Tuesday, January 17, 2012

10 Answers

  1. How much will I save if I deal directly with the listing agent? It's very unlikely you'll save anything. Even if the listing agent agrees to reduce total commission, the seller will expect to pocket that savings, not pass it along to the buyer. Even bigger consideration is that the listing agent can't legally advocate for a better deal for the buyer so she'll just have to assist without taking sides while you do the best you can, not the best scenario for a buyer. A good buyer's agent is legally allowed and should be eager to go to battle for you to get the best possible price and terms.
  2. How much deposit do I have to put down to make an offer? You don't have to put anything down but as someone pointed out, an offer without a deposit is unlikely to be taken seriously. I prefer to make the deposit due after acceptance of the contract. That way the offer is viewed as legit but no check is written if a deal can't be reached. Another level of reduced exposure for a buyer. See #3 below.
  3. How is an escrow deposit dispute settled and does it matter whose escrow account it's in? Very tricky one here. If a seller refuses to sign a release and cancellation after a buyer cancels, even if cancelled within their contractual rights, the escrow agent can't return the escrow. For escrow held within a Florida real estate broker's escrow account, the broker must request an escrow disbursement order from the Florida Real Estate Commission in the event of a dispute. I've seen this process take three months. There is no cost to any party for this and the broker must comply with the decision and order. If escrow is held by anyone other than a Florida real estate broker, this method of settlement is not available. Options then include litigation, arbitration or interpleader. Costs can easily exceed the amount of the escrow. Be aware of this when asked to deposit escrow in accounts other than a real estate broker's escrow.
  4. If I change my mind about a purchase 10 days after signing the contract can I get my deposit back? Yes, IF your contract gives you that right. If you dealt directly with the listing agent, she may not have given you a very long right-to-cancel period unless you asked for it.
  5. The inspection revealed that the AC doesn't work. The contract is "as-is". What are my options? You have three options if you are still within your inspection and right to cancel period. You can cancel the contract or you can ask for some sort of compromise on repair or price with the seller. Or, failing a compromise, you can go ahead with the purchase.
  6. Is $500 reasonable for closing costs for a cash buyer of a $400,000 property? No, it's high. A cash buyer should be paying closing costs of less than $100 outside of prorated items like taxes, condo fees, etc.
  7. The seller has offered to equally split the title insurance cost. Is that fair? No. In Florida the seller usually pays for the owner's title policy.
  8. Can I change the contract to my brother's name after it's executed? Yes, if the seller agrees or if you made your original contract assignable.
  9. The seller countered my offer at a higher price but came back the next day and accepted my first offer. Do I have to accept it? No. The moment he countered your offer, your offer is dead. You can still accept it but are not obligated to.
  10. How is a buyer's agent paid? Sometimes they're not. In most cases, the listing broker pays the buyer's broker out of the total listing commission per their agreement with the seller. The MLS tells buyer's agents how much is being offered them. Sometimes with non-listed properties, a buyer may offer to pay their broker. Sometimes, in short sales, the commission to both brokers is reduced by the bank, usually after months of negotiations.
 ‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.’
___Abraham Lincoln