Real Estate in Mississippi
Buying or selling a home anywhere in Mississippi is much like buying or selling a home anywhere else in the country. However, every state is at least a little bit different in some aspects of the real estate process. So, before beginning your hunt for a new home in the State of Mississippi or before choosing a real estate agency with which to list your home for sale, make sure you understand the specifics of real estate law for the state.
Mississippi Real Estate Commission
The Mississippi Real Estate Commission (MREC) is an organization that works to keep control over the real estate industry throughout the State of Mississippi. All real estate agents and brokers are licensed through the MREC—after undergoing complete testing and fulfilling education requirements. Consumers are protected through the MREC because there are regulations in place to ensure that all licensed members complete real estate transactions professionally and ethically. The MREC investigates any reports of rule violations or reports of unethical practices.
Mississippi Appraisal Board
This organization was formed in 1990 to regulate state real estate appraisers according to the requirements of the law that was passed in 1989—the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 by the Federal Government (Title XI). The Mississippi Appraisal Board works to help consumers choose competent real estate appraisers when evaluating homes.
Mississippi Home Inspector Board
An important element of any real estate transaction is having the home inspected by a qualified professional. The Mississippi Home Inspector Board is part of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The society promotes professional inspection services to the public by private, paid inspectors.
Property Disclosure Statement for Real Estate Sales
The seller of a piece of real estate must complete a property condition disclosure statement form. This form explains all of the conditions of the property to the prospective buyer and must be filled out to the best of the seller’s knowledge.
If the disclosure statement is delivered to the potential buyer after he has made an offer on the property, the potential buyer can terminate his contract and withdraw his offer with no penalties as long as he does so within three days of being given the statement (or within five days, if the statement was delivered by mail). If the prospective buyer does choose to remove his offer, it is done with no loss to the buyer and he will get his deposit or earnest money returned to him.
Buying a home is likely the biggest single purchase of your life, so it makes sense to lean on the knowledge of real estate professionals to guide you through the process. However, that expertise doesn’t come cheap, and when it comes time to sell your home, choosing to sell without an agent can save you money that could be better used in your new home or for closing costs. Those savings could be as much as 6 percent in commission. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll need to know exactly what documents to prepare.
Hire An Attorney
Choosing to sell your home without an agent is an uncommon choice. Just 8 percent of home sales are listed by the owner, and the reason may be that the process seems daunting to the average person. The first thing you’ll need to do is find an attorney with plenty of real estate experience who can guide you through the legal steps to ensure that the sale is solid and protected. They’ll help you to ensure the potential buyer is preapproved for financing, and they will negotiate contract terms and provide the added protection that all your bases are covered.
Find What You Need Online
There are lots of resources on the internet to make selling your home relatively straightforward, including sites like forsalebyowner.com. One of the first things you’ll need to do is set a realistic asking price that can help you to attract the right buyers and sell quickly. The Federal Housing Finance Agency offers an online calculator that you can use to see how much your home should be worth if it has appreciated in value since you bought it, in line with comparable homes in your area.
Advertise and Market Your Home
You can purchase packages to market your home to a larger audience than you’ll be able to access solely through your own contacts, friends and family. You’ll need to take quality photographs to present your home in the best possible light and craft an honest but inviting description of the property.
Once you advertise your home and receive an offer, you need to lock down the agreement. The contract lays out the obligations and expectations for both parties, and once it is signed it becomes a legally binding document. It needs to include all details of the sale, such as the terms, the timing of the exchange and the price.
Residential Property Disclosure Form
The buyer will likely hire a home inspector to conduct a tour of the property and note any structural or cosmetic issues that will need attention. This point in the sale can be risky and often leads to negotiations on the selling price, especially if the inspection reveals any potential problems in the home. Most states require home sellers to provide a Residential Property Disclosure form to potential buyers that lists the condition and any defects in the property. The form must be filled out completely and honestly, but it is limited to your own experience living in the home. This means you are not expected to disclose something a neighbor told you about the home before you lived there, for example.
The Lead-Based Paint Warning Statement
If your home was built before 1978, you are required to provide information to buyers about the possibility of lead-based paint being used in the home. Federal law requires you to provide the buyers with the EPA-approved information pamphlet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home,” available from the EPA website.
How To Sell Your House “By Owner” – By Yourself, Without A Realtor
There’s no doubt about it, it’s a challenge to sell your house yourself. But thousands of people do it every month. And once you know the process, it’s actually very doable. You basically need a strategy, and that’s what we’re providing here.
But let’s lead off with the most basic issue…
Why you might want to sell your house yourself
The single most obvious reason to sell your house yourself– is to avoid having to pay the real estate commission.
In most markets, the typical real estate commission is six percent of the sale price. That means that if you are selling a house for $400,000, you will have to pay a commission of $24,000 ($400,000 times six percent).
That may not seem like a lot of money on a $400,000 sale. But this is where it’s important to remember that though the commission is based on the sale price of the property, it’s actually paid out of your home equity.
For example, let’s say that although your home may be worth $400,000, you have a $250,000 mortgage on it. That means that you have net equity of $150,000. But if you’re paying a real estate commission, you’ll have to reduce that by $24,000. That will give you a net of $126,000 at the closing table.
It’s likely that there will also be other seller paid closing costs. Collectively, they may reduce your net equity further, down to $120,000 or less.
That’s why home sellers often attempt to sell their homes without a real estate agent. It’s simply a matter of cost.
With that fact in mind, let’s look at five steps involved to sell your house yourself.
Step 1: Determine the fair market value of your home
You must get this step right. Price the house too low, and you’ll walk away with less cash on the sale than you should. But price it too high, and the house can sit for months without selling. Your only strategy at that point will be to cut the price down to where it should’ve been in the first place.
There are three primary ways to determine the value of your property:
Use online real estate valuation sites
There are many website you can use to sell your home. Check with sites like Zillow.com (search using Zestimate) and Trulia. These sources will give you the value of your property quickly and for free. However, they’re estimates at best, and could be off by many thousands of dollars.
Get a competitive market analysis from a real estate agent
This is where a real estate agent does a detailed analysis of your home, based on sales of comparable properties in the area. This service is also generally free and the estimate will be pretty reliable.
However, since the agent is doing the analysis in the hope of listing your property, you’ll get a sales pitch along the way. The agent also may give a high estimate on the property, to encourage you to list with him or her.
Hire a licensed appraiser
This will give you the most accurate estimate of the value of your property. You can also use the appraisal as a basis of valuation when negotiating the sale price with the buyers.
The only downside of an appraisal is the cost. Most appraisers will charge somewhere between $300 and $500 to do a report. And since you are ordering the appraisal yourself, it will not be acceptable as an appraisal for the mortgage application by the buyers.
Step 2: Prepare the home for sale
This step starts with slowly walking through your house, and viewing it through the eyes of a buyer. Ask yourself, If I were buying this house, what about it won’t I like?
You’re starting with a negative, but that’s the point. When the buyer looks at your home, they’re s keenly aware that every flaw in the property will become their problem after closing. They’re also looking at the general appearance. Does it have good curb appeal? Is there a good flow? Does it feel right?
This is hard to do, since you own the home. But you must be objective. If you can’t, it would be best to get an outsider’s opinion. If you do, you can’t be offended at what that person will reveal. Their observations will be absolutely critical in the successful sale of your home.
Unless you maintain your home in showroom condition under ordinary circumstances, here are some of the improvements you might want to make:
- Make any minor repairs necessary. That includes leaky faucets, loose door handles, windows that stick, or electrical switches and lights that don’t work properly. If you have a garage door opener, make sure that it works flawlessly.
- Touch-up or repaint any rooms in the home that are looking tired. Always favor neutral colors, because buyers do.
- Declutter the entire home. That includes closets, the attic, the basement, and the garage. Also, minimize the number of furnishings and other appointments you have in each room. This will help to improve the perception of flow.
- Make sure the entire home is clean and fresh smelling.
If you don’t have time to complete all those improvements, or you’re not sure how, look into a home staging agency. They can handle it all for you – for a fee.
Step 3: Market the home for sale
There’s no single way to sell a house yourself, but here are some basic strategies.
Start with a good yard sign
You’ve seen these in front of virtually every home you’ve ever seen offered for sale. You’ll need to do the same. You can usually buy them in office supply stores. It’s best to spend a little bit more money, and get a better one.
Create sales flyers or brochures
You’ll need to have supply available to give to people who look at your home, as well as to anyone you meet who expresses interest. You can create these using a Word document, but some attractive graphics won’t hurt either. You should also be prepared to add several photos, of both the interior and exterior of the property.
The flyer should also indicate the property address and who to contact, with both a phone number and email address. It should also list property specifics, including the sale price, the room count, and any qualitative sales pitches, such as a description of the local neighborhood and school district.
Advertise the home online
There a number of popular websites where you can do this. Once again, Zillow.com is one such site, and they even have a dedicated For Sale By Owner page. Another popular site is HomeFinder.com. You should also try listing your property for sale on Facebook and on Craigslist.
Host an open house
This is where you literally open your house to the public. It’s best done on a Saturday or Sunday, and tends to work best on good weather days.
You should start advertising your open house at least a week before the event, then set up signs on major roads near your home or subdivision to lead people in.
Step 4: Negotiate the sale
Since you are not using a real estate agent, you’ll have to negotiate directly with any buying prospects. It’s a give-and-take situation, which you have to accept from the beginning. The buyer will almost certainly come in with an offer that’s below your asking price. They may even include some tough conditions, such as having you pay the closing costs.
If the initial offer is not acceptable, you’ll have to go back and forth. Hopefully, as you come down on the price, and the buyer comes up. You’ll have to decide exactly how low you’re willing to go.
The initial negotiations will probably be verbal, but once you agree on the basics, the buyer will have to submit a written offer. For that purpose, you may want to have a small supply of real estate contracts specific to your state. You can find these by doing a web search.
The contract must spell out every detail of the sale, including the purchase price, closing concessions, items that will be included in the sale, the closing date, and the location of the closing.
There will also have to be contingencies written in the contract. For example, the buyer may insist on having a home inspection. And you must insist on getting a copy of the buyer’s mortgage approval within several days of accepting the offer.
The closing will usually take place in the offices of an attorney or a title company, depending on what the custom is in your state. Both you and the buyer must agree on that location.
Step 5: Handle the closing
The closing on a house is an entirely legal affair. That means there is a specific process, and it will be handled either by closing attorney or the title agent. Once you decide who this party will be, they will provide you with the required procedures.
Most of the closing work will be done by the closing agent. But you may be called upon to provide certain documentation along the way. Be sure that you do provide it as quickly as possible.
You should also be sure that you maintain contact with buyers between the time of contract acceptance and the closing. There will be points of contention, but good communication can bring you through them.
The biggest closing obstacle in most real estate transactions is the buyer’s mortgage. Even if you have a copy of their mortgage approval, do your best to stay on top of related developments. Most mortgage approvals have conditions that must be satisfied between the time of approval and closing. Some of those conditions aren’t so minor. If the buyer is unable to meet even one, the loan approval can be withdrawn.
To the degree possible, try to involve the mortgage closing agent in the back and forth details. A nervous buyer will often provide more information to a closing agent than to you as a seller.
Selling your house yourself is more complicated than using a real estate agent. But if you can make it happen, you can save tens of thousands of dollars. And that’s why people try to do it all the time. You can too.
- Should You Rent Your House Instead of Selling It?
- So, You Want to Become a Real Estate Agent? You Must Read This First
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