Category Archives: Ask Betsy

Q. I just went under contract on a house but the sign in the yard still says “For Sale” and I see on websites that it is still showing up as active. Can the seller take a better offer if one comes along before closing? Why don’t the sign and websites say “Under Contract” now?

A. Once you have an executed contract, another offer cannot upset your offer unless your contract has a
contingency that specifies this. The most common contingency is that the buyer’s current house has to
sell. If another offer comes in that the seller wants to take, then the seller would come to you and ask you to remove your contingency. If you cannot, the seller usually has the right to take the other offer. If no such contingency is in your contract, your contract is safe from other offers. Many Realtors choose not to change the sign status when their listings go under contract. In addition, if they want to continue to show the house and take back-up offers (in the event you decide to walk away from this house), the house will continue to show up as active on websites.

Q. I’m having second thoughts about a home I put an offer on. Can I get out of the contract?

A. That depends. You can withdraw your offer at any time prior to both the buyer and seller agreeing to all the terms. However, if you are now under contract, you will have to review your contract to see what, if any, contingencies there are. Generally, there is a financing contingency so if you cannot get financing, you do not have to buy the house. There is also commonly an appraisal contingency so if the
house doesn’t appraise and you cannot come to terms with the seller, you can get out of the contract. Sometimes there are covenants’ and seller’s disclosures’ contingencies giving you three days to review the documents. If you find something that you is not to your satisfaction within the designated time period and you have this contingency in your contract, you can cancel the contract.

Q. Is it easy to change a chlorinated pool into a salt water pool?

A. Yes, it is. It takes about an hour to convert and costs about $1800 in upfront charges. If you are handy, you can probably do it yourself, however I recommend consulting a local pool supply store before you attempt this. Make sure to choose the right salt chlorinator for your pool, taking into account how hot your pool gets, how much direct sunlight your pool receives, how much you use your pool and the pool’s size. Get a chlorinator 1/3 larger than your pool. It will last significantly longer and be able to survive, more efficiently, the daily wear and tear. Make sure to use non-iodized salt, good old-fashion table salt with the goal of maintaining a level of 3,500ppm sodium chloride. Read the chlorinator manual to see how much salt you need. Also, remember to eliminate phosphates. The phosphate level should be between 100-125 PPB. In most cases, the salt cell will last about 5 years when properly maintained.