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Bobbie Giarratana | Direct: 510.981.3031 | Email:
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Below are important frequently asked questions I hear from both first time sellers and those who aren't familiar with the current market. The answers are based on local custom and standard protocol. Curious about something you don't see addressed here? Need more explanation? Need an agent to list your home? Contact me for a free seller's packet mailed to you.

Q: Why should I use an agent to sell my property?
A: Your agent should know local tradition and protocol for real estate transactions in the area where your home is located. It's crucial that you have guidance in deciding which offer to accept and know that it is clearly and carefully written to protect your interests legally or otherwise. Selling your home on your own can be a time consuming and mysterious process. Using a good agent who listens to your goals and knows how to effectively market your property can drastically reduce the time you spend trying to sell it. (I market my listings aggressively through at least seven internet sites for maximum exposure, distribute flyers to several hundred agents throughout the area and hold open houses for the public and agents). Your agent will be your experienced ally when it's time to negotiate the best possible price and terms. They will make sure that you provide the buyers with all the necessary state-mandated disclosures and paperwork to protect you and get you through the escrow process successfully. I do more than this; for a free seller's packet mailed to you, contact me!
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Q: Who pays what in the transaction?
A: Costs can vary depending on what is decided in the contract however there are general costs you can count on as a seller...The sellers pay 6% commission to their agent who then splits that fee with the buyer's agent (buyers do not pay for their agent). Customarily, the sellers will pay for and provide a pest report and sometimes a general inspection as information for the buyers. More often, the buyers pay for their own general inspection if they choose to do one (more on inspections to follow). If there are modifications to the property that need to be made in order to meet government requirements, the seller generally bears that cost (for instance, the water heater needs to be braced, there needs to be smoke detectors, and some cities have energy efficiency ordinances). It is important that these requirements are met in order to reduce the risk of claims against the seller. The buyers pay the escrow and related fees. The City Transfer Tax is generally split between the buyers and sellers, and the sellers pay the county transfer tax and some document prep fees. Naturally, if the sellers have a mortgage or any liens against the property, they will be paid out of the seller's proceeds. Most of the fees are based on the buyers' purchase price and may total around 2-3% over the commission. An estimate of seller's closing costs will be provided closer to the close of escrow.
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Q: Why hold inspections?
A: The optimum buyers are informed and confident about what they are buying. It's customary in the East Bay for sellers to provide at the very least a pest report (and sometimes even a general inspection report) for buyers to read before making an offer. By providing these reports the sellers are not committing to have any corrective work done. A professional home inspector's report will tell about the overall condition of the property. It should cover basic mechanical systems such as plumbing and electrical, and also structural systems such as roof and foundation and can provide guidance for sellers who do wish to make repairs before putting their house on the market. Accurate property condition is crucial disclosure for sellers. In the absence of an existing general inspection report, buyers may choose to pay for their own once the sellers have accepted their offer. It's possible that further negotiations will take place if anything negative turns up in those inspections. For this reason it is suggested that a seller provide a report first, allowing the buyer to feel more comfortable with known defects and make their offer accordingly. Inspection prices will vary depending on which performs them and the size/type of the property, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $350-$550 for this service. Keep in mind that a general inspection will not provide bids for corrective work. The reports are informational only. If an inspector identifies a serious problem and a dollar figure would be helpful, a contractor can be brought in at your request; some charge for that service, some do not. A pest report will address issues related specifically to wood-destroying organisms (termites, dry rot, fungus, etc) and is generated by a pest control company who will actually perform the corrective work with permission from the property owners. For this reason, a pest report will provide dollar figures for reference. Again, providing any report for informational purposes is not a commitment by the sellers to have the corrective work done. --- Top

Q: What are the tax implications of selling property?
A: Only a qualified tax consultant should answer tax questions! There are important tax issues to consider when selling real estate. However, tax laws are complex, can change significantly every year and every person's situation is unique. Consult your tax pro, or if you need a referral to one, contact me.
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Q: What is the function of escrow?
A: Both parties to a real estate transaction, the buyers and sellers, entrust legal documents and various funds to the escrow holder (a title company), which transfers the papers and funds upon the closing of escrow. As a neutral third party, both buyers and sellers are assured that all parties mutually agreed to the terms and that these terms will be met prior to the completion of the transaction. Escrow fees are based on the sales price of the property, the loan amount, and services required. Visit Placer Title Company's website.
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Q: What are the seller's disclosure obligations?
A: The disclosure will vary depending on the type of sale. Your agent will guide you through this and make sure you fill out all the necessary paperwork correctly, however they cannot answer for you and you alone are responsible for your answers. The most important tip for disclosures is, "Answer honestly; this will help protect you!" You don't want the buyers to find surprises after they move in. When answering questions on any disclosure statement the rule is "If you know it, disclose it". Even if you have never lived at the property or you are selling it "as-is", you are not exempt from disclosing what you know about the property.
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Bobbie Giarratana Coldwell Banker: 1495 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley, CA 94709
Direct: 510.981.3031 | Fax: 510.549.3720 | Email:
License #R01259754
Coldwell Banker Realtor