TEMPE, AZ (3 On Your Side) - James Curley has lived in his house in Tempe for 23 years.

"The favorite part of the house is all the memories here," he said.

Now Curley is ready to make new memories in a new place nearby, so he recently put his home on the market.

"We have a really nice place, so I think people kind of took to it," he said.

According to his real estate agent, Trevor Halpern, the house was listed on a Wednesday afternoon and under contract by Saturday.

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"On this one, we had eight showings and six offers," Halpern said. "We got significantly over asking."

Home for sale

Even in this fast-moving sellers' market, sellers have to be cautious and have a plan.

"Just because homes are selling quickly doesn't mean you just put a sign in the ground without a strategy and hope that it sells," Halpern said.

In Curley's case, it was a limited window for showings and a deadline for offers.

"You really have to work hard as a seller to try to get not only the best offer, the highest price, but you also want to get the most secure offer," Halpern said.

Often, that means how much cash the buyers have.

"Right now, why that's important is because homes aren't appraising," Halpern said. "Appraisers have to look back in time, and so there's a disconnect between appraisers and appraisals and market conditions, and that disconnect is making it really risky for sellers because buyers can't perform."

There is another very real risk for potential sellers in this market, according to Halpern.

"I've had folks call me and say, 'Hey, we want to sell. We'll just go rent,'" Halpern said. "Well, OK. What that rent look like? The rental market is very tight right now."

"Don't do a darn thing until you know where you're going," he added.

Real estate data shows the average home sale price in the Phoenix metro area in March was up 25% compared to the same time a year ago. While interest rates and inventory remain low, experts predict the ultra-competitive housing market will continue.

To compete for houses, buyers are resorting to creative clauses into their offers to remove as much risk as they can for sellers. Many buyers are offering to purchase a house "as-is." Patrick MacQueen, a local real estate attorney, says buyers and sellers often misunderstand what it means.

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"All that an as-is provision does is basically says, 'Look, I understand you're not going to make repairs to this item. I understand that there's no warranty with this specific item," MacQueen said. "In reality, it may sound more attractive to say 'as-is,' but ultimately the contract is already 'as-is,' as is."

MacQueen also cautions the seller still has an important responsibility to the buyer, even if the buyer agrees to waive negotiations or inspections.

"No matter what, the seller can not waive their obligation to disclose what they know has gone on on the property," MacQueen told 3 On Your Side.

"The big misconception out there is, 'Hey, the buyer has agreed to waive the right to receive this seller property disclosure statement. That means I, as the seller, don't have to disclose anything. The answer to that is no. you still have to disclose," MacQueen said. "A lot of times, when people are doing the fix and flips, the seller will say, 'Look, I never lived here. I went in, and I flipped the place. I got the right permits, and I flipped the place, so I don't really know what happened, but here's your property.'"

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"The big misconception out there is, 'Hey, the buyer has agreed to waive the right to receive this seller property disclosure statement. That means I, as the seller, don't have to disclose anything."

"In those instances, we say, 'No, no. You, as a flipper, know more than anybody about what just happened with this property, what's going on with the property, so you need to provide a disclosure,'" he added.

If a disclosure is not truthful, MacQueen says the buyer can sue the seller for misrepresentation or fraud.

Ultimately, Curley didn't take the highest offer he got, but he took the offer he had the most confidence in closing, and he's ready to make his move.

"They were all really close," he said. "We just wanted something smooth and easy."

 

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