What Am I Even Signing: One to Four Family Residential Contract

Not to be the bearer of bad news here, but when it comes to buying or selling a property it’s more than just house hunting. There’s a big portion of the process that all about contracts. Sounds boring… I know. But this is really the most important part! You’re signing your life away on a very, very expensive piece of property, so it would probably be nice to know what you’re signing…right?

While you typically trust your agent and would prefer them to just tell you to initial here or sign there, I always make an effort to sit down with my buyers or sellers (especially first-time home buyers) to walk through the contract they’re signing. Luckily as a REALTOR® in Texas, we are giving contracts and forms that have been prepared by attorneys that protect our clients, but regardless you should still know what you’re signing! I’m not going to break down the whole property contract line by line, but I will tell you what a lot of the verbiage means at a high-level help you understand what you’re signing.

I would like to always note that you should to consult an attorney if you have any questions about a real estate contract.

WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SIGNING: ONE TO FOUR FAMILY RESIDENTIAL CONTRACT

Now here’s to the heavy stuff. There’s a lot of information, numbers and details. I find it important that you understand every page of this document before you sign it and this is why you sit down with your agent prior to signing to have any questions answered, but for this blog’s purpose I will breakdown the top items to understand.

Sales Price: This is your total purchase price. It is broken down by your cash portion brought to closing and your borrowed funds through your loan.

Earnest Money: This is typically 1% of the purchase price of the property. You’ll input to amount and what title company you’ll be using (both the earnest money and title company are negotiable). This is credited at closing.

Title Policy: The seller normally pays for the title policy, but this is negotiable.

Survey: The title company and your lender will likely need a good survey on file but sometimes a neighborhood plat works. If the seller has a survey on file then great! If not, this is something to consider whether the buyer or seller purchases. Depending on the property, they can be pricey.

Property Condition: Allows for you to conduct inspections, confirms you’ve received a seller’s disclosure about the property and acceptance of the property. The main takeaways from this portion is to ensure you’ve received and thoroughly reviewed the seller’s disclosure (if applicable for the property) and accept the property as is. Yes, you will still have an inspector come out to the property, but the main reason you wouldn’t accept the property as is would be if the roof must be repaired and other major defects that could be there and are obvious.

Residential Service Contracts: It’s always nice to have a home warranty on the property to protect your HVAC or hot water heater. You will determine what type of home warranty you prefer with your agent and input the price in the contract. You don’t have to ask for one, but they’re great and this is typically covered by the seller for the buyer.

Closing: This is the determined date you plan to close on the property. There is always a possibility the date can move up or be pushed back. It’s typically pushed out 30 to 45 days from the day of signing the contract.

Possession: You’ll either have possession of the property upon closing and funding or there will be a leaseback on the property. Leasebacks are needed if the seller needs more time to move out or buyer needs to move in earlier.

Settlements and Other Expenses: Are you needing closing cost assistance? This is the portion where you would put that amount. Your lender will know what your financial situation looks like and can guide you on this aspect.

Termination Option: This is the timeframe that you’ll use to have your inspection conducted. You can negotiate the amount of days and the amount of money paid to the sellers. People typically ask for 7-10 days and pay $100. This is credited at closing. Your termination option begins the day after the contract is executed.


While this does not include every little piece of wording in the One to Four Family Residential Contract, it does give you a good idea and understanding of what you’re signing. Your REALTOR® is there to protect you and answer any questions you may have when signing a contract. They always have your best interest, it’s our responsibility! Remember that no question is stupid, so ask away!

Listen In! 5 Great Podcasts for Real Estate Agents

Podcasting is a habit for me! I love listening along as I get ready in the mornings, drive around to showings and while I’m working. It’s a great way to pass time, but also learn something new and useful at the same time!

When I lived in Houston, I would drive back and forth to East Texas quite often (because Wedding Season is the season that never ends). I started to get sick and tired of listening to the same songs over and over and OVER AGAIN, so I knew it was time to switch up my little driving routine. Podcasts were always a topic of conversation in my workspace in Houston, so I decided to give it a try and listen, and I’m so happy I did!

If you’re new to the podcast world, I highly recommend that you start our with How I Built This with Guy Raz. The inspiring stories about how people built their businesses were uplifting and fun to listen along with. The different stories about perseverance and how people built their businesses from beginning to end makes it worth the listen. While I always love an inspiration story, I also find it useful to listen to sales and real estate podcasts. There are MANY podcasts to choose from that are focused on marketing, leads, listings and so much more. Below are five podcasts that I enjoy and think you will, too!

5 Great Podcasts for Real Estate Agents

FACE TO FACEIt’s all about building a brand and your imprint in the real estate industry with the Face to Face podcast. Jay and Michael do a great job building off one another sharing their experience from being in the real estate industry, leaving to start a different business and then jumping back into the industry. They talk about it all coming full circle and share their past experiences, as well as, their present experiences. They really are fun to listen to and learn from. This is one of my newest finds and I HIGHLY recommend.

Super Agents LIVEToby Salgado interviews industry leaders and really digs deep to find answers of what got these people to where they are and how they found success. I sometimes have difficulty listening to this podcast because Toby is a little condescending with his interviewees but I’ve come to find out that it’s so he can get the RIGHT answers and not a glossed over “I just worked hard and kept my head down.” Super Agents Live has great teaching points. Is this podcast centered for newer agents in the industry? No, it’s not. But it’s useful and provides great tools for marketing and listings. This podcast is not consistent on a posting schedule, but they’re lengthy and provide LOADS of great information.

The Honest Real Estate AgentThis one lives up to its name… HONEST! Mario Jannatpour, the creator and voice of the podcast, shares some really great advice. It’s not all just about marketing a property or winning a listing; he really dives into how you as an agent should present yourself. A great example he had was an agent look sloppy, fumbling papers as they were walking out of the dirty and messy vehicle to greet the potential buyers.  People are always watching and he does a great job explaining how important your presentation is. He also has a fantastic book called The Honest Real Estate Agent that covers all of the same aspects the podcast does. Unfortunately, his podcast is not consistent with posting every week (or sometimes month), but it gives you an opportunity to catch up on old episodes.

Business Unusual with Barbara CorcoranShort, sweet and to the point! Barbara Corcoran was a real estate mogul, ’Shark’ on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank and is just fun to listen to. She’s witty and quick and just a straight forward type of gal, which is what I love! In her podcast, she focuses on using your smarts to read people, how to get what YOU want and pushing forward professionally. Her episodes are normally around seven minutes long, so you can listen in on your daily commute!

Side Hustle School with Chris GuillebeauSeems like an odd, random choice for real estate agents but hear me out. This is a daily podcast that normally is a maximum of eight minutes long with a 15 minute weekly recap on Sundays. Every day there’s a different episode about people with different “side hustles” and it’s anything from creation of products to trainings and more. What I truly like about this podcast is the lessons the people learn from sales and how they uniquely market their product. It’s fascinating how a lot of these side hustles can teach you about marketing a property or dealing with a client. I’ve an OG follower and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t squeeze in around eight minutes to listen in of people’s new and fun side hustles and the take aways they have that I can use.

 

These are some of my favorite podcasts and I hope you give them a listen! If you’re a podcaster, I would love to hear what some of your favorites are. I’m always trying to learn more as I listen along.

 

Looking to buy a property? 5 Things to Do Before You Call A Real Estate Agent

Is buying a new property or home on your horizon? It’s the most exciting, stressful time and likely the biggest purchase of your life! There’s no doubt that the whole process of buying a home or property can be overwhelming. Luckily, real estate agents and brokers provide local expertise and are a great resource to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Select an agent with the right credentials for your buy. While you may want to immediately pick up the phone and call me to help find your DREAM HOME, there is some groundwork that can be accomplished beforehand. Here are five things that you can do before calling a real estate agent:                                               

1. Get pre-qualified for your loan.

Hands down, this should be your first step as it is the most important! Getting pre-qualified means that a lender (your bank) has looked closely at employment history, credit reports, income, etc. The lender will then determine loan programs that you qualify for and find what works best for your financial situation. Basically, you can’t go spending more than your credit limit will let you!

Going through the pre-qualification process helps your real estate agent find a property that is in your price range. Most of the time clients get very eager and want to look at homes before speaking with a lender or bank, but I prefer not to show them homes without knowing their limits. You can really sour the house hunting process by showing a home out of a client’s price range, letting them fall in love, only to realize that they can’t afford it. Getting pre-qualified can be as simple as a phone call so it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. I do highly recommend meeting with the lender in person just to make the initial connection and help build a relationship.

If you don’t know where to start or who to call to get qualified, I can guide you in the right direction to help find a mortgage lender or bank that fits your needs.

2. Know the area that you want to purchase.

When it comes down to it, you need to know the location or area of where you plan to purchase a property. This decision can come down to the school districts, access to hospitals, or dining. Determining the location of the property helps the real estate agent zero in on where the buyer is focused on living or investing and eliminates questions about other locations. Real estate agents have great programs in the MLS systems that allow us to map out or search specifically by district.

Knowing the location you want to purchase a property in may take some time. I always recommend that my clients take a cruise in the areas they’re leaning toward in the morning and evening. It really helps you get a feel of the neighborhood. Wanting a neighborhood perfect for a growing family? Take a look and see if there are kids playing basketball outside or families going for walks in the evening. Looking for something quiet like a retirement community? Do a night drive by to see if the nightlife is popping in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. These little cruises can really cut down the house-hunting search. There’s nothing worse than when a real estate agent takes a client to a home they requested to see and the client pulling up and not even wanting to look inside the home (that you made clients leave so you could show) because they’re not a fan of the neighborhood. Yes, your agent is there and happy to help you in the elimination process, but help them out too!

3. Study the market.

Look at the economic situation that surrounds you. Research the market for homes in the area where you want to purchase. While a real estate agent can share the length of time homes have been on the market and estimated closing costs, research done ahead of time gives buyers expectations of costs in the location area of where they want to purchase a property. It can also help you see when the competitive times are in the market (typically in the spring/summer).

4. Know the usage of the property that you plan to purchase.

Typically, I’m searching for residential or luxury homes for my clients. So while is seems like an obvious answer that most clients want a subdivision, your real estate agent needs a little more information than that. Clarifying the usage of the property can narrow down the selection to more ‘prime’ choices. Do you want a minimum of five acres so you have room to breathe? Do you want a property where the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) takes care of the lawn? These little tid bits of information can really help narrow it down for your agent’s search.

Another potential deterrent can be deed restrictions on some properties. Some clients want to build a shop or add a pool to their backyard. Having those deed restrictions let’s you know what you’re allowed to build and add-on in neighborhoods. It can really make or break a decision.

5. Research your real estate agent.

Shopping for a real estate agent can be time-consuming, but knowing that you are using the right person for the type of property you want can help make the buying process a breeze. When looking to purchase a property, look at what your agent has listed or helped buyers purchase in the past. I’ve listed and helped as a buyer’s agent in luxury, residential, waterfront, commercial and other types of properties. Having an agent that has knowledge and a proven background in what you want to buy ensures a smooth process. It also doesn’t hurt to check out an agent’s Zillow or Facebook pages to see what properties and clientele they work with to find the right fit. Reviews can also be useful! But, trust me; I know I can help you find the PERFECT property!

 

Buying a property brings in a roller coaster of emotions. Doing homework ahead of time and keeping expectations clear between the buyer and the real estate agent can make this exciting journey a simpler one. These five simple steps to take care of before calling me to be your real estate agent helps set you, the buyer, up for success when looking for a property. Call Bethany Nolan with Murray Real Estate Services, LLC to get started on your house hunting today!

 

Meet Bethany: Realtor®, Consultant and East Texas Native

Hello! Howdy! Hi there! I am Bethany Nolan, a Realtor® and Consultant, with a lot on my mind! Starting a blog has always been an aspiration for me, but finding the time and narrowing down content that I am passionate about has been my struggle. Before we get into all of that fun, here’s a little bit about me:

I’m a ninth generation Texan with seven generations in Upshur County. Growing up in rural Gilmer, Texas was always a treat and I’m a proud Gilmer Buckeye and alumna. After high school, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and Journalism at Texas A&M University and a minor in Horticulture with an Event Planning Certification. Upon completion at Texas A&M  I moved to Lubbock, Texas to receive a Master of Science in Agricultural Communications. Once all of my fun schooling was over, I moved to Houston and began working for a public relations firm specializing in their food, agriculture and beverage department focusing on media relations and social media. Working in public relations gave me a great background to transition into opening up Bethany Nolan Consulting, LLC, to assist clients with their social media, media relations and more. Unknowingly at the time, but my background serves as an advantage for marketing and selling real estate. Summed up in a nutshell… that’s a little bit about ME!

Now that you have a little bit of a backgrounder on ya girl, here are some fun little tid bits to get to know me a little better:

  • Hobby: I love to bake and test out new recipes; it’s a great escape for me!
  • Favorite Movie: Son-In-Law, Troop Beverly Hills and Heavyweights
  • Favorite TV Series: Hart of Dixie, Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl
  • Biggest Pet Peeve: Smacking… GETS. UNDER. MY. SKIN!
  • Biggest Fear: Needles, just can’t shake the fear

I’m excited to take a deep dive into real estate, consulting and the life of Bethany! My hope and plan is to help guide you in the home buying process, preparation tips for preparing your home for the market or the holidays and even give some insight on social media marketing that I use to guide my consulting clients. Follow along, subscribe and enjoy the ride.