In Part 1, we looked into the North Carolina real estate concept of “No Representation”, which allows sellers of residential property the ability to essentially divulge no information at all about their home to potential buyers.
In Part 2, we looked at how this was a good thing for sellers, but not for the most obvious reason. And in this 3rd & final installment, we’re going to look at how “No Representation” affects those who are buying a home in North Carolina.
I’ll cut straight to the chase: Just as “No Representation” relieves the seller from the temptation to lie, it also relieves the buyer from the temptation of believing what the seller tells them.
That may seem trivial, but I can assure you it’s not.
As I’ve stated before, most of us think of ourselves as good people. We’re generally honest and fair, and we like to think of other people as being honest and fair as well. And that’s where our trusting nature can cause us to make a big mistake, because not everyone else is, and even those who are will sometimes compromise themselves when money is on the line.
I have personally purchased homes in Florida, Kentucky, and in both South & North Carolina, including two homes that were FSBO’s (For Sale By Owner).
In all cases where I met the owners, and/or read the property disclosure filled out by the owner, I had a natural desire to want to believe what they told me, which in some cases resulted in me taking them at their word and conducting no further investigation myself. And – in what will come as a big surprise to no one – that did not always turn out to be in my best interests.
Not so in North Carolina. The seller’s not telling me anything, so even if I was naive enough to want to believe them, I have nothing to believe. If there’s something wrong with the house, it’s up to me to find out what it is.
The good news is that we have a lot of help available to us.
Help #1: You
This is going to be your house; check it out! While you may not be an expert, you’ve lived in houses all your life. You know what a crack looks like. You can identify a water stain when you see one. And if there’s a weird smell, and odd bounce to the floor, or an unhealthy noise coming from the AC compressor, I’m confident you’ll notice.
Help #2: Your Agent (and – believe it or not – the seller’s agent)
One of the reasons you hired an agent is to help facilitate the process. You may not know what to look for, but they do. Use them. Ask them. And not just your agent either, but the seller’s agent as well, because while the sellers themselves are allowed to withhold information about the property, their agent is afforded no such protection. They are required by law to share certain items of information whether you ask or not, and for everything else, while they may not be required to voluntarily divulge it, they are not allowed to lie if asked.
Help #3: The Home Inspectors
What I refer to as “The Big Guns”. I’m not an expert on foundations. I don’t know very much about electrical wiring. And not only do I not want to navigate that crawlspace, I’m not sure what I would be looking for if I did. But there are people who are, and who will, and who do. Use them. Without exception.
In the end, North Carolina’s “No Representation” policy can be good for everyone. It lets sellers reduce their liability while keeping their integrity. And it forces buyers to fully understand what they are buying, which helps them keep their sanity.
“Caveat Emptor”: Let the buyer beware. Because when they are, they can buy with confidence.
Please let me know if you have any questions by calling 252-876-8267 or sending an email.
By Contribution Author, Blaine Staat, Weichert Realtors At Rivers Edge, 220 Front St., Suite A, New Bern