Commonly Asked Questions
Q. Do we have to leave when the house is being shown?
A. It is best to be away when the house is being shown. However, sometimes it is impossible. Bitter cold weather or sick children are examples. If you are at home, go wherever the prospective buyer is not. If they are in the den, go to the kitchen. Your presence inhibits them from making comments, looking in closets, etc. Remember that we want them to feel like it is already their home.
Q. How do I answer questions from an agent or his customer?
A. We prefer that you refer all questions to your agent. Simply give them my card. I have seen many owners un-sell their own home by answering questions. Be very careful not to comment on the value or desirability of a feature. Any comment regarding your financial need to sell might be used against you! Also, discuss this issue with your children.
Q. How much advance notice will I get before a showing?
A. As much notice as we get. Our office will call you as soon as an appointment is requested. Whenever you leave, be sure the house is show-able. If you are gone, the showing agent will use the MLS lockbox.
Q. What should I do if an unexpected Realtor requests to show the house?
A. First ask for a business card. It is your house, and it is your right to ask that they set up an appointment through the office. Since you are serious about selling your house, try to accommodate their request. If you need a few minutes to straighten up, ask that they return in 15 or 20 minutes.
Q. What should we do if an unexpected buyer knocks?
A. If a buyer comes alone, DO NOT let them in! This is for your protection. Slip them a business card or a brochure through the door, and tell them to contact your agent! Advise children of this procedure as well!
Q. We have a pet. What should we do during a showing?
A. The pet, like all family members, should be out of the house for showings. Pets are a BIG distraction (either a positive or a negative one). Please do not ask us to be responsible for keeping your pet contained. Your pet will invariably make a run for freedom. We must also avoid a situation where a child or buyer is injured.
Q. What about advertising my home?
A. Less than 5% of real estate sales come from advertising. More than four times that amount (20%) come from yard signs. Most buyers use ads to call for information only. By far the greatest source of buyers is through MLS. You can help me by listing the features of your home that sold you on it. Very likely, those same features will sell the new owners, too.
Q. Do I get feedback after a showing?
A. It is very important for us to know why buyers like or do not like your home. Responses are crucial because we use them to make adjustments in our marketing plan. We email a feedback sheet to the showing agent immediately and then follow up with a call.
Q. What happens when a buyer makes an offer?
A. Most real estate sales involve two agents. The REALTOR® working with the buyer will write up a sales contract and contact us. The buyer’s agent may present the offer to you and me together or may present it to me alone. We will review all the terms of the offer as an update market analysis. If a counter offer is necessary, we will prepare it. All offers and counters will be in writing with your initials and signature. This process may be completed in a few hours, but will probably extend several days. We will continue to show the house until final agreements have been reached.
Q. What if an offer comes in the first week? Did we price the house too low?
A. Every once in a while, someone is just waiting for your home to be for sale. If we bring you an offer tomorrow CELEBRATE! Historical data has shown that the best buyers and offers come in the first thirty days. We do not win by pricing it higher and holding out for an offer. The longer the house is on the market, the less it brings.
Q. Will I be expected to make repairs on my home before closing?
A. Perhaps. There are several issues involved here:
As a seller you are responsible for having MAJOR systems (heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical) in working order at the time of closing. Working order does not necessarily mean PERFECT order, so I will not encourage unneeded service of these systems.
It is extremely important that you tell me about any faults of the home; roof leaks, wet basements, etc, so we can decide the best way to address these conditions. A buyer can ask for anything in the contract, and if both parties agree, it becomes binding. Therefore, if we are asked to make repairs in the contract, and we agree, then those become our responsibility.
Buyers may ask an engineer to inspect the home. Sometimes, they will write an offer CONTINGENT on acceptance of a report from a structural engineer. The inspection is done soon after acceptance of terms of the offer. Should the property have serious structural defects, the buyer would have an out, or could renegotiate the terms. The inspector will make recommendations on how to improve the property, but you are responsible for only those repairs dealing with the major systems, or those already stated in the contract.
If the purchaser is getting an FHA/VA loan, the lender may ask repairs to be done. These are the seller’s responsibilities unless stated otherwise.
The home is expected to be in the same condition at closing as it was when the offer was made/accepted.
With these exceptions, we are NOT OBLIGATED to make repairs to the home. This is especially the case with items asked for outside the contract. HOWEVER, we are firmly convinced that it is in your BEST INTEREST to ensure buyer satisfaction, and if a minor repair makes our buyer happy or if it holds a sale together, LET’S DO IT! Unhappy purchasers often become plaintiffs in lawsuits, and a minor repair can help prevent this from happening.I would consider a home warranty.