Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Seller,
Congratulations on negotiating a contract on your home! Now the frustration begins.
This is your home that you have loved, dreamed in and hopefully plan to sell with enough equity to move on to a brighter future. Unfortunately, you are about to find out that this process is all about the buyer. You, the seller only matter to your real estate agent and your attorney. The buyer, their agent, their attorney, their appraiser, inspectors and so on think this process is all about them and North Carolina agrees. I hate this for you.
Expect your home to be scrutinized. Every nook and cranny, every crack will be brought into question. Even a light bulb that is burned out will become a fixture that needs repair in the eyes of the inspector.
Expect many people traipsing through your home. It would be nice if everyone could coordinate their visits but it won’t happen. The contract that you signed (that was written by the state of NC – we only filled in the blanks) stipulates that you will make the home accessible. Yes, you can say no to a certain day or time but it may be the only time for two weeks that the appraiser can get in so saying no because it is personally bad timing for you will increase the chance that closing will have to be delayed.
Where NC really sides with buyers is the Due Diligence period. This is the amount of time that the buyer reserves to inspect the house, secure their loan and get all lenders and attorneys paperwork in order. Often this period of time is 30 days with close of the sale 5 days later. That means the buyer can back out of this sale, without repercussion, right up until almost closing. As a seller’s agent, can I tell you how much I HATE this? How are you supposed to feel secure about buying the next house, putting a deposit on an apartment, MOVING OUT unless you know the deal is going through? You don’t. In many ways it’s a leap of faith and the State of North Carolina has set it up that way.
Hopefully you have chosen your listing agent and attorney wisely. They are your advocates in this transaction. Their job is to stay on top of this sale and get the reassurances that you need that everything is working out. They will always be on the lookout for red flags that will affect your closing. Often they do their best and they are still blindsided. Their information is only as good as what the other parties share with them. An experienced agent will be able to sense when something isn’t right and hopefully steer the contract to safe ground.
Another sad fact is that real estate favors those with money. I recently had two homes sell in the same week. The first was under contract with little fuss, flew through inspections with few issues, was appraised as soon as the appraisal was ordered and closed on the sale a week early. The second home had a fairly clean inspection report but since it was a USDA loan, there were repairs requested and negotiated that never should have come in to play except USDA demanded the seller make the repairs. The inspection was ordered and then missed their 10 day due date. The survey was done on the very last day. The buyer needed additional funding to replace a roof that was not yet in need of repair, it was just old. This contract finally closed a month late. What was the difference? Money. All parties, buyers and sellers, were wonderful people. The sellers did their best to care for their homes and the buyers were buying homes that were in their budget. There should have been no difference in how these contracts proceeded but there was. I hate this too.
If this letter comes off a bit harsh, I apologize. There are some bitter truths in real estate and I don’t want to sugar coat them. On the flip side, not every closing is contentious. I had one that was delayed for an entire year while we replaced a septic, installed a well and replaced a bridge. The seller was handling the estate for his parents. The buyers were a young couple that had the luxury of waiting. Everyone worked together as one issue lead to another but eventually we all celebrated together when we finally received the clear to close. This is how all transactions should work. We are all working together for a common goal and it is wonderful when all parties keep this in mind.
In closing Mr./Mrs./Ms. Seller, keep your chin up. The goal is to sell your home and move on to your next chapter. Your Real Estate Agent is your Advocate. It’s their job to manage this transaction and attempt to take as much stress off of you as they can. Remember, this is one to two months out of your life. It will end and you will move on. A year later it will be but a blip in the road. A sunny horizon is in sight. Your agents task is to get you there.