April 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Tips for Buying and Selling a Home

What is the best way to keep my family and home safe for showings?

Realtors do their best to try and screen their clients before showings and try to make sure they are qualified. Many of us accomplished agents also know each other in the industry, so there is an element of trust when showings take place. Besides the usual advice about cleaning the house and decluttering, there are a few important things a seller can do to prepare their home before opening it to the public. Remove all personal pictures whenever possible. Lock up your prescription medications and all your jewelry. Expensive paintings or sculpture if not insured should be put in storage, if possible. Make sure you are represented by a reputable and experienced real estate agent who will also be looking out for your interests and the safety of your family during showings. It is always a risk to sell by owner. Strangers enter your home and may not even have the funds to qualify for this purchase.

How do you know that your offer has been submitted after signing a contract?

The real estate agent who is representing you has an obligation to ensure your offer is submitted.  There are two ways this can be done. One is to have the offer submitted in person by the buyer’s agent, unless the seller puts in writing that they only want the seller’s agent to submit all the offers. The second way is for an agent to submit an offer submission form that the seller must sign off on letting all parties know that the offer was actually submitted. It is unethical for any agent to suppress an offer. All offers must be submitted to a seller and you should get a reply within 48 hours. Getting a reply beyond 48 hours and well after business hours is both unethical and can be an indication that the real estate agent is not acting in the best interest of the parties involved, which goes against the practices of real estate law. Sometimes, a seller may delay a response because they live overseas, so it may be a good idea to encourage the seller to write a note stating this so as not to lose qualified buyers and offers. A seller’s agent cannot by law suppress offers from coming in even after the contract is signed by both buyer and seller. Additionally, during attorney review, offers can still be submitted and must be given to the seller for their own review. Ultimately, it is the sole right of the seller to decide which offer they want to accept. Many good agents will try to respond within 24 hours or less whenever possible. 

What is the purpose of doing a home inspection?

The purpose of a home inspection is to determine if there are serious defects in the home you are buying. The standard New Jersey Association of Realtors contract contains an inspection contingency for structural and environmental defects. Generally, buyers have 10 days from contract to perform a home, termite and radon inspection. Structural items include the foundation, electrical, plumbing, and to be sure the construction is up to code. Environmental items can include the presence of asbestos (common in homes built in the early 1900s), some insulation products and some outdated building materials. 

Some of today’s home inspections have gotten a bit out of control. If you are buying an older home for its character or its grander features, then you should expect that some things in the home are going to be dated. Your offer and the negotiated price would have taken this into consideration. You are free to make improvements once you purchase the house. This is not the time where you start to renegotiate the purchase price and expect big credits for your intended improvements. Most buyers are losing sight of this factor and deals are falling apart as a result of this unrealistic expectation. Keep in mind that if a roof is old but there is no evidence of leaks in the house, you should not expect the seller to buy you a new roof!

The inspector should be able to determine if you are buying a sound house. You should find out what specific items will be included in the fee for his inspection. You don’t want to find out at the inspection that you are being charged extra for items you expected to be included. Some inspections are taking far longer than they used to and buyers are paying a premium for this, even though they are not always receiving an accurate report. 

Most experienced real estate agents can provide you with a list of inspectors they have observed in the field. You should call one or two of them to obtain a price and define the scope of their work.

Legitimate findings during the inspection period are sometimes corrected by the seller or they may agree to provide a credit. A seller may choose not to cure, but it is inevitable that similar things may come up again when the house gets put back on the market. Always consult with your real estate agent and attorney to try to negotiate a positive result.

By Nicole Idler

 

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