Welcome to our weekly real estate questions submitted by blog and social media followers, clients and others. Have a question? Use the form below to ask your question and receive an answer via email, usually within 24 hours. We post the most interesting questions here each Friday for the benefit of all our readers.
This week’s question: Homeowner Documents
“We are purchasing a newly-built home and want to start a file of all homeowner documents we should have on hand if we ever sell. We know we should have escrow closing and mortgage papers, is there anything else we should keep in this file?” D.F., East Bay
You have a good start with the homeowner documents that prove you are the owner and that identify all loans that have been taken out against the property. Here are a few other things to consider:
- Recorded Grant Deed. You should receive a copy of the Grant Deed that proves change of ownership with your escrow closing package. Check to see that the Grant Deed has a recording stamp on it. If not, ask the escrow officer to send you a copy of the recorded deed.
- Original Construction Blueprints. The builder may charge a fee for making the copy, but original plans can be extremely helpful if you remodel the home later. Print copies are great, but digital design files that could be imported into your remodeling contractor’s design system are even better.
- Remodeling Blueprints. Get a copy of these each time you remodel, same strategy as with original construction blueprints.
- Prior Mortgage Documents. Prior mortgages are primary mortgages, second mortgages or lines of credit secured by the home that you either refinanced or paid off. Lenders are supposed to file a Deed Of Reconveyance (Reconveyance Deed in some states) with the County Recorder’s Office when a mortgage is paid off as proof that they have released their lien on the property. Make sure you have a copy of the recorded Deed of Reconveyance every time you refinance or pay off a loan.
- Title Insurance Policy. A title insurance policy should be provided when escrow closes on your purchase, but check to make sure you have it.
- Home Warranty. If you have a home warranty, make sure a copy of the contract is in your file. Unused portions of warranty periods usually convey to buyers when you sell.
- Annual Property Tax Bill. Keep copies of tax bills along with any communications or notices you receive from the taxing authority.
- Utility and Maintenance Bills. Buyers often request one full year of most recent utility, maintenance and repair bills to help estimate their future recurring costs of ownership. These should also include bills for yard service, pool service, tree trimming, and annual heating/air conditioning check-ups.
- Major System Service Manuals and Warranties. Buyers should be made aware of recurring homeowner maintenance tasks contained in major system manuals (for example: I change the plug-in water filters under my kitchen sink annually). Most product warranties transfer to new owners.
This is a lot of information, so it helps to digitize as many of the homeowner documents as possible. Scanning monthly utility bills saves storage space. Remember to back up your files often.
NOTE: Real estate questions are answered within the scope of real estate broker expertise and are not intended to offer legal or tax advice. Contact a qualified legal or tax professional for questions regarding those specialties.
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