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Selling a house in North Carolina

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Thinking about selling a house in North Carolina? It isn’t as simple as listing your place, getting the cash and handing over the keys. You’ll need to make sure you’re following the state’s legal requirements, budgeting for closing costs and taking all the right steps for a smooth and successful sale. Read on for the most important considerations as you prepare to list your place in the Tar Heel State.

Are you ready to sell? Getting prepared

The first step to selling your home is knowing where you’ll go next. If you’re trying to sell your house while buying another, it can get complicated — especially in a market with low inventory and rising interest rates. So, start the process with a firm grasp on whether you will be renting for a while or if you are in a solid enough financial position that you can buy a new home while waiting for this one to sell.

Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?

Most home renovation projects do not recoup their full costs when you go to sell. For example, statistics show that a minor kitchen remodel only manages to retain around 72 percent of its value. So, before you invest in any costly upgrades or remodeling efforts, be sure to do the math to see how much money you’ll need to spend, along with a realistic estimate of whether it will make a meaningful difference in your final sale price.

What should you repair before you sell your home?

Regardless of decor, a home in poor condition can turn off prospective buyers. Some issues, particularly very noticeable ones, are worth fixing prior to letting anyone tour your property, and some repairs are not worth bothering with. One smart move to consider is hiring a home inspector to evaluate your home before you list it. Since a buyer will likely hire their own inspector once you’re in contract, this is a chance to get out ahead of potential problem areas and limit the potential for requests for concessions.

Staging your home

First impressions are everything in real estate. With that in mind, hiring a home staging service can go a long way to selling your house in North Carolina. You can digitally stage the property, which makes it look more appealing in online photos, or you can spend more money for an interior design expert to physically adjust the layout and rent furniture. Even if you don’t hire a professional, make sure to at least clean and organize every room to create a wow factor.

When is the best time to sell a house in North Carolina?

The best time to sell a house in North Carolina is when more people are looking to buy. From late spring through the end of the summer, homes tend to spend fewer days on the market in many of the state’s major metro areas. For example, in Charlotte, homes typically spent fewer than 15 days on the market between June and August of 2021. In Wilmington, there is a big difference between July, when homes spend around 40 days on the market, and, say, January, when the number is more like 60 days.

Finding a local North Carolina real estate agent

While it’s helpful to research historical data about pricing patterns and days on the market, the best way to maximize the potential profit of selling a home in North Carolina is to work with an expert. Local real estate agents have a finger on the pulse of the market in the city where you’re selling: How many homes are currently listed, what new properties might be coming on the market soon, how buyers are feeling and more. Ask friends and colleagues in the area for recommendations of real estate agents they used to buy or sell their homes to start your search.

Price your home competitively

Once you select a real estate agent, it’s time to figure out the most important number: Your asking price. As you work to figure out how much your house is worth, you will want to look at comps — the recent sales of similar properties in your area — to get an idea of what buyers in the market have paid for comparable homes. Pricing your home is all about trying to attract interest from as many buyers as possible to help stir up a sense of competition. Think about it: If a buyer looks around at a crowd of people at an open house, he or she is going to feel a sense of urgency to submit an offer. Plus, if you can attract multiple offers, you might be able to create a bidding war that winds up going over your asking price.

Documents and disclosures in North Carolina

The state of North Carolina requires sellers to complete a four-page disclosure statement that outlines all defects that might impact the value of the home. You’ll need to be honest about anything you know regarding everything from the septic system to the roof. If your property is part of a homeowners association, expect to hand over a copy of the association’s records, including the budget, cash reserve information and the past year of meeting minutes from the association’s board.

Need to sell your home fast?

If time is not on your side — for example, if you need to relocate immediately or need the money as soon as possible — there are alternative routes to consider for a much speedier sale. Keep in mind, though, that selling faster often means selling for less money.

  • Consider iBuyers: iBuyers specialize in making instant home offers, and the majority of the activity happens online. Just input your address, along with some other data, and the company’s algorithm will spit out a ballpark offer. Often, someone will then come check out your home in person. It removes a lot of the traditional work of selling a home — but, because these companies do need to make money, it also removes a lot of your profit potential.
  • Look for a cash offer: From individual buyers who are sitting on a lot of liquid assets to real estate investors that will pay in full upfront, cash deals bypass the lengthy process of waiting for a lender to sign off on a buyer’s application for financing.
  • Sell it as-is: By listing your home as-is, you’re telling prospective buyers that what they see is what they get. So, you won’t have to deal with back-and-forth haggling over the price tag or requests for credits due to any issues with a home inspection
  • Add quick curb appeal: Simply investing in some easy curb appeal — like repainting your front door, adding a few flowerpots or power washing your driveway — can attract attention from buyers and speed up your timeline.

The closing: What to expect

In addition to preparing your home for sale, it’s important to understand how much it will cost to sell your house in North Carolina. If you’re still paying a mortgage, you’ll need to pay it off out of the sale proceeds. There are also other expenses to cover.

Cost of selling a home in North Carolina

The biggest line item on a home sale in North Carolina will likely be paying commissions to the real estate agents involved in the transaction. Typically, that means 3 percent to your agent and 3 percent to the buyer’s agent. So, if you sell a home for $400,000, you would pay $24,000 in real estate commissions. That 3 percent figure isn’t necessarily set in stone, though. As you talk with real estate agents, be sure to ask if there is room for negotiation.

You will also need to budget for moving expenses. If you’re moving nearby, that figure will likely be around $1,600, according to HomeAdvisor. However, if you’re leaving North Carolina and trekking across the country, be prepared for a much steeper price tag. And be sure to plan for any short-term rental fees and storage costs if you need to park your belongings while you wait to move into a permanent new place.

Sellers’ closing costs

In addition to handing over real estate commissions at the closing, be prepared to pay for these fees as well.

Title insurance In North Carolina, depending on the terms of your deal, you may need to pay for the title insurance policy. The cost varies based on the amount of the loan. For example, an owner’s title insurance policy on a $500,000 home with a 20 percent down payment would be $1,035.
Transfer taxes Sellers typically cover the cost of transferring ownership in North Carolina. The state’s real estate transfer tax is $1 for every $500 of value. So, the transfer taxes on a $500,000 property would be $1,000.
Escrow fees You might need to pay for an escrow account to manage the buyer’s earnest money.
Seller concessions If the home inspection turns up some issues, you might potentially agree to some concessions in an arrangement that helps the buyer cover some of their closing costs.
Attorney fees Your real estate attorney — and the state of North Carolina does require one — will need to be paid at closing, too. The cost varies based on the attorney’s rate and how much time he or she put into the transaction.

Take the first step

Now that you have a good idea of how to sell a house in North Carolina, get the ball rolling by interviewing at least three different real estate agents. Be sure to ask them these key questions to get a sense of how they will tailor their approach to helping you get the best deal on a timeline that works for you.

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Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Senior real estate editor