Answers to Your House Selling Questions

Q. I want to make a change on a contract. I have an existing contract to sell my home. I am not using a realtor. The appraisal came back low and I have agreed to change the price, along with some other addendums, such as I am no longer leaving my appliances. Where on the contract do I make this change? On the front, where the old price is, or on the last page under "additional terms"?

A. A contract is a binding legal document. Simply have a new contract prepared by an attorney with the new terms. Even licensed real estate brokers are only allowed to fill in the blanks on a pre-approved contract.

Q. I am in the preliminary stages of looking for a new home. Is it possible to use the equity in our current home as a down payment on a new one?

A. Absolutely, if you can qualify for the home equity loan and the two first and second home loans at the same time. Interest on all loans secured by a first and/or second home are tax deductible, no matter how many loans are secured by either, including home equity loans. You may want to think about making offers "contingent upon the sale and closing" of your first home, getting the home equity line and second home loan pre-approved, in case you need to close quickly. A contingency contract does not necessarily take the new home off of the market, but it puts you first in line for a brief period. If you have the home equity and second home loans lined up in advance, you can do it that way only if necessary to keep from losing out on the second home. This way you do not have to borrow the home equity loan for the down payment on the second home, unless necessary. Your real estate agent can explain all of the details. You may want to wait to get confirmation on your home equity LOC before you list your current home for sale. Some banks balk at extending additional credit on homes that are on the market.

Q. I have "sold" our house FSBO (contract signed, disclosures completed, earnest money accepted, etc.). I want to know what we need to do on our end as sellers regarding the closing. Is it simply showing up?

A. Contact whoever is handling the transaction for you - title company, attorney. etc. - and make sure all the forms are in place. Ask them if there's anything else you need to do to help things along. You might need proof that taxes are current, for example. Don't forget to contact your insurance company, utilities and post office.

Q. We currently have a sale pending on a property in Washington. The inspection has been done for the buyer's financing already. Closing is not even scheduled yet and their financing is questionable. Does the buyer have any rights to be on the property without notification to us during this process?

A. Buyers have the right of reasonable access to the property for appraisal, inspections, etc., but you can require that it all be done by appointment only. They do not have the right to just come onto your property whenever they feel like it (nor does anyone else). You can notify them or have your agent (if you have one) politely ask them to make appointments to come onto your property. They probably are just excited about their prospective new home, and don't have clue that their visits are bothering you.

Q. I am preparing my home for sale. It will go on the market in about 90 days. I have painted all of the rooms and woodwork. My question: What do inspectors look for during the inspection? Is there a standard checklist that I may be able to obtain? I would like to make sure that I have covered all of the items so there will be the least amount of work to do at the last minute or something that will slow down the sales process.

A. Since time is on your side with 90 days before you list the home, I would spend the $300 to hire your own home inspector and have him do a thorough job documenting the inspection. This serves two purposes. First, you have peace of mind knowing that if anything turns up, you can get it resolved now. Secondly, you can counter a buyer's home inspection report with more confidence. Just because someone puts an item on a home inspection report, doesn't mean it has to be automatically resolved for closing. It is simply another negotiating point. As the seller, the more grey-areas that you remove from the buyer in the way of negotiating room equals more money in your pocket. $300 is a small price to pay for that kind of leverage.

Make sure you get an inspector that is ASHI certified. He should have liability insurance for errors and omissions. You will want an inspector that inspects the roof, too. You will want an experienced inspector who has been inspecting homes for years.

The inspector makes a visual inspection of the condition of the home's heating system, central air conditioning system (temperature permitting), interior plumbing and electrical systems; roof, attic, and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; foundation, basement, and the visible structures of the home. The inspection will point out any need for repairs as well as any problems in the making. You will want to accompany the inspector so that he can point out any defects.

The inspection report should include an overview that lists major components and their condition. There should be a listing of items requiring normal maintenance, so you will know what needs attention, and a list of items requiring major repairs and expense.

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