While every sale is different in many ways, there are certain common elements that most residential real estate transactions contain:
1. Finding the property – The search for the perfect property to meet your needs and wants these days most often starts on line. There are numerous on line search sites that claim to have the biggest, most up to date inventory of properties available. The reality is that they all pretty much have the same properties, pulled from the same sources. If you want the most current information on properties listed with area real estate agents, use a search directly tied in to the local MLS, not aggregators such as Zillow and Trulia, whose data can sometimes lag days behind.
2. Looking at properties – Buyers need someone to let them in to see the properties of interest. While a buyer can try to contact the listing agent or seller (in the case of a FSBO) for each property, most buyers use the services of a buyer’s agent. The agent will have access to a showing service to facilitate making appointments for listed properties.
3. Researching the property – After viewing properties and narrowing down choices, it is usually back to the computer to find information on comparable sales, neighborhood crime statistics, local schools, nearby parks and other amenities, plans for new roads nearby, etc,
4. Negotiating the contract – Standard form fill in the blank contracts are typically used except in new construction, where most builders use their own contracts. Buyers and sellers are both advised to review the standard form contract at the beginning of the buying or selling process and make sure they understand the provisions. Trying to read and comprehend 10 plus pages of legal document involving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property when the pressure is on to make a decision is a good way to elevate stress levels that are already high.
5. Performing due diligence – The standard form NC residential real estate contract allows for a negotiated due diligence fee and due diligence time period. Typical due diligence items include inspections and appraisals and enough time should be allowed for any additional negotiations that might be needed to be completed prior to the due diligence period expiring.
6. Negotiating due diligence – Sellers are not required to make any repairs or concessions based on due diligence findings, but buyers have the right to back out of the contract and forfeit only their due diligence fee, so reasonable requests usually result in a reasonable agreement.
7. Getting financing approval – It is the buyer’s best interest to make sure they can secure the financing needed to purchase the property before their due diligence period expires. Working with a lender to get pre approval before finding a property can expedite the process.
8. Re inspection/walk through – If repairs have been agreed upon during due diligence, the buyer may want to have their inspector revisit the property to make sure they were done correctly. A walk through prior to closing helps ensure that there are no surprises when the buyer takes possession.
9. Closing – In North Carolina, closing generally means meeting in an attorney’s office to sign papers and exchange money for a deed to the property. If the buyer is getting a loan, the stack of papers to sign can be pretty high. The deal is not considered to be fully closed until the deed is officially recorded with the county Register of Deeds, usually soon after the meeting in the attorney’s office.