Regional differences and customs in the housing market

elle481July 29, 2009

I have learned so much from this forum and am glad that I found it. One thing I never realized was regional differences and customs in buying and selling. This might be difficult to do since we may not realize that we are different in our area, but let's give it a shot!

What regional differences or customs do you have in your housing market? Don't forget to put the state and county!

Connecticut / Fairfield County:

I have closed on 3 homes and in each case we moved the same day we closed. Our next home will be the same, but since it is new construction we have requested a hold harmless so we could move some boxes in two days before closing as this is going to be a two day move with a moving company.

Walk throughs take place usually the day of closing or the day before with a REA.

Both in Connecticut and New York (NYC and metro area), we would never think of purchasing a home without a real estate attorney and never use the same atty as your buyer/seller! This is the most expensive purchase of my life. I want representation and not by a REA who earns a big commission for selling me a home.

We have always had a title search and purchased our own title insurance even though the bank purchases their own (theres only protects them and not us). We had an issue a bunch of years back where Indians were claiming stake in quite a bit of property in our area and things could have gotten ugly.

Refridgerators are not included in the sale of a home unless you want to include it. We forgot about this until we looked at new construction in this PUD we are moving into. If you bought the base unit with the basic kitchen, surprise!!!!! after spending all of that money, you have to shell out more for your fridge! ( We also had this happen in NYC with the rental market too. The landlord did not have to provide a fridge. Most of the time though whenever we or people we knew would move, you'd just sell the fridge to the new renters for $50. Most landlords did provide fridges, but it was not required.)

We may have more, but I won't know until I read other interesting posts and realize that "we don't do this up here!!!". ;)

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You learn a lot by reading these boards -- I think there are more differences then similarities regionally!! I've read that in some states negotiations are VERBAL!! Me I'd want it in writing and then I'd negotiate, but I believe New York does all the negotiations up front before even writing up the contract!

There are some states that allow the buyer to opt out of the contract for any reason at all within a certain time period, 10 days in one instance. For no other reason then the buyer changed their minds!

Some areas of the country possession is given at closing, some areas possession is given when the deed is recorded, some it is given when the funds have transfered and some regions have local customs that allow sellers to craft agreements with buyers and sellers so that sellers can stay past closing.

Curtain rods, appliances, fixtures, etc. all have regional customs on what stays and doesn't stay. Being transfered across country several times, we'd be confused from area to area with what conveyed. We'd cope by always putting in the contract what we expected to stay or convey.

Termite inspection, I've been in areas where the seller paid and in other areas the buyer paid.

I'm sure there are a lot of other differences.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 9:06AM
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I'm also in CT. In December we moved from a "starter home" in Hartford County to a custom built home in Litchfield County. We didn't put the old house on the market until May, giving us plenty of time to move, enjoy the holidays, hibernate, and then finally get the accumulated junk out of the attic and garage of the old house, clean and paint and weed and put it on the market.

My old fridge was gross (door shelves held together with duct tape, gouge in the front, etc.) so we replaced it and left all the paperwork and styrofoam inside so new potential buyers would know it was new.

There was checklist in the contract paperwork spelling out exactly what stayed, i.e. window blinds, AC units, appliances, etc.

Keys are handed over at closing unless otherwise noted. When we bought our first home, the sellers rented it back from us for two months because their new house wasn't ready. Legally it belonged to us.

Inspection is usually the buyer's expense but in a buyer's market you can certainly ask the seller to pay for it.

My dh refused to sign any agreement to sell without running it by his attorney first. One buyer wanted a reply within 24 hours to an offer on Friday afternoon. We were willing to risk losing the offer by waiting. (We didn't lose the offer, and three more came in that weekend anyway!)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 12:12PM
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In Ca, rarely is an attorney used, contracts are pretty standard and straight forward.
Possession varies indifferent cities around her, sometimes day of close other times +2-3 days.
I'd never expect a refrigerator to stay unless it is built in. Most houses I've bought and sold it is built in. Same with washer and dryer, last two times, I've included it at sale because it was stacking and fit.
Here all negotiations are done in writing, lots of counters back and forth, we use escrow companies.
Many times buyer and seller use same agent.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 12:17PM
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Some areas of the country possession is given at closing, some areas possession is given when the deed is recorded

Closing is when the funds are disbursed and the deed is recorded. Some areas have wet closings, where all the parties get together to sign documents and the funds are disbursed on the spot. Other area have dry closings, where the parties sign at separate times at an escrow company, and funds are disbursed from a few hours to a few days later, with the deed recorded at that time. I believe that dry closings occur mostly in western states.

It seems to me that dry closings make it a bit easier to give possession at closing than wet closings. Normally the seller will sign the papers several days ahead of the actual closing date. The buyers then sign their loan documents, and the escrow officer makes sure that everything is in order. The lender will do a final check on the buyer's financial/job situation and wire the funds to the escrow company - usually the next day. Depending on when the funds are received and the hours of the county clerk's office the deed will be recorded. So the seller usually has about a day's notice that the deal will close. Problems can arise after both parties have signed, but it is pretty rare.

From what I understand RE in NY is a whole different animal that in most other states.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 1:44PM
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CA is a dry closing state. A seller signs quite early but everything is controlled by escrow.
Still one never knows just when it will close, so many things can change it a day or two.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 2:44PM
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Atlanta has been one of the most active home markets in the country for a number of years. There are many corporate transfers in process at any one time. Fortunately, Atlanta is well-known as a "corporate graveyard" which means a company transfers an employee here and when it is time to move to wheverever, the employee stays put. This helps to keep the traffic counts very high and delays to a maximum.

Real estate agents are firmly in control of this market and the selling broker typically produces the form purchase and sale agreement. Most buyers use this form although some elect to get their own attorney. Move-in date is negotiated with the contract but most buyers take possession two or three days after closing.

I have no idea about the wet dry thangy...

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 11:11PM
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"It seems to me that dry closings make it a bit easier to give possession at closing than wet closings."

Wet or dry does not really matter for possession, and I have done closings of both types.

Holding over (AKA 'renting back') varies from location to location, but is negotiable anywhere.

It seems less common on 'starter' houses, and a little more common on later houses since moving a large house's contents is a bigger job.

My last move took three trips with a 40 foot truck (moving company sent two trucks and crews though).

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 10:04AM
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The custom here in my area (Silicon Valley) seems to be found nowhere else in the country: the seller pays for a full inspection, termite report, earthquake report, and even separate pool and hot tub inspections where relevant. Some items found during inspection might be repaired, but not always - this is indicated on a separate form. The seller also fills out complete disclosure forms, and puts everything in a big binder. The binder is readily available during open houses, and most agents upload all forms online for download as well. Buyers rarely pay for their own inspections, but of course there's always the option to do so. I didn't think the pool inspection was complete enough when I bought my current house, so I had another one done.

The market had slowed down here late last year and early this spring, but seems to have picked up again this summer. The usual process for a new house on the market is for the sellers to paint/stage/update/landscape ahead of time, sometimes taking months to do this (unless it's a tear-down, then it's sold as-is). The house goes on the market on Thursday, broker tour is Friday, open house is Sat/Sun, offers taken the following Tuesday. My neighbor's house went on the market last Friday; they got 7 offers on Sunday and the "sale pending" sign went up Monday morning. I think the market is heating up again.

Even for California, this is an unusual pocket of real estate activity. But like most places, sometimes it's not the price that determines the sale, it's the terms (ability to rent back after close of escrow, in particular).

Sellers almost never leave refrigerators, washers or dryers. All of the bathroom mirrors were gone when I moved into my current house.

Oh, and it's no longer sufficient to be pre-qualified for a loan; buyers have to come armed with an approved loan application from a lender.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 12:17AM
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Maybe I'm just not trusting by nature, but I'd much rather use my own inspector than take the word of the guy the seller hired.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 11:35AM
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Very interesting topic. I am a RE attorney on Long Island. I know our practices vary greatly from other parts of New York, and obviously the rest of the country. The first that stand out is appliances. I've never had a closing where the fridge wasn't included. I think once I had one where the sellers had a brand new washer/dryer that they wanted to keep, but otherwise appliances are always part of the sale.

Negotiations are verbal, once a price is agreed upon, the broker has the parties sign a binder. Then the attorneys negotiate the contract of sale. Buyer pays for all inspections and title searches.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 12:36PM
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I'm a few hours north of Long Island NY and its not even the same as HGLI. Appliances are negotiable, not standard with any sale. Negotiations are done with a "purchase offer" which is "non binding". Once everything is agreed, there are crossouts on the purchase offer, it goes to the sellers atty for contracts. Inspections are done within 10 days, the buyer can back out ANY TIME before that contract is signed.(which sometimes takes a month) I've even seen a buyer walk away AT CLOSING. The seller had to fight to keep HALF his escrow money.

2 hours North of me, the real estate agent writes a "contract" (atty can also do it, but agents are permitted), buyer has three days to rescind or $1500 or more after the home inspection. (THIS IS SOOOO MUCH BETTER THAN MY AREA!)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 6:41PM
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In my area of the midwest:

* appliances are assumed to be included, unless they're specifically excluded in the contract. And the only time I've actually seen this IRL is with very new, very expensive washer/dryer combos.

* If it's screwed into the walls, it stays. If it's hanging from a hook, it goes (unless specifically stated in the contract).

  Big bathroom sheet mirrors? Stay. Small framed decorative ones? Go.
  Roller shades or blinds on the windows? Stay. The curtains themselves? Go, usually. But the curtain RODS stay.

* Real estate attorneys are seldom used.

* The buyers choose and pay for the home inspection.

* We have "wet" closings, and keys are handed over then.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 2:17PM
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Square footage and price per square foot is never mentioned. The only place to find an estimate of square footage is in the tax records. I had never heard mention of price per square foot until coming to this board.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 2:50PM
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"Square footage and price per square foot is never mentioned. The only place to find an estimate of square footage is in the tax records. I had never heard mention of price per square foot until coming to this board."

It is one of the metrics used in the standard appraisal form, mainly to allow adjustments of comps to the subject property.

It has limited other real utility since not all the square feet in a single house has the same value.
Kitchens have a higher 'cost per square foot' than bedrooms.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 4:36PM
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Cori25 - when we moved to our current home we found it very frustrating that square footage wasn't mentioned in the listings. We had been so used to saying we need xxxx amount of square footage and only looking at homes with that amount of square footage or above. We were told by our realtor at the time that since there was so much disrepancy from the official square footage at the assessor's office and actual square footage as measured, that realtors didn't list it. Whereas other areas of the country realtors would list the square footage with a disclaimer of sorts -- example 2600 sq ft as measured by homeowner, or assessed square footage etc. I much prefer to see some indication of square footage, but in my area, like yours it isn't done!!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 4:48PM
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