience in corporate communications and news journalism. She has covered the real estate industry for more than seven years.

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a statement of the law, and is not to be construed as legal, tax or investment advice.  You are encouraged to consult your legal, tax or investment professional for specific advice.  The material is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only.  Although the information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, no representation is made as to its accuracy. 

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Refresh Your Home, Room by Room

April 4th, 2017

(Family Features)–Spring is a sensible time to refresh and restore your home after heavy indoor use during winter. It's also an opportunity to conduct overdue home maintenance and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Tackle the project room by room with these tips from the experts at Office Depot to make the work feel more manageable and ensure you complete a thoroughly satisfying job.

Entryway
The main entrance, whether it's the front door or a mudroom entrance off the garage, tends to become a dumping ground where items are shed with each trip through the door. You may have to wade through some clutter to make headway, but after a thorough cleaning of the furniture, floors and walls in this space, your next challenge is making sense of all the mess.

One solution is assigning designated storage spaces for each family member. A series of plastic storage boxes or cubby-style organizers can help contain possessions like shoes, backpacks, handbags and more. Rely on stylish hooks or a coat tree for extra storage. Put your finishing touch on the freshly cleaned entryway with some pops of color and personality, such as cheerful wall art and a welcoming rug.

Home Office
If there's any room that comes close to the clutter of the entryway, it's the home office. A major difference is that generally, office messes come in the form of paperwork, and paper can actually be organized quite easily.

Sorting is the best first step, so you know exactly what you're up against. Create piles for all the different types of paper you're likely to encounter, from bills and to-do lists to the kids' school work. Separate other items by category, such medical records and financial documents or art supplies and books, into piles of their own.

There are dozens of options when it comes to home filing systems. Consider keeping current documents in a location you can access at your fingertips, such as a hanging file drawer or a desktop filer. Labeled tabs and color-coded folders can help make frequently used documents more easily accessible.

For archival materials, such as tax returns and insurance policies that you're likely to consult infrequently, a secure but separate storage solution makes more sense. Drawer labels and colored hanging file pockets paired with a categorical or alphabetical organization system can make it easy to dispose of unwanted clutter without tossing important papers.

Once you've dealt with all the paperwork, don't overlook important details like dusting the computer desk and screen to make your freshly cleaned office extra inviting. Adding a stylish, functional centerpiece can also help you stay organized now and in the future.

Kitchen
Because it's likely the most used room in the house, the kitchen sees a fair bit of cleaning year-round. However, in any busy household it's easy to let deeper cleaning slide. While you're tackling the rest of the house, take time to give the kitchen its due. Mop the floors, disinfect all surfaces and remove clutter that has accumulated, including old and out-of-date food from the refrigerator and pantry.

Because consumables are such an integral part of this space, it's a good idea to use green cleaning products that won't leave harmful residues on your cooking surfaces or distribute contaminants into the air.

Bedrooms
When warm spring weather arrives, throwing open the windows to circulate fresh air can be one of the most welcoming ways to wake up the bedroom after long winter months. Freshly washed linens and a flipped or rotated mattress can also give the room a freshness you can see and feel.

Beyond the typical chores like vacuuming and dusting, don't forget dusty baseboards and make sure to wipe down any glass or mirrored surfaces for extra shine. Another way to make a big difference is organizing items that exceed the storage capacity of your furniture. In the bedroom itself, a trunk at the foot of the bed or a wardrobe organizer that complements your other furnishings is a smart bet.

In the closet, you can repurpose common office supplies and organizers to make the most of limited space. For example, adhesive hooks are perfect for handbags, necklaces and scarves. Lightweight shelving or cubbies make it easy to confine shoes, and for an assortment of accessories and knick-knacks, try stacking plastic bins. Another idea to maximize drawer space in your dresser: move undergarments and socks into a portable storage cart with trays or drawers that fits neatly in the closet.

Multi-Purpose Rooms
Sometimes space dictates that each room in the house cannot be dedicated to just one purpose, but combining multiple spaces – such as a home office and craft room, den or storage area – can often lead to clutter accumulating. Start by organizing things into piles based on which part of the space is best suited for each item. 

Also, take time to check for broken items or ones you haven't used in a while and determine what can be repaired, donated or discarded. Once everything has been properly sorted, store any items that didn't previously have a home. Hanging items that are used often for crafting is one way to make creative use of your space and free up space for additional furniture or storage, such as shelving or attractive totes.Source: OfficeDepot.com.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Home Security Systems: What to Know before Buying

March 1st, 2017

By Barbara Pronin

Everyone wants to protect their home, their property, and most of all, their families. In fact, market research suggests the home security business is growing at a rate of about 9 percent a year. But home security systems are not all alike.

Some systems can not only warn you of intruders, but can also notify authorities, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and/or include video surveillance. Mot security alarm installers can provide services that include equipment plus installation and monitoring service.

If you are thinking about buying a home security system, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you:

- Get references from friends, neighbors or relatives.

- Check out companies online and check the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

- Verify that the contractor’s license is in good standing via the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies.

- Get written estimates from several companies.

- Read the fine print regarding costs, installation timeline, warranty, and an explanation of your right to cancel within three days of signing a contract.

- Ask lots of questions:

  • Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
  • What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
  • How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
  • Does the company call you before notifying the police?
  • How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
  • What happens if the alarm company can't reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
  • What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
  • What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
  • Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?

- Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Tips for Finding the Perfect Vacation Home

February 7th, 2017

By Maria Patterson

For many, a small, pricey hotel room is no way to vacation. Many would prefer instead the space and creature comforts of a home away from home.

Renting a home, however, is not like booking a hotel.  Hotels come with a lot of predictability in terms of size, location and amenities. With a vacation home, however, you're leaving a bit to chance. Follow these tips from the travel experts at Frommers to eliminate as many surprises as possible when booking a vacation home:

Really know what you want. Figure out your priorities, says Frommers. Maybe a full kitchen is a must for you or maybe you need to be right on the beach. Make your decision based on your biggest priorities and save money by sacrificing factors that aren’t as important to you.

"Authenticate" the property. Don’t just rely on one site. When you’ve found a home you think is "the one" do your due diligence and check it out on other sites, social media and through customer reviews.

Check out the owner. Do some research and find out who you’re renting the property from. Are they new to the vacation rental experience or have they been at it a while? Connect with them on social media to get a sense of who they are and what others have to say about them. You want to make sure you're renting from a reliable source.

Corral your group. If you’re traveling with a group of extended family and friends, establish the ground rules up front. Find out what everyone’s priorities and needs are, including what they’re willing to spend. If your group is too large or too diverse personality-wise, you may be better off getting separate condos in the same development to give everyone a little breathing room and avoid conflict.

Find out what comes with the home. Do you need to bring your own sheets? How about beach chairs or grilling tools? If such details aren’t readily available on the rental site, correspond with the owner. This will save you the time and expense of having to run out and buy supplies when you arrive.

Know your contract. Every vacation rental owner has different rules, especially when it comes to cleaning and repairs. Do a walk-through when you arrive and contact the owner immediately if anything appears broken or damaged.

Remain flexible. Remember, a home is not a hotel. There is no room service, housekeeping or maintenance to call when a need arises, so be ready to troubleshoot and roll with the punches.
With a little bit of extra research, you can spread out and enjoy the space, privacy and flexibility of a vacation rental.

I hope you found these tips useful. Contact me for more helpful home advice and real estate information.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Four Things Not to Do when Putting Your Home on the Market

January 4th, 2017

By Zoe Eisenberg

So you've decided to put your home on the market. Congratulations! Hopefully, you've brought a rockin' REALTOR® on board to help you list your spot, and together you've done your due diligence on what to ask for. As you start checking things off your to-do list, it's also important to pay mind of what not to do. Below are a handful of things to get you started.
 
Don't over-improve.
As you ready your home for sale, you may realize you will get a great return on your investment if you make a couple of changes. Updating the appliances or replacing that cracked cabinet in the bathroom are all great ideas; however, it's important not to over-improve, or make improvements that are hyper-specific to your tastes. For example, not everyone wants a pimped-out finished basement equipped with a wet bar and lifted stage for their rock-and-roll buds to jam out on. (Okay, everyone should want that.) What if your buyers are family-oriented and want a basement space for their kids to play in? That rock-and-roll room may look to them like a huge project to un-do. Make any needed fixes to your space, but don't go above and beyond—you may lose money doing so.
 
Don't over-decorate.
Over-decorating is just as bad as over-improving. You may love the look of lace and lavender, but your potential buyer may enter your home and cringe. When prepping for sale, neutralize your decorating scheme so it's more universally palatable.
 
Don't hang around.
Your agent calls to let you know they will be bringing buyers by this afternoon. Great! You rally your whole family, Fluffy the dog included, to be waiting at the door with fresh baked cookies and big smiles. Right? Wrong. Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. Trust, it's awkward for them to go about judging your home while you stand in the corner smiling like a maniac. Get out of the house, take the kids with you, and if you can't leave for whatever reason, at least go sit in the backyard. (On the other hand, if you're buying a home and not selling, then making it personal is the way to go, especially when writing your offer letter. Pull those heart strings!)
 
Don't take things personal.
Real estate is a business, but buying and selling homes is very, very emotional. However, when selling your home, try your very best not to take things personally. When a buyer lowballs you or says they will need to replace your prized 1970s vintage shag carpet with something "more modern," try not to raise your hackles.
 
Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia's senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.
 
This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Fall into Home Maintenance

October 26th, 2016

As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, the urge to lounge on the couch by the fireplace becomes powerful. But before you start your winter hibernation, it’s imperative to take care of certain fall maintenance projects around your home.
 
Start by checking the outside of your home for peeling or blistering paint, which can be a sign that the existing paint film is failing and can no longer protect the siding, says Carl Minchew of Benjamin Moore Paints. Take care of it now, or risk more expensive repairs come spring.
 
Check for drafts around windows and door frames and caulk as needed in order to keep your home properly heated as temperatures drop.
 
Call the chimney sweep and schedule an appointment to have your fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned. Fall is peak season for these professionals, so the sooner you can get on their calendar, the better. Cleaning the chimney will remove creosote buildup and reduce the risk of dangerous chimney fires.
 
Clean and replace filters in your heating system to ensure optimal performance.
 
If your driveway suffers cracks and potholes, now is the time to have it sealed. This will prevent further, more costly damage from ice and snow in the months to come.
 
Assess the current state of your yard and deck and take care of the following: Clean and properly store equipment you won’t be using, such as lawn mowers and weed whackers; clean and cover your grill and deck furniture; turn off outside hose valves to prevent pipes from freezing.
 
Follow this protocol in your garden: Empty soil from ceramic pots—otherwise the soil will freeze and crack them; plant your spring bulbs; divide and replant perennials; trim dead branches; rake and use leaves for mulch.
 
Your reward for taking care of your home now is a safe winter and an easy, less costly transition into spring.
 
For more information about fall maintenance projects you should add to your to-do list, contact our office today.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Increase Your Home’s Value with a Fresh Coat of Paint

September 30th, 2016

Getting ready to sell your house or condo? One of the easiest home improvements to get buyers' attention is a fresh coat of paint. Plus it's a cost-effective fix that will make your home look updated—which can translate to increased value. Sara McLean, color expert and blogger for Dunn-Edwards Paints, offers tips on how to choose interior colors that appeal to most people.

  • First, she cautions on painting everything white or beige, because your home might end up looking more like an apartment, rather than upscale.
  • Stick to earth tones and nature-based colors. Warm browns and milky tans—think latte. Light greens and blues are classy, and even some reds and oranges.  Warm grays are popular now, rather than cool grays.
  • Take the flooring into consideration and lay your color chips on the floor to see how they pair.  Warm tones tend to look better with most hardwood, whereas tile, terrazzo or carpet may dictate other colors.
  • While neutrals are safe, don't make the entire home so neutral that it's boring. An occasional accent wall in a darker or complementary shade adds a designer look.
  • Give a room life without being personal. Many people have a visceral reaction to bold colors and buyers' first thought is that they will need to repaint.
  • Kitchens and baths work well with a little more color to brighten up and make them fresh, clean and inviting.
  • In the kitchen, soft buttery yellows with slight brown undertones are popular, happy colors. Olive and sage greens make it feel garden-y and fresh. If you don't have a tile backsplash, create one with an eggshell or semi-gloss paint—either a solid color or with a decorative stencil.
  • Baths, laundry rooms and powders can incorporate brighter colors because they're smaller—play with color a little bit. Oranges and reds are trending now and through next year, as well as teal and turquoise.

"Once you have chosen a color, pick up a few samples and paint a section of the wall near permanent structures like fireplaces, flooring and cabinetry," McLean recommends. "Live with the samples at least a full a day to see them in all light sources. What looks light and bright in the morning, may look dungeon-y at night."

Next step, she advises, is to choose the gloss level. Flat, velvet or eggshell are­ good for interior walls, while a higher sheen looks pretty on trim and in kitchens and bathrooms. The higher gloss levels are easier to clean, so they are ideal for high traffic areas. Look for trim paint that is water-based but with the upscale look of oil-based.

Source: www.dunnedwards.com

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

4 Tips to Consider When Moving to a New State

August 25th, 2016

Relocating to a new state offers the opportunity to start fresh and experience a life you may not have otherwise planned. But, like anything new, moving can present its own unique challenges, from organizing what to bring and discard, to deciding where to enroll the kids in school, to ensuring everyone remains happy and positive. Truly, the devil is in the details.

But because deciding where to move is the easy part, it's wise to cobble together a moving checklist to ensure you're not excluding any items to make your new house a home. Check out these helpful tips that will make your out-of-state move as seamless as possible.

Create a Checklist and Budget
Getting organized is one of the keys to a successful move. The best way to start is by creating a checklist. For example, in addition to packing and arranging moving services, you will need to:

  • Change your address and phone number
  • Update your billing and credit card information
  • Update your insurance policies
  • Obtain a new driver's license and plates

After creating this checklist, organize it chronologically into a calendar. For instance, you might start sorting through your belongings and research moving companies two months before your move, order moving supplies six weeks ahead of your move, and start packing and scheduling moving services a month ahead of time. Real Simple provides a sample calendar checklist that you can modify.

As you develop your checklist and calendar, you should also start planning a budget for the items on your list. Moving out of state can be expensive — as much as $8,000 to $14,000 if you're moving across the country, according to Updater.com. Items to include in your budget include:

  • Moving company expenses
  • Costs for unpacking and assembling appliances
  • Vehicle transportation costs
  • Post-move costs for security deposits and furniture

Before Your Move
Your checklist should include a number of key items you need to complete before your move. These include researching the cost of living in your new state, scheduling moving services, conducting a home inventory in deciding what to keep or discard, and packing. You may also need to take care of arranging transportation for plants and pets, collecting important documents and paperwork (insurance and school records), and canceling utility services at your old home and activating them at your new home.

Finding the Right Movers
Choosing the right movers can make the difference between a smooth moving experience and a big hassle. Interstate moving companies are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which requires them to comply with regulations for registration, a unique Department of Transportation number and insurance. This information should be posted on their website. You can read moving company reviews and receive quotes at MovingCompanyReviews.com. When considering moving companies, find out if they will subcontract your move, which might mean some of your belongings arrive at different times than others.
 
Post-Move Follow-Up
After moving into your new home — surprise! — there are a few more items to check off your list. Some of the more high-priority items include getting acclimated and set up with your new job, finding new local healthcare providers and registering your car. DMV.org provides an online map to discover motor-vehicle registration and license plate requirements for any state. You should also make it a habit of become familiar with local traffic and safety laws in your new home state, which you can research on driving-tests.org.
 
Finally, start laying down some social roots by checking out community events and getting to know your neighbors. Soon, with any luck, your new house will start to feel like a home.
 
This post was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall.

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

5 Stress Relieving Tips For First-time Homebuyers

June 27th, 2016

By Meghan Belnap
Moving into a new place is both exciting and challenging, and that is especially true if it’s your first time as a homeowner. Instead of allowing the process to overwhelm you, keep some tips in mind to help navigate through this exciting journey in your life.

Don’t Proceed Alone
You don’t need to take on the process of searching for and buying a home without assistance. Maintain contact with a real estate agent throughout the process. A well-qualified agent can assist you in searching for the perfect property.

Open Your Mind
Right now, you may have a list of all the features that you want in a house. You may have decided that you will only live in the community with the lowest crime rate and the best schools. Keep in mind that all of these desires cost money and you probably do not have an unlimited budget. Instead of maintaining such a myopic view of your new home, open your mind to the possibility of making some concessions.

Define Your Financial Ability
Opting for a pre-approval is a good idea so you know how much of a loan you can receive approval for. Once you obtain that amount, you might decide to spend the maximum amount. Doing so will likely prove uncomfortable for your budget. If you or your partner lost your job, you might not have the ability to keep your house at all. Try to start small with your first house purchase and avoid spending money beyond your means.

Take Your Time
Once you decide that you are in the right place to buy a house, you might be so eager that you rush through the process. Weigh the pros and cons of each house you look at. If possible, plan an adequate amount of time around the buying process to ensure that you have considered all your best options.

Prepare for Other Expenses
You need to find out if you are expected to pay closing costs upfront or if you can roll them into your loan. In some areas, the sellers will agree to pay for the closing costs. Not only do you need money for these expenses, but you’ll also need to cover other costs that are associated with moving into a new house.

Buying your first home can be both terrifying and wonderful all at once. Be prepared to invest in a financial investment like this by hiring professionals and making smart decisions. If home is where the heart is, allow yourself the time and care in finding the best possible place for you and your family.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

8 Ways to Safeguard against Scams

April 5th, 2016

Scammers have devised every possible scheme—and then some—in attempts to swindle millions out of their hard-earned money. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 2.5 million consumers submitted complaints about scams in the last year alone. Knowing the signs of a con can help you avoid falling prey to these ploys, says Steve Trumble, president and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), a nationally-recognized non-profit organization.

“Scammers often use the Internet, phone, email and pop-ups in an illegal attempt to defraud millions of consumers,” says Trumble. “Understanding all the different outlets and mechanisms used by scammers, and how to best guard against fraud, can help consumers avoid falling for common traps. In an effort to assist consumers, we have created a set of tips to help effectively avoid scams.”

These tips are:

1. Read all statements. Read through all of your bank and credit statements to check for charges you are unfamiliar with. Be sure to report unrecognizable transactions immediately.

2. Do not send money to strangers. Many scammers try to get consumers to wire money. If you are purchasing goods through an online auction, consider using a credit card that offers protection.

3. Do not reply to messages asking for information. Messages from unknown sources asking for financial or personal information are tricks to try to get consumers to unveil sensitive information, also known as phishing.

4. Be cautious when shopping via phone. Cell phones lack anti-virus software, which can leave consumers at risk when entering payment information. Shopping through retailers’ apps often provides more security.

5. Do not share Social Security numbers online. Legitimate websites and businesses rarely ask consumers to provide Social Security numbers.

6. Do not share personal identifying information over the phone. Never provide any personal information, including Social Security numbers or bank information, unless you have initiated the phone call and know who you are speaking with.

7. Choose credit over debit. Most credit cards come with fraud protection, which enables consumers to get their money back if they fall victim to fraud.

8. Use strong passwords. For secure accounts, create passwords that are hard to guess and include multiple numbers and characters.

And remember, Trumble says, that the most common forms of scams are fraud, identity theft, debt-in-collection and imposter schemes.

Source: ACCC

Century 21 AA Realty Long Island

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.


Suffolk: 1596 Straight Path, Lindenhurst, NY 11757 (631) 226-5995 •   Nassau: 3900 Sunrise Highway, Seaford, NY 11783 (516) 826-8100
"Each Office Is Independently Owned and Operated."
© 2008 Century 21 Real Estate LLC CENTURY 21® is a registered trademark licensed to Century 21 Real Estate LLC. Equal Housing Opportunity
Home   |   For Buyers   |   For Sellers   |   Become an Agent   |   Meet Us   |   Financing