Frequently Asked Questions
1) FAQ – Home Selling Process
- What should I do first if I want to sell my home? Disassociate yourself from the home. Once you have decided to sell, you need to remove your personal attached to the property. Look at it as a business transaction and do whatever it takes to make this property stand out amongst the others.
- Should I use a Realtor or do for sale by owner? If you choose to sell yourself, you must do everything! Get documents, handle negotiations, market the property, etc. It will cost you more money to NOT use a Realtor. 92% of home buyers are searching online. Great Realtors have strategies to get your property in front of potential buyers.
- Should I leave all my belongings in my home if I want to sell it? You want to create an environment where buyers can envision themselves in the space. Take down photos leaving only neutral items. Get rid of any excess furniture so the area feels more spacious. Clearing bookshelves, tables and cabinets will also help the space feel bigger. Organize closets and cabinets to make them neat and presentable. Everything will appear in its place and appeal to buyers.
- Should I repair anything before selling my house? You should make sure everything is in working order. Replace any broken appliances, locks, windows, fixtures, etc. Paint rooms to freshen them up, re-caulk tiles in kitchen and bathrooms and replace or have carpets cleaned. Make everything sparkle! Take a look at the home from the curb, could it use some sprucing up? Plant flowers
Keywords to sell your home faster!
Here are the top 15 listing description features that emerged from search results of sold homes. It is good to know what most people are looking for in this market. You will stand above the rest!
- Barn Doors- Sold 57 days faster
- Shaker Cabinet- Sold 45 days faster
- Farmhouse Sink- Sold 58 days faster
- Subway Tile- 63 days faster
- Quartz- 50 days faster
- Craftsman- 14 days faster
- Exposed Brick- 36 days faster
- Frameless Shower- 38 days faster
- Heated Floors- 28 days faster
- Stainless Steel- 42 days faster
- Granite- Sold 38 days faster
- Backslash- 46 days faster
- Tankless Water Heater
2) FAQ New Construction
Q: What is the advantage of going with a local builder?
A: When you choose a local contractor, you are choosing someone that knows the area. This helps with every step of the building process, from the permitting procedures to knowing the correct sub-contractors and vendors to use. A local contractor is also available to check on your new construction daily.
Q: What are some advantages to new construction?
A: 1. You can build a new home to your personal specifications by choosing the home site, floor plan, options and other features you want to include.
- A new home includes new technology and superior energy efficient components, including modern appliances, heating and air units, insulation and building material.
- Because building codes are always improving, a new home is built to the highest standards.
- Fewer repairs are needed in a home without years of wear and tear.
- Many new home communities have a HOA to protect the integrity of the neighborhood which helps maintain the value of your new home.
Q: What kind of warranty do I get on my new construction home?
A: In North Carolina, General Contractors are required to give a one year guarantee on the structural integrity of the home. You will more than likely be given a copy of the Contractor’s warranty showing what is and isn’t covered at your final walk through. This warranty can vary from contractor to contractor.
3) FAQ Home Inspection and WDIR
Q: What is a home inspection?
A: A home inspection is an evaluation of the visible and accessible systems and components of a home (plumbing system, roof, etc.) and is intended to give the client (usually a homebuyer) an understanding of their condition. It is also important to know what a home inspection is not! It is not an appraisal of the property’s value; nor should you expect it to address the cost of repairs. It does not guarantee that the home complies with building codes (which are subject to periodic change) or protect you in the event an item inspected fails in the future. [Note: warranties can be purchased to cover many items.] No home inspection should be considered a “technically exhaustive” evaluation; rather, it is an evaluation of the property on the day it is inspected, taking into consideration normal wear and tear.
Q: Who can perform a home inspection?
A: Only persons licensed by the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board are permitted to perform home inspections for compensation. To qualify for licensure, they must satisfy certain education and experience requirements and pass a state licensing examination. Their inspections must be conducted in accordance with the Board’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
Q: Why should I get a home inspection?
A: Most homebuyers lack the knowledge, skill and emotional detachment needed to inspect homes themselves. By using the services of a licensed home inspector, homebuyers can gain an understanding of the condition of the property, especially whether any items are so defective as to impair function or warrant further investigation by a specialist.
Q: How do I request a home inspection, and who will pay for it?
A: You can arrange for the home inspection or ask your real estate agent to assist you. Unless you otherwise agree, you will be responsible for payment of the home inspection and any subsequent inspections. If the inspection is to be performed after you have signed the purchase contract, be sure to schedule the inspection as soon as possible to allow adequate time for any repairs to be performed.
Q: Should I be present when the home inspection is performed?
A: Whenever possible, you should be present. The inspector can review with you the results of the inspection and point out any problems found. Usually the inspection of the home can be completed in two to three hours (the time can vary depending upon the size and age of the dwelling). The home inspector must give you a written report of the home inspection within three business days after the inspection is performed (unless otherwise stated in your contract with the home inspector). The home inspection report is your property. The home inspector may only give it to you and may not share it with other persons without your permission.
Q: Are all inspection reports the same?
A: No. While the Home Inspector Licensure Board has established a minimum requirement for report-writing, reports can vary greatly. They can range from a “checklist” of the systems and components to a full narrative including photographs. A home inspector is required to give you a written “Summary” of the inspection identifying any system or component that does not function as intended, or has tangible evidence that warrants further investigation by a specialist. The summary may also describe any system or component that poses a safety concern. The summary does not represent everything you need to know about the home. Carefully read and understand the entire home inspection report.
Q: What should I do if I feel something has been missed on the inspection?
A: Before any repairs are made (except emergency repairs), call the inspector or inspection company to discuss the problem. Many times a “trip charge” can be saved by explaining the problem to the inspector who can answer the question over the telephone. This also gives the inspector a chance to promptly handle any problems that may have been overlooked in the inspection.
Q: If, following the home inspection, the seller repairs an item found in the home inspection, may I have the home inspector perform a “re-inspection?”
A: Yes. Some repairs may not be as straightforward as they might seem. The inspector may be able to help you evaluate the repair, but you should be aware that the re-inspection is not a warranty of the repairs that have been made. Some home inspectors charge a fee for re-inspections.
Q: What is a WDIR?
A: The North Carolina Official Wood-Destroying Insect Information Report (Form No. WDIR 100), adopted by the Structural Pest Control Committee, is used for reporting the presence or absence of wood-destroying insects and their evidence in structures for sale. To issue this report an individual must be licensed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Structural Pest Control Division or work for someone who is licensed to perform structural pest control work. It is the only form that is legal for this purpose and is required on almost every residential structure sold. Therefore, it is especially important that homebuyers, lenders and other interested individuals understand the scope and limitations of this form.
Q: How is a WDIR inspection performed and what is inspected?
A: By law, an inspection for wood-destroying insects and their evidence is the careful visual examination of all accessible areas of a building and the sounding of accessible structural members adjacent to slab areas in contact with masonry walls and other areas particularly susceptible to attack by wood-destroying insects. Evidence includes both present and past activity of wood-destroying insects visible in, on or under a structure, or in or on debris under the structure. Permanently attached decks, porches, storage sheds, etc. are included in these inspections. Outbuildings or other detached structures are not routinely inspected unless specifically requested by the client. In order for the inspection to be completed correctly, the pest control operator (PCO) must have access to all interior and exterior areas of the structure to be inspected. Paragraphs I through 4 of the “Conditions Governing This Report” on the reverse side of the form, will discuss the extent of the inspection performed. Be familiar with these conditions. The PCO must indicate areas of the structure that were inaccessible at the time of his inspection. Obviously inaccessible areas, such as inside walls, beneath carpet or other floor coverings, etc., will not be listed separately. An inspection of inaccessible areas may necessitate the removal of walls and to provide access, which an additional fee may be charged.
Q: What will be reported on a WDIR?
A: The WDIR is issued for informational purposes and is required to reveal information concerning evidence of wood-destroying insects only. The PCO must report all visible evidence of wood-destroying insects and any conditions conducive to subterranean termites. The WDIR is not a warranty as to the absence of wood-destroying insects; it is a report of the visible presence or absence of wood-destroying insects at the time of the inspection.
Q: What conditions are not reported on a WDIR?
A: The PCO is not required to report the presence of damage or the extent of any damage. However, if the WDIR indicates that wood-destroying insects and their evidence are in the wooden members, it must be assumed there is some damage. The WDIR is not a structural damage report. Such evaluations should be left to a structural engineer, contractor or other building expert. The WDIR will not reveal the presence of or damage by wood-decay fungi (wood rot) or wildlife. Though the PCO may be the only individual who goes beneath or in the attic of the structure, he is not responsible for reporting everything that may be wrong with the structure. Structural and electrical defects and plumbing and roof leaks are not his area of expertise, except as the latter may cause conditions conducive to termites. Home inspectors or other contractors must be called to determine the integrity of these building elements. The PCO is not responsible for any evidence that may had been inaccessible at the time of the inspection. Buyers should take note of the areas listed on the form as inaccessible.
4) FAQ – Realtor Facts
Q: What is a Realtor?
A: A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® who is required to abide by a strict Code of Ethics. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark of the National Association of REALTORS® and misuse of the term is a trademark violation. To become a REALTOR® a person who holds a real estate license may join their local REALTOR® Association which makes them automatically a member of the State and National Associations.
Q: What does NOT need to be disclosed when selling your home in NC?
- If your home has polybutylene pipes.
- The square footage of your home (but if you do disclose, you are liable for the accuracy of the square footage). Also, if your home is listed in MLS, the local Multiple Listing Service may require square footage disclosure and then your agent is responsible for accurate measurement.
- If your home has hard coat stucco siding.
- If your home has asbestos siding, so long as it’s not friable.
- If your home has hardboard siding.
- If your home has pressure treated lumber.
- If you are behind on mortgage payments (so long as no notice of foreclosure has been filed or you are not in a short sale situation).
- If anyone with AIDS/HIV is living in the home or has died in the home from the illness. (Do not ever discuss AIDS/HIV, as this is covered under federal handicapped protection.)
- If anyone has died in the home, in general, or was killed in the home (but if asked, you cannotlie).
- If registered sex offenders live in the neighborhood.
- If your home is haunted.
- If your home has aluminum wiring.
- If your home was partially destroyed by fire or flood, so long as it was repaired and remodeled to code.
- If your home has received multiple offers to purchase.
Don’t forget that your agent is prohibited from discussing or providing any information about your neighborhood and area with respect to racial, religious, ethnic, social components.
In general, the overall rules to follow are:
- If you disclose something, the information must be accurate or you may be held liable.
- If you are specifically asked about something, you cannot give a false answer.
Q: What is a “material fact”?
A: One of the most difficult concepts for many homeowners to grasp is that of “material fact.” In its broadest sense a material fact may be said to be any fact that is important or relevant to the issue at hand. Because this is such a broad definition, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission has provided guidelines regarding what facts the Commission generally will consider to be material in most real estate transactions.
No matter who an agent represents in a transaction, the types of facts described below are material facts and must be disclosed to all parties with whom the agent deals if the agent is aware of such facts or should reasonably be aware of such facts.
Facts about the property itself.
Any significant property defect or abnormality Some examples are: a structural defect, a malfunctioning system, a leaking roof or a drainage or flooding problem.
Facts that relate directly to the property.
These are typically external factors that affect the use, desirability or value of a property. Examples are a pending zoning change, the existence of restrictive covenants, plans to widen an adjacent street, or plans to build a shopping center on an adjacent property.
Facts that relate directly to the ability of a principal to complete the transaction.
Any fact that might adversely affect the ability of a principal party to the transaction (buyer or seller) to consummate the transaction. Examples are the buyer’s inability to qualify for a loan and to close on the home purchase without first selling the currently-owned home, a seller’s inability to convey clear title due to the commencement of a foreclosure proceeding against the seller.
Facts that are known to be of special importance to a party.
There are many facts relating in some way to a property which normally would not inherently be considered “material,” but because they are known to be of special interest or importance to a party, they become a material fact. Example: The fact that a residential property may not be used for a home business due to zoning or restrictive covenants normally would not be a material fact; however, if an agent working with a buyer knows that the buyer wants to operate a home business, then the issue of whether the home can be used as such becomes a material fact.
5) FAQ Appraisal
Q: What does an appraiser do?
A: The fundamental role of an appraiser is expected to perform valuation services competently and in a manner that is independent, impartial, and objective. Typically appraisers are employed by lenders to estimate the value of real estate involved in a loan transaction. Appraisers also provide opinions in litigation cases, tax matters, and investment decisions, and a number of other capacities.
Q: When I pay for an appraisal, is it mine? How do I get a copy?
A:The rights to the appraisal are retained by the entity that engages the appraiser to complete the assignment; irregardless of who pays for the appraisal. Information about the appraisal, or actual hard or soft copies of it can only be transmitted to that entity; known as “the client.” This is based on federal legislation in the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The homeowner must obtain a copy from the lender who ordered it.
Q: If I decide to use a different lender, can I just change the name on the appraisal?
A: No. A different lender, by law requires a completely new appraisal assignment. It is AppraisersNC policy, that if this new assignment comes within 90 days of the effective date of the previous appraisal, the new report will be charged at 50% of the original fee. After 90 days, full fee is charged.
Q: What does an appraisal report contain?
A: Every report must indicate a credible value opinion and should document the following:
- Who engaged the appraiser and other intended users.
- How the appraisal is supposed to be used.
- The purpose of the appraisal.
- The type of value reported and a definition of the value reported.
- The effective date of the appraiser’s opinions and conclusions.(Sometimes this is in the past or maybe the future for new construction!)
- Relevant property attributes, including: location, physical attributes, legal attributes, economic factors, the property rights in question, and non-real estate items included in the valuation, such as personal property, permanent equipment installations and even intangible considerations.
- All known easements, restrictions, encumbrances, leases, reservations, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, and other items of a similar nature.
- Division of interest, such as fractional interest, physical segment and partial holding.
- What was included in the activity of completing the appraisal.
Q: Who does the appraiser work for?
A: Mortgage lenders are an appraiser’s most likely customer, requiring their services to ensure real estate involved in a mortgage transaction is adequate collateral for a loan. Appraisers also provide opinions for legal settlements, tax matters and investment decisions.
Q: What do I need to do to prepare for an appraisal of my home?
A: To speed up the appraisal process, it’s recommended to have these documents ready for the appraiser:
- A plot plan or survey of the house and land (if available).
- Information on the latest purchase of the property in the last three years.
- Information on any written private easements, such as a shared driveway with a neighbor.
- List of personal property to be sold with the building.
- Any paperwork, such as a title policy with information on encroachments or easements encroachments or easements.
- A bill for your most recent real estate taxes which should also contain a legal description of the property.
- Home inspection reports, or other recent reports for termites, EIFS (synthetic stucco) wall systems, septic systems and your well.
- Brag sheet that lists major home improvements and enhancements, the amount of their purchase and date of their installation (for example, the addition of energy efficiency upgrades or roof repairs) and permit confirmation (if available).
- Locate copies of the current listing agreement, broker’s data sheet and, in the event of a pending sale.
- Any “Homeowners Associations” agreements or, if applicable, condo agreements or fees.
- A list of “proposed” improvements when the property is being appraised “as complete”.
When the appraiser arrives, you do not need to accompany him or her along on the entire site inspection, but is usually helpful be available to answer inquiries about your property and identify any home improvements.
Here are some other recommendations:
- Accessibility: Appraisers are very detailed in their inspections. Make sure that all areas of the home are accessible, especially the attic and crawl space.
- Housekeeping: Appraisers see a lot of homes a year and will look past most clutter, but they’re human beings too! A good impact can translate into a higher value for your home.
- Maintenance: We generally recommend repairing minor things like leaky faucets, missing door handles and trim.
- FHA and VA Inspection Items: In the case of your borrower applying for either an FHA or VA loan, be sure to ask your appraiser if there are additional things that should be done before they arrive. Some things they may recommend might be: putting smoke detectors on every floor of the home and especially near bedrooms, where paint is peeling it should be scraped and repainted, fixing leaky or dripping faucets, fixing broken windows or other glass like doors.
6) What Not to Do – Buyer
Is there anything I should not do when trying to buy a home? YES! lots of things!
- Do not quit your job, change jobs or even take a promotion.
- Do not buy large ticket items. I know you want a new furniture suite for your new home but it can wait!
- Do not talk to the seller directly. Loose lips sink ships!
- Not getting a gift letter and bank statement for funds. Make sure you tell the person giving you the gift that you will need a gift letter.
- Not being completely honest with the lender about money. This includes anything from child support to wage reductions.
- Do not get advice from a buying committee that has not purchased in the last year. Rules change almost daily.
- Do not trash the property in front of the owners.
- Do not call other agents when you are already working with one. Your agent can help you with any property you are interested in.
- Not telling your agent that you have a house to sell before you can purchase another.
- Do not delay paperwork because you are irritated by how much paperwork you are being asked to provide the mortgage company. This will delay everything.
- Do not use a lender on the internet that offers a 1% interest rate.
- Not realizing it is possible to find what you are looking for the first day you go out. Trust your gut!
- Do not go home to sleep on it. The market is hot and the home will be sold tomorrow.
- Do not wait to find the absolute perfect house. You will always be limited by income, inventory, taxes and more.
- 80/10/10 rule- IF you find a house that has 80% of what you are looking for, 10% of things you can change and 10% of things you can live with, then it’s a keeper!
- Do not co-sign for ANYTHING. Not even a candy bar.
- Don’t schedule a vacation before closing.
- Do not order direct TV, cable, telephone, utilities that will pull your credit.
- Do not change your name.
- Do not have unreasonable expectations. It is not magic.
- Not getting a home warranty.
- Giving away your negotiation power by speaking in the house. Always assume you are being recorded!
- Do not post real estate thoughts on social media sites.
- Not getting a home inspection.
- Not being fully approved before you go looking. It is a waste of everyone’s time.
- Do not believe what you see on TV. HGTV and Realty television is scripted
- Not telling your realtor what is MOST important to you.
- Do not call at the very last minute to cancel appointments. Time is precious.
- Not using an Attorney that SPECIALIZES in Real Estate
- Not using name on driver’s license for mortgage docs, use Jr. and Sr. if required
- Not telling your lender if you lose your job before you close
- Do not look at a short-sale if you need to move immediately
- Dying before the transaction closes. This really messes things up!
7) FAQ Lending
Q: What are the common types of mortgage loans?
A: Conventional Loans – Conventional loans offer the opportunity for qualified homebuyers to purchase homes with down payments starting as low as 3.0% of the home’s purchase price. These loans adhere to the guidelines set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and offer fixed or adjustable interest rate options.
FHA Loans (Federal Housing Administration) -Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, these mortgage loans were established to make home buying more affordable, especially for first-time buyers, by allowing down payments as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.
VA Loans (Veteran Affairs) – VA loans are insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs and offer no- or low-down payment options and competitive interest rates on mortgage loans for current military service members and veterans.
USDA Loan (United States Department of Agriculture) – Backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, these loans are geared toward rural property buyers who meet specific income requirements. For qualified buyers, they offer no- and low-down payment options.
Q: What is the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification?
A: The pre-approval process is much more complete than pre-qualification. For pre-qualification, the loan officer asks you a few questions and provides you with a pre-qual letter. Pre-approval includes all the steps of a full approval, except for the appraisal and title search. Pre-approval can put you in a better negotiating position, much like a cash buyer.
Q: What is pre-qualification?
A: This is the process of determining whether a customer has enough cash and sufficient income to meet the qualification requirements set by the lender on a requested loan. A pre-qualification is subject to verification of the information provided by the applicant.
Q: What is an escrow payment?
A: The portion of the mortgagor’s monthly payment held by the lender to pay for taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance and other items as they become due. Also known as impounds or reserves in some states.
Q: What is a Closing Disclosure (CD)?
A: A Closing Disclosure is a five-page form that provides final details about the mortgage loan you have selected. It includes the loan terms, your projected monthly payments, and how much you will pay in fees and other closing costs to get your mortgage (closing costs).For most kinds of mortgages, borrowers will receive a Closing Disclosure.The Closing Disclosure is provided to you at least three business days before you close on the mortgage loan.
Q: What are some of the things a lender might ask for when getting a mortgage?
A: To avoid delays, try to find out in advance exactly what documentation your lender will require from you. In general, however, most lenders will ask for the following documents: purchase contract for the house, bank account numbers, name and address of your bank branch and your latest bank statement, pay stubs, W-2 forms, or other proof of employment and salary, information about debts including loan and credit card account numbers and the names and addresses of your creditors, evidence of mortgage or rental payments you currently pay, certificate of eligibility from the Veterans Administration if you want a VA loan.
Q: Can I pay more on my mortgage every month?
A: Yes, The extra payment of the mortgagor’s monthly payment will go directly towards your principal, allowing the mortgagor to build more equity and reduce your interest payments over time.
8) FAQ Title Insurance
Q: What is title insurance?
A: Title insurance protects against loss or damage resulting from defects that affect the title to your home or place of business.
Q: Why is title insurance important?
|A: Title insurance protects the investment you’ve made in your home or place of business. When you buy property, the previous owner conveys title to you to evidence your full legal ownership. Occasionally, a hidden defect in the title or a mistake in a prior deed, will or mortgage may give someone else a legal claim against your property. If a claim is made against your property, title insurance can save you time and money by:|
- Providing a corporate guarantee against insured defects;
- Paying all legal expenses to eliminate any title defects;
- Paying any claim arising from errors in title examination and recording; and
- Paying any loss arising from hidden defects in title and defects not of record.
Your title insurance protection is a permanent assurance that your ownership and use will be defended promptly against claims, at no cost to you, whether or not the claim is valid.
Q: What types of hidden risks does title insurance protect against?
A: Title insurance generally protects you against four kinds of hidden risks:
- Errors in the public records such as incorrect information in deeds and mortgages regarding names, signatures and legal descriptions;
- Judgments, liens and mortgages or any other claims against the property or the seller which become the new owner’s responsibility after closing, such as unpaid taxes, assessments and other debts to creditors;
- Claims to ownership by the spouse of a former owner or by the “missing heir” of a deceased owner who did not receive his share of the estate; and
- Invalid deeds or other transfers by sellers who did not actually own the property or by previous owners who were minors or not mentally competent.
Q: Who does title insurance protect?
A: There are two basic types of title insurance policies – one for the mortgage lender and one for the real estate owner. If a mortgage is to be placed on your new home or business, the lender will probably require you to purchase title insurance to protect its position as a holder of a mortgage loan, but this lender’s title insurance policy doesn’t protect the real estate owner. You need to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy to protect your investment.
Q: How much does title insurance cost?
A: You pay a one-time premium for coverage that lasts as long as you or your heirs own your property, or as long as you may be liable for any title warranties you make. Owners title insurance is one of the least expensive forms of insurance. In many cases the owner’s title insurance policy can be purchased at a reduced rate when a lender’s policy is also purchased.
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