Real estate FAQs: Commonly-asked questions answered
There seems to be a trend to paint over hardwood… is that what buyers are looking for now?
No doubt, design trends can be a benefit and may help sell your home faster, but the average home should gear to the average buyer in order to drive the demand for the home. If your home is in an area where the avant-garde design trends are what buyers are searching for then by all means go for it. If you accomplish the look you may see an incredible amount of interest and break records with your sale! Not everyone has the same taste in décor and design, so be careful not to eliminate a large segment of the buying population when you make choices. It takes a while for some trends to catch on for the general public. I sometimes hear buyers say things like, "I really like it, but I don't think it's right for my family and my furniture is not going to look nice here." For anything like painting wood floors, painting brick and so on, make sure you know: a) how difficult it would be to bring it back to its original state b) if the demographic of buyers shopping for a property like yours are looking for that kind of detail.
For sellers… is it OK to restrict viewings to work with your work/life schedule?
When you offer your home for sale, it's not a free-for-all for the public and the seller can retain control of showing times and other restrictions. However, when you are selling a home, you need to make it as accessible as possible for all buyers to get a chance to view it. It's in your best interest. Generally speaking, the more buyers there are, the quicker the sale. Everyone is busy, so you will have showing requests at various times and every day of the week. Some people need to come during the day because they are on shift work, or the kids are at school. Others need to come at night or on weekends because they can't leave work to view properties. If you are serious about selling, remember - a home that is easy to show is easy to sell. Try to accommodate every single showing request within reason.
I signed a listing agreement, but I'm having second thoughts about selling. Can I cancel? Will it cost me anything?
Signing a listing agreement gives the real estate brokerage the right to market your home for sale. If you are not truly prepared to sell your home you should let your broker know right away and ask them to prepare the appropriate paperwork to cancel the listing. You don't want to put would-be buyers through an emotional roller coaster ride if you really don't want to sell. As for costs, unless there is something clearly stipulated in the contract, you should not have to incur costs. Your realtor may have spent some money and a lot of time preparing the listing for the open market, so just be aware of that and try to be respectful. At the end of the day, nobody can force you to sell.
As a buyer, should you arrange a home inspection… even if the seller has provided one?
Savvy Sellers take great care in preparing their homes for selling, and in a brisk market where they are positioning their homes for multiple offers, they often take the extra step of having a recent home inspection report available to prospective buyers. The question buyers have is whether to take the report as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or should they get their own inspector come through. Some people believe that the report provided by the seller will be manipulated or skewed to benefit the seller, but I have witnessed inspectors refuse to lie or misrepresent the report even when asked by the customer. Sellers are required, by law, to disclose any known issues, both latent (hidden) and patent (obvious).
The buyer can always perform their own due diligence and hire an independent home inspector. They could also contact the home inspector who did the report on the house to ask questions or hire them to come through the home again. Many times it is just not feasible for a buyer to hire their own inspector due to timing or cost and having a report ready to be delivered upon request to all interested parties may encourage an extra offer or two. In my opinion, any Seller who expects their home to sell in competition must have a pre-sale home inspection to provide to all interested buyers, no two ways about it!
You've just bought a home and the seller now wants to change the closing date. Can they do that?
The Agreement of Purchase and Sale will have many terms and conditions that both parties negotiate and finally agree to before finalizing a deal. If one party wants to make any changes after the deal has been accepted, it must be done through an amendment to the agreement, a separate document that all parties sign in agreement to the changes. Sometimes a clause is added to the original deal that gives one party, buyer or seller, the right to change the closing date. The clause will be written in a way that dictates whether or not they can do this unilaterally, by simply serving notice to the other party. On the other hand, it may say that the date can only be changed by mutual consent, in which case an amendment must be generated and all parties must agree. When an issue arises and changes are requested, they can be made the same way, through an amendment to the agreement, and no clause is needed in the original Agreement of Purchase and Sale.