Selling your house is an exciting time, but it’s also bound with a lot of red tape. This handy guide will take you through all the ins and outs of property contracts, so you know what to expect from the outset.
“The legal process begins as soon as you accept an offer. This includes arranging for the drawing up of contracts, arranging appropriate payments and making sure that the property is legally transferred to the new owner.” Says Central London estate agent, LDG.
Both you and your buyer will need to instruct solicitors and/or conveyancers to do all the legal work on your behalf and ensure that everything is above board.
The legal process of exchanging and completing contracts with your buyer generally takes the following steps:
- Terms are agreed between seller and buyer and you both instruct legal parties to do the conveyancing work on your behalf.
Your lawyer obtains the title deeds and prepare draft contracts for your buyer’s lawyer to approve.
Your lawyer sends the draft across to the other lawyer, along with the other documentation required to form the contract.
The buyer’s lawyer reviews the documents and does the appropriate searches and reviews. They will then confirm that there is a mortgage offer in place and check the progress of any dependent sale in order to proceed.
Contracts are then signed by both parties and exchanged. At this stage a completion date is agreed.
The buyer’s lawyer will prepare the Transfer Deed, which will then be sent to yours for approval and signing.
Your buyer will obtain the necessary funds for purchase, either directly, via a lender or through the sale of their own property.
On the completion date your buyer’s lawyer will send the required funds to yours. As soon as these are received the purchase is deemed complete.
Finally, the buyer’s lawyer will pay any stamp duty that is due on the property and register the buyer as the new owner with the Land Registry.
“The time the whole process takes depends on various factors, like whether there is a chain or the property is subject to any planning permissions, but on average you can expect it to take between six and eight weeks” explains Andrew Reeves.
To make things move as quickly as possible from your end it’s advisable to instruct your lawyer to start working on the paperwork before you find a buyer. This may seem like false economy but it can save a huge amount of time further down the line and make the whole transition much smoother.
Things they can do in advance include calling for information regarding title deeds and other important documents that can take a while to get hold of. You can also complete other documents in advance, such as the “Sellers Property Information” form and “Fixture Fittings and Contents” declaration.
“If you do as much as you possibly can now, you’ll be thankful in the long run” says Wimbledon estate agent, Robert Holmes.
Many realtors will tell you that there is no such thing as the perfect home. The more realistic and savvy the buyers are, the easier it is to come to a compromise. However, you didn’t sell your old place to purchase a compromise. Emotions may be running high, especially if you are purchasing your first home, so it’s important not to be swayed by the small stuff and overlook the big things. Here’s a list of signs that you’ve come to the right address.
You like the neighbourhood
While this is really a vast category, the location is one of the few things you cannot change. You can remodel and extend, but you cannot move the house. Some will appreciate great schools districts and shopping centres, while others will fall in love with a nearby recreation area and wooded walking trails. Whatever amenities and conveniences you are looking for in the new neighbourhood, keep in mind that this is a decision you make only once.
Looks great after dark, too
If you like the house and the neighbourhood, make sure you pay it a couple of night visits as well. This will tell you right away if the neighbours are getting noisy, or if that cosy pub on the corner becomes a rowdy mead hall after dark. Ask about the bin collection day and see if the locals leave out neatly tied-up recycling sacks or pile up black bags for possums to feast on. Again, you can do wonders to your home, but the neighbourhood you cannot change.
Leaves room to grow
Look for a home that can easily adapt to your needs as your family grows or your life changes. A new baby or a kid moving back in after college may call for extensions such as attic remodelling or building an adjacent structure at the expense of the plot. So, if you can’t afford a place large enough to cater to your future needs, at least choose one that allows building on later on. Now, before you fall in love with one of these extensions, ask about the local zoning laws concerning home extensions and modifications.
The structure is sound
Aside from the ‘soft’ features, a home that is perfect for you needs to meet certain building standards and technical properties. If the water in a glass on the dining room table seems to be angling towards a ‘strange gravity field’ under the house, the house might have a slab issue. An experienced builder will easily tell if it rains both inside and outside, as well as recognize a roof that needs replacing. If your budget is already stretched to the limits, technical issues like these should be deal killers for you.
Not looking at other homes anymore
When all the other homes you’ve seen after it don’t appeal to you, when the ones you’ve seen so far move down to number 8 and below, you know that that’s the house you’ve been looking for. Sometimes it’s the inner gut instinct that tells you that’s the place. You can see yourself decorating it, rearranging it, living in it. However, even if you trust your gut 99.99%, ask the good people from White Square Properties to confirm that you are truly buying a dream.
It can sell one day
Although you shouldn’t think of your new home as an investment, purchasing a white elephant doesn’t make sense, either. While you may be enthralled by the 200-litre saltwater aquarium or a glass home elevator, the next potential buyer may not find use for such extravagancies, even less pay more for them. If a home is very much unlike other nearby homes in size, style, amenities, price, etc., you may end up with a burden that would be hard to sell.
You want the perfect home for you and your family. On the other hand, you need to realistically consider both positive and negative features, regardless of the price range. While the ideal home is hard to find, some aspects like location, adaptability, and structural condition are equally important as your gut feeling.
Moving to a new place is always exciting, but also a bit frightening too, isn’t it? Not knowing what you’re doing and whether you’re making the right move, as well as being swamped with a ton of work that needs to be done beforehand and having to work out the logistics of the move months in advance is quite hard for some people. Therefore, here are six helpful questions you need to ask yourself before moving to a new apartment.
Is it better than my current apartment?
One of the reasons for moving should be the need for a better life your current place can’t give you anymore. Therefore, don’t even think about moving unless you’re sure something good will come out of it. Compare and contrast your old and new home and see whether the latter excels financially, organizationally and spatially. After all, that’s the only way to make a rational decision when picking between two equally appealing and welcoming homes
What do I want to change?
Changing apartments also means changing your entire lifestyle and you should consider all the things that you’re are about to lose – the sense of familiarity you love so much, the coziness you’ve been building over the years and the organization you’ve grown accustomed to. That’s why you need to ask yourself what you’ll be missing from your old apartment and how you can replace these things in the new apartment.
Are my friends and family close?
Moving to a new address usually means you’ll be far away from your old friends and family, but it doesn’t always have to be that way – just because you’ve moved away doesn’t mean you can’t keep in touch and visit each other. Yes, these visits are going to be rare and complicated to organize, but not entirely impossible. The same goes for the family as well, and you’d be surprised how many people pick their new homes based on the proximity of their parents or siblings.
And what about work?
Commuting is more exhausting than you imagine, so be careful when deciding where to move. Try to stay at least as close to your work as you’ve been before, but if you manage to get closer, even better! Think about the time you’ll spend commuting and whether you can live with it before settling on a location for a new home.
How to organize my things?
When packing for a move, first get rid of all the things you don’t need – throw them away, sell them on Craigslist or donate them to a friend. Then pack all that’s left in big cardboard boxes, label them appropriately and you’re good to go! However, think twice before doing everything on your own: while this may sound like a good idea at first, hiring a group of professionals to handle your move instead of you make much more sense.
How to unpack and organize?
Once you’ve moved into your new apartment, you’ll be surrounded by boxes and a ton of mess, so start sorting it out as soon as possible. Begin with the large pieces of furniture and make some room for maneuvering before starting to decorate one room at a time and adapting the new space to your own needs. Don’t forget to check the safety of your home first by installing secure entrance doors, new locks or windows. As soon as you do that, you’ll feel at home again.
Bonus question: What about the finances?
Moving to a new place is rather expensive, so consider selling your old place, renting it or even turning it into a lucrative Airbnb rental. Also, when purchasing a condo, make sure you’ve paid attention to the age restriction rules in your building to prevent problems in the future. After doing all of these things, you’ll be ready to enjoy your new place!
If you are looking for a major change, such as moving to a new house, you should not dive in unprepared. You have to be sure that it is the right time to do it or right call after all. Know what you stand to lose and gain: Even when you are young and attached, the process involves some pitfalls and hurdles. Moving should not be a leap of faith, but an informed decision at best and calculated risk at worst. There are many moving parts to grasp, so let us go step by step.
What do I need to bring?
The lists of things you are attached to should not be the list of things you will bring with you. This is your chance to turn the new leaf, get rid of excess clutter, and become more organized. It is also much easier to transport your belongings when you do not have a mountain of them. Therefore, let go of anything that serves no clear purpose. Put things you really need in boxes and label them accordingly.
When to move?
Rents and housing prices vary depending on the city as well as the time of the year. Thus, it would be wise to time the move right. First of all, give yourself enough time to hunt for property. Do the online research on the housing market, assess realistic prices, and beware of bidding wars and inflated prices. Weather is not to be overlooked either as it brings forth logistic challenges.
How much will it cost?
Apart from time and effort, one has to invest money as well. The basic dilemma is whether you can afford the move or not. There is no need to blow the budget or bite off more than you can chew. As a rule of thumb, the total debt payment (including mortgage, credit card debt, and student loan) should not exceed one-third of the total yearly income. Have a safety net in place to mitigate the impact on the finances and factor in the living costs in the new area.
Who do I have to hire?
Relying on professionals is the best strategy to make the process play out smoothly. It may be more expensive to hire other people, but it pays off more often than not. Tasks like packing can be a joint family effort, but do not stick to DIY at all costs. Experts like professional Brisbane removalists and storage experts can be quite helpful and you won’t regret a single dollar you pay for their services.
How is the neighborhood?
Many people make the mistake of overlooking the big picture. They are tickled pink with the new home, unaware that it is the neighborhood that often makes or breaks dreams. First of all, it is not a good idea to settle in an unsafe community that is plagued by problems such as crime. Besides, that, you may want to do the good old cruising or walking around to figure out the distance to amenities like parks, shops, gyms, cafes, schools, etc.
How big of a disruption is it?
Moving tends to unhinge the patterns of daily life. For instance, if you need to be at home more, will your work suffer? Moving during the school year could have a detrimental effect on the kids’ grades. Another thing to note is that once you move into a new home, your lifestyle changes. Some parents go on to find a new job, but even without that hassle, moving can impede your emotional and overall balance.
Moving to a new home is no cakewalk. Take your time and get your ducks in the row. Provide clear answers to a handful of aforementioned questions and you should be able to steer away from unpleasant surprises and unforeseen expenses. It might be the whole different ballgame in a new neighborhood or town, so brace yourself. Uncover real reasons for doing all this and see whether they make sense, financial and otherwise.
Markets tend to vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood, but some things remain the same. A property that sits empty in the market is a property that always amasses expenses, not profit. Well, a perfect buyer does not simply come across by some chance and give you a hefty offer. There is a host of strategies to speed up the sale without offering profit as a sacrifice. Here are some of the most common ones that take the frustration and protraction out of the process.
A nice first impression
First impressions matter a great deal and they can turn into long-lasting, impactful opinions. Once a buyer sets the eyes on your home, the emotional response and vivid imagination must be ignited. Hence, curb appeal is one of the main aspects you need to pay attention to.
Namely, boosting the interior sparks the attention of buyers and prompts them to tour the inside. So, handle maintenance works, do the landscaping, paint your exterior walls, clean the driveway, and make your lawn picture-perfect. Try to highlight the strengths and selling points while softening the flaws at the same time.
A realistic price
The price tag on a real estate is what attracts and turns many buyers away. In a nutshell, you have to price your property competitively. Overpricing is like shooting yourself in the foot, but a price that is too low is not good either – it makes you lose a lot of money.
On the other hand, the right listing price can be difficult to figure out, as it depends on multifarious factors in the local market. To get a hold of the numbers game and save precious time, you can hire a real estate agent who knows a local property landscape like a palm of his hand.
All systems go
The focus of the inspection is often on core systems like electrical installations, insulation, and plumbing. They must work like a charm if you want a satisfactory report from a certified home inspector. Thus, do not hesitate to hire professionals and opt for plumbing services to sort out any faults, leaks, cracks, and malfunctions.
These are the red flags that could ruin your prospects and make the buyer walk away. Therefore, if you really mean to get the house off the market, never sweep problems under the carpet (or a coat of fresh paint for that matter).
Persona non grata
Depersonalizing the home is often painful, yet absolutely necessary. It is the only way to enable buyers to visualize themselves in your home, which is the crucial stage in the decision-making process. Thus, get into the art of home staging and making the space more welcoming.
Strive to remove any personal items, quirky accents, clutter, collectibles, as well as political and religious motifs. Present a soothing space that is neutralized and simplified: A clean, blank canvas. Tone down bright colors and stay current when it comes to style and decor.
Small updates, big difference
One of the main dilemmas for homeowners is whether to upgrade prior to the sale. Forgoing them makes financial sense because the ROI on home improvements is generally lower than 100%. However, you can still add some value and enjoy more offers coming your way.
That is why small upgrades are a better idea than major remodels. For instance, replace a faucet in the kitchen, do an energy audit, get a new storage unit, and place a new showerhead in the bathroom. Remember that the kitchen and bathroom are generally associated with the best ROI.
Fast tracks to success
Selling the home is no walk in the park.You cannot just put out the “for sale” sign and hope for the best. In the real estate market, time is money, quite literally. So, draw people in with a nice exterior, do the repairs and spruce the home up.
Set the stage for buyer’s dreams and visions to come to life. Employ smart strategies to sell your home as soon as possible for a good price. You should be able to pull that off regardless of where you are looking to sell.
When you purchase a home, you need to know exactly what you’re buying. Imagine how frustrated you’d be to find out that the hot water heater wasn’t working mid-shower! This is why you should have a home inspection before you buy your home. In Oregon, the inspection period is 10 business days after the sales agreement is signed. This time gives you, the buyer, a chance to have professionals take a look at the home and advise any repairs that it may need. Most commonly, there is a home inspection (a top-to-bottom inspection of the home), sewer scope (a camera is sent through the main sewer line to inspect it for obstructions or degradation), and a radon test (the Pacific NW and Portland have higher than average radon levels, so it may not be necessary in your area). However, not all inspectors are created equally. Just as in every profession, you’ll find good and bad inspectors. Usually your Realtor will have inspectors that they have worked with that they can recommend to you, but you should still do your homework. Before you hire a home inspector, here are a few questions to ask to make sure you’ve got someone that you will be happy with.
- What does your inspection cover? Not all inspections are the same. Different inspectors have different areas that they focus on, and a range of services. More often, now, we are seeing inspectors that act as a “one stop shop” for home, sewer, and radon. This is nice because you can set one appointment to get all your inspections done in a timely manner, especially if the home you’re buying is not vacant. Many inspectors also offer levels of inspections. A basic package is usually cost-effective and covers the State minimum requirements, and with increasing costs, you can add more detailed inspection. Also, be sure to ask if the inspection covers the garage. Many times if it a detached structure, the garage will cost extra. If you are concerned about something specific, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom, mention that to the inspector so they can check it out.
- Are you licensed or certified? If you live in a state that licenses home inspectors, ask to see their license. In Oregon, you’ll want someone who is licensed with the Construction Contract Board (CCB) and an Oregon Certified Home Inspector (OCHI). At the very least, choose a home inspector who belongs to American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). This shows a level of professionalism and education that you can trust.
- What kind of report will you give me? You should expect a written report detailing what the inspector found. Most inspectors will give you a typed report within a week of the inspection. Great inspectors will give you your report at the site and go over it with you in person, which is why it’s important to be at your home inspection. The report should contain plenty of pictures and a good amount of detail as to what the areas of concern are. This will not only paint a picture of the overall condition of the home, but can help you and your Realtor decide which, if any, repairs you are going to ask for in the repair addendum.
- Do you offer re-inspections? In situations where you’ve requested major repairs, it’s a good idea to have the inspector come back out to reinspect the areas of concern. Many home inspection companies provide a re-inspection at a discounted cost to just look at the repairs that have been made to see if they were properly completed.
At the end of the day, the home inspection is a tool for the buyer to ensure that the home they are purchasing isn’t hiding unsafe and costly conditions. In competitive markets like Portland, people will sometimes waive the inspection period to make their offer stronger, but I think that’s like buying a car without a test drive. Taking the time and spending a little bit upfront can not only save you money later, but it can keep you from making a bad investment.
If you’re looking for a home inspector in the Portland Metro area, contact me and I can refer you to a few excellent local inspectors!
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a pet lover. I’m definitely one of “those” owners who is way too affectionate with their dog. Which means I’ve got pretty much 2 things on my mind at any given moment: real estate, and my pup. Pets are a part of the family, and when it comes time to sell your home, they can add some extra steps. Owning pets doesn’t have to mean a major obstacle for selling your home, though. Here are a few easy-to-follow tips that will have your place ready for showings in a snap:
Find a pet sitter during showings
There’s a good chance your prospective buyers are pet-friendly, but there’s also a chance that they don’t like animals or have allergies. There is a liability there as well if anything happens to a prospective buyer. I know my dog is very friendly when I’m around, but super protective of our home, especially if we’re not there. The safe bet is to keep your pets away from the home during a showing.
Give the home a thorough cleaning
Pet owners know that hair finds its way into every nook and cranny of a home. No matter how hard I try to keep up with dog hair, it always finds its way back. When you’re getting ready to sell your home, you should give it a top to bottom cleaning anyway, but if you’ve got pets you’ll want to especially do so. This means cleaning behind and underneath furniture and rugs, emptying out and cleaning closets, and cleaning any other hard-to-reach spaces that might be skipped during routine cleaning. Getting rid of pet hair and dust in those spaces will make a noticeable difference. This also will help combat pet smell: most pet owners become nose blind to the “dog” or “cat” smell in their home after a while, but buyers will definitely notice!
Create a quick pre-showing cleaning routine
The deep clean is a good start, but before a buyer shows up, make sure to sweep the floors, clean smudges from windows, and remove any hair from blankets and furniture. You don’t need to necessarily hide the fact that a pet lives there, but aside from maybe a toy bin and some food dishes, it shouldn’t be obvious. I’m also a big fan of the unscented Febreze Allergen Reducer (I have both the air spray and the fabric spray at my house). I think it does a great job of leaving the home smelling and feeling fresh, without being bogged down with scent. It also supposedly removes airborne allergens, which may be helpful for potential buyers with allergies.
Organize pet toys and other items
You don’t want toys, leashes, and other pet items strewn about your home. It should look like a human’s home, not an oversized doghouse. Get rid of the clutter and put all your pet items in one spot. A mud room or laundry room is a great spot for your pet’s belongings. If you have a cat that uses a litter box, it may be a good idea to put a cover over it at least when showings are being conducted. That way buyers won’t be staring into your cat’s litter box, and it may help contain any odor. This will improve your home’s appearance and show buyers that you are careful about containing pet-related activities.
What other ways have you prepped to sell your home with pets? Or do you have a horror story of a home with pet clutter and funk? Tell us in the comments!
Ah, the Comp. It’s a word you’ll hear over and over again in real estate. Comp is short for comparable property, and it is how a real estate agent will arrive at a market value for your home. If you are the seller, your agent will use comps to arrive at a recommended list price. If you’re the buyer, your agent will use comps to help suggest a fair purchase price. You may think that sale price is the only factor when you’re looking at comps and trying to set a price for your listing. But it’s actually a bit more complicated. Here are five things that affect comps that you might not be aware of:
- New construction nearby: Because of low prices for lots and varying prices in home building materials, new homes can actually be cheaper and cost less per square foot than existing homes. If there’s a lot of new construction nearby, that can affect the price for your own listing. A seasoned agent can account for this by using comps that are closer in age to your property, and assessing the quality of the finishes in a new construction compared to the subject property.
- Renovations: Recently renovated homes typically sell for more than homes that haven’t been updated in a while. If you’ve recently upgraded your home–especially sought-after upgrades like the kitchen or master bath, your home should be priced appropriately.
- Developable lots: Not all lots are created equal. Even if the square acreage is the same, a lot that’s easily developable will get a better price than a hilly or rocky lot that needs a lot of preparation. In this same vein is the zoning of the property. If your lot is zoned for multiple dwellings, it can fetch a higher price than a single family dwelling.
- Listing price vs. sale price: Whether sellers actually get their asking price depends greatly on the market. When you’re pricing your home, it’s important to look at sales prices, not just listing prices. The listing price doesn’t always accurately reflect what a home will sell for. Be sure to take note of average list price vs sold price as well. If homes are consistently selling for over or under listing price, it can give you a good idea of what a fair market value would be.
- Location: Nearby amenities, safety, schools, and noise levels can vary greatly within a neighborhood. Homes in more desirable parts of the neighborhood will sell for a higher price, all else being equal. Walkability is usually a very desirable trait, and so proximity to amenities can be a boost your home’s value. Similarly, being on too-busy of a street can lower your home’s value compared to other homes.
At the end of the day, fair market value is the price a buyer is willing to pay and a seller is willing to accept for a property. The best way to get your home in front of the most qualified and serious buyers is to have a competitively and accurately priced home, something a seasoned real estate broker can help you with!