For Sale By Owner


Are you toying with the idea of taking on the task of selling your home yourself without hiring a Real Estate Professional? Taking on the task of selling your home yourself is a huge undertaking. Typically, as a homeowner the number one reason you would consider doing a “for sale by owner” or selling your home yourself is to cut costs and save money. But in the long run are you really saving money? Well that all depends on you and your knowledge of the real estate industry.

Property for sale by owner

What is a FSBO (pronounced Fizz-bo) or For Sale by Owner? A FSBO is when the owner of home/ residential property tries to sell their home themselves without hiring a real estate agent or broker. So, if you are looking to sell your home and don’t know whether hiring an agent is for you, then continue reading.

When it comes to selling a home, there are so many factors that go in to getting your home sold. First, you need to make sure your home is presentable to potential buyers. Then, you need to make sure it is priced correctly. Next, you will want to make sure your have a solid marketing plan so that potential buyers can see that your property is available for sale. Finally, you must have the correct contracts and documents required by law to present to the buyer one you have an accepted offer. These are just a few things that you need to be ready for when selling your home, especially if you plan on doing a FSBO.

If you chose to do a FSBO, it may save you money but be prepared to put in the work. Let’s just say, there is a reason why most Realtors work in Real Estate full time. In todays market, you want to make sure that your home is priced correctly so there are no surprises when you receive offers from agents who know the industry. You also want to make sure it is priced correctly so that your home is not sitting on the market longer than it should. It is definitely a good idea to do plenty of research on comparable homes that have sold in your area over the last several months, and if you want to go the extra mile getting an appraisal can give you a good start to getting your home priced right.

Pricing your home is just the start to your FSBO; aside from pricing your home, you are going to want to make sure that your home is presentable. You want to make sure that when potential buyers view your home, they can see themselves living in the home. This may require you to have a professional come in and assess your home and maybe stage your home. Once your home is staged/presentable, you will want to make sure you have professional photos taken of your home. You want to make sure you present your home to the public in a professional manner so professional photos are a must.

Now that your home is ready for public viewing, have you thought about how you are going to market your home? It is your responsibility to get your listing in front of potential buyers. Typically, when a buyer is looking to purchase a property, they use a Real Estate Agent. Real Estate Agents use the MLS or Multiple Listing Service to pull properties for their clients and schedule showings. How will these agents and buyers see your property if its not listed on the MLS? How will they contact you to schedule showing? You may want to contact your local MLS and invest in getting your listing on the MLS. You will also need to market your property on different online platforms to get more visibility. This is where your solid marketing plan will come in handy.

You will need to be prepared to manage your listing and be ready to answer calls 24/7, schedule showing, and hold open houses. There are also disclosures and documents that you will need to have available for potential buyers that are required for you to have by law. In order to get these disclosures and forms that are required for real estate transaction, you will need to contact your local board of realtors to see if you can purchase these forms as they are typically not available to the public.

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? There is so much that goes in to selling a house, this is just a quick breakdown of the most important elements to get you started if you decide to go the “For Sale by Owner” route. But if you are feeling overwhelmed so far using a Real Estate Agent will take all the stress out of selling your home away. You will not have to worry about pricing your home, your Agent will run comps and make sure your home is priced to sell. Your Real Estate Agent has access to the MLS and will make sure your property is in the MLS and ready to go. Your Real Estate Agent will market your property in several different ways, and they have access to a book of business that will get your property in front of more potential buyers. And not to mention, your Real Estate Agent will schedule showing and hold open houses.

One thing to remember is that selling a home is a legal transaction, that requires knowledge of the real estate laws and industry. The last thing you would want on your hands is a lawsuit because of something that was done incorrectly in your transaction. 

Now that you have a bit of understand of what is needed for a FSBO, it is up to you to decide if FSBO is the way to go to get your home sold or hiring a Real Estate professional.

Talking to Real Estate Agent


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The 5 Pages of the Closing Disclosure Broken Down

The Closing Disclosure

Buying or Selling a home is an exciting time. Although it could be overwhelming and stressful, it is a time of new beginnings. Throughout the process of buying or selling a home there are so many things that you will learn along the way. Some things will seem easy to grasps while other will go right over your head. The best thing you can do during your home buying or selling process is to ask questions. One of the most important documents that you will need to read and understand is your Closing Disclosure.

The Closing Disclosure is a document that you will receive from your Lender to review. Your lender is required by law to send you the Closing Disclosure at least three business days before you close the close of escrow. The reason they must send this to you at least three business days before you close is to give you time to review the documents, ask questions, and get any necessary adjustments made to the closing disclosure before the close of escrow. 

The closing disclosure outlines the final details of your loan, including the loan terms, your monthly payments, interest rate, your loan amount, purchase price, and closing costs. These are just a few items that will be included in your closing disclosure. When reviewing your closing disclosure, you want to review it thoroughly. Here is a list of some items that you may want to look at closely on the closing disclosure by page:

The Pages of the Closing Disclosure

reviewing the closing disclosure

Page 1:

General Closing Information: In this section of the closing disclosure, you will want to make sure that all the basic information is correct. Does your lender have the correct closing date, title company, property address, and sales price?

Transaction Information (top middle of the 1st page): Under the “Borrower” section, make sure that your name is spelled correctly, and that the lender has the correct address for you.

Loan Information: It is very important that you check the loan terms in this section, make sure they are what you were expecting. This section will give you your loan term, what the purpose of the loan is for, and the type of loan you have.

Loan Terms: This section is important for you to review as it will have your loan amount, interest rate, and your Monthly payment amount (Principal & Interest Only). Also, something to glance at is just to the right of information, there are yes, no wording next to the amounts, the Yes or No will tell you if the amount shown to the left can increase after closing.

Projected Payments: Don’t pass over this section, this section show you’re your estimated total monthly payments which includes a breakdown of your Principal & Interest plus mortgage insurance and estimated escrow all together in one estimated total. If these numbers don’t look correct or not what you were thinking, reach out to your lender.

Costs at Closing: Your closing costs include any loan costs as well as any additional cost that sometimes includes, HOA payments, recording Fees, title fees, etc. It also show the cash to close, which is the amount of money you will need to bring to closing.

Page 2:

Loan Costs: This section provides you with a breakdown of loan origination charges, third party service provider fees, and any title/escrow fees. If you have questions about these fees, now is the time to ask your lender.

Other Costs: This section will have the breakdown of your recording fees, anything that will need to be prepaid at the close of escrow (homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance, property taxes), HOA fees, home inspection fee, title insurance. Be sure to double check your cost and make sure that the fees you are being charged are the things you are paying for, sometimes depending on your contract the Seller will pay for some of these items. If you are not sure, ask your lender or your escrow officer to help you with the breakdown of the Other Costs.

Page 3:

Calculating Cash to Close: On page 1 of the closing disclosure under cost at closing, there was an amount that you need to bring to closing for your cash to close. This section gives you a full breakdown of the money needed to close.

Summaries of Transaction: This section gives you a summary of the items you looked at on page 1 and 2 of the closing statements. The one thing that I would double check and look at in this section is seller credit, this will show that amount if any that the seller is crediting to the buyer. If you agreed on any credits, this is where they will be, make sure the amount is correct.

Page 4:

Loan Disclosures: Read this page carefully as it has important information regarding late loan payment, partial loan payments, and your escrow account with you lender if you have one.

Page 5:

Loan Calculation: This section shows the breakdown of your loan.

Other Disclosure: Read this section as it will have more information on your appraisal, liability after foreclosure, and a few more items that are important to read for your own understanding and knowledge.

Contact Information: This section is self-explanatory, it has the contact information for your lender, realtor, and escrow company.

Confirm Receipt: You will need to sign this section as soon as possible. This is only confirming that you received the closing disclosure, not that you accept any terms of it.

Now that you have an overview of what to look for on your closing disclosure, make sure as soon as your lender sends it to you, look over it and ask your questions as soon as possible. Your closing disclosure is a breakdown of every fee pertaining to your loan, so don’t just gloss over it. 


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The Purpose Of An HOA

When purchasing a home, you may notice that many of the homes that you look at are a part of an HOA
or Homeowners Association. Now, what exactly is an HOA or Homeowners Association? A Homeowners
Association is a corporation, non-profit, or some sort of governing body created by the developer
of a community to uphold and enrich the property values. HOAs are run and funded by the residents of
the community and have a board of directors that maintain the day-to-day activities of the HOA. The
board of directors maintains the budget and enforces rules and regulations based on the community
bylaws. The purpose of any good Homeowners Association is to ensure that the community is well
maintained so that the value of your property goes up.


Typically, when you purchase a condo, townhouse, a house in a planned community, or a house in a
gated community you will be a part of an HOA. Once you purchase a property in a community with an
HOA, you automatically become a member of the HOA, and you will be expected to pay your HOA
Dues/HOA Fees on time based on your payment frequency. You will need to make sure you read any
HOA information that you receive from your Escrow Officer or Real Estate agent carefully. Some
information that you receive will be the HOA’s Rules and Regulations, Bylaws and the Declaration of
Covenants, Conditions and Restriction (CC&R’s). These documents will lay out the rules of your
community and the do’s and don’ts of what you can do in your community. For example, if you live in a
condo community your HOA may not allow you to have a cluttered patio area or a gas grill on your patio
area. Or you may have restrictions on how many guests you can have parking in your community on any
given day. You must be aware that if you do not follow the rules of the HOA, they will fine you and send
you a warning notice. So, read over your HOA documents carefully and if you have questions, ask your
Real Estate Agent as soon as you receive these documents from the seller for review during the escrow

Some people absolutely love living in a community that has an HOA, and others will never live in a
community that has an HOA. It is a personal preference when it comes to purchasing a home that is in a
community that has a Homeowners Association. If you are someone who loves living in a community that is well
maintained, has a pool area, fitness center, and recreation center that is inviting and clean then living in
a community with an HOA is for you. If you want the value of your home to remain or increase over
time, then living in a community with an HOA is for you. If you do not mind living in a community that
allows for broken-down cars to line your streets or if you don’t mind your neighbors having a home that
looks like trash with weeds in the yard, foundation cracking, and their home bringing down the value of
your home then a community with no Homeowners Asssociation is for you. Not saying that all communities with no HOA are
like this but there are some.

With all things that come with purchasing a home, there is no exception that there will be pros and cons
to living in a community with or without and HOA. When you are looking at homes, do your research on
the community and don’t be afraid to talk to the people that live in the community. Ask them question
about the community and how they feel about the Homeowners Association. You will be surprised at how willing people are
to talk to their potential new neighbors. You just need to determine if you would like to live in a
community with a Homeowners Association.

The post The Purpose Of An HOA appeared first on Oakwood Escrow.

New Year New Goals

3 Steps for Setting and Achieving Goals

It’s a New Year, which means setting and achieving goals. It’s time for a fresh start or it’s time to do a self-check in/self-evaluation. 

The New Year typically brings out a sense of a “fresh start” for most people. Starting a new year is like a huge reset on your life, which is why it is so important to set new goals for yourself every year. Setting goals helps you to grow and improve as an individual; the goals that you set can be as big or as small as you want them to be, but you must set some kind of goal to get you moving forward. Having goals can help you grow and improve as an individual because setting your personal goals gives you a bit of a guide on where you want to be and will allow you to check-in with yourself along the way to see how close you are to achieving your goals. 

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.” —Mark Victor Hansen

Are you ready to set some goals? I know starting the process of setting your goals can be a bit overwhelming, but if you use this 3-step method of setting your goals, you will be sure to achieve them.

Here’s are the 3 quick and easy steps that will help you with setting your goals and achieving them: 

planner for achieving goals

Step 1: Set SMART goals 


For example, instead of “Buy a house” you will set a SMART goal like this “I will buy my own home and make it cozy and comfortable for me by December 31, 2020”. 

Step 2: Breakdown your goals 

Break down your main goal into small mini goals or goal tasks that will help you achieve your main goal. Make sure to have a specific date that you will complete your mini goals/tasks by. If you need help breaking down your main goal to mini goals or task, ask yourself… 

How am I going to achieve my goal? What do I need to do in order to achieve my goal? 

For example (assuming you already know what where to start with the home buying process): 

Main Goal = I will buy my own home and make it cozy and comfortable for me by December 31, 2020. 

Mini Goals/Tasks 

  1. I will reach out to a mortgage broker/lender to see where I stand with my credit and ask questions that I have in regards to the mortgage process, and start implementing any suggestions that my mortgage broker/lender has for me by March 15, 2020.
  2. Once I have my credit where I need it to be, I will reach out to my mortgage broker/lender for a Pre-Approval letter to see how much I qualify to purchase a home by May 30, 2020. 
  3. I will find a realtor to help me with the home buying process and to start looking at properties to purchase by June 15, 2020 

Step 3: Take Action!

This is the most important step. Now that you know what your main goal is and you know what steps/tasks you need to take to achieve your goal, it’s time to start taking action to achieve your goals. Start checking off your mini goals/tasks, and if you are anything like me you may want to treat yourself after every task you complete. Your goals only work if you do, it’s time to put in the work.


With these 3 simple steps to help you set your goals, you will be able to reach your goals quicker than you ever imagined. Let’s get started and achieve our goals!

The post New Year New Goals appeared first on Oakwood Escrow.

Oakwood Escrow 2020-01-03 13:31:47

Now That You Have Purchased Your New Home, What’s Next?


Congratulations, you purchased a home. Not just any home, your dream home. A place to build new memories and a place that is your own.

I know you are in the honeymoon stage of purchasing and moving into your home, but there are some things that you should do the within the first year of owning your home. If this is your first home, then you may feel excited and overwhelmed. Purchasing a home is a huge responsibility that requires upkeep and maintenance for which you are now responsible. Here are a few tips to help take some stress away.

1.      Protect your new home with good record keeping.

Get a safe, filing cabinet, or some other system to store all your paperwork from the purchase of your home. Keep a copy of your signed purchase agreement, preliminary title report, inspection reports, addendum, and especially a copy of the deed to your house along with any signed loan documents from your lender. You want to keep these items in a safe, secure place because you never know when or if you may need them.

2.      Protect your other belongings.

Take inventory of your home. Make a spreadsheet of all your valuables, take photos of everything, and keep them secured on the cloud. Recovering damaged items is much easier for you and your homeowner’s insurance company should an accident occur when you have an itemized list, photos, and receipts.

3.      Prepare to maintain your home.

Make a “house” binder. Having a house binder that has everything you need for the maintenance of your home at your fingertips is one the best things that you can do as a homeowner. Your house binder should include the following items to get you started:

  1. Contact information for your Homeowner’s Insurance company, your policy information, and your policy # for easy access.
  2. Contact information for your Home Warranty, your home warranty plan number, and your home warranty coverage/plan.
  3. A list of vendors you use for your home, i.e. landscaper, general handyman, gas/electric, garbage service, housekeeper, etc.
  4. Invoices from work that has been done on the house
  5. Maintenance Plan/Schedule for your home. You can use an excel spreadsheet that will have the items that need to be completed each year like changing the air filters, checking the smoke detector, power washing your exterior, roof check, water filter check/replacement. Basically, any little thing that needs to be done to your home yearly to keep up the maintenance on your home.
  6. A section for any future project that you would like to do to your home.

You can add so much to your “house” binder, it is just a tool to keep you organized and up to date with the management of your house.

4.      Start an emergency fund for your home.

Start an emergency fund for your home. You want to be prepared if any surprises pop up in your home and have money set aside to cover any repairs that need to be made last minute.

5.      Know your home.

You need to know your home. Let’s say a pipe has burst and water is going everywhere. Do you know where you shut-off valve is for your water? If your toilet is overflowing, do you know how to stop the water flow? Do you know where your circuit breaker is and where the main shut-off switch is? Well, these are things you should know to help as the first defense to many problems that may arise while owning a home. Take the time to get to know your home. Map out the critical items of your home and add it to your house binder.

Conclusion—The first year of your new home should prepare you and help you protect this important investment.

These tips will help be a hands-on homeowner and will keep you well organized and prepared should anything come your way. Buying a home is a considerable investment, so make sure you nurture and maintain your investment to the best of your abilities.


That Age-Old Question—Should I Rent or Buy? The Advantages of Each

Should You Buy a Home or Rent?

With the increase in rental rates and property prices, it is becoming more challenging to determine if buying a home is the way to go. According to CNBC, California is #2 of the Top 10 most expensive state to live in 2019, so if you are an average working citizen, is it better to rent or purchase a home? Honestly? There is no real answer to this question. Renting vs. buying is a decision that should be made based on the needs and finances of the individual.

Buying a Home vs. Renting—The Advantages of Each

When you are deciding whether purchasing a home or renting is right for you, there are a few things to consider. As we all know, owning your own home is the “American Dream,” but is it a reality? Deciding to rent or buy comes down to what you can afford. The first thing you should do in determining if you should rent or buy is to figure out what you can afford. You should take the time to do a delve deep into your finances. When assessing what you can afford, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Your Financial Health Questions

  1. Do you have any debt?
  2. Do you have enough cash for a down payment?
  3. Have you talked to a lender to see if you can get pre-approved for a loan?
  4. What is your debt to income ratio?
  5. Have you considered the expenses of owning a home?

Once you have looked at your finances, now is the time to determine if your lifestyle allows for the purchase of a home. Do you plan on living in one place for over three years? Does your job require you to travel and move around? Does the average property price in your area match what you can afford? Etc. There is no right or wrong answer with determining if you should rent or buy, but here are some benefits of renting and buying to help you with your decision:

Advantages of Buying Your Home

  • Tax advantages
  • Mortgage money paid helps build equity and eventually full ownership
  • Your home will increase in value over time
  • Helps create long-term wealth accumulation
  • Rental investment opportunity

Advantages of Renting a Home

  • No extra cost for property taxes, insurance or maintenance
  • No mortgage commitment
  • No down payment needed
  • You will have time to plan if you want to purchase a home
  • Freedom to move, if needed

Conclusion—Buying a home versus renting is a personal decision that can only be made by you

When making the final determination, you will want to do your research in the area in which you wish to live. Speak with a mortgage broker to see what you can afford. Find out if you can get pre-approved for a loan. Don’t forget to take into account such costs as property taxes, homeowners insurance, routine maintenance, and surprise repairs. Again, there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to renting vs. buying; the determining factor is you, your needs, and what you can afford.


Why Should You Use a Non-Affiliated Escrow Company?

True Neutrality in Property Transactions

When you think about the simple definition of escrow: “escrow is the neutral third party in a real estate transaction,” what does that say to you? Typically, one would think an escrow company should be an independent or non-affiliated company. Right?

Is Your Escrow Company Truly Neutral and Independent?

It should be as simple as that, but many escrow companies are run by real estate brokerages, title companies and mortgage companies that require or “recommend” their real estate agents, title reps, or lenders to market their services to the consumers of a real estate transaction.

Most consumers are not aware that they have the power to choose the service providers they use for their real estate transactions. Many consumers go with the escrow service providers that their real estate agent or lender recommends to them. Consumers rarely take the time to research and find the right service providers for them.

Escrow companies in California are in 1 of 2 categories:

  1. Non–Affiliated/Independent (Licensed)
  2. Affiliated (Controlled/Non-Licensed)

Independent Escrow Services

As an independently owned escrow company, Oakwood Escrow is held to a much higher standard than affiliated escrow companies. Because Oakwood Escrow is an independent escrow company, we are licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO). The license that Oakwood Escrow holds regulates the procedures and practices of our company. Because we have stringent requirements overseen by the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO), the consumer has protection in the escrow process. Oakwood Escrow is independent, licensed, and neutral. We are bonded and a member of the Escrow Agents’ Fidelity Corporation. There many benefits to working with Oakwood Escrow as your independent escrow company. By far, the most important benefit is that we are a 100% neutral third party that protects the consumer.

Licensed Escrow Service Protect You Better

Affiliated escrow companies are non-licensed companies owned and operated by a real estate brokerage, mortgage brokerage, banks, or title insurance companies and operate under different rules and regulations than independent escrow companies. Because they operate under different rules and regulations, typically, they do not protect their clients as well as an Independent Escrow company.

Oakwood Escrow believes that consumers’ interest should not be taken lightly. The escrow holder must remain impartial during the escrow period to ensure fair representation of all parties. It is crucial that the broker, lender, or consumer makes a knowledgeable and informed decision in choosing an escrow company.

Remember, an Independent Escrow company is a 100% neutral third party. If you are searching for an escrow holder for yourself, or if you are looking to recommend one to a client, an Independent Escrow company gives you the peace of mind and protection you need.

Protecting Your Investment—7 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Is your home ready for winter?

Even though California winters are mild, there are some things that you should do to prepare your home for winter. Taking the time to plan and winterizing your home can save you money on both your energy bills and repair costs. Proactively maintaining your home can also prevent safety hazards that are common during the winter months.

7 tips to winterize your home:


  1. Check for drafts. Drafts in your home can mean higher energy bills. Test your doors and windows for air leaks. You can repair many gaps by applying weather stripping on the insides of your doors and windows to protect against incoming air. If you have an attic, check your attic floor for air leakage. Typically, if there are gaps between the attic floor and your living space, warm air will escape. Have an insulation specialist come out to look at your attic to ensure you have adequate sealing and insulation. If you have not checked with a professional for a few years, it may be time to reinsulate your home. Newer techniques for insulation installation, such as foam injection, can significantly reduce the upfront cost of application. A reduction in your energy bill quickly offsets the expense.


  1. Get your water heater inspected. Cold showers are no fun, especially during the winter. The risk of costly repairs (and possibly that unexpected trip to a hotel for hot water waiting for repairs) is often prevented by having an annual inspection. Additionally, now would be an excellent time to have your water heater flushed.


  1. Have your annual furnace clean and check. An improperly maintained furnace is one of the leading causes of carbon monoxide poisoning within the home. Additionally, with proper maintenance, you can extend its life, as well as improve its efficiency resulting in energy savings and lower costs in unexpected repairs.


  1. Get your fireplace cleaned. Have your fireplace chimney cleaned and inspected. Maintaining your chimney and fireplace is essential to prevent such safety hazards as chimney fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. So, ensure your safety by having a professional clean and inspect it before the cooler weather comes by have a professional clean and check it.


  1. Reverse your ceiling fans. Did you know that when you reverse your ceiling fan, the rotation pushes the warm air down and recirculates it throughout the room? With your ceiling fan reversed and your heater running, your home is sure to stay nice and warm throughout winter.


  1. Clean your gutters. Make sure you remove any leaves and debris from your gutters and downspouts. While you are at it, don’t forget to remove any leaves and debris from your roof, as well. Keeping your gutters and downspouts clean and clear can reduce costly damage to your roof and windows during heavy rain, and extend the life of your roof.


  1. Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. Winter carries the highest risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep your family safe by ensuring early warning.

Conclusion—Winterizing your home protects your investment, improves safety, and reduces costs.

As you can see, there are a few things that you can do to get your home winter-ready. As the “cold” weather approaches, now is the time to take preventive measures that protect your home and make it as comfortable as possible during this winter season. Winterizing your home is a great way to improve safety and reduce long-term expenses.