I recently wrote a blog for the buyers to give a breakdown of what you should be doing after your offer is accepted, and what they will need to do. This blog is directed for what the SELLERS need to begin to do and prepare themselves for. Most would think that the sellers have the easy part, they just sit back and wait for the closing to be set but I am finding for every educated seller there are more that are not really clear on what they need to be doing.
Just as a buyer has things they need to be doing, you as the homeowner also have things you need to be doing like packing, or finding your new home. Homeowners who are buying a new home are usually diligent about getting their search underway before their current home is even in contract. I am finding more homeowners that either A. Already have a home and do not require a purchase or B. Homeowners who are opting to become renters are often unsure of when they are supposed to make their move and what will be happening after they have accepted an offer.
Disclosure & Home Inspections
I did write an entire blog about the home inspection process for sellers, but I wanted to touch base on it again just for a moment. The two most important rules to home inspection are:
1. DO NOT try and hide or cover-up anything in your home, it will make you look secretive and cause the home inspector to search harder to make sure they didn't miss anything. Things that you may consider a big deal, may not be to your potential home buyer. An example of this is lets say you have one leaky faucet, so you decide to shut off the valve completely obviously the home inspector is going to check, and with the valve completely turned off they may think it is more than what it actually is.
2. BE REASONABLE, if one home inspector finds an issue I can guarantee you any other that comes into your home is going to find the same one. These are trained professionals and although your Realtor will be there to protect you we are by no means experts in home construction. If there is a safety, or structural issue you can not expect a potential buyer to just take your word that it isn't a big deal, and they can live with it. If they have gone thru the process of spending money for someone to protect them from buying a home that they will not be able to handle you must respect that. You do have options, you can ask for a 2nd opinion from a licensed professional who works specifically on that issue (ex: Electrician, Plumber, Roofer) to give an estimate for repair or confirm that the point the inspector made was not one that should have caused so much concern therefor making it a non-issue for the buyer if they are comfortable with that. If the professional confirms with the inspector that something must be done to rectify the issue you still have options you can either repair it, or credit the buyer so that they can have it repaired prior to moving in.
After you have completed and negotiated through your home inspected, you as the homeowner must make sure that everything you needed to disclose has been done. If you "forgot" to mention and illegal add-on or that you are taking that dining room chandelier now is your last chance to clear the air. Everyone is human, and sometimes things will slip your mind when you are signing your listing agreement and answering your agents questions. Sometimes these things are what can make or break a deal, just because you may see it as not a big deal the only person who can truly tell you if it is important or not is your agent so be sure to be open and honest about these things. Nothing is worse than having a wrench thrown into a deal that could have been avoided not only does it cause fixing by your agent, it could very well cause you to lose your buyer!
Signing The Formal Sales Agreement
This is not always required but for my clients I always like to have all parties sign the original sales agreement to have it on record. This agreement does not only include the purchase price and the down payment it also includes your on or about closing date. It seems to quite often be overlooked but we as Realtors need to begin making a real point of explaining, and than re-explaining what this date means to your homeowner. The on or about date is 90% of the time what your attorney will put in the contract if you think for any reason you need more time than that date, make sure you inform your Realtor as well as your Attorney.
If the buyer is purchasing another home this date won't just effect you and your buyer, but it effects the buyer of their current home. The effect of a closing date being drastically changed can cause them to lose their buyer, which puts your deal very much in jeopardy. Just like a buyer must respect that the home is yours and they can not push you out, you must also respect their time and situation.
When you receive an offer on your home we will tell you if the buyer has anything he/she needs to sell, in the case where the buyer does not we will point out the fact that this is a good buyer because they are not being held back by anything. This also means though that this buyer is more than likely renting and will need to give notice, which makes that on or about closing date very important.
This is a very important date to your buyer, if they are renting they will be in a position of potentially being homeless if the closing does not happen in a timely fashion of this date. You may be thinking that no landlord would ever put someone out on the street but it is very much a possibility. Your buyers can be penalized for overstaying there welcome and that can cost them anything from an additional months rent, to a daily charge which can become costly quickly.
Signing Your Contract
This needs to be done in a timely fashion for 2 reasons.
First is that there are plenty of homes coming onto the market, and what if a better one comes along and your buyer falls in love with it? They are not required to stick with your deal until your contracts are fully signed and if you are dragging your feet than you can not have hard feelings if they move onto the next one.
Second, is because unless you changed your on or about date the clock has begun running towards your closing date. Your buyers need that contract to put in for their mortgage if you hold off it will take them longer to obtain the mortgage commitment which generally takes 6-8 weeks. You must respect that they need to move just as you do in a tight time frame because there is a lot to be done in that time frame.
I always keep my homeowners very much informed about the progress their buyers are making towards closing, because in order to be fair to all parties involved communication is key. Without proper communication things can turn bad, very quickly and make the experience unpleasant for all parties involved, including the Realtors because unfortunately are usually the messengers that will carry your bad news to your buyer.
If you are purchasing another home you should be constantly checking progress on that deal this way if there is any unexpected delay you are able to communicate this to your realtor who in turn can inform the other agent. This respect needs to go both ways, if your buyer has hit an unexpected snag they must also communicate this, so that you are fully informed.
Now this may seem silly BUT when you listed your home your agent will have asked you where were you going after your home sold, if you told us you were moving to your 2nd home that is where we think you are going. If over the course of the listing changed your mind you have to inform us we are not mind readers, and we will find you a rental but only if we know you need one. Finding a rental for anyone whether it is a 1 bedroom or a 3 bedroom is a task, because not every apartment is available for immediate occupancy.
You have to respect that your buyers have given someone notice that they are leaving where they are currently living, someone might be moving in the day they leave so even a day or two delay can become a big issue when left till the last minute. Just like they can not be unreasonable regarding their moving in, you can not push things to their limits and expect the buyer to be happy about it.
I did mention communication, respect and fairness quite a bit in this blog, which I don't normally focus on but these are 3 things that can help prevent ripples from turning into tidal waves of frustration. Whether your selling or buying a home it is a huge decision and as Realtors we chose to do this, and it is my opinion we should always try our best to make sure you are informed of even these basic guidelines to ensure things go smoothly.