Q: You recently wrote an article discussiong fees at settlement, and suggested contract language to the effect that "the seller will pay no closing costs."
I have placed my home with two realtors on different occasions and each time they said that I must pay certain costs, such as points, termite inspection charges and attorney fees. I agree with you that I am probably not obligated to pay these costs, but how can I find a realtor to agree to this?
A: I cannot believe there is no real estate firm in your jurisdiction, Northern Virginia, that will take the listing under your terms -- providing the price of your house is not set unrealistically high. While true competition perhaps does not exist in the real state arena, the fact remains that every real estate company wants new listings. Thus, they are willing to negotiate, to compromise, and indeed to change their standard form listing agreements to accommodate your needs.
Let's analyze some of the charges that you may be required to pay.
The termite letter and charge is, I believe, a reasonable fee to be assessed against a seller. After all, you want to sell your house, and should be able to obtain a termite certificate at a reasonable cost.
But there is no legal requirement that you pay points. If the buyers want a loan, they should be able to come up with the necessary money required by the lender. However, in many jurisdictions, there are maximum ceilings on the number of points a buyer can pay. And, if you are selling your home through the VA, you will have to absorb all but one of the ponts.
However, other than VA, no one can force you to pay a point. If this is the only method of financing that will e acceptable to your buyer and your buyer's lender, then there is a simple solution: agree to pay points, but raise the selling price proportionately to absorb the cost of those points.
You have also indicated that you would have to pay about $125 for attorney's fees. If you do not want to pay this, cross off that provision from the listing agreement and from any sales contract presented you. I find it interesting that a seller is required to pay attorney's fees for work performed by the buyer's attorney. A reasonable service charge for preparing certain documents can be explained, but certainly not in the amount that you indicated.