What is “Usual and Customary” in Charlottesville? – Part 1

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Part 1 of 2.

What’s “normal” in your market may not be (and probably isn’t) normal in the Charlottesville real estate market.

So what’s “normal” in the Charlottesville real estate market? It’s a question that’s asked of me by buyers coming from other markets (agents, too) and sellers who haven’t sold a house before (or for many years). Note: what you see on HGTV is not what is “usual and customary” in the Charlottesville market. (or any market on Planet Earth).

“Usual and customary” is always changing. Radon inspections weren’t “usual and customary” a couple years ago; now they are. Heck, buyer agency wasn’t usual and customary 15 years ago.

Tina, a colleague in the Nest Blacksburg office, asked a few questions and naturally I felt the answers would be well-served to be posted here, particularly for buyers moving to the Charlottesville area and for sellers who may be moving to other market and not have relevant experience selling a home in our market. Answers are mine.

Q: Do agents use a standard contract? If so, is it the VAR (Virginia Association of Realtors) contract, one provided by your Realtor Association, or a combination of both?

A: Most Realtors in the Charlottesville area use the VAR contract for almost all of our forms, including home inspection, radon etc. We tend to craft specific addenda as needed.

Q: Does the buyer or seller normally order and pay for the termite inspection? Do you recommend your buyer handle it when you represent the buyer? What if the seller has a contract already in place with a termite company?

A: Per the VAR Contract, the seller pays for the termite inspection, which generally costs between $75 and $100. To set expectations appropriately, most older homes will have some termite and powder post beetle damage. This is normal; structural damage notsomuch.

Q: Is it common for sellers to have a pre-listing home inspection?

A: Not typically. I’ve done a couple over the years, but not nearly enough to call this practice “usual and customary.” I’m pretty good at spotting and identifying things for my sellers that they should address prior to going on the market. A big part of this process is walking through the house with the critical eye with which I would as a buyer’s agent.

Q: Do the buyer and seller sit down at the closing table together? If not, does the seller go to their attorney’s office or the buyer’s settlement agent’s office to sign documents?

A: The Charlottesville area is different from other markets in this regard. The Buyer goes to their attorney or closing company, signs their docs and then the buyers’ attorney (likely a runner/paralegal) goes to the sellers’ attorney or closing company, trades money for deed and goes to record the deed at the courthouse.

Q: When is title work ordered and by whom? If the contract falls through, does the buyer get charged for the title work if it’s already completed?

The buyer’s attorney orders the title work as soon as he/she gets the Contract. I’ve not known a buyer to get charged, but that could be because they’ve paid the fee and not told me about it. So I asked a trusted attorney. He said that all title companies charge a cancellation fee that some attorneys charge the buyer for, but he eats that cost as a cost of doing business. Having a transaction fall apart is often traumatic enough.

Part two is scheduled for next Monday.

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  1. Pingback: What is "Usual and Customary" in Charlottesville? - Part 2 - RealCentralVA.com

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