Selling a Probate Property in 6 Steps: Practical Tips for Beneficiaries

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Selling a probate property is a study in patience. It’s important to let probate run its proper course.

The goal of this court-supervised process is to pay the estate’s debts, and to make sure the deceased person’s chosen beneficiaries receive the value they’ve been promised through the will. The conveyance of a home receives special scrutiny, as it’s typically one of the largest assets a person leaves behind.

Under the court’s watch, the executor or administrator must first be officially approved. This executor must take an inventory of the estate and correctly identify — and notify — potential creditors and beneficiaries. Anyone who rejects their potential claim to the estate must sign a disclaimer of interest.

There’s a good reason for every step in the process, and for taking each step according to the probate court’s rules. Following all the legal requirements supports the integrity of the home title. So, if you are an executor or a beneficiary who expects to sell real property from an estate, here are the steps to take, and tips to help you prepare.

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You Can Buy a Tesla with Bitcoin. How About a House?

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Tesla will accept your Bitcoin when you buy your new self-driving car. Taking note, Realtor.com looked around — and yes, there are home sellers accepting cryptocurrency, too. Most of the homes that can be purchased with Bitcoin are in Florida, New York and California. But a few are popping up in the heartland.

Exchanging a home for Bitcoin could reward a seller in the long run, if the coin continues its phenomenal rise. For the buyer, it’s an adventure. And it’s a chance to transform digital assets into real estate. Bitcoin is becoming serious money, now that PayPal and other big-name payment channels are making it easy to spend. And for international buyers, digital coins have a universal status.

In the end, even if a buyer doesn’t pay for the house in Bitcoin, advertising that a home can be bought for Bitcoin is a great marketing strategy. These stories are still novelties, and they get picked up by multiple media outlets.

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Mortgage Approvals: The New Landscape for Post-Pandemic Home Buyers

It’s now obvious: the mortgage lending industry is forever changed. Here’s what happened — and what’s likely to come next.

The Year of Minimum-Risk Lending

Image of a person signing documents. Captioned: Mortgage Approvals: The New Landscape for Post-Pandemic Home Buyers

Back in April 2020, we noted that mortgage lenders were getting tougher on loan applicants. Perversely, the borrowers who stood to benefit most from the low interest rates that led to a refinancing boom were the ones who faced the highest barriers to access. Lenders scrutinized any changes in applicants’ work lives, income and credit profiles, looking for signs of instability.

Banks are traditionally uncomfortable with non-salaried applicants and volatile income streams. Without a continual stream of W2 wage income, applicants are often considered too risky. Some mortgage companies simply stopped working with applicants outside the Qualified Mortgage (QM) category in 2020. Even the companies that had, pre-pandemic, used their professional discretion to help viable borrowers. Even the ones that specialized in out-of-the-box loans.

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Types, Titles & Taxes: What to Know Before You Buy a Mobile Home

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Mobile homes are popular choices throughout the United States. They’re popular in Pennsylvania, big news in Florida, and in high demand across the southern, western, and midwestern regions of the country. They’ll likely do very well in the months ahead. In a pricey market, mobile home ownership (property tax included) is relatively inexpensive. Buying a mobile home can be a path to ownership for hopeful buyers recovering from pandemic-related challenges.

So, where do you start shopping for a mobile home? What type of land arrangement should you choose? What do you need to know about your home’s title, financing options, and taxes? Let’s explore the world of mobile home buying and set out a plan.

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Buying a Fixer-Upper: What Are the Best Financing Options?

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So, you’ve found a diamond in the rough. After major renovations, it will be the perfect home for you. What kind of financing will you need to make it happen?

There are several ways to go here. Let’s check out the various rehab loans that can enable you to create and customize your future home, or upgrade the home you have now.

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For Home Sellers: Capital Gains Tax 101

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Many people sell their homes for more than they cost in the first place. If you are in this fortunate situation, and your home has appreciated in value, you could be required to pay capital gain taxes — not on the whole sale, but on the profit your home has earned for you over time.

Homes are investments, offering an important path to financial independence. Read more about the appreciation of a home’s value on Deeds.com.

Now, the good news for many homeowners. The IRS allows the seller to exclude a significant amount of a home sale profit from capital gains tax. (Whew!)

This article offers general information on home sales and taxes for the homeowner who is planning to sell. Note that your state may regard some or all of your capital gains as taxable income. In this article, we focus on federal law and policy.  

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Solving Title Problems for a Home with a Previous Foreclosure

Image of a person standing inside a house looking at paperwork. Captioned: Solving Title Problems for a Home with a Previous Foreclosure

A foreclosure usually means a previous owner fell into default on the mortgage. When there’s an unpaid mortgage debt, the lender can put a lien on the property, and ultimately claim the property itself. Foreclosures can also happen due to a neglected tax lien, or some other kind of lien.

But there’s just one question we’re going to explore here. If you decide to purchase a foreclosed home, what problems could arise later? Let’s dive right in and look one of the stickiest situations: a legal challenge from the former owner.

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Rising Stars in Construction Tech: 3D Printed Houses

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3D printing technology, which applies robotic automation to materials, is making some notable inroads. Let’s take a brief tour of what’s out there.

From the East Coast…

Recently, a 3D printed house in New York was listed for about $300,000 on Zillow. The home is advertised as “a piece of history.” Yet its price is competitive with — actually, a bit lower than — homes with comparable floor plans in the area.

The home’s manufacturer, the Long Island company SQ4D Inc., used an Autonomous Robotic Construction System, or ARCS — a very large 3D printer. The ARCS system laid the concrete foundation, created walls, and built the base of the carport one layer at a time. It additionally set up the basic systems and utility lines for the 1,900-square-foot home.

In this process, concrete is extruded through the printer. Then it must quickly strengthen, to receive the load of all higher layers. Each layer must rapidly bond to the next. The printing phase spans just eight days, constructing about 40% of the building. Then, the human construction workers come onto the scene to complete the work. You can watch the printing in action here.

To the West Coast…

Oakland’s Mighty Buildings company offers modular dwelling units, or studios, made with a proprietary form of synthetic stone. The 350-square-foot buildings are totally 3D printed and connected to utilities. Joined-up multiple units (“duo” or “quatro” options) form larger structures. Still larger home designs involve bringing whole 3D-printed panels to the worksite. Here’s how it works, from zoning and permitting to moving in. The company also works with lenders and enables financing for the studios.

The goal of Mighty Buildings is to work collaboratively with other builders worldwide, starting in southern California. The company’s leadership believes 3D printing could transform mass residential construction.

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All About Escrow

How Escrow Helps Home Buyers—And When It Hurts

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Through an escrow arrangement, a neutral go-between holds onto documents or collateral while a transaction is underway. Escrow providers usually charge the parties a fee to accept and hold the assets, redistribute the funds pursuant to the parties’ agreement, and ultimately close the escrow account.

When you’re buying a home, there are two main types of escrow accounts to expect:

  • An escrow account for the home purchase. The escrow arrangement sees to it that everyone performs as promised in the purchase agreement, and that each side’s value is protected until the parties come through on their commitments to each other.
  • An escrow account for your mortgage company. This is the common way of distributing a home buyer’s payments for homeowner’s insurance and taxes. The lender can be sure, this way, that timely payments keep your house insured, and the title clear of tax debt.

Here, we look at both kinds of escrow — the account used until you close on your home, and the account used after closing, complementing your monthly mortgage payments with insurance and tax payments.

We’ll also review the case against the second kind of escrow.

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What’s the Latest on Covid Mortgage Relief?

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The American Rescue Plan, accompanied by $1.9 trillion in stimulus funding, includes $10 billion in mortgage payment relief for homeowners affected by the massive workforce disruptions of 2020. Still more funding is marked to help homeowners get back on track with their insurance, utility bills and property taxes, and to assist USDA mortgage holders in need.

With more than two million homeowners “seriously delinquent” on their mortgage payments, according to Black Knight, more than 600,000 forbearance plans are at the verge of expiring. Loan servicers, directed to offer 180 days of forbearance by the CARES Act of 2020, have extended forbearance in 90-day chunks. Households may now either receive forbearance extensions until June, or begin paying back the accumulated debt. Mortgage servicers are deciding whether to allow extensions based on new federal permissions for up to 18 months of forbearance for early adopters of the option.

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