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About MollyWolly

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  • Location Koblenz
  • Nationality USA
  • Gender Female
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  1. Signing for a mortgage refinance only at Embassy?

    When I sold a property in Virginia last summer, I did most signing in advance through DocuSign. For the final papers that had to be actually signed by a person, the title company gave me three options if I wasn’t coming myself: get it notarized in advance at the Embassy/Consulate, give them one-time power of attorney to sign for me, or give someone of my choosing power of attorney to sign for me. My parents already have a PoA for me, so my mom did the signing as it was easiest and free.   Might be different  for a refinance since that’s just a transaction with the lender. If so, electronic signatures are ubiquitous and quite easy!   Just fyi, since you are in Nuremberg you'd be going to the US Consulate in Munich. Functionally the same for this topic, but not always interchangeable with Embassy (the one that’s in Berlin) in terms of function and services offered.
  2. Buying property in the US / property tax

    Agree for the most part. However, real estate agents in most states are licensed and do have certain legal obligations to follow. When I hired someone to sell my property last year, he said he was required to inform me of any/all offers and required to carry out my decision. In my locality at least it was entirely the buyer’s choice on title company etc.    Also, a realtor hired by the buyer represents the buyer’s interest, not the seller’s. That is why usually both parties have their own.
  3. Buying property in the US / property tax

    Yes. The classic commission structure is 6% of the sales price, which is paid by the seller and split evenly between the two agents. Because of increased competition and the internet making looking easier, many seller’s agents are now offering 5% (with half for the buyer’s agent). At least this is the case I dealt with recently when selling a property in northern Virginia. But that’s an extremely competitive, high price market so what works there might now be true for the whole country. Obviously the more the place sells for, the more money the seller’s agent makes (as well as the buyer’s agent, but they don’t have much influence there). There’s an interesting Freakanomics story about realtor work input vs outcome if you want to know more about that not always transparent relationship.    As Fraufruit mentioned, the commission is baked into the sales prices and paid by the seller. However, a buyer should expect to pay a chunk of money in closing costs. This includes the financing costs, title company fees, deed registration fees (with the local government), etc. The total due depends, but it’s good to plan for about $8-12,000 for your average sized mortgage.    Another main difference in the buying process that I experienced is the Notar function in Germany. There is nothing like that required in the US because we are generally a ‘buyer beware’ contract legal system. Basically the buyer and seller can make any kind of contract they want. In practice most realtors use a standard contract for that location because each locality has specific disclosure requirements. The closing itself is at a title company (rarely a lawyer’s office) and the parties don’t have to go in person. Also, the whole handover is done at once. Meaning, at the closing (or before if you do it by proxy), the documents are signed, the buyer transfers the money to the title company’s escrow, and the keys are handed over. The title company then transfers the money to the seller, minus the fees and the realtor commissions. In Germany it was a multi step process where we waited about 6 weeks from signing at the Notar to paying and being able to move in. But in most cases in the US it’s all done within a few hours on one day. 
  4. Buying property in the US / property tax

    Also, unlike in Germany you generally sign an exclusive contract with your buyer’s agent for a set period of time - often 6 months. A good buyer’s agent will talk to you about your needs/wants and then do all of the looking for you. Things have been democratized with Redfin, Zillow, etc but agents generally still have more access to listings than average Joes. They can use the state’s MLS database, which is the method to list almost all properties for sale to the general public. MLS databases can also show “coming soon” listings.    The agent should send you potential listings, which you will either say yes or no to visiting. Then the agent arranges the visits and accompanies you (they access properties through special keys available by swiping their realtor card). The seller and seller’s agent will almost never be present for buyer visits. In the US it is MUCH easier to schedule visits and usually a buyer will see several in one day, all organized by their agent.    When the buyer decides to make an offer, their agent arranges the paperwork directly with the seller’s agent. And so it goes for any negotiations as well as some parts of the lending and titling process. This is one reason it is so important to get a good buyer’s agent - a good one will make the process way easier and a bad one can totally screw you up. 
  5. Need US SIM card for receiving bank SMS verification

    I use Google Voice for this purpose all the time. When I moved from the US to Germany, I ported my number to Google Voice but you should be able to request a new US-based Voice number too.    I receive all SMS two-factor authentication notices this way. For example, from my banks or Amazon account or whatever. Whenever my Voice account receives an SMS or voicemail, I get an email directly with the contents. It has always arrived within 15-30 seconds so there’s enough time in the usual 60 second window.