You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of a real estate transaction without knowing the answers to these questions. Here are some questions that may affect the purchase of your new home or sale of the old one that you might want to ask your real estate agent or attorney.
How important is it to have a current certificate of occupancy for the property?
A CO indicates that the city or town has approved any construction on the property, that it has been properly completed according to the building code and is safe and habitable by town or city standards. It has become an especially important issue for mortgage lenders who may turn down the loan if there is any construction on the property that doesn’t have a CO. Sellers as well as buyers should be aware of the need for an up-to-date CO.
If I change my mind and don’t want to sell my house, do I still owe a commission to the agent?
In general, if your agent brings what is referred to as a ready, willing, and able buyer who makes a full-price offer, the real estate agent is entitled to a commission even if you change your mind and decide not to sell your house.
After you’ve signed the sales contract, you may even owe the buyer something if you back out. For example, the buyer may have sold his house and put his furniture in storage in anticipation of moving. For further reading on this matter, see: Home-Buying Checklist: 20 Things to Consider Beyond the Inspection and, How to Buy a House – 6 Must-Dos Before Buying a Home.
Do I get an inspection done before or after I sign the contract of sale? Does it make any difference?
If you get the inspection done before signing the contract you can easily walk away from the deal if the inspector finds any problems with the property, but you run the risk of losing the house to another buyer while the inspection is being done. If you have an inspection contingency placed in the contract whether or not you can get out of it depends on the specific wording of the contract. Read: 10 Things to Consider Before Making an Offer on a Home.
If I’ve made an offer on the house and the seller has accepted the offer, can they then accept a higher offer?
An offer and acceptance is really not binding until a written contract is signed by both the buyer and the seller. Although negotiations are often conducted verbally or by e-mail, real estate agents want to get the contract signed as soon as possible to lock the deal in place when negotiations are complete.
As a seller should I let the buyer’s move in before closing?
Many things can happen even up to a few hours before closing that can wreck a deal. After someone has moved into your house (and it’s still your house until the closing) you have a tenant who has certain protected rights. If the sale falls through, you would now be faced with an eviction proceeding that can be complicated, long, and expensive, depending on where you live.