Joseph Hartung's Blog
You’ve heard all the sayings: “Location, location, location,” and the line in Robert Frost’s poem, “Good fences make good neighbors.” You’ve even made Abraham Lincoln’s saying your motto, “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can.”
Yet here you are, trying to sell our home, and the neighbors simply are not cooperating. They park vehicles in front of your house so that the “For Sale” sign is hidden, or they leave stuff in their yard that makes it unattractive. In your urgency to get your home sold, you take everything as a personal affront. What happened to those nice, friendly neighbors you’ve shared barbeques and fun with over the years?
It May Not Be You
It’s probably not even on their radar that their everyday actions cause you sleepless nights. The stress level is yours, not theirs. Here are some best practices for being neighborly when you put your house on the market.
Let them know what’s happening. Tell them that you’ve gotten a job change, or are getting married or whatever the case is and that you need to sell your home. That way, they can be ambassadors for you. If they have friends or family that want to live near them, this is the perfect opportunity.
Let them know what to expect. If your agent schedules an open house, let the neighbors know. After all, the street will have more traffic, and parking may be at a premium. The last thing you want is to have your open house the same day as their family reunion with no parking available for anyone.
Invite them to visit your home during the open house. Neighbors are curious. If your homes are similar, upgrades you’ve done might spark ideas for their home. On a few occasions, neighbors have bought the house next door. Perhaps because it’s a better fit for their family, or it lets them remodel theirs without living in it.
Let your neighbor know what will help your home sell, such as keeping the street in front of your house clear. Tell them that the more you sell your house for, the more it improves their home value. See if that doesn’t get them on our side.
Introduce Your Agent
Take a few moments to introduce your agent to your neighbors. That way, they’ll know who’s coming and going, and if it’s okay for people to be in your house when you’re not there. It also gives your agent a chance to talk about neighborhood values and point out the lovely features in your neighbor’s yard. A little flattery goes a long way toward promoting extra effort to make things look nice.
Some communities also offer bike paths, walking trails, and town swimming pools, all of which can provide an endless source of recreation for you and your family.
Like any desirable feature of a neighborhood or community, some parks are better than others. While access to a nice park may not be uppermost in your mind when house hunting, here are some solid reasons for including it on your wish list:
- Exercise benefits: Many of the larger parks offer extensive walking trails, public tennis courts, and paddle boat rentals. Parks can also provide space for jogging, roller blading, bicycling, and Frisbee tossing. For families with younger children, a nearby playground can be a priceless resource for keeping the kids physically active and entertained. It can also be a convenient location for play dates, birthday parties, and picnics.
- Stress relief: Whether it's related to work, finances, or family issues, just about everyone experiences stress at one time or another. Having easy access to a peaceful place to walk, read a book, or fly a kite with the kids can provide a welcome distraction to the trials and tribulations of everyday life. When you need a change of scenery or a chance to commune with nature, a short jaunt to your neighborhood park can provide the ideal environment for relaxing and unwinding.
- Convenient meeting location: If you're considering hosting a family picnic, but your yard won't accommodate everyone on your guest list, reserving a pavilion at a local park can be the perfect solution. Public parks can also be conducive to volleyball matches, badminton tournaments, and football games. A park can often be a nice setting for events like family reunions, club meetings, and graduation parties.
- Easy access to special events: Most parks offer special events to local residents, ranging from free concerts to farmers' markets. Living just a short walk from a festival site, music event, or theatrical performance can enhance your enjoyment of a chosen neighborhood. Whether you're a fan of Shakespeare in the Park or flower shows and food festivals, living near a public park can provide you and your family with fun cultural events and weekend entertainment.
Buying and selling real estate is a complicated process that takes time. Because you are making a life decision and dealing with strangers, you should always have a valid purchase contract. Real estate agents use a standard contract, but the buyer and/or seller may make changes to that contract. In making changes, be careful not to make the contract invalid.
A Valid Contract
Four elements make up a valid contract:
You must have an offer. In real estate, this is the party purchasing the real property.
You must have consideration. This is something of value, usually cash. In real estate contracts, this is called good faith money or earnest money and is usually 1 to 3 percent of the purchase price. The good faith money is typically non-refundable should the buyer back out of the contract. The consideration shows that the contract is not a gift.
The other party must accept the offer in the contract. If the seller signs the contract, they accepted your offer. However, if the seller does not accept your offer, they do not sign the contract. If the seller wants to counter, this may be verbal until the two parties agree upon a number. The real estate agent drafts a new contract that both parties sign.
Finally, the contract must contain mutuality or what attorneys often call “a meeting of the minds.” By signing the contract, the parties agree that they understand and agree to the terms of the contract.
Components of a Real Estate Contract
A real estate contract must contain:
The buyers’ full names.
The sellers’ full names.
The address and legal description of the property.
The purchase price and how the buyer will pay it, whether cash, cash subject to a new mortgage, cash subject to an existing mortgage, cash with the assumption of the existing mortgage or sale by land contract.
The amount of earnest money.
How the buyers and sellers will handle real estate taxes, assessments and adjustments.
How the sellers will transfer title and that the title is free and clear.
Date and time of possession of the property or closing date. In most cases, this is the closing date since most people do not have the cash to buy the property without a mortgage. It generally takes 30 to 60 days for a mortgage to be approved.
A list of improvements and fixtures that the seller will include in the purchase price.
Any other general or special conditions for the sale and/or purchase of the property.
Most real estate contracts also have exceptions. If these terms cannot be met, the buyers’ non-refundable deposit becomes refundable. Common exceptions include an inspection meeting the buyers’ expectations and the ability of the buyer to procure financing. The parties may further negotiate the price of the real estate based on the inspection. The parties may also add any other agreed-upon exceptions.