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Georgia’s real estate market is a little bit spotty, and some of the laws concerning the sale of a property are a little spotty. Great properties in great areas can sell quickly, while average homes in unremarkable neighborhoods aren’t exactly flying off the market.
NO MATTER YOUR SITUATION WE CAN HELP
Selling a home is an involved process, no matter how or why you choose to sell. No matter what the case is, you’ll need to make sure you’re abiding by Georgia law while you’re making the sale. Some reasons for sale may require a legal process or certain obligations to be fulfilled before the home can be sold. Make sure you’re in the clear before you hike up that “for sale” sign.
If the property belonged to a person who is now deceased, you should first make sure it isn’t subject to probate. In certain circumstances, you may be able to bypass probate. Since Georgia doesn’t require sellers to fill out a written disclosure form, there’s no need to mention a death on the sale paperwork if the individual died in the home.
If the buyer directly asks you, you’re obligated to tell the truth. A lot of people avoid purchasing “stigmatized” properties due to superstition. This can make a hard home to sell if one of its inhabitants died there. You may feel tempted to lie to the buyer, but doing so can get you slapped with a lawsuit. To the right buyer, a death in the home won’t make a difference.
Selling a home when you’re in financial distress may require a formal letter of hardship, particularly if you’ve missed a few mortgage payments. The court considers unavoidable circumstances (such as illness, a hard job market, or a death in the family) to be legitimate hardships. If your hardship is recognized by the court, you may qualify for a short sale.
Bad neighbors can actually bring down property values, and that’s unfortunate news for someone looking to sell a home in an undesirable area. Not many people are looking to buy a home in a bad neighborhood – especially not families or young couples who may want to have children.
Georgia homeowners are not required to disclose whether or not the neighborhood is bad on a voluntary basis. If things look fine until the college kids two houses down start blasting loud music late at night, the law doesn’t technically require you to tell a buyer unless they’ve specifically asked what the neighbors are like.
You may not want to answer a potential buyer honestly, but lying can get you in trouble down the road. A buyer can sue you for being deliberately dishonest when answering questions, especially if it’s easy to prove that you knew you were lying.
Don’t let yourself enter the foreclosure process. If your lender formally forecloses on your home, they can come after you for a deficiency judgement. This is the difference between the sale price at auction and the remainder of your mortgage. Talk to your lender about arranging a short sale before the issue gets much worse. You may be able to arrange a deal where the lender will waive their right to a deficiency judgement.
You’re not going to enjoy your new job and your new life if it’s twice as expensive as your old one. Sending money back to cover the mortgage and maintenance that a property nobody is living in will keep your savings account bone dry. Your best option is to sell your home before you leave. If you don’t have much time to work with, opt for a quick sale method.
Often times, homes that are completely run down cost more money to repair than they’re actually worth. Conventional buyers don’t often see themselves living in a house that looks like it’s on the verge of being condemned. Home investors, on the other hand, are always up for the challenge.
If your tenants are driving you insane, you have a few options regarding their removal from the property. Georgia has very unique eviction laws when compared to the rest of the country, and you’ll need to make sure you follow them as accurately as possible. Any missteps can lead to a tenant filing a civil suit against you for damages, so it’s not worth taking a gamble.
Homes with fire damage are notoriously difficult to sell. Buyers want homes that are move-in ready, and fire damage is a lot to contend with. While these homes are hard to push, they aren’t impossible. People like home investors are willing to purchased damaged properties, no matter the cause of damage.
The military wants things done on their own timeframe, and they aren’t known for being flexible. If you’re being transferred, you need to sell your home before you leave. Despite your military status, your lender can still foreclose on the property if you cannot make the mortgage payments after you’ve transferred
If you’re finally ready to buy that home on the beach, you’ll want to tie up all the loose ends before you leave. It may be hard to purchase a new home until you’ve sold the old one. If you’re willing to wait a while to relocate, you can try to list your home traditionally. If you’re looking to move quickly, seek out a cash buyer.
Foreclosure is ugly, and it’s one of the most stressful things a homeowner can go through. Once you’ve received the notice, you have a 30 day period where you can sell the home and satisfy the lender. You’ll need to act quickly, and a home investor may be able to help you with a short sale.
Some inherited properties will have to go through the probate process, while others can be sold at the heir’s discretion. If you’re free to sell the home immediately, you can go ahead at do so. Sometimes, inherited homes are in bad shape because the deceased was unable to properly maintain them. You’ll have to determine whether you want to make the repairs, or sell the home as-is.
If the necessary repairs are so major that you’ve decided they aren’t worth fixing, you probably already know that your home will be hard to sell. It won’t fare too well on the traditional market, but an investor might be eager to sweep it up.
Code violations grow exponentially expensive with time. You’re often fined more money if you’re unable to afford bringing the home up to code, creating a series of debts that are seemingly impossible to get out of. Selling your home as quickly as possible can prevent the fees from piling up.
Settling an estate, dealing with a divorce, or filing for bankruptcy may require you to sell your home. These processes cannot be completed until the home has sold, so selling quickly is the best option for a timely conclusion.
With most real estate listing contracts spanning a 3 month period and the average listing time for a Georgia home sitting at 86 days, expired listings are relatively common. You can either extend your listing or use a different method to sell your home.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SALES METHOD FOR YOUR HOME
SELLING THROUGH A REALTOR
In Georgia, the median home value is $148,500, and the average real estate commission is 6%. This means the average real estate agent will receive just about $9,000 from the sale of your home. Property values aren’t always the same across the board. Home values in Augusta average out at $80,800, while homes in Cumming command a significantly higher average at $264,600. Depending on the value of your home, commissions generally range between $5,000 and $16,000.
The average Georgia home sits on the market for 86 days. 14% of listings will see price cuts, and 18% sell below the previous sale price. Georgia was hit particularly hard by the real estate collapse, but the market is slowly building itself back up to full strength. It isn’t unheard of for a less desirable property to sit on the market for as long as 200 days before selling, but great properties do have hope in the current market.
FOR SALE BY OWNER
If you don’t want to lose that 6% commission or you can’t wait the duration of the average listing time, you can choose to sell your home by owner. The only issue with by owner sales is that you will always rack up out-of-pocket costs. Staging your home, making repairs, listing, advertising and showing the property are all your responsibility. In some cases, you may even want to hire a real estate attorney to go over your sale documents for your own protection.
Sometimes this is worth it, and sometimes it isn’t. If you don’t have cash on hand to sell the home without help, it’s not worth driving yourself into debt. Even with a realtor’s expertise and connections, the average sale time is still nearly 3 months. By yourself, it could take longer – and ultimately become more expensive.
SELLING TO AN INVESTOR
If your home isn’t a conventionally desirable property, you might consider turning to a home investor. Investors offer less than fair market value for your home, but when all factors are considered, you’re unlikely to receive full fair market value no matter how you sell the property. Investors buy homes in any condition, and they buy homes quickly. If you’re looking to cut financial ties with the property and move on, this is an excellent alternative.
Home Buyers USA is a team of professional investors who have been purchasing homes for years. We understand that in most cases, turning to an investor is not a homeowner’s first choice. Whether you’re facing foreclosure, navigating a difficult probate, living in a run down home, or on a tight schedule to relocate, you’re probably facing a lot of stress due to your circumstances. We know that, and we’re here to help.
Contact us as soon as you’ve made the decision to sell to an investor. Provide us with information about your current situation (including any time restraints) and the details about the property you’re looking to sell. In many cases, we’ll be able to draw up a quick cash offer for your property. The sooner you sell, the sooner you’re free to move on from your obligation to the property.
INVESTORS IN GEORGIA SPECIALIZE IN HELPING HOME OWNERS IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
What to Do in Foreclosure
The short answer: act immediately. Make sure you have a full understanding of Georgia’s foreclosure laws. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself and minimize the damage of impending foreclosure. [read more="Read more" less="Read less"]
If you take a proactive approach, you may be able to avoid it entirely.
Georgia allows for both judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures. Most mortgages contain something called a power of sale clause that allows lenders to independently foreclose on homes. This saves a lot of time and money with court proceedings, and allows the lender to conclude the matter without incurring a lot of additional expenses. It takes about 90 days to complete a nonjudicial foreclosure, so that’s all the time you have to work against it.
Georgia lenders send something called a 30 Day Notice of Intent to Foreclose by registered mail. During these 30 days, you can sell your home. If you don’t the home will be put up for auction, and the lender will be able to pursue you for a deficiency judgement. This entitles them to the difference between the selling price of your home and the remainder of your mortgage.
In a market like Georgia, houses can sell for unpredictably low prices at auction. This means the deficiency judgement can be staggeringly high. The more you can sell your home for, the less your deficiency judgement will be. You’ll need to find a buyer who can quickly complete the purchase, but you won’t have time to list your home and go through the traditional real estate process.
An investor might be your saving grace. Investors buy homes immediately. They don’t care about defects or damage to the property – they’re interested in fixing the home up themselves. Even the most unattractive homes have value to an investor. Contact an investor once you’ve begun the foreclosure process. The investor will be able to work with your lender to help you arrange a short sale, and reduce the size of your potentially enormous deficiency judgement.
You’ll still have to recover from the financial effects. Even if the foreclosure isn’t completed, your credit score will still need a lot of TLC to return to its former state. Foreclosure is very hard to rebound from. Short sales are also difficult, but they can go away sooner if you actively attempt to rebuild your credit.[/read]
What to do as a Landlord
If you like your tenants but don’t like being a landlord, make sure you don’t take it out on them. You can’t run a quick eviction for tenants who haven’t violated their lease or failed to pay rent. [read more="Read more" less="Read less"]
Talk to your tenants, and let them know that you don’t intend to renew once the lease term is up. Offer to give them their deposits back, and write them a letter of recommendation. Do all you can to make it easy for the tenants to leave voluntarily.
For month-to-month leases or tenancy at will, you can inform your tenants that they have 60 days to vacate or face eviction. If you’re facing some desperate circumstances, this is your only option to remove tenants who are technically in good standing.
If you’re dealing with bad tenants, they can be evicted for nonpayment or lease violation. Georgia has some oddly lax eviction laws, and they can work in your favor. You can decide to provide the tenant with a written notice, but you don’t have to. You can simply call your tenants and tell them to pay a late payment or remedy a lease violation, and give them as little as three days to do so. If they don’t, you can go right ahead and file the eviction lawsuit.
The tenant has within 7 days of being served with the official eviction lawsuit notice to pay any unpaid rent and late charges they’ve accumulated. If they do, you can’t proceed with the eviction lawsuit. If they don’t, you win the judgement. The tenants need to be formally removed by law enforcement. Any attempt to self evict, disconnect utilities, change locks, or remove possessions is illegal – let the proper authorities handle it. [/read]
What to do if you're in Probate
First and foremost, see if you can skip probate. Georgia actually allows heirs to skip probate under certain circumstances. [read more="Read more" less="Read less"]
If the deceased didn’t leave a will, all of the heirs agree with the way the assets should be divided, and the estate did not leave debts, you can request a court order to skip probate. As long as creditors don’t object, you can bypass the entire ordeal. See if this is an option for you.
If the estate left significant debts, heirs disagree on the handlings of the estate, or there are any conflicts with the will, you’ll have to utilize the probate process. In this process, someone files to become the personal representative of the estate. It’s the job of the personal representative to inventory everything within the estate, appraise all necessary assets, and pay taxes and debts.
The personal representative will need to keep detailed records of everything involved in the estate, including the sale and trade of assets. Everyone who is a member of the estate is entitled to copies of these records. The property may need to be sold to satisfy debts. If that’s the case, you can sell the house with the help of the courts. Quick sale methods will allow you to conclude probate quickly.
If the home doesn’t need to be sold to satisfy the debts, the person who inherits the home can sell the house after the probate process is over.[/read]
What to do if Home needs repairs
It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to find themselves in a position where the cost of necessary repairs actually exceeds the value of the home. [read more="Read more" less="Read less"]
This is especially true for homes that are very out of date and desperately need to be modernized. If you’re looking to get full market value for your home, you may be considering making some vital repairs. In some cases, it’s worth it. In other cases, it’s an unwise investment.
Roofs are very important to buyers. Roofs are obviously a necessary structural part of a home, and they get beat up pretty quickly. Roofs protect a home from the elements as long as they’re well maintained, and a damaged roof usually leads to damage in other places. Old or damaged roofs dissuade buyers who don’t want to pay the full cost of a replacement on a home they’ve just purchased.
If you need a new roof, you can expect to spend an average of $4,957 in the South Atlantic region of the United States. If you have $5,000 for a new roof, it may be worthwhile. If your inadequate roof has caused damage to your attic or water buildup within your walls, there’s no point in putting a new roof on unless you intend to fix those problems as well. It’s not worth a $5,000 bandage for a problem that really costs three times as much to fix.
To add insult to injury, many repairs and renovations don’t add as much value as they cost. With poor return on investment, you’re actually losing money. Best case scenario, you’ll recoup your investment, but you’re stuck with the property for longer. Repairs and renovations can take quite some time to complete, and you’ll be paying the mortgage, utilities, and maintenance costs of the property in the meantime.
It might be a better choice to find a buyer who will take the home as-is. Investors aren’t intimidated by properties that need a lot of work, and they’re willing to buy them in cash. Investors will offer less than fair market value, but when all is said and done, buyers almost never receive full market value anyway. The investor deducts the cost of repairs and buys them home quickly, taking the problem out of your hands. [/read]
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