To follow up on my post about North Carolina being a Caveat Emptor state - So, what in addition to a good Realtor offers a Buyer protection?
North Carolina employs a Due Diligence period after the Purchase Contract has been signed. The Due Diligence period is negotiated between the Buyer and the Seller as part of the contract and is usually around 30 days. Since the house is essentially off of the market during this time, there is sometimes a fee (which goes toward the purchase price of the home) if the sale goes through. Whether there is a fee or not and the amount is also negotiated between the Buyer and Seller as part o the contract.
During the Due Diligence period, Buyer's firm up their lending if the property is being financed. The Lender secures an Appraisal and the home must appraise for an amount equal to or greater than the purchase price or the Buyer must make up the difference. The Buyer hires an attorney to do the title search, who will issue an Opinion of Title and secure Title Insurance. In addition, it is wise to have the home inspected by a licensed Home Inspector, a Termite Inspection, a Survey and Elevation Certificate (if required), Septic Inspection, secure required insurance coverage, and negotiate repairs (if any) with the Seller.
What is good about the Due Diligence period is that the Buyer can cancel the contract (with written notice) any time during the Due Diligence period "for any reason or for no reason at all." However, unless the Seller breached the contract, the Seller keeps the Due Diligence fee if the contract is terminated. The Ernest money would be refunded to the Buyer if the contract is terminated during the Due Diligence period.
I would be glad to answer questions or provide more information if you are interested. More on the various types of Agency in future posts...