Whether you're downsizing your home or need more room, selling a house can be complicated. The process is similar no matter where you live, but specific laws in South Carolina govern transactions there. Learn as much as you can beforehand so you can avoid problems later.
While some folks can handle home sales on their own from beginning to end, most prefer to work with a professional. Agents can help write listings, show the home to potential buyers, track paperwork and more. The South Carolina Real Estate Commission offers help finding a real estate professional, including a searchable database.
Listing Your Home
There are several types of listing agreements you can use if you decide to go with an agent. An open listing lets anyone sell the home—real estate firms aren't fond of such deals. Under an exclusive agency listing, the firm you sign with is the only one that can sell the home, though you can sell it yourself. An exclusive right to sell agreement, the most common type used, guarantees the agency that it is the only one that can sell the home for a set period of time.
Your actual listing will detail the house's assets: its amenities, upgrades, special features, the quality of the neighborhood, or nearby parks. Look at what other homes nearby are selling for to help you set an asking price. You also can check pricing on similar-sized houses in other neighborhoods.
In South Carolina, sellers have to fill out disclosure forms that tell buyers about flaws that could cause them to reconsider buying the house, such as problems with the structure or electrical system. Sellers must explain in detail, or attach a descriptive report, about any serious problems with the property. Owners can get into legal trouble if they know about a problem and don't disclose it.
You have a potential buyer, but the offer is considerably lower than you'd hoped. No problem. In fact, most buyers expect you to make a counteroffer. This process can go several rounds; in addition to price, you can negotiate amenities, repairs or additions.
Once the sales price is settled, spell out in a purchase agreement the crucial details such as a closing date, earnest money and financing. Review a sample document to get an idea of what to expect. Once you sign, the agreement is legally binding.
Sometimes an inspection will reveal a new issue with the house, but this doesn't mean the deal is off. You and the buyer can renegotiate, perhaps lowering the price or agreeing to pay for some repairs, if you still want to complete the sale.
You and the buyer sign all paperwork and you turn over the keys at closing. You'll also pay any fees or taxes owed. Don't forget to bring photo identification with you.
This article is intended only as a general overview. For specific legal advice, contact an attorney in South Carolina.