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Is Being a Landlord Worth It? Managing The Drama And Expense

At some point in your life, you’re probably going to have the opportunity to be a landlord–rent a house you own to a tenant. You could inherit a home, or keep an older house when you buy a new one–however you come by that empty house, it’s hard not to see dollar signs blinking over it. Before you put a “For Rent” sign in the front yard, you need to know your responsibilities as a landlord, and your prospective tenants’ rights.  Knowing this could impact your choice between being a landlord and selling your rental property and getting cash for something else – retirement, college financing for your children, or investment opportunities.

Responsibilities

The minutiae of landlord duties differ among states, but according laws in every state except Arkansas, there is an implied warranty of habitability. Here’s what that means in practice.

  • Basic structural elements (roof, walls, floors, stairs) are solid and intact
  • Mechanicals–heat, air conditioning, water, electrical, and plumbing have to be operating safely
  • Extermination of pests and rodents
  • Provide for trash removal and receptacles
  • Disclose any environmental hazards–mold, radon, asbestos and lead paint–and manage against any danger to the tenant
  • Provide safety against criminal intrusion

The remedies for some of these requirements are quite simple. The county or city will usually provide trash bins (it’s what you pay taxes for); leave asbestos alone, new paint over old lead based paint, and good ventilation and landscape plants take care of most radon concerns. Change the locks before a new tenant comes in and put locks on the windows and you’re providing safety.

If there is any mold in the house, you need to confirm it’s not a health hazard.

This is actually the easy part, since all you’re required to do is provide a safe and habitable house. It gets complicated when you look at other rental properties to figure out what they offer and what they charge in rent and fees–you’ve got to keep up with the market to attract a tenant.

Shopping List

These are some of the things that you will expected to provide in most markets across the US.

Kitchen Appliances–range or cooktop and oven, refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher, and disposal.

Washer and Dryer

Water Heater

Central Heat and Air Conditioning

Access to Internet and Cable

Repair Responsibilities

If you’ve owned a home before, you are all too aware of the costs to maintain it. If you’ve inherited a house and haven’t had to fix a leaky roof before, you’re in for a bit of a surprise.

When it’s your house, you can let stuff go for awhile of it’s not a major thing–until you hardly notice the missing cabinet door and hinges. When you’ve got other people paying to live in the house, you’re required to maintain the house just like it was when they moved in. The time frame is fluid–that broken hinge doesn’t have quite the urgency of a burst pipe–but you should have repairs done within a week.

Major mechanical issues go back to the implied warranty, so things like burst pipes, non-functioning furnaces or a broken banister have to be fixed immediately. Major issues are not necessarily expensive; the part to fix the furnace or the banister could be a $50 trip to the home improvement store.

Managing The Money

Every state is different in the way landlords are required to maintain security deposits, fees, and rents. One thing to remember is that a security deposit does not belong to you; you are holding for the tenant. In light of that, those monies should be deposited in an interest-bearing savings account against the day you have to return it.

Open a separate checking account for rent payments and other non-refundable fees (credit check, administration, application). While it’s not illegal in some states to use your personal accounts for business purposes, it’s just not a good idea and you’ll need detailed records and bank statements for the IRS.

When There’s Disagreement

Being a landlord is not for those who can’t handle conflict. If you’re a pushover or too hot tempered, find someone else to manage the property. There will be disagreements between you and your tenants, and you should be aware of your and their legal rights, as well as penalties, when disputes arise.

The lease should be clear and concise, and you should have an attorney either draw it up or review it for you before you present it to the tenant. Any state laws supersede a clause in the lease that conflicts with the law–if state law says you’re responsible for pest extermination and your lease says it’s the tenant’s job, you’ll lose that argument every time because you can’t dispute a statute and it will cost you a lot more than the Orkin guy to try.

Conflicts usually arise over repairs–the tenant wants a state of the art washer and dryer and you want to install something you found on Craigslist. Or their lamps and small appliances keep shorting out, and they want you to get an electrical inspection. Clearly one of these is a disagreement, and the other is a huge safety hazard.

The implied warranty is clear on the appliance–you must replace it with a similar item (like iPhones, when a model is discontinued you’re stuck with the newer and more expensive one). You can’t warrant a secondhand appliance works the same as the one that broke, but you also don’t have to spend a fortune. You also don’t want to have to replace the replacement in two months. If you’re in disagreement over a possible safety issue, deal with it and if the tenant is crying wolf, send them the bill or deduct it from the security deposit; refer to the lease terms for this resolution. The last thing you want is a burned out house because you didn’t address a problem.

Keep records of communication with the tenant–usually you have an email or text chain, and if they threaten you at all make a note. Most disputes can be resolved without an attorney.

Or, You Can Avoid All The Hassle And Sell The House

If you’ve got the fortitude to be a landlord, it’s a nice way to make a little extra money. If you’re going in that direction because you’ve got a white elephant of a house on your hands, let Seller’s Advantage take it off your hands. They’ll not only pay cash for the house as-is, but close within a couple of weeks. So instead of trying to turn Great-Uncle Fred’s ramshackle ranch into a cash cow, go ahead and get the milk–call Seller’s Advantage today.

 

5 Reasons to Sell Your Vacant House Before Halloween

Do you have an empty house you just want to get rid of? Believe or not, thousands of other homeowners across the country are in a similar situation. You may have an inherited house you don’t want, a house that needs to be sold after a divorce, or even just a home you’ve moved out of and want to get off your hands. No matter what your situation, one thing is for sure: You want to get that empty house sold before Halloween. While this holiday may mean fun costumes and spooky parties for most of the country, it also marks the absolute worst time of year to have an unlived-in house on your hands for a number of powerful reasons.

Halloween is a terrible time to be selling a house, and it only gets harder from here. Between the howling winds and rock-throwing hooligans, and empty house is more of a liability than an asset during the cold months. Especially around Big Spooky when teenagers everywhere are up to no good and just looking for a little damage to do that ‘won’t hurt anyone’. If you’ve been trying to sell a house you don’t want that is still on the market in late October, it’s time to do everything you possibly can to get it sold and into the hands of someone with the time and resources to take care of the property.

Today, Seller’s Advantage is here to outline the five leading reasons to get your house off the market before the big spooky holiday of costumes, candy, and mischievous property damage rolls around.

1) Winter is the Slowest Time for Home Sales

Whether or not you are afraid of hooligans, the most profound reason to sell your house right now instead of waiting for the “right buyer” to come along is that we are about to enter the dark season for the housing market. Winter isn’t just when the days get shorter and the nights get colder. It’s also the slowest possible time on the housing market. Very few homes sell after mid-autumn and the sale rate slows to a glacial pace once the snows start to fall.

Home sales don’t pick up again until spring thaws the ice and begins to inspire thoughts of homemaking, gardening, and the patter of little feet on new hard wood floors. If you don’t want to worry about that house sitting empty for another four to six months, the time to sell is right now before Halloween marks the official beginning of the Holiday season.

2) Autumn and Winter Storms Can Rack Up Repair Costs

The next real concern is that, starting with All Hallows Eve, the weather becomes a scary proposition for the exterior of your home. Winter storms are notorious, especially in regions like Philadelphia, Chicago, and of the astoundingly windy Midwest states. Freezing gale-force winds will rip the shingles right off your roof and warp siding with their howling speed. Winds can also break off dry and brittle tree branches, gouging roofs and sometimes even crashing down large branches to create real rooftop holes.

And even without the winds, autumn falling leaves followed by piling up snow can cause their own problems. Both piles of leaves and piles of snow can create damp mounts that slowly rot away at your roof. First the shingles, then the timbers underneath will suffuse with trapped water and develop water damage. The roof will get soft in those spots and need serious repairs when the spring rolls around allowing the snow to melt and blowing away the leaves.

3) Houses are Hard to Maintain Over the Winter

Another challenge is that houses are much more difficult to maintain in the winter. Particularly in regions where the outside temperature can drop below zero. Leaving a home empty with the utilities turned off is all well and good during warmer months, but there is a serious risk of home decay if you let the house get too cold inside. The materials that home interiors are made of are designed to remain between livable temperatures. Extreme cold can damage and warp the wood, walls, and cabinetry almost as badly as extreme heat and humidity.

Then there is the risk of burst pipes. If there is any water at all sitting in the home’s pipes, freezing temperatures risk the pipes swelling with expanding ice and bursting. This creates a truly monumental repair task that will eat into your budget while also adding water damage that will make it even more difficult to sell the home.

4) Few People Attend Open Houses in Cold or Rainy Weather

But even if nothing extreme goes wrong and you simply keep hosting open houses and marketing your house for sale, you will have little luck finding ready buyers. Not only does the housing market slow way down during the colder months, but even buyers who are interested will tend to move more slowly in the buying process. After all, few people want to drive out to a house to walk around the grounds or attend an open house event in cold and snowy weather.

This is, in part, because it’s simply less pleasant to travel and check out houses when it’s cold. But if your region experiences snow, buyers may also be hesitant to complete a deal until they’ve seen what the home looks like not covered in a fluffy white blanket. No matter how many cups of cocoa you put out, it will be difficult to get buyers to come out and see your home after Halloween passes.

5) Halloween Tricksters Target Empty Houses

And finally, the reason this is such a profoundly October-focused tip is that Halloween night itself is a very dangerous time for empty houses. Some teenagers and even older hooligans take “Trick or Treat” all too seriously. If there are no decorations, no candy for the kids, and no lights on inside some will decide that this is an affront to the holiday. Their desire to throw eggs, rocks, and rolls of toilet paper will become irresistible. Especially with the floating concept that no –people– will get hurt if they decide to lay waste to your unwanted house.

Empty homes are prime targets for Halloween mischief and if no one comes outside shouting, that mischief can quickly get out of hand. If you don’t want to find yourself scrubbing off eggs, gathering scraps of toilet paper, and repairing broken windows, it’s best to get that house sold before the 31st rolls around.

Halloween is a dangerous time for empty houses on the market and your prospects for selling only get worse past this point. Fortunately, Seller’s Advantage is here to help. We will buy your home no matter what shape it’s in, how long it’s been on the market, or how haunted the local kids might think the house is around this time of year. We aren’t afraid of ghosts, know how to handle hooligans, and will pay you a fair price for your house after a simple inspection and no-obligation cash offer. For more information about how to sell your unwanted house before the risks of Halloween and the dark winter market beyond, contact us today!

Planning to Sell Your Home AS-IS? Be Aware of the Challenges

The “Normal Way” to Sell a Home

You want to put your home on the market, which means you will have to keep it in “show” condition and staged for every viewing. You know from interviewing the Realtors that most FSBO sales (people who try to sell the home themselves) fall through or sell for much less than if they hire a Realtor and pay the 6% commission.

You also know that buyers will have at least two home inspections done (Safety and Functionality, and Wood Destroying Organism) You also know that, depending on the age of the house or the type of mortgage the buyer wants, there may be even more than two inspections (Radon, Lead Paint, Etc.) The buyer’s insurance company or mortgage lender may also require a Wind Mitigation Inspection to check that the house is structurally sound enough and will withstand strong winds

You and your real estate agent discuss the idea of selling the property in “As is” condition because you assume it means probably no inspections, but even if the buyer wants to pay for inspections, you do not have to do any repairs.

Unfortunately, that is not how “As is” contracts work. Let us dig into that to make sure you, the seller, know what will probably happen and the hassles it can cause.

The Problem with Regular “As Is” Contracts

There are several problems putting your home on the open market in “As is” condition. Some buyers:

  • Assume that means the seller knows there is a serious problem and doesn’t want to fix it, so they do not want to view the home. This reduces the chances of getting an offer from otherwise ready, willing and able buyers.
  • Know their lender will not lend on an “As is” house, so they do not want to view it either.

Other problems for the seller include the fact that there are several different regular “As is” contracts, so until you, the seller, receive an offer, you do not know what the actual conditions are. Remember, the buyer and their agent decide on which contract to use, not the seller.

Some regular “As is” contracts allow the buyer to walk away from the contract for any reason they choose. Let us say the buyer just gets buyer’s remorse. If they tell the seller they have changed their minds, they open themselves to an escrow dispute over the good faith deposit. If they use the “walkaway” clause in the contract, it may give them the legal right to break the contract for any reason. For example, they “do not like the color of the front door” or they “have just noticed the light switches are showing their age.” Regular “As is” contracts protect the buyer and, in some cases, for any reason at all.

Regular “As is” contracts do not protect the seller from doing repairs. To keep the contract in place, the seller may pay for repairs or renegotiate the sale price, even though they thought “as is” meant just that.

The Problem with Other Contracts

Most contracts require the seller to transfer the property in a safe and functional condition. It will also set a financial limit as to how much the seller will be liable to spend on repairs and replacements following the inspections. That amount is negotiable, of course, but the buyer’s and seller’s agents will say what “the normal amount” is.

Some buyers see that seller liability clause as “their money” that they haven’t got back yet. They, therefore, want the inspector to find problems. An astute buyer can then do one of two things, they can:

  • Require the seller to do the work using suitably qualified and licensed contractors. Contracts do not usually permit the seller to do simple repairs themselves. Any and all fixing must be carried out by an approved contractor at however much they charge for parts and labor.

The buyer will then have a right, under the contract, to have the repairs inspected. Any fault found will mean the seller will have to pay for it to be done again. If the seller disagrees that the repair is faulty, then another inspector will be called in to be paid for by both the seller and the buyer.

  • The buyer may simply agree that the repairs do not need to be done in exchange for the seller handing over the repair money at closing so the buyer can do the repairs themselves. This, of course, reduces the amount of money the seller gets at closing.

An off-shoot problem from this post-contract renegotiation is that either the seller or buyer gets angry and the whole deal falls through. This leaves the seller having to start marketing their home all over again.

An Added Problem

Most states demand that the seller completes a “Seller Disclosure” statement to help potential buyers understand enough about the home before they make an offer. If a previous contract fell through because of an argument over repairs following an inspection, the seller must now update the Seller Disclosure to state that the previous inspection uncovered safety or functional problems that have not been repaired. This would probably lead to the listing price for the home being lowered, or the seller paying for the repairs before the house goes back on the market.

All this takes time and can result in the seller having to rethink their plans for after they sold their home because the home is not now sold.

What About the Inspection?

Most sellers assume they must allow the buyer to have inspections done regardless of the type of contract, and that the buyer will show good faith throughout the process. Many do, but some use the inspections as a way to renegotiate the contract price, as was mentioned above.

Inspectors are there to check safety and functionality. Is everything safe? The plumbing, the electrics, hot water tank, the air conditioning/furnace, the garage door, structural issues, etc. Is everything functioning to industry standards? The roof, doors, windows, all appliances, electrics, hot water tank, air conditioning/furnace, etc.

A comprehensive inspection can take a couple of hours. Many buyers attend the inspections so they can talk with the inspector. The inspector works for the buyer, so may err on the side of pleasing the buyer if something is marginal, for example.

The wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection is also called the termite inspection. Not having termite infestation does not mean the money set aside is safe. There may be old termite damage, or dry rot or wet rot damage. This must be corrected per the contract.

If a property is older, someone may have used lead-based paint which, over the years, has been painted over. A buyer may choose to have a lead paint inspection. This can cause untold hassles.

Sellers should check to see if inspectors must be licensed to inspect in their state or county or if the buyer can bring in, let us say, a relative who is also a contractor, or a contractor-friend of someone the buyer knows to do the inspections. Friends and relatives of the buyer are never on the seller’s side.

A Better Way

Selling a home can be a hassle, can cause sleepless nights, and, of course, the sale is not over until it’s over. Contracts exist to protect both the seller and the buyer, but different contracts, or specific clauses within a contract, may appear to favor the buyer.

Most sellers want to sell their property quickly, easily, for the right amount of money, and without all the post-contract hassles that most people never think about until those hassles appear. And that is where we come in.

Sellers can avoid all of those hassles by contacting Seller’s Advantage online or calling us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We buy homes for cash online in true AS-IS condition, without the hassles of a regular “As is” contract and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

9 Reasons to Sell Your Rental Property

There are several benefits to owning rental property. If all goes well, you have a steady stream of income with minimal effort on your part. That is if you have a good tenant, nominal repairs, and your property taxes don’t skyrocket. But, what if the home needs a new roof? Or, you must evict a tenant? This is all part of being a landlord. Why should you consider selling your rental property?

Marketing:

Marketing your rental is a time-consuming process. There are many free options to use but you still need to qualify all the prospects. Of course, the rental property must be marketable as well. You will want to invest in simple durable landscaping. The condition of the home will determine your turnover costs. Simple wear and tear items are not covered by a security deposit. You will need to determine what to replace or retouch to attract a new tenant.

The income is not always steady:

Even the best tenants leave after their lease is up. Renting is temporary. Sometimes there is a gap between when a tenant leaves and a new one moves in. You will need time to turn the rental before a new person moves in. That takes a few days and you don’t receive payment for those days. Sometimes, things out of your control can hinder your ability to rent your home. A plant closes, and many people must move away for a new job. All these things cause you to lose income. You may have to reduce the price due to market demand. This cuts into your profits.

Bad tenants:

Bad or high-maintenance tenants cost you time and money. There are steps you can take to decrease your risk of a bad resident.

Run credit and criminal background checks:

This should be done on all prospects who apply. The cost of each check depends on what company you choose. You can offset this cost by requiring an application fee. This will also increase your chances of working with serious prospects.

Run a landlord background check:

If the prospect signs the authorization form you can call the former or current landlord. There are a few important questions to ask. Did they pay their rent on time? Did they have issues with other tenants (if applicable)? Did they abide by the lease or were there lease violations? What was the condition of the unit? Is there substantial damage to the rental? Would the landlord rent to this person again? Make sure to run a reference checks for two landlords. Some landlords will tell you what you want to hear to get rid of a troublesome tenant. But, if you ask a previous landlord, they have nothing to lose or gain by giving you a reference. They are more likely to be honest.

Verify employment and income:

You want to verify that your prospect has a job. However, they also need to earn enough income to cover the rent each month. The rule of thumb is that rent should not exceed 30% of your net monthly income.

Background checks help reduce the risk of a bad tenant. But, it’s not 100%. A tenant can lose their job while they are renting from you. This may cause them to get behind in their rent and other bills. They may also commit a crime while they are leasing from you. You may find yourself evicting these tenants.

Turnover:

The cost to turn a rental and put it back on the market can vary. If you had good tenants, you may need to clean and spot paint. If not, you are looking at an expensive time-consuming task. Carpet replacement, stolen appliances, and pet droppings are a few examples. To prevent this, you need to do two things. First, inspect the property frequently. You can do this if you provide the tenant with acceptable notice. Second, have a detailed lease and stick to it. Being the landlord means you must have tough conversations. Sometimes, those conversations must lead to you kicking out a resident. This is your asset you must protect it.

Evictions:

Evictions are costly for any landlord. It takes time and money to process an eviction. If you play your cards right you can get the resident out by the end of the month. But, then you still must deal with the unit itself. Many evicted tenants damage the rental and leave belongings behind. You must repair the damage and store the tenant’s belongings. The landlord charges the resident for these expenses. But, you can’t expect to see that money soon, if at all.

The landlord laws:

There are laws that you’ll need to be familiar with as a landlord. You must remain up-to-date on all state and federal laws pertaining to landlords. A lawsuit violating these laws would cost you dearly.

Portfolio diversification:

You stand to lose money if the neighborhood takes a turn for the worse.  If the local economy takes a hit, you will take a loss. If local real estate starts to hurt, then so do you. Your financial assets are poured into this rental. Unlike mutual funds, this loss is not divided among many people. The bank account is the main thing hit.

Maintenance:

There will be maintenance on the rental that you’ll need to address. Your homeowner’s insurance will cover catastrophic incidents like a fire. You are responsible for keeping the home up to code regarding safety items. There are many things that will require your attention like plumbing issues and electrical problems. You want to put some of your profits into a maintenance fund to handle these repairs. If you are renting an older home the maintenance costs may dig into your profits. Major things will wear down and need replacement.

Taxes and insurance:

As a landlord, you are responsible for the property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Your resident should carry their own renter’s insurance to cover their belongings. These costs won’t be a surprise to you. They will be a fixed yearly cost. Bear in mind, it costs about 25% more to insure a rental property than your own home. Whether your unit is occupied or not you must pay these fees.

There are reasons to own rental property. If you market is in a slump it’s a great way to keep an income stream until the market goes back up. Yet, there are numerous reasons to sell the home too. Selling the home gives you peace of mind that you have the money from your asset. Renting is more stressful because you don’t know if you will get that income monthly. Selling the home can save you the hassle of dealing with rent stressors.

Looking to sell your rental property fast? Let our experts help. Contact Seller’s Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your rental property. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

 

 

2 Stressful Ways & 1 Easy Way to Sell Your Home

There are two stressful ways to sell a home:

  • Do it all yourself and sell FSBO
  • Hire a successful, cooperative, professional, experienced real estate agent and get them to do it all.

The alternative is not to sell it, and many homeowners who “go FSBO” or who hire just a “regular real estate agent” often end up not selling their home – in spite of all the time, effort, emotion, and money they put into the project. There are so many ways a home sale can go off the tracks, that many people think it is easier not to bother.

Why is it so overwhelming? Let us discuss it in detail. By going into detail, you will be able to decide why selling a home is an overwhelming process, and why so many fail or plow on until, eventually, they do sell it. A lot of FSBOs eventually hire an agent, and a lot of home sellers who began by hiring an agent, hire another one. There is an old saying in real estate; “The three best things in life is to be someone’s first love, second wife, or the third Realtor.” Yes, selling a home can be very difficult and very overwhelming.

What is Your Goal as a Home Seller?

This is a must-ask question but one that not enough people ask themselves. Those who do ask often answer with one word: “Price.”

A better answer to the question is something like, “I want to sell my home for the best price I can reasonably get, in a time frame that I like, and with the least amount of hassle, problems and effort. And with no come-back from the buyer.”

Let us look at the two obvious options, beginning with selling your home yourself without an agent.

The Overwhelming Process of Going FSBO

Selling a home is complex, emotional, time-consuming, and filled with legalities. If that were not the case, there would be far fewer real estate agents and far fewer real estate lawyers. So why do people try to sell their home on their own? The biggest reason FSBOs give is they want to save the 6% commission.

And therein lies a huge problem. Most buyers who buy from a FSBO make a lowball offer because they want to save the commission too. Many buyers are experienced investors who know exactly how to negotiate on a home’s price. This means that after doing all the marketing, repairs, learning about the legal side, handling the showings, etc, there comes a time when the only game in town is an experienced investor who knows everything the homeowner has been going through, so is prepared to “take it off their hands” to save them further hassle.

Selling low after everything a homeowner has done is truly overwhelming. It is at that point that many home sellers turn down the investor’s lowball offer, and begin to interview real estate agents.

Why is selling FSBO such a hassle? After all, the home seller knows their home and their neighborhood better than anyone else, they can demonstrate what a great buy it is when prospective buyers show up, and once a price is agreed, they just go to a lawyer or a title company to handle everything else.

Here is a list that FSBOs said they have problems with. These are the top six. The most difficult things were:

  • Having enough time to devote to everything that selling entails. Most people have full-time jobs, so being able to do everything that a full-time agent does is almost impossible.
  • Preparing everything to get the house on the market and doing the fix-ups. Decluttering, getting rid of old and unwanted items, redecorating where needed, making repairs where needed, and keeping the home in “show” condition takes time, effort, and discipline. A buyer can call at any time.
  • Selling within the preferred timescale. Home sales have fallen recently and the trend looks like it will continue, so getting the right price in the right timescale will challenge the best agents even more than the FSBOs who also have a full-time job to do.
  • Getting the right price. Skilled and experienced buyers look for FSBOs because they know there will come a point when the homeowner just has to “get it off their hands.”
  • Understanding and managing all the paperwork. Legalities vary state by state. Paperwork varies state by state. Legal responsibilities and liabilities vary state by state. A lawyer can explain it all, but probably at $250 an hour, and even then, the homeowner is liable, not the attorney, if the sale is FSBO.
  • Falling out with a friend or family member who wants to buy because they had expected a great deal, not a tough negotiation.

When you put all those together, there is a long list of things that take time, effort, skill, and patience. It is interesting to note that the things that did not make the top six on the list were making sure would-be buyers were genuine and not just “casing the joint” or out for a day trip and, if they were genuine, had actually been pre-approved for a mortgage so if they wanted to buy, they actually could. Problems like that also fall under “timescale” and “getting the right price.” Agreeing to sell to someone who cannot buy is not uncommon, and it takes time and emotion to handle it.

That covers a lot of why FSBO sales get derailed or if they do succeed, are an unpleasant and overwhelming experience.

The Overwhelming Process of Selling with a Real Estate Agent

Let’s go back to that Realtor adage – the three best things in life include being the third Realtor. That implies very strongly that many home sellers fail to sell with their first two listing agents. Let us explore that a little.

You decide to hire a professional to handle the marketing, vet the prospective buyers, and manage all the post-contract work. It is best to hire an agent who wants to know enough about the property to market it effectively to the most likely group of potential buyers. You want an agent who is experienced and knows the neighborhood and why a buyer would live there. You want an agent who will be diligent, co-operative, and successful, because you want the best price, in the right timescale, and with minimum effort on your part.

In your local area there will be an Association of Realtors, and they will have hundreds of members. Some will be specialists in your area, say waterfront properties, planned communities, downtown, suburban, golf course, whatever your neighborhood is. Many will not be. The majority of agents sell fewer than six homes a year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Many are new to the business, so are learning the ropes just like the average FSBO learns. Many are part-time and treat real estate as a fun way of topping up their retirement income.  And some are consummate professionals who sell one or two houses a week.

One part of “overwhelm” is finding and interviewing the right agent for a particular property. Which may explain why many homeowners fail to sell even though they do everything right, and have to find another agent to begin the work all over again when the current listing agreement runs out. It is also worth noting that listing agreements are legal documents and most levy a cancellation charge to discourage homeowners from wanting to cancel the listing early. Everyone knows to interview at least three agents, but many hire the first one they meet.

Even with an agent, it is still up to the homeowner to do the fix-ups, declutter, keep the home “staged” etc, so it always shows well. The hard work of preparing and showing is always the homeowner’s.

Final Comment

There is a third option.  The perfect solution is to find a ready, willing and able buyer quickly, and for that buyer to say “Forget the fix-ups, forget the decluttering, forget the show home condition, and forget the showings as well. Here is a fair price in today’s market, and here is a closing date that suits you.” In that situation, the “overwhelm” and “derailing” evaporate.

Please feel free to contact Sellers Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

Should You Fix Your Home or Sell It? : A Good Estimate Can Help You Decide

It happens to every homeowner–what appears to be a simple fix turns into a huge expense in both time and money. When you’re the one with the clogged gutter that turns out to be a bad roof, here are five tips that will help you manage the repairs without breaking the bank.

Get Several Estimates

Getting estimates on home repairs is a lot like taking your car to the mechanic–you go in for an oil change and ten minutes later are worried your car will explode if you don’t spend a thousand dollars on new filters and belts and tires and whatnot. Only contractors deal in much bigger numbers, guaranteed to cause heartburn, and unless you’re a builder yourself it’s hard to know what’s necessary and what’s padding. Ask at least three contractors for an estimate. If the problem is clearly electrical or the roof or plumbing, have three electricians, roofers, and plumbers come over and review the problem.

Get Your Estimates From Different Size Companies

Take a Goldilocks approach to estimates. Get one from a large corporate source, one from a middle sized local company, and one from a guy who works out of his pickup truck. Compare the scope of work and cost from each one–you expect the one from the big company that runs ad on TV to be the most expensive and the one from the solo guy to be the cheapest, but look closely at the estimates to figure out what’s different. Aside from the first guy having a lot more overhead, how do the estimates differ? How are they similar? Find the common ground on each one–that’s what’s crucial to repair.

How Comprehensive Is Each Estimate?

Let’s assume you have a cracked heat exchanger. If this is your first home and you’re not an HVAC expert, you’d be right to assume that fixing the crack would solve the problem, and that won’t be such a big deal, right?

Wrong.

The heat exchanger in your furnace is the thing that keeps the nasty fuel byproducts out of your house–carbon monoxide, caustic condensation, and water vapor. A cracked exchanger can’t do the job, and at best drastically decreases the efficiency of your furnace. Carbon monoxide getting into the house is the worst case scenario, so clearly if your heat exchanger is cracked you have to fix it. Usually this means a whole new heating system–no small expense.

So assuming you have a couple of estimate for a new system, from reputable companies, how can you tell if it covers all the expenses? It helps to have a basic understanding of construction, so you know what’s really involved with the project, to know if the estimate is turn-key (everything is covered) or the just the main component of a multi-layered project.

Going back to the heat exchanger, have you or the HVAC companies considered the following:

  • is your wiring up to code
  • are your ducts clean, straight, and functional, or do they need to be replaced
  • is the HVAC unit sufficient capacity to heat the house

A good estimate will allow for electrical work, duct repair, and an upgraded system, if that’s necessary. If you have a particularly low number from the contractor, review it carefully to ensure the work proposed will completely fix the problem. A solo guy might tell you he has a new, efficient unit he can sell you cheap, and that may well be a great deal. But does it have the capacity to heat a house as big as yours? Is your electrical system up to the task of handling a highly efficient new system, how much are any wiring upgrades? The big company will take all of the possibilities into account and manage the installation of the system, sub out the electrical, and repair or replace and inefficient ducts–lots of manpower that translates into lots of zeros.

This is why it’s so important to compare estimates, so you can figure out what’s absolutely necessary and what you can defer for awhile.

Factoring Time Cost

It’s February and you’ve got to completely replace your heating system, including ducts. You’ve managed to finance the unit and the work, and it’s scheduled to start in a couple of days. Can you live in the house during the project? How many days does the contractor expect he needs to complete the work? Do you have a backup plan in case there’s bad weather and they can’t work for a few days? If you have to move in with friends or into a hotel, have you budgeted for that, and for pet boarding?

Lots of home repairs seem to be fairly non-invasive on the surface, but once you’re living in a work zone the incessant hammering, drilling, and other construction noises get on your nerves fast–and if you’ve got kids it’s exponentially annoying. Unless your repairs are a day or two of outside work, make a plan for where you’ll live during the work.

A Better Way

At this point, nobody would blame you if you threw up your hands and walked out the door. Large home repairs are expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient. You’d like to sell the house and move, but a prospective buyer would want you to fix the problems or drastically reduce the price, and it could be months before that buyer appears. A realtor would want you to fix the roof, or HVAC, or whatever, which is what you’d like to avoid altogether, since the point of selling is to not have to spend the money to fix the house.

In a perfect world, you could sell the house without dealing with a realtor, and do it quickly and without the hassle of the fickle buyer. Before you walk out, leave the door open for Seller’s Advantage to come in and buy your house, in as-is condition. You can have cash in hand for a new house and a moving truck in the driveway in a couple of weeks. Seller’s Advantage will give you a binding offer right away, sometimes in 24 hours or less. So take the easy way out of expensive home repairs, and call Seller’s Advantage today.

Got Mold? A Complete Checklist for Home Sellers

It is nearly impossible to sell a home that has a mold problem, and removing mold from the walls and carpets of a home is a big task. Unfortunately, any flooding or water damage to a home can be the trigger for extensive mold infestation. While small patches of mold c

an be cleaned up safely with mold cleaners and scrubbing, larger scale mold remediation can take days, thousands of dollars, and put you at risk of mold spore exposure. Mold spores can cause anything from allergy attacks to certain kinds of cancer and the last thing you want to do is expose yourself to more spores than you have already been breathing.

However, it may also be necessary to get up close and personal with the mold in order to restore the home that you plan on selling to livable conditions.. And this will require some supplies. While mold remediation services will take on the entire project for a fee, many home sellers decide to take on mold removal on their own to save money. If you do this, there are some things you’ll want to have handy for anyone else who helps you clean up. Whether you’re tackling mold on your own or helping your team move moldy items out of the house, here’s what you’ll want to have on hand:

Protective Gloves
Skin contact with mold is among the least harmful ways to expose yourself to this dangerous plantlife but it is something you should be exceedingly careful about anyway. Mold remediation teams always wear gloves and you should too any time you are dealing with more than a few specks of mold. The reason for this is that some people are highly sensitive to contact with mold and stronger molds may have negative health effects some time after skin exposure. Wear thick latex, plastic, or rubber gloves at all times to keep your skin safe when cleaning up mold.

Medical Grade Face Masks
As you may have heard, the most dangerous aspect of mold in your home is what happens when you breathe the spores. Some people just have respiratory problems from the irritation in their lungs while others can develop chronic infections and other very serious health problems after too much spore exposure. The best and only way to protect yourself and anyone helping out is with medical grade face masks worn properly whenever you’re near the mold. In fact, if there’s a lot of mold in your home, face masks are a good idea until you can find alternate lodgings during remediation.

Eye Protection
Mold spores don’t just get inhaled through your nose and mouth. The membranes of your eyes can also be exposed to mold spores with some negative consequences. In general, eye exposure to mold is more likely to result in an allergic-type reaction but it’s generally not a good idea to shake hands with danger or try to fight mold with watery eyes. Keep your eyes protected with well-fitting safety glasses or goggles. Technically, even swim goggles make an okay makeshift eye protection for mold remediation.

Large Sturdy Garbage Bags
If there is a chance that drywall, carpet, or personal possessions may be too mold-infested to save, you may need to carry them out of the house to dispose of. Of course, you don’t want to be carrying your biggest concentrations of mold spores directly through the house and neighborhood, risking infesting everything else. Instead, have a lot of large sturdy garbage bags ready to isolate the problem the moment it is ready to remove.

Xacto Knife
Sometimes, mold will take over a portion of an item while the rest can be saved. A padded aluminum chair, for instance, might have a mold-proof frame but the built-in cushions can be infested. A safely built sharp knife like an Xacto knife or box cutter can help you strip away infested upholstery so that non-porous furniture frames can be saved. This may also help you do things like section up and remove installed carpets.

Strong Non-Toxic Cleaner
At every stage of the mold remediation process, you are going to want to clean absolutely everything. Technically, the more you can splash around a strong mold-killing cleaner, the better. But of course, you don’t actually want to cover your house with bleach and fill it with those dangerous fumes while you work. Instead, look for a large container of strong non-toxic mold cleaner to ensure your home will be safe and harsh-chemical-free when you can finally return.

Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers after a mold problem are an absolute must. Pulling the moisture out of the air is a lot like starving a mold colony which needs moisture to get started and moisture to continue growing. If you can stand it, throw on some Chapstick and make the house like the Sahara for a while with heat and dehumidifying to make every surface much less hospitable for mold.

Space Heaters
The best friend of the dehumidifier when fighting mold is a portable space heater. Your HVAC system can only do so much but space heaters can be used to concentrate the drying powers of heat and dehumidification to finally get the last drops of moisture out of a room that flooded or experienced a major leak.

Box Fans
Unless you live in a very humid temperature, a simple box fan can be an incredibly useful addition to your mold remediation efforts. These can help you dry out your home faster after a water-based disaster and keep your home dry if humidity tends to build up inside. Simply place the box fan pointing out a doorway to channel air out or in through a doorway to bring fresh air inside.

Mold Test Kits
Finally, never underestimate the importance of confirmed data. If you suspect there is mold in your house and have simply begun cleaning everything, pick up a few mold test kits or talk to your mold remediation team about testing areas as you go along. This will help you hunt down hidden colonies of mold and confirm just how high the spore concentration has been.

Mold remediation is no laughing matter, and for many homeowners, the task is simply too great. The need to cleanse structural beams, replace drywall and carpets, and handle everything with care is a huge hassle. One you may not have the time and resources to pursue. But never fear. If removing the mold from a home you want to sell is too much, we can help. Seller’s Advantage will buy your house for a fair price and handle all the cleaning, staging, and market hassle for you. If you’d like more information on how to escape your moldy house for a good price, contact us today or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home.

Selling vs. Renting Your Property: The Challenges of Being a Landlord

While many people believe that being a landlord is an easy way to make some extra money, it isn’t always simple. You won’t just be sitting around and collecting rent money every month. In fact, it can be a lot of work, especially with some places.

Here are some challenges that you may face as a landlord.

Choosing the wrong place can really make or break the experience. Some places are great for rentals while others are not. Older homes, though beautiful and great in their own way are not the best places for rentals. Whether or not you remodel them, it seems like there is always something that needs to be fixed.

Older homes are going to need new roofs, pipes may break, and you may have to replace some appliances and even hardware (like doorknobs and sinks) that quits working properly. If you do end up remodeling, you could be spending a lot of money to fix it up. You may or may not be able to make up this cost with the monthly rental fee.

In fact, if you pay too much for your property, it might be too stressful for you. Most people either rent out their own home when they decide to move somewhere else or they buy a single family home or a small duplex to start making money through real estate. If you are renting out your current home, most likely you still have a mortgage to pay on it. If you buy another single family home or small duplex, you are also going to have a mortgage payment.

Because of this, you have to charge a certain amount of money for rent every month. It has to cover the cost of your mortgage. There are times when your mortgage payment is so high that you can’t really get anything more than that from your tenant.

You also have to think about when the unit is empty. You have to have some extra money to cover the months where your rental is sitting empty, whether you are remodeling or you are just trying to find someone to fill it! Even one or two months without a tenant in your unit can really set you back money-wise.

Choosing the wrong tenants can really hurt your experience. Bad tenants don’t always pay on time. You could end up spending a lot of your valuable time checking in on tenants who don’t pay. This can really start to become annoying if it is something that you have to do every month.

Bad tenants can also wreck your apartment or home. Not everyone is going to take care of the place like it was their own. Even if they clean it, they might not get upset if they put a hole in the wall or anything similar. Though this is why you should ask for a security deposit to cover the repairs, it can just be messy when you have to clean up and fix it up so it is ready for the next tenant. Doing this on a regular basis can be a lot of extra work for you.

Regular maintenance is important, as well as time-consuming and sometimes costly. Though you might not think about it, you are going to have to maintain the property. It is your job, not your tenants so you could be putting in plenty of work. Not only do you need to make sure that the roof is working, you are going to want to look at the windows, see how the electric and plumbing is working, and much more.

By checking your house or apartment over on a regular basis, you are able to find problems before they become much bigger (and more expensive to fix)!

The phone calls can get to you. Some tenants call very little and others seem to call about every little thing. There can be days when all you do is field phone calls from your tenants who probably have something to complain about! The never-ending phone calls can really get to you.

Many landlords don’t get as much insurance as they need in order to save a little money. However, that can be a big mistake. Besides having insurance for the building itself, you may want to consider landlords insurance and rent guarantee insurance. These will help with personal injury cases and late rent. The more insurance that you can get, the better off you will be in the long run, even if it costs you a little more every month.

You are probably going to have to deal with evictions at some point (if you are dedicated to being a landlord). Not only can they be expensive, they can also take a lot of time. The process doesn’t seem too difficult. All you need to do is file paperwork through the court system and wait for them to leave. However, many tenants get angry. They can trash your home quickly before they leave. Sometimes the cops need to be involved!

Evictions also mean lost income for several months, especially if you have to make costly repairs to fix the unit back up.

In the case of a lawsuit, the law will usually take the side of the tenant. Tenants have more rights than landlords so it is important to know the rules. There are some things that you can do and others that you can’t. If you ever get into a legal battle, there is a good chance that you will lose.

It can be challenging to be a landlord. Not only do you have to find the perfect place for the right price, but your tenants can also make a difference. To top it all off, you are the only one who can choose who lives there. You could choose wrong and have someone unpleasant to deal with for the next year.

Even worse, you may be trying to save as much money as possible so that you can increase your profits. However, one place that you should never skimp out on is insurance. If you don’t have enough and something happens, you could land in real financial trouble. You may also want to look into rent guarantee insurance to help you when your units are sitting empty.

Contact us if you want your house sold quickly instead of dealing with landlord drama.  We can give you a cash offer in as little as 24-hours and take the stress out of the rental game.

 

Seller’s Advantage currently purchases homes in “AS-IS” condition in Southern California, Arizona and  the greater Chicago area.  Their A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau demonstrates a history of satisfied clients.  Find our more by visiting Seller’s Advantage at www.SellersAdvantage.com .  

5 Ways Time Can Kill Home Deals

“Time and tide wait for no man” (or woman) and that old saying goes for house sales too. The most upsetting call a seller can get is when they are told, “Sorry, the buyer walked away.” Apart from the disappointment, the plans crashing down, and the loss of immediate and depended-on money, the whole process of advertising, holding open houses, and keeping everything ready for showings has to start all over again. And some sellers even have that happen twice. Time really is the enemy. Time can kill homes sales for two common reasons:

  • The buyer gets what people call “buyer’s remorse.”
  • One of the professionals involved in the post-contract process discovers a problem. For example, one of the home inspectors discovers an unknown and unexpected problem. The appraisal may come in low or the mortgage lender discovers a problem caused by the buyer. The title company may discover a problem that, at first sight, does not seem to have anything to do with the property, itself.

Let’s look at each one, and see how “time” allowed the problem to happen.

Buyer’s Remorse

Many buyers walk into a house and it “speaks” to them. They make a spur-of-the-moment decision, and their real estate agent sees dollar signs, says the right things and the offer is written up and presented.

Let’s break that down. Many people love their new home, and all goes smoothly. The little hiccups that inspectors discover are accepted or ignored. But, and it is a big but, the second most common reason a property goes on the market is that the owner bought the “wrong” house. Real estate professionals know that, but most buyers do not because they do not buy homes often enough. That statistic would be even higher if buyers realized their mistake sooner. After buyers write the offer and it is accepted, things happen. The buyer feels good about choosing their new home, then:

  • They speak to someone who pours cold water on the idea. An elderly relative worries that it may be too far away if they need help in time to come. The children speak to their friends and worry they will lose them or have to go to a new school.
  • The buyer recalculates commute time or how much more after-school time they will spend ferrying children to sports games and practices (so they can keep playing for their old teams.)
  • One of the buyers loses their job so cannot get a mortgage, or gets a promotion, so they decide they can buy a bigger property, or they get transferred to a new job and must leave town. Or the other thing happens and new job falls through so they can’t move to the new town and buy this home.
  • The buyers just see another house they prefer.
  • The buyers realize what a big decision they have just made, and perhaps they should rethink it for a while.

As many as one house sale in ten falls through just because the buyer slept on it, met someone, had a change in circumstances, or they saw a different property that had just come on the market or that their agent hadn’t shown them before.

Every one of these examples is real and almost every one (genuine emotional remorse being the exception) happens after more than a week of signing the contract. The more time they have the more likely time will kill the sale.

A Professional Finds a Problem

The Home Inspector

Most buyers have at least one home inspection to check the safety and functionality of the property. Older properties have more problems than newer ones, especially to do with things most owners never check. The roof, the HVAC system or the electrical system being three obvious examples.

A buyer may, as well as a mechanical inspection, have a wood destroying organism (WDO) inspection, that most people just call a termite inspection. The inspection includes more than termites, hence the name – anything that destroys wood. They may also have a radon inspection and a mold inspection. Some buyers, or the mortgage lender, may want lead paint or “Chinese drywall” inspections done just in case dangerous materials were used at some time.

On top of that many buyers get an FHA or a VA mortgage. Both of them require the property appraiser to carry out a safety and mechanical inspection, to meet government guidelines. Few sellers understand these government guidelines, so cannot prepare for them ahead of time.

All inspections take time and they can all throw up a problem which results in the buyer either wanting to drop the price or get the seller to pay for repairs and replacements. Or they just walk away because this problem may just be the last straw.

The Appraisal is Low

Lenders agree to lend a certain percentage value of the property, so they have an appraisal done. Many real estate agents know that to get the listing, the seller will go with the agent who gives them the highest listing price based on the comparative market analysis (CMA.) The appraiser does not care what the agent did, they have their own software to do a very detailed market value calculation based on actual, recent home sales and predetermined features.

Sometimes, in a short space of time, markets do collapse because of an unexpected neighborhood event, but sometimes the appraiser just comes up with a true and fair valuation that kills the sale because it kills the mortgage.

Title Problems

Lenders and buyers want title insurance to cover themselves against unseen and unknown problems of ownership. The title agent carries out detailed searches that go back to when the land on which the house is built was first acquired. Most negative discoveries can be fixed (and may take more time than anyone expected) but some cannot be fixed in time to meet the buyer’s move-in requirements.

Time can kill a home sale in a different way. Some homes have been owned for many years. Today’s title searches are computer- and internet-based so they are often more detailed than before. As a result, they can expose an error dating back to the early chain of title. These errors must be corrected and may take a long time, especially if, the error concerns an owner who has died or cannot be found.

Mortgage Problems

The mortgage lender has the property appraised, and also double-checks on the borrower. If the seller insisted on a high price but the house doesn’t appraise, as mentioned above, then the sale collapses. If the buyer is pre-approved for the mortgage, then has time to go and max out their credit card, or starts buying furniture on credit, that can affect their credit score or the pre-approved income-to-expenditure ratio, so the lender can cancel the mortgage, and the sale falls through.

In summary, then, time gives buyers a chance to think and rethink, sometimes they just need “one more little problem” to help them change their minds. sometimes time gives the professionals time to do their jobs properly, and they discover problems that kill a sale.

The Solution

The best solution is to cut out the “time problem.” One way to do that is to work with a professional who can handle everything quickly, simply and get you to the closing table ASAP. If you would like to learn more, then please click this link to contact Seller’s Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.

The Biggest Hassles of Selling a Home: The Sale Falls Out of Escrow

5.51 million homes were sold in 2017 according to the National Association of Realtors. Most homes that went under contract were sold, but about 606,000 did not. Apart from the disappointment, delayed plans, great inconvenience, and added costs when a sale falls out of escrow, there is also the matter of what happens to the good faith, or escrow, deposit?
Many buyers assume that the contract failed for a “good” reason, or for no one’s fault, and because it is their money, they should get it back. Many sellers believe that because the buyer made the deposit in good faith, and the buyer has shown “bad faith” by not completing the transaction, then the money belongs to the seller. After all, if the buyer showed bad faith by not completing the transaction, then how can they be entitled to the good faith deposit?

Sometimes sales fall out of escrow because, for example, the home did not appraise, so the lender refused the loan. Again, that is not the seller’s fault; the listing agent came up with the list price, and the buyer agreed to it. Regardless, the seller is disappointed and wants some compensation to pay them for the biggest hassle of them all – a failed contract.
The Added Hassle of an Escrow Dispute

When a sale does fall out of escrow, what happens to that good faith deposit? Of the many problems associated with a failed sale, one that few sellers think about is how much time, effort, and possibly, extra cost, they will have to put into handling the escrow dispute.
Sellers can avoid the dispute, of course, by just accepting that the buyer should get all the money back, and the seller is not entitled to any compensation. But that is not how most sellers see it. So how do you handle an escrow dispute? Time and effort will go into handling the dispute, so it makes sense to have a basic plan in place just in case your sale is one of the 600,000 plus contracts that fall through.

In any real estate transaction, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to protecting yourself, as the seller. The prospective buyer deposits this money with an independent company or agent to show their “good faith” when they write their offer to purchase.The amount the buyer deposits is to persuade you to take your home off the market while they carry out the inspections, the title agent searches the chain of title, and the mortgage lender arranges the property appraisal and fully qualifies the buyer for the loan money, etc.

Sellers should remember that escrow deposits, and how they are held, managed, and released are subject to the state law. Each state is different, so it is wise to understand the basics in your state. Many sellers and buyers assume their real estate agent will know what to do. But what if this is only the second or third home sale they have ever handled and have never been involved in an escrow dispute? Or what if you, the seller, have gone FSBO, as they call it, and you decide to handle everything yourself? In that case, you may need to spend time and money on a lawyer to explain what to do or to pay them to do it for you. Or you need to understand your state’s law.

The Contract Governs Escrow Deposits

The particular terms of the contract determine how the escrow agent, the person responsible for holding the escrow deposit, will manage the money and they what they will do in case of any dispute. It, therefore, always pays for both parties to understand the small print. The escrow deposit does not “belong” to the buyer anymore, and it does not yet “belong” to the seller. The deposit is held in trust on behalf of the contracted transaction. If everything is completed in accordance with the contractual terms, then there should not be any dispute to handle. If there is a dispute, state law determines what actions the escrow agent should take. The escrow agent may only release escrow money when:

• All terms of the contract are met, and both parties complete the transaction.
• Buyer and Seller agree between themselves how to distribute the money. Given that the sale has fallen through, it is unlikely that seller and buyer will have a friendly chat about who gets what, how much, and by when.
• A mutually-agreed independent mediator helps the two parties to reach an agreement. Again, this takes time and costs money. Mediators rarely work for nothing.
• A court of law decides the matter and issues an order to the escrow agent with instructions on how to distribute the money. Again, this process takes time and money.

State Laws Govern Escrow Disputes

Let us take three examples of state law – one from each coast, and one from the center of the country.
Pennsylvania State Law says such money is governed by State Statute Chapter 73 and that mutual agreement or mediation can settle the problem. If not, then depending on the size of the escrow money deposited, the dispute must be settled by either a magisterial district justice or a court of common pleas. The seller must initiate the lawsuit. It can take up to 180 days for resolution.

Illinois State Law Title 68 Chapter VIII Subchapter b governs escrow disputes. Interestingly, in Illinois, the real estate brokerage may claim costs and attorney fees to be paid out of the escrow money before either the seller or buyer see a penny.
Southern California is different from even Northern California on this subject. All legal decisions are made following an interpleader action sought by the escrow agent, and their fees come out of the escrow money. California also warns sellers and buyers to check the credentials of any escrow agent before money is given to them because unlicensed and internet escrow agents have been known to commit fraud, and then no one gets any money back.

It is clear that, on top of disappointment, frustration and wasted effort, when a sale falls out of escrow, either the seller can just accept the problem try to agree compensation direct with the buyer who has just defaulted, pay for mediation or pay for a law case. And because each state has its own laws, there is no “one size fits all” solution.
How to Avoid Escrow Disputes Altogether

The obvious way is to sell to a ready, willing and able buyer who will give the seller a fair market price with minimal contractual conditions, and who will close as speedily as possible. If that is the route you prefer, then please contact Seller’s Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.