Category Archives: Sellers

What’s the Difference Between a Due Diligence Fee and Earnest Money Deposit?

earnest-money-deposits-1031-closing-costs

Both North and South Carolina real estate Offers to Purchase and Contract are structured such that both an earnest money deposit and due diligence fee may be offered and negotiated between the parties. Many buyers and sellers ask, what’s the difference between a due diligence fee and the earnest money deposit? Both the earnest money deposit and the due diligence fee are credited back to the buyer at closing. If buyer doesn’t close on the transaction however, earnest money deposits and due diligence fees are handled differently.

due-diligenceAn earnest money deposit is offered by a buyer as ‘skin in the game’ and is refundable under certain circumstances. In our market a $1,000 earnest money deposit it is typical for most purchases. For offers in a multiple-offer scenario however, the seller may find a larger earnest money deposit more attractive because it means the buyer is willing to risk more.

A buyer may, for any reason or no reason, terminate a contract with refund of the earnest money deposit if he has met the due diligence date deadline and communicated his termination in writing prior to 5 o’clock of the business day of the date given for the North Carolina contract. Although the contract states that the earnest money it is to be refunded to the buyer if the terms are met, be aware that the seller must sign a specific document to release that money back to the buyer.

The due diligence fee is basically an offer from a buyer to the seller to take the north-carolina-due-diligence-feehouse off the market for the due diligence period, typically from 10 days to 3 weeks or more, depending upon the overall duration of the transaction.  In a typical transaction where Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner is the seller, a due diligence fee may be paid.  However, if the property is owned by a bank, no due diligence fee is paid.

A due-diligence fee is similar to a reservation fee. It is nonrefundable. Period.

Prior to advising a buyer on structuring an offer, a Buyer’s Agent has the fiduciary responsibility (the responsibility to promote the buyer’s best interests) to consider all aspects of an offer that may put the buyer’s due diligence fee at risk, including inspection time frames, availability of scheduling home inspectors, termite inspectors, appraisers and any other conditions deemed important to the buyer, and for the reports to be returned for review.

For additional questions on this or any other real estate topic, feel free to give me a call!  Text for faster service: 704.562.1030  Who do you know who’s thinking of buying or selling real estate?  SEARCH for your Dream Home or learn more about what clients who work with me are saying here: TheSafariGroup.com

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cbs isaChrystal realtorLogoSafari Roy, Broker in Charge of RERCharlotte, an Investor-Centric Real Estate Firm bringing you from Purchase to Portfolio located in SouthPark Towers, and Team Lead of The Safari Group, has over 20 years experience in investing, personal property management and residential real estate sales and is a licensed REALTOR® in North and South Carolina.  As a MASTERS Designation holder, she is a specialist in New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, Technology, and is a multi-million dollar producer.  Chrystal is a Certified Military Residential Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, and HUD Registered Agent.  Search for your Dream Home at TheSafariGroup.com.Equal Housing

Marital Property and Proceeds in North and South Carolina

Screenshot 2016-03-29 08.17.23*Consult your licensed and admitted attorney in your state for legal advice.  This post is sharing my own experiences as an experienced REALTOR® licensed in both NC and SC.

In North Carolina we have a saying, ‘It takes one to buy and two to sell real estate in North Carolina.’

Generally, if both husband and wife appear on title, both must sign documents (mortgage, rescission and TIL); If only one spouse is on title to property being mortgaged, individual state law applies.

North Carolina is what’s called a dower state. Properties purchased by a married couple is a marital asset even if only one buyer signs documentation (unless that property is purchased by an entity*) and the property is equally owned by both parties, each with rights and responsibilities to the property. When making a purchase, if the intention is for each spouse to protect the others’ marital rights to the property should one spouse pre-decease the other, the closing attorney should include both spouses on the title with rights in common, or as directed by your closing attorney.

Properties owned prior to the marriage are not necessarily marital assets unless Screenshot 2016-03-29 08.45.56the non-signing spouse completes major updates to the property as a major investment in the property.  Each scenario must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

In the case of a spouse inheriting a property, the non-inheriting spouse must sign all documentation to list and sell that property. Often the non-inheriting spouse tells me, ‘That’s not my property and I don’t need to sign.’ Signing to list and sell, and ultimately to close on that property’s sale is for the non-inheriting spouse’s protection.  The spouse who did not inherit the property is signing away both his rights and his further responsibilities to that inherited property.

In contrast, South Carolina is not a dower state, it’s a Homestead (owner Screenshot 2016-03-29 08.48.24occupied) state and common law jurisdiction – what’s hers is hers, what’s his is his. Any husband or wife may freely and individually buy or sell any property with no benefit or responsibility to the other party. As long as the spouse is not on title, the spouse will not be required to sign, and perhaps more importantly, not be due any proceeds.

In the case of a married couple who has purchased a home together, but with only one spouse on the title in SC, if the other spouse wishes to receive a portion of the proceeds from closing and the parties don’t agree, that non-titled spouse must be awarded a court order for the proceeds to be divided.

*A Caveat – properties owned by an entity, such as an LLC or Corporation, or an interest owned by a Trust follow different rules of law and the above doesn’t apply.

NOT INTENDED FOR LEGAL ADVICE – Consult your favorite real estate attorney for full details.

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Chrystal is a REALTOR®, Broker in Charge of Real Estate Realty LLC, a boutique firm specializing in working with investors, and principal of The Safari Group LLC, a local,cbs isa homegrown real estate group, specializing in all phases of the residential and small business real estate market, including First Time Home Buyer, New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, Technology, Foreclosures, Short Sales, Portfolio Development, Luxury Homes and GREEN Features.  Contact her at 704.562.1030; TXT for faster service

How to Hire a Contractor to do Work in Your Home

home work  An important aspect of hiring a contractor to do work in your home is to understand what permits, special requirements or licensure are required for each job.  Once that’s understood, you can know whether it’s best to hire a licensed contractor or a handyman.

REFERRALS
Be sure to ask for referrals and references and know the relationship of those referring parties to the contractor. Ask for pictures of installations on similar jobs that have been performed for others and give those referring parties a call or visit to ask how the work was performed, the attitude during the job, coming in on budget and wrapping up on time.  Discover if there are any negative remarks online or with the BBB.   Be sure he or she is qualified to handle the scope and type of work needed, especially with regard to special conditions such as lead based paint, asbestos, mold, etc.

IDENTITY
If the home is occupied, if personal items are stored there or is otherwise notid_verified vacant, be sure to qualify your contractor if he’s unknown to you through online services such as mysmartmove.com or others.  Get a copy of the contractors driver’s license and have him sign a w-9 to include his social security number.  If you’re an investor and renovations are common for you, you may want to investigate the Verify Photo ID app recommended by Inman News.

CONTRACT
Next, execute an Independent Contractor Agreement with your contractor. Be certain it has no verbiage or requirements to suggest the contractor is an employee of yours.

PHASES
Now is the time to outline and understand the three phases of the renovation. The initial Phase One is paid on day 1 of the job.  The subsequent draws for Phases Two and Three should be paid by the week, on a Monday or Tuesday. In constructing the phases, the contractor should budget for each item and any overages or misquote is the responsibility of the contractor, not the homeowner. Make sure your agreement covers things such as milestones, and outlines the scope and sequence of the work to be completed. The contract should include the description of all work, and condition of Customer Satisfaction such as all items completed in a workman like manner, job site left clean and tidy daily, and no items incomplete.

MATERIALS
selecting-the-right-color-bigIdeally the home owner should have chosen paint colors, sheens, types for each space, cabinets, granite and whatever materials will be used in the project at the source. Have your Independent Contractor pay for those materials and have that provider deliver the materials to the job site, then reimburse the contractor immediately – this strategy avoids any appearance of establishing an employee/employer relationship. Do not pay for routine tools and supplies the contractor uses in his everyday business such as paint brushes, ladders tarps , etc.

UPDATES
If you’re not the owner occupant at the job site, require the contractor to provide daily pictures and videos of each phase when complete before scheduling a personal inspection and before payment on that phase is released.  An investor can use this in the future or marketing.

COMPLETION
In exchange for the final payment the homeowner should sign off that he is satisfied with the job, and the independent contractor should sign that he is releasing all liens in exchange for final payment.

For a No Obligation Sample Copy of my Independent Contractor Agreement, email me.  I’ll be glad to help.  Chrystal.Roy@RERCharlotte.com | 980.355.9025

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cbs isaChrystal Safari Roy, Broker in Charge of RER Charlotte, an Investor-Centric Real Estate Firm bringing you from Purchase to Portfolio located in SouthPark Towers, has over 20 years experience in investing, personal property management and residential real estate sales and is a licensed REALTOR® in North and South Carolina.  As a MASTERS Designation holder, she is a specialist in New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, Technology, and is a multi-million dollar producer.  Chrystal is a Certified Military Residential Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, and HUD Registered Agent.  View all our properties at RERCharlotte.com.

How to Prepare Your Home as a Product for Market

The 6 D’s of a Quick Home Sale

Preparing your home as a product for market is very different than living in your home. You must remove your emotion from the deal and look on it as a business proposition. If you’re not ready to do that, it’s best to wait and not put your house on the market. Think you’re ready?

Setting the stage for a home sale means preparing your home to appeal to the broadest market. Here are the 6 D’s to a quick home sale:

Declutter

You’ll be packing to move anyway, so it’s time to put away anything you wouldn’t find an a 4 star hotel room. That means you must walk around every room beginning from the left side of the door and sweeping back around to the right side of the door removing items are visually conflicting or create a sense of having no space. It’s time to put away anything that catches dust and doesn’t add to the attitude or identity of the room. Don’t forget to organize and purge the pantry, linen closets and garage.

Decorate

Each room should be decorated in a way that creates an identity for the intended space. You may have used the dining room for an office, but it’s important for a buyer to see the dining room decorated as a dining room. The decor should be as neutral as possible and not visually distracting. Neutral doesn’t always mean beige! The rule of 60-30- 10 applies. 60 % is a dominant color, 30% is the secondary color, and 10% is the accent color.

Consult the color wheel to select your palette. Keep trendy colors to the 10 percent; think throw pillows, table top decor or towel sets. White space also applies to decor. White ceilings and furnishings can make a dark room feel spacious and rich, yet intimate. Be sure adjoining rooms have complementary patterns and color palettes.
Add lighting where needed.

Deep Clean

Have your property deep cleaned. Don’t forget to change HVAC filters and have siding pressure washed. Buyers perceive a dirty house to have been ignored behind the scenes, such as plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling systems.

Depersonalize and Demilitarize

Put away all family pictures & portraits. You can’t have buyers coming in and say to themselves, ‘Aww, we can’t make this sweet little family move!’ Set the stage for inviting buyers to picture themselves in your space. Buyers must feel that they only need to carry in their suitcases!
Remove all religious items and die-hard fan memorabilia. The home purchase is first made with emotions, then backed up with logic and secured with finances. I was once showing a house to a buyer and when we arrived in the bonus room filled with fan memorabilia, he remarked that he could not buy a house owned by a fan of his biggest college rival.

Demystify

Don’t have buyers shaking their heads when they leave your property. All homes will get a nickname. A personal favorite was ‘the crayon house.’ From the view from the kitchen to the great room to the second floor loft, each wall had a different color! It was very distracting for the buyer to evaluate the house as a whole because of that first impression visual impact and attitude of the crayon/toy box.
Buyers are usually in the car seeing several similar homes a day in the same price range. If your list price does not measure up to everything else that was seen in regard to size, condition and materials, it will confuse the buyer who will mentally put your listing aside and your property will not be seriously considered.

SOLD!

Staged homes sell faster and for more money.

For a personal inspection and recommendation of staging strategies for your home before listing, give me a call. Following my personal consultation with the seller 6 weeks prior to listing, my Personal Best Days on Market was THREE HOURS!! and it was 10% More than Sellers thought possible! For a free evaluation of what your property might bring in today’s market, contact me today.

Chrystal Safari Roy / 704.562.1030 / MyAgentChrystal@gmail.com

Avoid Foreclosure – AND the Tax Man

stop-foreclosure1Have you ever wondered why some foreclosures sit on the market for what seems like forever and others are foreclosed on right away? The homeowner who has diligently paid their mortgage on time year after year and have built up equity in their home are foreclosed on first! The bank sees the value and plans to make back their money AND get your equity when they auction off your home.

Other homeowners who have little or no equity are allowed to remain in the home without payment sometimes for years!  Banks know they will reduce the incidences of vandalism and have someone who may keep up the home for free if they are allowed to remain.  It also allows the market to appreciate over that time so that a future sale will be more profitable for the bank.

Then, if that’s not enough, the IRS will charge you income tax on the loan amount

tax man in the form of a 1099 Miscellaneous. Your foreclosed loan is taxed as earned income in that single tax year!

Unfortunately sellers lose their home and their equity to banks all the time and then have the double jeopardy of having to pay an additional tax in already distressed situation.

You have options the bank doesn’t want you to know about.  I can help. Call me or go online here and answer a few questions, and I’ll work with you to get what you want for your home and get you moving forward again. I am a REALTOR®, but this is not about listing your home for sale.  I am also an investor and this is about getting you what you want for your house, helping you prevent foreclosure and the taxman. Don’t wait until you’re more than two to three months behind.  Then, it’s much harder to help you get what you want for your house.

cbs isaPlease call me as soon as you know you can’t make your payment.  I’ll ask a few confidential questions by phone to see if my team and I can help, and schedule a visit to see your property.  Call or email me today.  Click this link to see the questions.  My team and I can help you prevent foreclosure, the taxman and get you moving forward.

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Here’s a testimonial from a loyal fan:

‘Chrystal, your experience and professionalism helped me prevail through difficult times in the listing and sale of my long-time family home.

From creating professional marketing materials including onsite brochures, online photo tour, and email blasts, promotion of my listing through TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and YouTube.com, to showing the house 6 of the 24 times it was shown, you were on the job.

After the property was under contract, your previous experience and successful resolution of similar problems discovered during the home inspections helped me work through a difficult transaction that included a breakdown in communications, unexpected property conditions and lender required repairs, and keeping the buyer on track with lending requirements and in love with the house until closing.

I couldn’t have done it without you.  It’s my pleasure to recommend your real estate services to everyone I know.’

Tony Sweatt, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Navigating a Charlotte Area Short Sale

Prior to listing a property for sale, the seller must document hardship and the inability to pay the promised mortgage to receive approval from the lending bank to allow a short sale. Those documents must be updated monthly. Once the property is listed, showings and offers begin.

From a buyer’s point of view, once he’s decided to make an offer, the homeowner accepts, rejects or negotiates the offer. If and when all terms are agreed upon, the home goes under contract with the homeowner. The Offer to Purchase and Contract package is sent to the lender’s loan liquidation department along with a proposed HUD or settlement statement.

From there, an asset manager, sometimes called a file manager, is assigned. That can take hours to days, depending upon the bank’s volume of sales in the short sale department. Once the asset manager is assigned, all paperwork is forwarded and reviewed. Back up offers from other interested sellers are also received and submitted for consideration.

If all goes well, within 30 days or so, the investor who purchased the loan from the bank reviews the Offers/Contracts and decides whether or not he also accepts the terms offered. The bank then communicates the decision back to the seller who lets all parties know the verdict.

Behind the scenes, the bank must also eliminate or settle any second mortgage or other liens to make way for a clear title to be transferred to the buyer. Title companies won’t issue a title policy assuring no one else can step forward to claim ownership with any money still owed.

It can take as many as long as 6 months to iron out all the details. At any time, until the day and time of closing when the documents are signed and recorded, the investor may accept any other offer and bump the buyer’s to a null position.

Because many buyers don’t stay in the game for the duration, and for other reasons, fewer than 40% of short sales close. The property then becomes a foreclosure owned outright by the bank. It’s negotiated simply and can close in 15 days for a cash buyer, 30 days for conventional loan, and 45 days for an FHA loan.

It takes a special kind of dedicated buyer to pass by all other listings and continue hammering through a short sale for weeks and months at a time with no update from the bank. It you think that’s you, let’s talk. There are many great deals out there. Call me to discuss your big picture. 704-562-1030

Seller Tip: Don’t Try This at Home

Or What a Seller Did to Infuriate Me and cut off his own nose to spite his face.  My investor buyers, who already had a renter lined up, wanted to see a cute house set atop a hill near their home.  The house was newer, had a 2 car garage, large yard, larger bedrooms and walk-in closet in the master and looked like a great potential investment.  We submitted a complete package, made a cash offer to close in 10 days, and hoped for the best. 

We were overjoyed when the listing agent called with a counter offer that was reasonable and my clients accepted.  Before the paperwork could exchange hands, the listing agent called back to say there were now multiple offers on the table and that my clients should come back with their highest and best, after our verbal offer had been accepted!  Well imagine my surprise when the listing agent argued there was no contract to honor!  She had not gotten the counter offer signed by her seller before presenting it, and in fact, it was true – there was no contract to honor. 

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission states a broker can only give Notice of Acceptance; the broker can’t bind a client to a contract that the client hasn’t signed.  A Broker will create a binding contract by notifying the party making the offer/counter-offer, or that party’s Broker, that the Broker has in their possession the offer signed & accepted by their client as written;  A call to the Legal Department that day revealed that although what the agent did was not illegal, it was, however, unethical.  

Much of real estate is transacted in good faith, and it’s common practice and legally binding to communicate acceptance by phone, email, fax, and mail.  In this case, the agent communicated acceptance of the counter offer without having the seller signed docs in hand.  The greedy seller then violated his word, and lured by the smell of money, accepted another offer described by the listing agent as ‘WAY WAY over the list price’ instead of signing what he’d agreed to.  The agent said the offer was so ridiculous that it probably wouldn’t work out, and that she’d call me if and when it went back on the market.  

My clients and I were angry and frustrated.    They went on the get another great property under contract.

Then, you guessed it.  The email arrived.  The buyers, who had their contract accepted on the basis of a cash purchase, couldn’t get a loan.  Poor buyer.  Poor seller.  My offer had gone in with a proof of funds letter; apparently, theirs did not.

My buyers are very happy with their new purchase, and we close Friday. 

There’s no way they’d have gone back to negotiate with the previous seller after what they’d experienced.  There was just too much risk with all the behind the scenes chain of events that must come together smoothly to close that the seller and listing agent couldn’t be trusted to perform. 

And the seller’s property is still on the market… and that smell of cold hard cash has long wafted away.

For an agent who does things the right way, and protects your best interests from contact to close, contact me by phone or text at 704.562.1030 For a property search to get you on your way to building your investor portfolio, visit TheSafariGroup.com and SEARCH Properties.