Q. In 1975, we purchased a home for $27,500. (VA). Now we plan to list it with a broker with an asking price of $33,000. What would you advise us so that we can make a small profit?
The realtor whom we plan to use insists on having a key to show our home. Is this customary?
A. There are many ways to cut corners and make a little extra money when you sell your house. Although the following list is not meant to be all-inclusive, it may help you in your dealing with the real estate broker as well as the potential purchaser.
Are you sure that your asking price is high enough? Don't rely on the representations of only one real estate broker. Shop around and attempt to analyze the market yourself. The real estate ads in your local newspaper will give you some guidance as to what other houses in your area are selling for. Other real estate brokers may have other ideas about the selling price, and it never hurts to ask.
Try not to sell your house to a purchaser who is going to obtain a Veterans' Administration loan. Under the VA loan, as you perhaps recall, you will have to pay a number of points to help your borrower obtain a loan from the mortgage lender. While this sounds strange that you would have to pay for your borrower, the fact remains that, under the VA program, the veteran borrower is only permitted to pay one point. A point is one percent of the loan. If your borrower obtains a full 100 percent loan, you might have to pay as many as five points, which would be $1,650 for a house being sold at $33,000.
When a sales contract is presented to you, don't agree to pay any points at all. If your buyers are unable to get their loan without paying the points themselves, you can agree to pay these points - but only if the price is raised proportionately, so that you won't loss these dollars. Watch out for settlement costs. Many real estate contracts require a seller to pay "areasonable closing cost" to the settlement attorney. Although a nominal fee for preparation of documents might be acceptable, many settlement attorneys are charging sellers a lot of money, which just will lower your profits.
Negotiate the real estate sales commission. There is no fixed real estate commission. In fact, the Department of Justice is always on the lookout for real estate brokerage firms that fix prices - whether at 6 percent or 7 percent of the selling price - and refuse to negotiate.
The real estate commission is negotiable. If the broker with whom you are discussing a listing is unwilling to negotiate, shop around. You might find another broker - just as competent - who wants your business and is willing to reduce the commission. In fact, there may be discount brokers in your area who will assist you for a considerably lower commission.
Finally, have you considered selling your house yourself. This is not as complicated as it may seem, and under this arrangement you will save the entire real estate commission.
Additionally, you asked about the propriety of the real broker having access to your house key. This is certainly customary, but if you have any hesitation, there is no legal requirement on your part to give the real estate broker a key to your house. If the broker has a potential purchaser, he can contact you and make the necessary arrangement for showing the house. However, you should be able to trust the real estate broker with your key because this makes everyone's job a lot easier.