Tina McManus' Blog
Once you sign a purchase agreement, whether you are the buyer or seller, it is very difficult to back out of it. However, as a buyer, you are able to back out if your real estate agent drafts the contract properly. Real estate agents use a standard contract. That does not mean that you have to accept the contract as it is written. You, as a buyer or seller, may make amendments to the contract. If you do make amendments, don’t get so crazy that the other party will file it in the round file.
Almost every real estate contract you see will have exceptions. In most cases, the buyer or seller has to add the exceptions. An exception is a condition that the buyer or seller has to meet. If the buyer or seller cannot meet that condition, the contract gets canceled and the buyer gets their earnest money back. Some examples of exceptions include:
Pending the buyer’s ability to obtain financing;
Pending a termite inspection;
Pending a home inspection; or
Pending clear title.
These are the most common exceptions, though buyers and sellers are not limited to only these. As for home inspections, buyers and sellers often negotiate repairs. If the repairs are significant, the buyer may ask the seller to grant a credit or to make the repair to keep the contract. If the seller refuses and the home inspection is listed as an exception, the buyer may back out and get their earnest money back.
Natural Disasters and Accidents
If Mother Nature rips down the house with a tornado or does extensive damage with a hurricane, the buyer may choose to back out of the contract without forfeiting their earnest money. If a fire burns the house down, whether it’s a forest fire or arson, the buyer may back out, as long as the buyer had no hand in the arson crime.
Other reasons a buyer may back out without forfeiting their earnest money include:
Extensive damage by trespassers;
If the buyer finds that the house is full of mold;
If the buyer finds that the seller did not disclose that the house had lead paint or asbestos.
Some contracts are written so that the buyer cannot back out because the seller did not disclose lead paint or asbestos. It is up to the buyer to ensure the clause in the contract is written so that they may back out of the contract. In fact, if asbestos or lead paint is a major concern for the buyer and the house is older, they may want to add that as an exception.
Always read real estate contracts carefully, including disclosures made by the seller. Amend the contract with exceptions if you are concerned about anything that may devalue the property.
There are many ways you can make your house attractive to prospective buyers. Curb appeal goes a long way when it comes to first impressions. Your yard is one indication of the amount of time you’ve spent caring for your property in general. Buyers are undoubtedly attracted to homes that have been properly maintained so if you plan to sell your property, don’t neglect your landscaping. Just like washing the dishes and vacuuming floors positively impacts the look of your interior spaces, regular yard maintenance will do the same for your exterior spaces.
The following tips can help give you a good head start:
Plan to mow your lawn at least once a week. Use a weed wacker or edger to clean up around fences or play yards where your lawnmower might not reach.
Remove weeds, leaves and clippings from walkways and patios. After you mow the lawn, use a leaf blower or broom to remove lawn clippings from walkways. If you have a brick or stone pathway, pull the weeds that may grow between the pavers.
Create clean edges between your grass and planting areas. You don’t need to install special materials to achieve this look. Use a straight-edge shovel to create or refresh an existing edge then add a fresh layer of mulch or stone to complete the transition.
Overgrown plants can be hard for homebuyers to overlook. Neglected shrubs and bushes may block the view of your house, they may interfere with walkways, doors, or other plantings and often just look untidy. Invest in a pair of loppers or hand pruners that can handle the plantings on your property. If you are not familiar with how to approach trimming the shrubs or trees you have, be sure to do some research before you start cutting. A local nursery or landscaper can provide advice on how and during which season you should prune your plantings.
A smart way to attract prospective buyers is to improve the landscaping around your home. Consult with your real estate agent for more ways to improve your curb appeal and for local landscaping resources.
If you've spent much time online seeking ways to sell your home, you've probably run across "professional home staging" options. While many of these are a great choice, they can be cost-prohibitive if your agent doesn't include those services with your sale. You aren't left in the lurch though, you can do a variety of things with your existing furnishings to clean up your home and make it more appealing to buyers. The hardest part of this process is to take yourself out of the house. It no longer matters what you love or what each room means to you, its now about creating a blank but appealing canvas that your potential buyers can see ways to make their own.
Properly staged homes, and that usually means neutrally staged, often sell up to 50% faster and for up to 10% or more over the asking price. Want in on this extra profit?
It’s easy as 123…
1. Clean and Neutral Colors: give your rooms a fresh coat of paint in neutral tones. Creams, warm grays and sand tones can brighten up your rooms without going all the way to white which creates an inviting look. It's not just the paint though, apply the same rules to your furniture and window coverings. Try to get as much natural sunlight into each room as possible and use bright and light tones to reflect that light around the room. Don't forget the bathrooms here, going for brighter neutral patterns on shower curtains, rugs and towels as well.
2. No More Hoarding (at least not in public): Yes, those pictures of your wedding or your kids are incredibly important to you, but this is about your buyers. Too much clutter or too many personal items in a design can make it difficult for potential buyers to decorate in their mind. You want your buyer to see themselves in the space, not you. That means removing family photos, trophies, kids' art and basically anything that speaks to your family life in the home. If you’re living in the home and showing at the same time, try going through your belongings and packing up things you don’t need into a storage unit. Keeping your closets only comfortably full and storage spaces empty of holiday decorations makes them more appealing to buyers.
3. Simple Spaces for Anyone: Remember that storage unit? Use it again for extra furniture. Keep only the items that work best in the space. Remove over-sized or extra-personal items to help your buyers see the house and what they can do with it. Stick with furniture that goes with the home itself, rather than the pieces you have for sentimental value. Also, remember to remove all or the majority of items that make a space age-specific where possible. Unless you're explicitly showing off a nursery, make the rest of the home design work regardless of children or buyers' ages.
Your real estate professional can give you specific advice based on your particular possessions and home layout.
People downsize their living-space for all kinds of reasons. Making the decision to downsize shouldn't be a negative experience and shouldn't feel like your downgrading your home. Follow these tips to level up your lifestyle and home enjoyment while downsizing your accommodations.
Find a space that works for you.
You might be moving from a large home with a big kitchen or dining area to a more compact condo or cottage and feel like you're losing a lot of space. Think about how your current home is laid out and what parts you utilize the most. If you love your big kitchen, then search for a highly functional, if smaller, kitchen space. Pay attention to how you move through your kitchen now, is it fluid to go between different cooking, prep and cleaning areas? You might find that in reality, you run around your kitchen and loose efficiency. Look for a more compact, but well-appointed kitchen in your new home search and find an even better space for the cooking and entertaining you love.
Modernize your home view.
Your current home may have significant square footage, but how is it laid out? Are there lots of walls and hallways separating your rooms? What height are your ceilings? Does your house have a plethora of windows? Many modern homes have great open layouts. Shared space—a kitchen that opens to your living room, for example—makes both areas feel more substantial. Consider a condo or loft that has extra high ceilings and employ vertical storage to give height and openness to your living space. Finally, windows, windows, windows. Look for a home with large windows, and lots of them. Opening your house up to the beautiful outdoors and letting in lots of natural light gives your home the most added feeling of enlarged space.
Make your new rooms work double for you.
- Invest in a home with open kitchen, living, and dining spaces so you can entertain and remain a part of the activity while creating a meal or prepping drinks.
- Combine your office, guest and craft rooms into one multi-functional space. Use modern storage and office systems to keep your room organized and ready to use for any purpose. Find a great sofa bed for seating and guest use or go old-school with a built-in Murphy bed with added shelving on the exterior.
- Use combination appliances like a stacking washer and dryer or upgrade to front loading systems that you can put under the countertop or build a worktable over.
- Look for outdoor space that maximizes your interior space. French doors or a big sliding door that opens your living or dining room up to your patio expands your useable entertaining space. Find a home with a balcony off the master bedroom and extend your feeling of outdoor space.
Amenities. Amenities. Amenities.
In your home search consider narrowing in on communities with amenities that improve your lifestyle. Community gyms, pools, clubhouses, dog parks, and even a golf course are great opportunities to add to your lifestyle and help you make new connections. Properties with large green areas, barbecue pits, and trees make you feel like the whole community is your backyard. Associations that take care of maintaining your yard or washing windows can reduce the time you spend on home upkeep and free you up to live your life.
No matter the reason for your downsize take the smart steps to make it work for you and help you upgrade your living. Before you start your home search consult with your real estate professional about the best way to find the right space for you.