How does hiring an agent protect against litigation?
Unless you are a real estate attorney or agent yourself, hiring an agent is a good idea. A buyer can sue the previous owner of a home if they learn that important information about the home has been hidden or misrepresented, even if it is by accident. Additionally, a Realtor assists in the plethora of paperwork involved in selling a home, and can ensure all necessary documentation is wholly filled out and accurate.
Having an agent on your side can help prevent the buyer from suing the seller directly. Agents also carry Errors and Omissions (E&O) Insurance to protect themselves from litigation.
Litigation aside, a Realtor aids throughout the entire process, making your life easier and the transaction smoother! Watch my segment on First Coast Living that discusses this here.
What should I expect during the inspection and what is the timeline?
The most common inspections in our area are the general and WDO inspections. FHA and VA loans require the general and WDO inspections, while they are optional with all other forms of financing and cash offers.
By the 10th day of the inspection period, the buyer is required to submit any repair requests in writing. From that date of delivery, there is a seven day negotiation period where the buyer and seller must come to terms on what the seller agrees to repair or give a credit for.
Keep in mind that during the 10 days of the inspection period, the buyer may cancel the contract at their sole discretion for any reason should they find the house unfit, unless other language is written into the contract.
What should I expect from the appraisal and what is the timeline?
If you're purchasing a home with cash, you don't need one! The appraisal tells the current market value of a home and is performed by a licensed appraiser. They consider what other homes in the area have sold for and adjust based on the home's condition and improvements. It is ordered by the buyer's lender and is performed typically about 2 weeks into the contract, dependent on the appraiser and lender's schedules and contract timelines.
What is a single agent and why should I use one?
There are three types of agents: non-representative, transaction broker, and single agent.
A single agent has clients instead of customers, as they directly represent the person they are working with. They owe their full loyalty and fiduciary duties to the client. They are legally required to work in your best interest. Single agents must provide loyalty, obedience, and full confidentiality, while a transaction broker is not held to the same standards.
Transaction brokers are the most common agency in Florida. Unless otherwise stated, this is the default. The transaction broker owes some fiduciary duties to their customer, but their ultimate loyalty is to the transaction itself, though many transaction brokers do tend to act in their customer's best interest.
A non-representative agent helps to facilitate the sale and ensures it goes into the local MLS. They typically will not negotiate on the customer's behalf, but will aid in guiding the timelines and answer questions when they arise. They usually charge a lower fee.
How does the agent's commission work?
The seller typically pays both the buyer and seller's agents' commissions. Currently, the typical total commission in the Jacksonville area is 6%, with a 3% co-op to both the buyers' agent and sellers' agent, respectively.
Beware of "discount brokers" that lower their commission to save you money. You typically get what you pay for, and a lower commission usually means they offer less services. This could end up costing you in the long run. To learn more about discount brokers, check out a segment we did on First Coast Living that goes into further detail here.
What are closing costs and how much should I expect to pay?
Closing costs typically cost 2% - 3% of the home's sale price. For sellers, this typically covers the deed stamps, title insurance policy, title search, closing attorney or title company fee, a new survey (if needed), satisfaction of mortgage and the recording fee, the courier/wire fees, and a municipal lien search.
Keep in mind that each contract is different and some items may not be necessary. Additionally, note that the Realtor fees are in addition to the closing costs. So altogether, the out of pocket costs to sell you home run between 7% - 9% of the sale's price in total.
How long does it take to sell a house?
If you get a cash offer, they may be able to close in as few as 14 days! However, for financed contracts, this will be dependent on how quickly the lender can process, underwrite, and approve of the loan itself. Currently, it is taking approximately 30-45 days to close.