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When considering the type of loan that you want to obtain, you might want to consider an adjustable rate mortgage loan (also referred to as an ARM). An ARM may make sense if:

  • you are confident that your income will increase steadily over the years
  • you anticipate a move in the near future and aren’t concerned about potential increases in interest rates

ARMs generally offer lower initial interest rates. Monthly payments can be lower. And they may allow you to qualify for a larger loan amount.

Make sure you understand the terms, risks and potential costs and compare all options before deciding. The attorneys at Ballaga & Freedman, LLP, can help explain any questions you may have regarding how an ARM works or whether it will work for you. Please contact us at your convenience.

Purchasing a home is exciting. Once escrow begins, the excitement can change to frustration, particularly if you are not familiar with the closing process or the closing costs associated with the transaction.

Closing costs simply refer to the fees associated with various expenses incurred in a real estate transaction. In the excitement of having an offer accepted for your dream home, you can easily lose track of the fact you are going to incur costs over and above the purchase of the home. Many people make the mistake of only assuming they need the down payment money, and have to rush around town trying to come up with money for the closing fees.

Do yourself a favor, and discuss closing costs in advance with your attorney at Ballaga & Freedman, LLP.  And watch this video to have a good mental picture of the costs that you’re likely to incur.


Equity is the amount of value you own in property.  In other words, equity is the difference between what you owe and what the property is worth in the current market.

In this video example, you have a house worth $300,000 today and you owe your lender $200,000.  Your equity would be $100,000.

If the house is valued at $500,000 in five years, and you still owe $150,000 your equity would be $350,000.

Equity grows as the property value increases or if the amount you owe your lender decreases.  Since your lender’s loan doesn’t go up over time, your equity will rise if the property value goes up.

Equity in a home can be used as collateral for loans, and, as a result, equity can become a key financial asset over time.  Treat it wisely.

What is title insurance and why should a buyer get it when purchasing real estate? Doesn’t the attorney or title company handling the closing see to it that you have clear title? Like other forms of insurance, it is prudent to pay a relatively small premium for protection against a substantial loss.

Title insurance prevents the property owner from suffering a loss if, at any time during his/her ownership of the property, a third party comes along claiming a full or partial ownership interest in the property.

A title examination is done prior to the closing of the property. Sometimes mistakes are made during the exam process. Searching the history of ownership to be sure nothing has fallen through the cracks is a tedious job that requires alertness, intelligence, and skill.

It is very likely that the value of your property will go up over the years. As time passes, these elements are likely to result in your home equity’s being a significant personal asset. Just how devastating would it be if you eventually discovered that someone else owned what you’d always thought was your home? Imagine if you were served with a foreclosure lawsuit for a loan that you never took out.

Do yourself a favor. When you buy real estate, buy title insurance.  And watch the video to understand the essentials.

Number one – be sure to get quotes from several insurance companies and to consider the cost of insurance when you start shopping for a home.

Newer homes tend to have lower premiums.  In South Florida, the type of windstorm protection a home has (if any) will certainly factor into the premium charged.

Try to choose a home with an alarm security system and/or a construction base that complies with local building codes.

Other ways to lower insurance costs include insuring your home and cars with the same company and seeking group coverage through alumni or business associations.

Insurance costs are always lowered by raising your deductibles but this will expose you to a higher out-of-pocket cost if you have to file a claim.

Laws vary by state.  Some states require a lawyer to assist in several aspects of the home buying process while other states do not as long as a qualified real estate professional is involved.

In Florida, although a lawyer is not required, you may want to hire a lawyer to help prepare your contract, oversee your inspection process and coordinate your closing with all of the parties involved in the transaction.

A lawyer can help you maintain control of the transaction and assist you with the closing process; a process that often is accompanied by unexpected hurdles.

Your real estate agent may be able to recommend a lawyer. If not, ask friends or relatives who they have used, and, of course, please consider Ballaga & Freedman, LLP.