Some scary real estate 'boos' and ways to avoid them

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As I shop the stores and drive by neighborhood homes, I see lots of pumpkins. In one store, I saw a huge skeleton with big teeth and eerie lights that was selling for $199.

Though Halloween is not until Oct. 31, now might be a good time to share some scary real estate stories with you, especially if your home is for sale, under contract, or you are thinking about selling.

Here are some scary real estate "boos" and ways to avoid them:

Listing Price BOO: Your home is on the market for two and a half weeks and no showings. Your real estate agent says your price is too high; it should be lowered from $449,900 to $399,900.

  • Expert agents should be able to accurately determine a property's market value and price range. Before listing your home, interview two or three agents and compare their price determinations.

Few Days Before Closing BOO: Just before you are ready to close the home you sold, your agent calls and says the closing will be delayed because of a problem with the buyer's loan package and final approval.

  • Before negotiating the sale, obtain a "loan pre-approval letter." In the contract, include a "loan commitment contingency" (e.g., requiring that the buyer obtain a full underwriting approval subject to appraisal).

Seller's Net Proceeds BOO: At closing, the seller expected to receive $141,000, but the cash to seller on the settlement statement was $91,000.

  • Estimate your net proceeds when negotiating your sales price (determine mortgage balance, loans and liens if any). Ask your agent what closing costs to expect. Some agents will provide a net proceeds sheet. Ask your attorney to see a pre-settlement statement.

Possession and Move-In BOO: You move into your new home. There are no appliances in the kitchen, the washer and dryer are gone, and the walls and doors are banged up. Yet everything was okay when you did your walk-through one week before closing.

  • Do the walk-through (e.g., the final buyer's inspection) on the day of the closing. If there is any damage, missing items or other problems, get them corrected before releasing funds, or withhold funds from the seller's proceeds.

Larry Stoller is a real estate consultant and advertising executive who loves living in Bluffton and helping real estate agents and sellers get homes sold.

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