Choosing a REALTOR is the first step in the home selling process. The selection of a REALTOR in a community like Greenwich is made easier by the presence of the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service. Almost every real estate agent in the community is a member of the Greenwich MLS, giving each REALTOR access to all properties listed in the MLS. You could start the search by asking your friends or your attorney to recommend a good candidate for you. Although a Real Estate company’s reputation is important, your relationship will be with the Agent himself/herself. The REALTOR you choose should be a full time agent with broad experience and total knowledge of the market.
Everything in your home needs to be looked at through the “eyes” of the buyer. Your REALTOR should be able to help you with this. They will suggest things to be done to the property to ensure the highest price, such as painting (interior and exterior), removing valuable objects and “decluttering”, having the windows washed, gutters cleaned and making other minor repairs that may be necessary. You should expect your Agent to be very frank with you about what your home may need to facilitate a timely sale.
Once you select a REALTOR you will be requested to sign a listing contract, a Greenwich MLS data input form, a State of Connecticut “Residential Property Condition Disclosure Form”, and a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Disclosure Form regarding lead based paint hazards (for properties built prior to 1978). Your Agent will review these documents with you, and if you care to seek legal advice, then do so before signing. Selling your house is disruptive and can be intrusive into your every day life, but your agent will work hard to minimize this.
The listing REALTOR of your property will schedule an Open House for the other REALTORS who are members of the Greenwich MLS so they may preview it. This helps REALTORS determine which of their customers might be interested in viewing your house. The Open House schedule in Greenwich is specific to certain times and sections of town allowing REALTORS to see as many Open Houses as possible in the given time frame. At the Open House the listing REALTOR will provide information, such as the listing itself and plot plans, and is available to answer questions about the properties.
The REALTOR will acquaint you with the various means by which a property can be shown. First, there is the installation of a key box. This method allows the greatest access, because the only scheduling required is for the REALTOR showing the property to confirm with the homeowner that it is convenient to bring a prospective buyer over for a showing.
Somewhat more restrictive is the method by which the listing REALTOR alerts MLS members that a key to the property will be held at the listing office and a confirmed appointment would need to be made through the office.
The most restrictive method of showing is to require the listing REALTOR be present at the showing. This requires more scheduling between the homeowner, the listing REALTOR and the REALTOR who wishes to show the property to a client.
When someone is interested in your property they will make an offer to purchase through their REALTOR. Your REALTOR will take you through this process. Some terms which may be included in the buyer’s offer are:
Once you and the buyer reach an agreement of the “terms and conditions” for the purchase, an “Offer to Purchase” is prepared by your REALTOR outlining the agreed upon terms. This document is then transmitted to the attorneys for buyer and seller.
The seller is responsible for having the attorney draw the Contract for Sale which will include the agreed terms and conditions. The buyer will normally be expected to submit an escrow check (made out to your attorney) with the signed contract, usually in the amount of ten percent of the total purchase price. The contract is typically a Greenwich Bar Association contract which will contain every detail and a schedule of inclusions and exclusions as agreed upon by both parties. The Seller Disclosure Form is also delivered as part of this package. After the buyers have signed the contract, it is returned to your attorney with the escrow check. Your attorney will then go over the contract with you and you will sign it.
Near to the date of your closing the buyer’s REALTOR and the buyer need to perform one last walk-through of the premises. Together they will ascertain that the property is in the condition it was when the Contract of Sale was signed. They will verify the items which were to be included are present. They will determine whether there are any defects visible now which were previously hidden. If any of these are found, you may need to be prepared to adjust for these costs at closing.
You (or in your absence, your power-of-attorney) will attend the closing – primarily to sign appropriate documents and deliver checks for appropriate amounts. Between your REALTOR and your attorney you will be advised of all the costs and fees associated with your closing.
The decision to purchase a home is often driven by the need for more space, the need to move to a new location or simply the desire to change one’s life style. If you are unfamiliar with the area to which you are moving, the REALTOR you choose must make an effort to introduce you to the characteristics of the community and help you decide if this is a good match for your needs. Within any community there are variations by neighborhood, and these should become clear to you as you are shown properties in the community. By giving your REALTOR feedback, you can make the search process more efficient. If your REALTOR learns that you do not want to buy in a particular neighborhood, he or she will not show you properties there and will concentrate instead on those areas which interest you.
The selection of a REALTOR in a community such as Greenwich is made easier by the presence of the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service. Almost every real estate agent in the community is a member of the Greenwich MLS, which gives each REALTOR access to every property listed by every office in the membership. Therefore, it is not necessary to seek the services of more than one REALTOR.
In your selection of a REALTOR, you should look for someone with whom you are compatible. When you initially meet with a REALTOR, whether this is someone to whom you have been referred or someone you have randomly chosen, you will be asked to sign a buyer authorization form. Required by state law in order for the REALTOR to show you properties, provide you with information, and negotiate on your behalf, this agreement will state the time frame during which the agreement is in effect, the kind of property it covers, and the area of Connecticut in which it is effective. If you are uncomfortable making a commitment to a REALTOR, ask that the time frame be limited to a day, a week, a month or any time frame which you feel you need to determine whether you would like to work with this person. When you ascertain that the relationship is compatible, you can sign an extension of the time frame.
Since every REALTOR has access to the same properties through the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service, there is no need to use the services of more than one REALTOR concurrently. In fact, doing so can cause confusion to you and your REALTOR. Be sure that you have specifically described what you are looking for in a property and ask your REALTOR to introduce you to properties which most closely meet your criteria. Give feedback on properties that you are shown, so that your REALTOR can continue to refine the picture of what you need. If your criteria changes, communicate this to your REALTOR. For example, if you decide that a particular style of house does not fit your needs, let your REALTOR know so that houses of that style are no longer shown to you.
It is a REALTOR’s responsibility to inform you of any material facts about a property which he or she knows. These facts would be things such a condition of roof, presence of wetlands on a property, a known change to a road which will impact the property, etc. It does not include information about the seller’s reason for selling, who the neighbors are, etc. Your REALTOR may not know everything about the property’s condition; that is why you will have a building inspection done before signing the contract to purchase.
When you have developed interest in a particular property, your REALTOR will be able to provide information about comparable sales in the area to help you determine value. Your REALTOR can arrange for you to visit the local schools, obtain information about programs available in the area and help you select the appropriate property.
You will contact a mortgage company or banking institution to understand what purchase price might be correct for you. Further understanding of your financial situation will allow the lender to issue you a “Pre-Approval” letter which stipulates that you have been approved for a mortgage up to a specific dollar value. This is a valuable asset for you during the negotiation process. If you are not familiar with the names of lenders in Greenwich, your REALTOR will be able to provide you with that information.
The search for your new home is truly a joint effort between you and your REALTOR. Be as open with your REALTOR as possible about your likes and dislikes. It is very important to tell your REALTOR what you like about each house you visit so he/she will begin to understand what you are looking for in the home you wish to buy. Between your input and your REALTOR’s professional skills, the search will narrow until you ultimately find the “right” property for you.
Once you have focused on one or two properties, your REALTOR will be able to provide you with market data on recently sold properties. This information will help both you and your REALTOR formulate your offer. Working with your REALTOR, you will be able to determine where you would initially like to start with your offer price. You should then develop a set of strategies, each dependent upon how the seller responds to your offer, so you do not end up “reacting” to any counter offer made by the seller.
The offer may include, but is not limited to the following:
This complete offer is then presented by your REALTOR to the Listing Agent for the property. The seller may respond in any one of the following manners:
Once a verbal agreement has been reached, a written “Offer to Purchase” is prepared by your REALTOR outlining the terms agreed to by you and the seller. This document is then transmitted to the Listing Broker and the attorneys of record.
After an offer has been accepted by the seller the lending institution you have chosen will require an appraisal on the property to be mortgaged. The institution will send one or sometimes two appraisers to do a thorough inspection of the property to determine whether the property will qualify for the desired mortgage. Once the institution agrees to finance a particular property, they will issue a commitment letter whereby they agree to provide a certain dollar mortgage at a specific rate for a specific time and the buyer is assured the financing is in place.
Your REALTOR will remind you about two weeks prior to closing that the appropriate utilities and services need to be notified in order to transfer the accounts to your name. These include, electric, gas, oil, propane, telephone and refuse. They may also include pool services, yard maintenance and more. During the same period the seller will be contacting the same providers to discontinue the same services. This transition needs to go smoothly to protect you from having to pay a “connection or hook up fee” because the service was completely terminated. Your REALTOR can help you with this, but the companies now require the new homeowner to initiate requests for service.
The seller will instruct their attorney to draw the Contract of Sale to include the terms agreed upon. Your agent will ensure that, at the same time, your attorney receives the necessary information so that he/she can begin their work and be prepared to receive and review the contract. Your attorney will review the contract from your perspective and insure that your interests are protected (such as including stipulations for delays, searching of Title, type of Title to be conveyed, cleanliness of the premises at the time of closing, etc.) The timing of this, dependent upon the complexity of the terms, should all take between five to ten days from accepted offer to signed contracts. You will normally be expected to submit an escrow check in the amount of 10% of the total purchase price (made out to the seller’s attorney) with the signed contract.
On the day of your closing, you and your REALTOR need to perform one last walk through of the premises. Together you will look to insure the property is in the condition is was when you signed the Contract of Sale. You will verify that the items to be included are present. You want to make sure the house and grounds are as specified within the contract and most important that there are no defects visible now which were previously hidden.
You (or in your absence, you power-of-attorney) will attend the closing – primarily to sign appropriate documents and deliver checks for appropriate amounts. If your situation dictates, you may actually meet with your lender immediately prior to the time of the closing to sign your mortgage papers. Between your REALTOR, your attorney and your lender you will be advised ahead of time of all the costs and fees associated with your closing.