What You Need to Know About Buying a Home in Wilmington

Wilmington, NC is a beautiful place to be, and more and more people are flocking here to stay. With the influx of buyers coming into the area, we thought we would share some insight on what buying a home in Wilmington, NC entails. Even if you’re an experienced buyer that has purchased multiple properties in the past, you may find that the process of buying a home in Wilmington, NC is a bit different. 


We have a lot of out of state folks that are interested in buying a home in Wilmington, NC, and they have questions. What makes NC so different from other states? Well, NC has a due diligence period and we are able to go from contract to closing pretty quickly in NC. Typically the process takes about 30 days, which is not the case in most states. NC has real estate attorneys to do the deed preparation and the title search, which happens in the background during the due diligence period. 


So what is due diligence, and how does it affect the process of buying a home in Wilmington, NC? NC is a “caveat emptor” state, which means “buyer beware.”  Sellers have no obligation to make any repairs when selling a home. In NC the buyer gives the seller a non-refundable check to take the house off the market for the buyer to conduct inspections and discover anything about the property that may be a deal-breaker. During this due diligence period, the buyer can terminate the contract if they so choose, but they will not get that due diligence money back. However, if we get to the closing table, that due diligence money goes toward the purchase price of the house.  This is one reason it is important to have a seasoned real estate agent to explain this thoroughly before looking at homes, especially in a hot market where you have to move rapidly. 


Let’s talk about what happens during the due diligence period when buying a home in Wilmington, NC.  As soon as we get a buyer under contract, it’s time to get to work investigating the property. With an experienced agent, hopefully the buyer already has an idea of the potential issues, as their agent was able to spot them and point them out before submitting an offer.  We always recommend a home inspection, and get that scheduled pretty quickly into the process. Once we have that report back, we have a better idea of what other types of inspections need to be done. For instance, we may need to have a structural engineer or an HVAC specialist to come evaluate. We always recommend a pest inspection, because we live in an area that is conducive to wood destroying insects. The buyer does pay for these inspections, as it is not the responsibility of the seller in NC to provide them. Writing that non-refundable due diligence check guarantees the buyer the ability to perform these inspections.


Another thing that we’re often asked is “How much due diligence money should I offer when buying a home in Wilmington, NC?” The answer depends on a couple of variables. Generally, due diligence is reflective of the price of the home. More expensive homes attract a higher due diligence. If the home is move-in ready and priced correctly and multiple offers are anticipated,  then a strong due diligence amount will show the seller that this buyer is not likely to be scared off by an inspection report and the likelihood of this closing without issues is high. On the other hand, if the property needs some work and the listing agent indicates that they haven’t received  many offers, then we wouldn’t suggest offering a ton of due diligence. This is another reason that it’s imperative to have an adept agent to help make those decisions. 

With a good understanding of due diligence, buyers also have to decide how much earnest money to offer when buying a house in Wilmington, NC.  This money is refundable if the buyer terminates the contract before the due diligence period ends. Since this money is refundable during the due diligence period, earnest money is a way for the buyer to assure the seller that they are not likely to terminate after the due diligence period has ended. 


For buyers that live out of town wanting to know more about the process of buying a home in Wilmington, NC, here’s what it looks like from start to finish. First, find a reputable agent and discuss your timeline, your payment method, and your wish list. Next, come to town prepared with either a pre-approval letter from a lender or a verification of assets and your checkbook. Once you find your dream home, discuss what amounts of due diligence and earnest money that you’re willing to offer along with a purchase price, and get that offer submitted

Once the offer is accepted, let your agent and their team get to work for you! Buying a home in Wilmington, NC does not need to be stressful for out of towners. You can attend the inspections if you are able to, but having a trustworthy agent that you can rely on to show up on your behalf ensures that everything is being attended to, even if you’re across the country. While your agent is out making sure things run smoothly with the house, their team will be diligently working with attorneys, lenders and the listing agent to make sure the transaction is a smooth one. In the event that you are unable to attend the closing in person, no worries! These days you can sign digitally. 

The key to buying a home in Wilmington, NC is having an advocate that knows the area and knows how to represent you at the highest level. The Jennifer Bullock Team is devoted to providing outstanding service to our clients, and we would love the opportunity to be that steward for you as you consider buying a home in Wilmington, NC!