Greenwich Real Estate Basics

Buyer Agency

On June 1, 1997, Connecticut mandated that Realtors represent either the buyer or the seller, but not both (unless dual or designated agency is disclosed and agreed to by both parties) in the same transaction. Buyers like being represented by their own Realtor because their Realtor can tell them what they think a house is worth and provide excellent guidance through the real estate process. This extra protection costs the buyer nothing because the buyer’s Realtor is still paid by the seller. In the first meeting, the buyer signs a representation agreement with their Realtor much the way a seller signs a listing agreement with their Realtor.

Greenwich Association of Realtors (GAR)

40 East Elm Street, Greenwich CT, 203.869.0240

Executive Vice President, Stacey Loh

www.greenwichrealtors.com

When many other towns gave up their local boards, Greenwich did not. Greenwich has an outstanding organization devoted to local real estate. This service is funded by the over 800 active Realtors in town and is extremely helpful to homeowners and buyers. Member Realtors follow a strict code of ethics. The Association is governed by a 9-member board elected by their peers. Carolyn Anderson is Vice President of the Greenwich Association Board. You can use the Association site to search for Realtors by firm or by name. The Association is the home of the Greenwich MLS.

Greenwich Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

It is important to understand how Greenwich real estate works. Unlike New York City and many other locations, Greenwich Realtors share their listings. In Greenwich all properties, with rare exceptions, are multiple-listed with the Greenwich MLS. To buy property in Greenwich, you need select only one Realtor you like and trust. You will have access through your Realtor to the entire market.

Offers

Usually price and terms are agreed to orally, at which point the Buyer’s Realtor submits a non-binding offer to purchase to the Seller through their Realtor.

Binders (used in Connecticut but rarely in Greenwich)

Purchaser deposits 1% of the purchase price with the real estate agent or broker when a memorandum of sale or written offer to purchase is made. This 1% is subtracted from the 10% of the purchase price paid on signing of contracts. Binders are typically only good faith deposits and will be returned if contracts are not signed.

Contracts

Buyers from other States are often surprised to learn that Realtors do not draw the contract of sale. Both the Buyer and the Seller must hire their own attorney.

The Buyer and the Seller, through their Realtors, negotiate the terms of the agreement. When an agreement has been reached, the Seller’s Realtor gives the agreed upon terms to the Seller’s Attorney who prepares the contract.

An individual’s home is extraordinarily valuable. The expertise of an experienced Realtor and the expertise of an attorney who specializes in Real Estate is needed to protect the Buyer and the Seller.

Because we work with and communicate continually with an attorney until closing we have kept deals that should stay together happen. So many memories race through my mind – the 1031 transactions, the home with an oil tank no one knew about until moments before the closing, the boundary disputes, and most recently the midnight excavation of St. Joseph. At the walk through prior to closing, the Buyers discovered an area of the back yard had been dug up. The attorney for the seller called me saying the Buyer wanted significant money for the repair of the yard . The attorney and I calmly negotiated a plan for the yard repair, no money was laid aside and the house closed.

The NAR Code of Ethics establishes objective standards governing professional Realtor conduct. It does not address issues of courtesy or etiquette. The professional Conduct Working Group of the NAR Professional Standards Committee developed the following list of professional courtesies for Realtors.

Real estate is a reputation business. What you do today will affect your reputation – and business – for years to come.

1. Respect for the Public

  • Follow the “Golden Rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
  • Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.
  • If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.
  • Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
  • When entering a property, ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
  • Leave your business card when showing or previewing a property.
  • Never criticize the property in the presence of the occupant.
  • Inform the occupants that you are leaving after showings.
  • When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock – and announce yourself loudly – before entering. Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.
  • Present a professional appearance at all time; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.
  • If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
  • If occupants are home during showings, introduce your clients to them – unless your client has instructed you otherwise.
  • Communicate clearly; don’t use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.
  • Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative. Remind them of who you represent.
  • Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
  • Show courtesy and respect to everyone.
  • Be aware of – and meet – all deadlines.
  • Promise only what you can deliver – and keep your promises.
  • identify your professional status in contacts with the public.
  • Do not tell people what you think – tell them only what you know.

2. Respect for property

  • Never allow buyers to enter a listed property unaccompanied.
  • Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter a listed property.
  • When showing property, keep all members of the group together.
  • Be considerate of the occupant’s property.
  • Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash or bring pets. Even pets locked in the client’s car may disturb the owner’s pets.
  • Do not allow clients or their children to play with the occupant’s possessions.
  • Respect the occupant’s privacy.
  • Enter property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination.
  • Do not enter a property when the owner, occupant, listing broker or other agent of the owner or occupant, requests you not to.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, when the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc). If you think something is amiss (e.g. vandalism or water damage) contact the listing broker immediately.
  • Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property. Always take your shoes off at the door if requested to do so or if it seems appropriate.

3. Respect for Peers

  • Identify your professional status in all contacts with other Realtors
  • Respond to other Realtor’s calls, messages and e-mails promptly and courteously.
  • Be aware that large electronic files with attachments may be a burden on recipients.
  • Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
  • Never criticize a property at a Realtor open house in front of Realtors other than the listing broker.
  • Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets; security systems; and whether sellers will be present during the showings.
  • Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals. Do not lose your temper, insult or be impolite to another real estate professional.
  • Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.
  • Do not prospect at other Realtors open houses or similar events.
  • Return keys promptly.
  • If you are going to be late or unable to show a property, be sure to immediately notify owners or Realtors who are waiting for you.
  • Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.

When a buyer’s offer has been accepted by a seller, the names of the buyer’s and seller’s attorneys are exchanged between the respective Realtors. The listing broker should then draw up for the seller’s attorney a description of the accepted offer, the time restraints and any contingencies. At this point, the seller’s and buyer’s attorneys normally take the lead in the transaction.

  1. Title Examination

It is important that the seller has good, marketable title to sell. The buyer’s attorney will search the public record to determine the condition of the seller’s title to the property and will obtain a commitment for title insurance.

  1. Survey

Many lenders require a survey of the property showing its boundaries. This is normally arranged by the buyer’s attorney for the buyer and their banks’s benefit. A survey is valuable and should be obtained even if the lender does not require it.

  1. Documents

Attorneys are responsible for the preparation and examination of all documents necessary to complete the transaction. Such documents include the Contract, Deed, Closing statement, and Mortgage Documents. After the seller’s attorney receives a summary of the transaction from the listing broker, the seller’s attorney drafts the contract for purchase and sends it to the buyer’s attorney.

  1. Closing

The final closing of the transaction will normally be conducted in the offices of seller’s attorney or in the offices of the bank giving the mortgage. At the closing , the principals, their attorneys, the Realtors and the attorney for the bank explain the documents to the principals and ensure that all closing documents are properly completed and signed and that all necessary checks are drawn.

  1. After the Closing

After the closing, the attorney for the buyer is responsible for ensuring that title insurance is issued and that all closing documents are properly recorded.

The fees listed are approximate and may vary higher or lower.

BUYERS:

In Greenwich binders are not typically used. Once a buyer has an accepted offer on a property, the lawyer of the seller quickly draws contracts.

  • Buyers should expect to put down 10% with the signing of the contract.
  • Buyers should immediately book inspections at their own expense.
    • General building inspections (including radon and termite) run approximately $900 plus (depending upon the size of the home).
    • Oil tank inspections $400+
    • Septic $400-$500
    • Asbestos $350 +/-
    • Pool $300 +/-
  • You should also expect to spend $2,500+ on attorney fees. Your attorney will tell you about the other expenses such as recording fees, title insurance, appraisal fees, the cost of a survey, and homeowners insurance.
    • Title Insurance Premium – $275 per $100,000
    • Title Search Fee – $200-$600
    • Town of Greenwich Taxes are due on July 1 and January 1 of each year. The adjustment (usually in favor of the Seller) is calculated on a per diem basis and is adjusted from the day of closing through either December 31 or June 30, depending on the closing date.
    • Recording fees are $53.00 for the first page and $5.00 for each additional page of any document (i.e., Warranty Deed, Mortgage Deed) being recorded.
    • Fuel oil, propane gas – credit to Seller.
  • Typical Bank Fees:

    • Prepaid interest based on the amount of mortgage and interest rate and calculated from the day of closing through the end of the month.
    • Tax escrow based on the monthly amount of real estate taxes (if required by lender).
    • Hazard insurance escrow based on the monthly amount of homeowner’s insurance (if required by lender).
    • Homeowner’s insurance premium for one year.
    • Processing fee – $500
    • Appraisal fee – $500 – $600 (per appraisal)
    • Credit Report – $30
    • Flood Certification – $30
    • Tax Service Fee – $85
    • Bank fee (origination Fee)- $500 – $800

Your Team

Anderson Associates will give you a list of reliable Attorneys, Inspectors, Insurers, Mortgage Brokers, Surveyors and Appraisers to choose from.

Utilities

Anderson Associates will also provide you with the names and numbers of Utilities to contact.

SELLERS:

In addition to your attorney’s fees ($2,500+), a seller should expect to pay at closing the following fees:

  • Conveyance Tax to Town of Greenwich: $2.50 per $1,000
  • Conveyance Tax to State of Connecticut

(0.75% of sales price up to $800,000)

(1.25% of sales price over $800,000)

  • Recording fee—$20
  • Unpaid Real Estate Taxes
  • Mortgage Payoff
  • Release of Existing Mortgage $200 +/-
  • Real Estate Brokerage—typically 5% (subject to negotiation)