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How Do Wilmington Realtors Get Paid?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

How Do Realtors Get Paid?There is a lot of confusion about how Wilmington Realtors get paid, because it’s not a traditional compensation structure. The details are all outlined in the Working with Real Estate Agents document, which most agents require clients to sign, but when the client receives this varies from agent to agent and even after reading the document, there still seems to be some misconceptions that follow. So, here’s a quick and simple explanation:

The seller pays the commission for both the listing agent and selling (buyer’s) agent.

If you’re a buyer, you may be thinking, “But I hired you, so I should be paying you, right?” When working with professionals, that’s usually the case, but the seller is essentially paying for an agent to bring a buyer for their home. So, it costs you nothing to hire a buyer's agent.

Are there exceptions? Yes. If you want to place an offer on a For Sale By Owner and the owner doesn’t want to pay a buyer's agent’s commission, you will be responsible for it. Very rarely, a traditional seller will agree to only pay the listing agent's commission also making you responsible, but the commission is listed on every property in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so you can choose not to make an offer on a home that isn't offering compensation to the buyer's agent.

It's important to know that an agent cannot legally pressure you into putting an offer on any property, because it has a higher commission than another. If you EVER feel pressured, speak to their Broker-in-Charge (BIC). The BIC will help remedy the situation based on any paperwork you've signed.

Have a question about commission? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

My Home Didn't Appraise. What Can I Do?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

My Home Didn't AppraiseYour Wilmington area home is under contract, but you’ve just learned that the appraisal came back lower than the contract price. Now what do you do? Well, there are a few options depending on your motivation and the appraisal price.

  1. Challenge the Appraisal. There’s a chance that there’s either an error in the listed features of your home or the appraiser overlooked a comparable. The latter is especially possible if the appraiser is from out of town. So, you’ll need to provide the lender with a list of comparables. However, you should be warned that you need good proof to win an appraisal challenge and the buyers may not want to wait for you get it sorted out. If the difference in price isn’t that large, it may be more worthwhile to choose another option.
  2. Request a Second Appraisal. Depending on the loan and lender, you may be able to request a second appraisal, but be forewarned – someone needs to pay for it. It will likely be you. This can also take additional time, which may need to be negotiated into the contract.
  3. Accept the Appraised Value. If you’re ready to sell, you may want to just accept the results of the appraisal and agree to lower the purchase price. This way, you’ll be free to move on after the closing and the buyers will get the home they want.
  4. Terminate the Contract. If you don’t need to sell and the appraised value is going to leave you with too high of a loss, you may decide to terminate the contract and stay in the home. Most areas of Wilmington will see a 3-5% property value increase in the next few years, but you need to decide if that’s going to be enough to make up for your losses down the road. You also need to realize there is the risk that your property won’t have a value increase and you may not be any better off in a few years.
  5. Ask the Sellers to Pay or Agree to Split the Difference. You can always ask the buyers to split the difference or pay a minimum percentage (whatever you can afford). If they really want the home, they may be willing to bring this money to the table. Just keep in mind that no buyer really wants to pay more than a home is worth. If the difference is more than they can justify by desire and recoup in rising property values, it may not make any financial sense for them. After all, this money will come out of pocket, because the lender isn’t going to want to pay for more than the home is worth.

Remember, every case is different, so speak with your Wilmington Realtor about your best options.

Haven’t listed your Wilmington area home yet? Have questions about putting your home on the market? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Another Reminder That Curb Appeal Matters

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Home with Bad Curb AppealAfter visiting with friends last night, I’m reminded of how much curb appeal matters. At the beginning of 2014, they purchased their home. It was a resale built in the early 90’s, and this was my first time seeing it. Their directions for finding the home were, and I quote, “First ugly house on the left.” Now, this wasn’t the first time they had told me the home was ugly, so I can openly admit – the home is ugly! But that’s one reason why they were able to get it close to $40,000 below the original listing price.

It’s not uncommon for buyers to see the front of a home and refuse to go in for a showing. It’s frustrating at times, but with buyers who have that strong of an initial reaction, it’s probably best to not waste any time looking at the home. I imagine this house was one that brought out that type of reaction in buyers, because the front has one of the most flat, boring exteriors I’ve ever seen on a home. There aren’t any shutters, the paint colors are drab, and the landscaping needs some work. It doesn’t reflect the interior at all.

As soon as you enter the home, the whole design does a 180°. There’s a giant great room with floor to ceiling windows and a second floor walkway, a big gourmet kitchen with a center island, a breakfast room and dining room, four bedrooms (including one with a loft), an oversized master suite, office, and bonus room. Plus, there’s a private balcony, screened porch, and in-ground swimming pool. This home is over 3,800 square-feet, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the front.

This home sat on the market for 7 months. Looking at it, I can only imagine how many times it was overlooked online due to the front picture. By our local Realtor association rules, we must make the front picture the first picture for all listings, so that’s usually the thumbnail that home buyers see in search results. Luckily, my friends’ tween daughter decided to look at it or they would have missed a great home with lots of character.

As soon as they looked at the interior pictures, they said, "We've got to see this house!" They did and quickly saw the potential. In case you’re wondering, they do plan on updating the front with new paint colors and architectural details.

This is just another reminder that, if you’re selling your home, curb appeal does matter and, if you’re searching for a home, digging a little deeper may bring you a good deal.

If you have any questions about buying a Wilmington area home, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Who Pays for the Oil in the Fuel Tank?

by Melanie Cameron, The Cameron Team

Who Pays for the Oil in the Fuel Tank at Closing?A Wilmington area home goes under contract. The fuel tank attached to the home still has oil in it. Come the day of closing, who pays for that oil?

According to section 2 (“FIXTURES”) of the North Carolina Offer to Purchase, there are a number of items “included in the Purchase Price free of liens”. These include “fuel tank(s) whether attached or buried and including contents, if any, as of Settlement”. If the fuel tank is leased, it should be written into the contract as an exception, because it’s not technically owned by the home owner and cannot be sold.

Owned or leased, the home owner has the right to exclude the contents and ask for the buyer to pay for them, but that doesn’t guarantee they will agree to such terms. Resolving an issue of “floating oil”, so to speak, can be tricky and it may put a kink in negotiations, so it’s imperative for the home owner to determine how important it is to them to recoup that fuel. Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Have more questions about this? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Should I Have My Home Inspected Before I List It?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Should I Have My Home Inspected Before I ListIf you’re getting ready to sell your Wilmington area home, you may be wondering if you should have a home inspection done before you list. In Wilmington, many home sellers choose not to, but the choice should really be made on a case-by-case basis. While it may not be needed for some homes, it could be beneficial for others. Here are some points to consider:

Why You Would Want to Get a Pre-Inspection

  1. A pre-inspection gives you a good dose of reality. It will give you a clearer understanding of the condition of a home, which can affect the list price and how you market the home. This is especially important if you never lived in the home, because other family members lived there or it was used as a rental. If your main goal is to get the home sold, an inspection can help you get it prepared to compete against other homes on the market. If you don’t need to sell right now, this may be the information you need to decide if you want to wait or go ahead and list.
  2. A pre-inspection can reduce your time on the market. If a buyer feels that a home has more repairs than they are comfortable with handling, they will terminate the contract, which means you’ve wasted days or months on the market. It also creates a stigma with the home. Future buyers will want to know why the contract was terminated and will be hesitant to put in an offer. A pre-inspection allows you to make repairs before you list the home reducing the amount of work that may turn buyers away.
  3. A pre-inspection creates peace of mind in buyers. If you’ve already taken the time to get an inspection and address repairs, it shows buyers that you are serious about selling and respect the risks they’re taking buying a new home. It’s bound to grab the attention of buyers as an additional marketing tool (and you can further that affect by including a home warranty).
  4. A pre-inspection can create a smoother transaction. By eliminating repairs prior to a purchase contract, you get rid of potential big surprises that often lead to additional negotiating, unexpected costs, and a postponed closing.

Why You May Want to Skip a Pre-Inspection

  1. A pre-inspection is an additional cost. If your home isn’t very old or hasn’t had many issues, the possibility of facing surprises when the buyers do their own inspection may be low. So, the additional cost may not be warranted. This is probably the most popular reason for not getting a pre-inspection.
  2. If an issue is revealed, you need to disclose it. Of course, if you’re getting a pre-inspection, you’re probably already planning on making repairs. But, if you find you can’t make all of the repairs, you need to disclose any that you weren’t able to complete. This may hurt your ability to sell, because buyers will be hesitant to take that first step of making an offer. It may also drastically lower their offer price.
  3. A pre-inspection doesn’t eliminate the buyer’s home inspection. If your intention is to speed up the sale, the pre-inspection won’t shorten the buyer’s Due Diligence Period. The buyer can choose to trust your home inspection and not get one of their own, but the Due Diligence Period also includes all efforts by the lender to finalize funding, as well as any additional inspections (pest, sewer, septic, chimney, etc.), land surveys, and research into anything that will affect the intended use of the property (HOA restrictions, improvement projects, zoning, etc.). At the most, it will eliminate the chance of surprise repairs that may lengthen the closing timetable.
  4. Not everything wrong with a home may be caught with a home inspection. Home inspectors aren’t perfect, nobody is, so there’s always the chance that something will be overlooked. They’re also limited on how thoroughly they can inspect a home. For example, inspectors will not make holes in walls to inspect pipes or wiring, and are not required to climb on top of roofs to inspect. So, if an interior pipe has degraded so much that it starts to leak while the home is listed, that’s not something that could have been prevented with a home inspection.

As you can see, a pre-inspection isn’t for everyone and can actually be more detrimental for a sale. However, if your home has been rife with issues or time is nearing the end of the predicted lifespan for the original building materials, it may be a good idea to consider a pre-inspection. It could save you time and money, which are often the same thing when your home is on the market.

Have questions about pre-inspections or listing your Wilmington area home? Give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page.

Meghan Riley

Should I Offer an Agent Bonus to Increase Home Showings?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Should I Offer a Buyer's Agent Bonus on My Home Listing? You’re selling your Wilmington area home. It’s been on the market for a few months, but you aren’t getting the amount of showings that you want. You’ve heard about buyer’s agent bonuses, where you offer some kind of gift (a specific dollar amount, an extra percentage of commission, a gift card, etc.) to an agent that brings you a buyer, and you’re wondering if that’s something you should try.

It’s important for sellers to know that it is against the Realtor® Code of Ethics and Fair Housing laws to steer a buyer to or away from a specific listing. Realtors® are here to provide facts and experience so that their clients can make the best decisions for them. However, this hasn’t made the buyer’s agent bonus illegal, because choosing to show a property that fits a client’s search criteria doesn’t necessarily constitute steering, even if it has a bonus. The agent just can’t make any extra effort to convince the client to choose that property over others. If there is a buyer’s agent bonus, according to the Code of Ethics, the agent must reveal it to their client.

As a Realtor®, it is the buyer’s agent’s responsibility to find a home that best suits the needs of their clients. With that said, a buyer’s agent will show a listing if there is a bonus or not, as long as it suits the needed criteria, because they’re in the market to sell a home. Attaching an agent bonus to the listing won’t necessarily provide any additional showings.

Instead of offering an incentive to the buyer’s agent, it would probably better suit you to use that money to make needed repairs on the listing or provide an incentive for the buyers, like paid closing costs, a carpet allowance, painting allowance, home warranty, etc. After all, those sort of perks can be advertised online and in the MLS, and the buyers are the ones who have the final say on which properties they see.

If your Wilmington area home is not yet listed and you're interested in putting it on the market, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to share our marketing plan and provide you insight into the fair market value of your home.  

Meghan Riley

Will My Neighbor’s Poorly Maintained Home Affect My Sale?

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Will my neighbor’s poorly maintained home affect my sale?Q. “Will my neighbor’s poorly maintained home affect my sale?”

A. Unfortunately, yes. Neighbors can provide a whole slew of unsightly property issues – peeling paint, trashed yards, broken windows, unmowed lawns, overgrown bushes, and excess vehicles (often parked where they shouldn’t be), to name a few. If the home is out-of-sight, perhaps a few roads over, it might not be as big of an issues, but the closer the home is to yours, the larger the affect it will have on the sale of your Wilmington area home.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Unmaintained yards attract snakes, rats, and other pests that can eventually invade neighboring properties. No one wants to deal with an infestation.
  2. Peeling paint, broken windows, boarded windows, missing wood, etc. are attributed to neglect and buyers don’t usually want to be surrounded by the issues that accompany that.
  3. Excess vehicles give the impression that a lot of people will be going in and out of the house, and most buyers are looking for a quiet area.
  4. Metal cans, old vehicles, broken hardware, old furniture…if this type of stuff is piled up in the yard, buyers will start to question what they’ll be smelling (or tasting!) on a day-to-day basis.

One situation in particular comes to mind. A buyer had fallen in love with a historic home in Downtown Wilmington, but the home next-door was vacant with boarded windows. The owner had moved to a retirement community and claimed the home was in fine condition, but the buyer was afraid that the boarded windows would attract trespassers. She went back and forth on making an offer for weeks, and she eventually decided not to purchase the home due to safety issues. Buyers take into consideration the neighborhood when choosing a property, especially if a particular troublesome looking home is nearby. If your home looks out over a property in question, it will especially make your home harder to sell.

So, what can you do?

If the issue is a poorly maintained yard, it may be that they can’t afford to have it maintained or physically do it themselves. You may offer to cut it for them while your home is on the market. If that’s not the case and the grass has been allowed to grow high, it may be a violation of county code and an issue to be addressed by the local health department.

Other issues may be resolved with a polite conversation with the neighbor. You may want to point out that your home’s sale will directly affect the value of their own home. In most cases, you’ll have to do whatever you can to highlight your own property’s best features and that may involve making some changes, like adding a privacy fence.  

If you have concerns about your Wilmington area home not selling due to a neighboring property, feel free to give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to take a look and provide some insight from our 18+ years of experience selling homes.

Meghan Riley

Infographic: Horror Stories from Beyond the Move

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

Always do your due diligence before hiring a mover. Read reviews, ask for referrals, or, as Allied says in their latest infographic, you'll be facing...

Hire the Right Movers

Hire the Right Movers or Else...- An infographic by the team at Allied Van Lines

"Home" is in the Details

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

The Wilmington real estate market can be very competitive. Sometimes a good cleaning and well-thought-out price aren’t the only things needed to get a home sold. While the number of bedrooms and baths, square-footage, and lot size are factored into choosing a home to purchase, let’s be honest, they aren’t the deciding factors. There are plenty of houses that fit the general criteria a buyer is looking for (“3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a 2 car garage, etc.”). Most buyers are shopping for their next home and a home isn’t floor plan. It's the details that make a property a "home".

Features from 304 Whisper Park Dr - Home is in the DetailsPerhaps, the buyer likes the idea of being greeted by the gas lantern over the front door, curling up with a book in the reading nook, seeing the color of the bathroom tile every morning, or enjoying the feeling the transom windows incite in them whenever they enter the home. These little things are what make a buyer imagine themselves living in the home. It’s also what makes them decide they may not need a certain feature, because the one your home has is more appealing.

It goes without saying that one of the keys to getting a property sold is making it stand apart from other listings in the same neighborhood. That can be done by investing in unique details. Now, this doesn’t mean paying for expensive upgrades or adding odd features, like the indoor playhouse you saw on Pinterest. Matter-of-fact, that could make the home harder to sell. Instead, it means truly analyzing the features of the home, highlighting the best ones, and tweaking any that are outdated.

If your home is in need of some updating and you’re on a limited budget, sometimes it’s better to take one home project and do it really well than spread out your money all over the house. History has shown that you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by focusing on the kitchen and bathrooms. If your home was built in the ‘90s and your kitchen hasn’t been updated at all, simply painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware with a newer finish may be all you need to do to make it stand out. Another example may be stained or broken bathroom tile. A bathroom in poor shape can be a kill-all for a sale, and it may be well worth the investment to replace or refinish the tile, depending on the price range of the property.

Prior to listing your home for sale, we suggest contacting a Wilmington Realtor to find out what’s been selling in the neighborhood. Pictures, virtual tours, and the Realtor’s own experiences will give you the best idea of what current features and potential features could give you a leg-up on other listings. It’s hard to make changes to a home and properly advertise it once the home is on the market, because a lot of systems rely on automated syndication that can take some time to update after they’ve already fed. So, it’s best to get your home shining prior to listing.

If you need help preparing your Wilmington area home for sale, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page, and remember - “home” is in the details.

Meghan Riley

7 Improvements That You Think Add Value To Your Home - But Really Don't

by Meghan Riley, The Cameron Team

When it comes time to make home improvements, most Wilmington home owners like to choose projects that increase the value of their home. But just because a feature costs a lot of money or seems cool, it doesn’t mean it will add value to a home. Matter of fact, it can be quite the opposite. Here are 7 things you may think add value to your home, but really don’t:

  1. Wall-to-wall Carpet Does Not Add ValueWall-to-Wall Carpet – You may think investing in all new carpet will raise the value of your home, but in reality the costs can be hard to recoup. Carpet can be expensive to install and it comes with the risk of choosing a style that buyers won’t like. Likewise, if a buyer is faced with the choice of hardwoods or carpet, they’ll usually choose hardwoods due to the look of it, as well as issues with allergens and pets. If carpet is a common feature in comparable properties and the current flooring has stains that won’t come out with a deep clean, you can consider replacing it, but try to do it on a room-by-room basis.
  2. Swimming Pools – The North Carolina climate is great for swimming pools, but the issue is that buyers either love them or hate them. While it’s fun to be able to use a swimming pool, the upkeep can be considered demanding for some people and above-ground pools (that can be easily removed compared to in-ground pools) can be a visual turn-off for buyers. If you are considering adding a pool to your home, make sure you’re doing it for purely your own enjoyment and not to add value.
  3. Replacement Projects – Spending hundreds to thousands of dollars to replace the HVAC, water heater, insulation, etc., you may think you should get money back, over and above the normal sale price. After all, that’s a lot of money out of pocket. However, don’t expect the investment to convert into a monetary payback…at least, not in the way you think. A new HVAC will improve the salability of your home and likely put it higher on a buyer’s list than other comparable homes, but you won’t recoup 100% of the cost for replacing features that should automatically be included in the home. One exception may be if the home was bought at auction for a steal and you’re flipping the home.
  4. High-Quality Materials – As is the case with many aspects of real estate, choices of upgrades should be made in relation to the community and style of home. Putting granite countertops in a $150,000 1970’s home is not going to raise the value of the house if the kitchen cabinets are the same flat-faced cabinets from the time of build and the bathrooms are still an avocado green. It also won’t pay off if the standard for the community is laminate counters. Buyers are likelier to spend money on more square-footage in the same neighborhood than fancier materials.
  5. Special Purpose Rooms – The idea of a home theater or dance studio may seem like a fun idea to some, but the inflexibility in use can be a turn-off for buyers. If they don’t share the need to have a special purpose room, they may see it as an extra investment – something they need to pay to fix, which they’ll likely factor into their offer price. If you see yourself staying in the home for years to come, then by all means add a special purpose room for your own enjoyment, but be ready to deal with the consequences when it’s time to sell.
  6. A New Roof – Buyers are less concerned with the visual appearance of a home’s roof than the fact that it may have leaks. So, as long as there are no physical issues with the roof, don’t put money into adding a new roof before you list it on the market.
  7. Extensive Landscaping Does Not Add ValueExtensive Landscaping – When upgrading your home’s landscape, it’s important to find a happy middle ground. No landscaping can be an absolute turn-off to buyers. However, garden beds overflowing with plants will only appeal to true hobby gardeners, which is only a fraction of buyers. Likewise, ponds, while relaxing to sit around, will turn off buyers who don’t want to deal with the upkeep (kind of like swimming pools). If you’re just sprucing up the yard to sell it, the best approach to landscaping is to keep it simple and work with what you have when you can. Seed missing patches of the yard, pressure wash the current walkway or add a new one, and trim the current bushes or plant some low-maintenance shrubs that provide a show of color in the spring. Remember, less is more, unless “less” is just dirt.

If you aren’t sure a project will add value to your Wilmington area home, give us a call or send us a message through our Contact page. We’d be happy to advise you on the best possible course of action.

Meghan Riley

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The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff Suite 101
Wilmington NC 28405
Office: 910.202.2546
Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723

The Cameron Team - Wilmington North Carolina Real Estate

The Cameron Team
Coldwell Banker
Sea Coast Advantage
1001 Military Cutoff, Suite 101
Wilmington, NC  28405
Office: 910.202.2546

Toll Free: 800.522.9624
Fax: 910.795.4723

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