Know Your Obligations

Know your obligations. Put more bluntly, know the law. This applies to those selling a house with or without a listing agent. And, whatever advice is directed at sellers often applies to buyers, and vice versa.

The duty to disclose is a very important topic and was recently addressed by Seth Weissman, long time general counsel to the Georgia Association of Realtors. (Don’t take any action based on this information, instead seek legal advice from a real estate attorney.)

The featured image does not tell you much about the house and appears to say, “HERE IT IS!”, leaving it up to the buyer to find the good, bad and ugly. Notating that a property is being sold as-is and/or without a disclosure seems to be an all too common strategy among investors, heirs and even owner occupants to sidestep their obligation.

Sellers – Regardless of the circumstances or conditions of the sale the seller is legally obligated to report latent defects of which they are aware and which a buyer could not discover through a reasonable inspection.

With this understanding it may seem the way forward is clear. But what about when:

  • A seller does not want to disclose a latent defect because the previous owner who must have known did not disclose.
  • A seller disagrees with a pre-listing inspection or one produced by a buyer.
  • A seller receives but does not read the buyer’s inspection report.
  • A buyer ignores a seller’s instructions and sends the inspection report anyway.
  • A seller asks the listing agent not to divulge a material defect that is unlikely to be discovered.

Buyers – Conduct your due diligence or forever hold your peace! There is little to no chance of winning a case against a seller if the issue could have been discovered through a reasonable inspection of the property, including current and pending zoning, boundary lines, flood insurance rates, past insurance claims, city/county/state long range plans, sex offender whereabouts, etc.

 

 

 

Home Improvement Plans?

Home improvement plans? Two more things to consider.

First, is a building permit required? This question usually creates a lot of discussion, most of which seems to favor avoiding the process or downplaying the need as if it is optional.

The county has defined the work requiring a permit, and without question there are some gray areas and permitting does impact the financial and scheduling components of a project. Homeowner reasoning not to have work permitted may be shortsighted.

Often I hear a seller disclose, when asked, that the work in question was done without a permit but they are quick to point out that it was performed by a licensed contractor or a licensed tradesman. In most every case, the seller is unable to name the “licensed” person or company! It surprises me how often buyers proceed on hearsay and don’t attempt to negotiate an offset in price for the real or perceived added risk.

Second, the impact on the Guaranteed Home Replacement Cost feature of the home insurance policy. Have a conversation with the insurance agent before, during or immediately after the work is complete to be sure there is sufficient coverage in the event of a loss. Based on limited personal research, it appears that permitting (or lack thereof) is not a factor in determining insurance premiums and claim payout.

With that said, it is my personal belief that erring on the side of getting work permitted has little downside compared to the range of issues* that may occur from not pulling a permit when it is clear that one is required.

* potential higher sales price, less time on market, safety, etc.

Why Is The House Not Selling?

“Why is the house not selling?” is a question raised by owners as well as prospective buyers when a listing clocks long days on market. Some reasons most often given include it being over priced, lackluster marketing, the market, agent not proactive, off-peak season, etc. Perhaps the most overlooked is advertising errors. Continue reading “Why Is The House Not Selling?”

“Local” Oxymoron

I noticed a reference to “Local Atlanta Agent”. It seemed strange to me because the agent does not live/work in downtown Atlanta and buyers/sellers typically want someone who is local; i.e., meaning they live in and know the neighborhood or immediate area.

Then I realized this choice of words must be about the agent and their lead generation. After all, no one has real local knowledge about metro Atlanta.

The lesson for buyers and sellers is to go beyond the internet marketing and ask the right questions to ensure you hire the right agent.

Walton High School No-Basement Sales

We just finished doing some preliminary research using FMLS for listings  meeting the following criteria: Resale, Sold Since 9/15/16, Walton High School, No Basement, No 1-Story  Houses, Built Prior To 2000, 2400 – 3600 sf, Less Than 0.75 Acres. A total of 25 listings meet the criteria, generating the following results: Continue reading “Walton High School No-Basement Sales”