Need some help selling a house in North Carolina? Whether you’re working with an agent or going the for sale by owner route, we’ve got you covered.
The steps to selling a house in North Carolina aren’t always straightforward. While the process is similar to other states, North Carolina has its own unique laws and legal requirements for sellers.
To help you navigate the home sale process and avoid common home selling mistakes, check out our 9-step guide.
Want to save on your home sale? Clever Real Estate pre-negotiates lower listing commission rates for you. North Carolina sellers who use Clever pay a 1% listing agent commission rate, or $3,000, compared to the statewide average rate of 2.86%.
Steps to selling a house in North Carolina
We spoke to several North Carolina real estate agents and experts on the steps required to sell a home. Here’s our advice.
- Find and choose the right agent
- Signing a listing agreement
- Price your home
- Prepare your home for sale
- Market and show your home to buyers
- Negotiate offers
- Review and sign an offer
- Conduct inspections
- Close on your sale
1. Find and choose a North Carolina real estate agent
We recommend finding at least 2-3 local seller agents to compare and choose from before signing a listing agreement. Comparing multiple options helps you find the best fit for your situation and could save you thousands on realtor commissions.
While there are many ways to find a realtor in North Carolina, we think sellers should stick to sources that make it fast and easy to find quality options.
Agent matching services
Agent matching services match you up to local agents at no cost. It’s the best way to connect to experienced, local real estate agents in North Carolina, and to achieve commission savings.
How it works: You provide basic info. about your home and what you’re looking for in an agent, and the service quickly matches you up with top North Carolina real estate agents from name-brand brokerages, like RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker, and Century 21.
Some agent matching services, like Clever Real Estate, can also potentially save you thousands on realtor commissions.
Family and friends can provide you with a credible, trustworthy realtor referral. They probably wouldn’t recommend someone they didn’t have a good experience with.
But there’s no guarantee of a good match. You’ll need to vet the agent’s experience and qualifications carefully, even if they come highly recommended by a trusted source.
How to compare agents
After you’ve found several top-rated agents to compare, it’s time to set up interviews, meet with agents at your house, and choose an agent.
Here are some key agent criteria to consider:
- Experience: We recommend choosing a listing agent with at least 2-3 years of full-time experience. You can find this information on popular real estate websites like Zillow.
- Customer reviews: Look for positive customer reviews from past clients. One or two bad reviews isn’t a big deal. But agents with multiple bad reviews in a short timeframe (3-6 months) could be a red flag. You can vet each agent’s reviews using Zillow’s agent finder tool.
- Marketing skills: Check each agent’s active and closed listings on Zillow, or ask them for listing photo examples. Look for clear, polished photos with good lighting. and compelling listing descriptions that highlight each home’s key features.
- Commission rate: Florida listing agents earn an average commission rate of 2.73% per sale. In North Carolina, sellers are also responsible for paying the buyer’s agent commission, which often ranges from 2.5% to 3.0%. Overall, the cost of realtor commission averages 5.45% statewide.
- Find out what the agent charges (and what is included in their services), and consider an agent matching service like Clever, which has pre-negotiated a flat 1% (or $3,000) listing commission rate with agents in its network.
- License check: Check to see if each agent’s real estate license is active and in good standing, or if it’s been suspended. View agent licenses at the North Carolina Real Estate Commission website.
2. Sign a North Carolina listing agreement and seller disclosures
It’s time to read and sign a North Carolina listing agreement to get the listing process started!
The listing agreement details important information about your home sale. It includes your anticipated listing date, the home’s initial list price, what’s included (or not included) in your sale, where the listing will be marketed, and the length of your agreement.
Key things to pay attention to include:
- Type of listing agreement: Most agents work under an exclusive right to sell listing agreement (or single agency). It means the agent works solely for you and gets paid regardless of whether they bring forward a buyer or not.
- Listing commission rate: The listing agent’s stated commission rate should match up to what’s on the listing agreement.
- Items that convey with the property: You’ll need to write down which items or belongings you’ll be taking with you.
North Carolina agency disclosure requirements
State law also requires agents to provide you with an agency disclosure form, which describes all of the agent’s legal duties to you. View the form on the North Carolina Real Estate Commission website.
North Carolina has a few main types of real estate agency agreements:
- Seller’s agency: The agent or broker represents only you – not the buyer. In South Carolina, I usually recommend my clients work under a single agent relationship compared to other options, as it gives my clients the most protection.
- Dual agency: Your agent can represent both you and the buyer in the same transaction, which might happen if your listing agent brings a buyer to the table. Dual agency can raise a conflict of interest – since the agent is representing both sides, it’s hard to represent both clients fairly.
- Designated dual agency: Your agent’s real estate broker can represent both you and the buyer. However, under a designated dual agency, the broker can designate one agent to represent you and a different agent to represent the buyer.
- Unrepresented seller: The agent will represent only the buyer, and you agree to sell your house unrepresented (for sale by owner).
Contact a local real estate attorney for more advice on North Carolina listing agreements and required disclosures.
What do North Carolina sellers need to disclose to buyers?
North Carolina sellers must fill out a Residential Property and Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement at the time the buyer makes an offer. You have to answer, yes, no, or no representation to a series of questions regarding your home’s condition.
You must address the characteristics and condition of your home to the best of your actual knowledge. This includes any material defects, according to the disclosure statement.
If you’re aware of any problems with your home – like a roof leak or inoperable HVAC system – you’ll likely need to disclose it to buyers on this form.
Check “no representation” if you’re unsure of a question. But if you select that box and a buyer discovers that you had prior knowledge of the issue, you may be held liable.
Ask your real estate attorney or agent for more advice on how to fill out a North Carolina property disclosure form.
3. Price your home
Your next step is to determine a competitive listing price for your home.
Home value estimators can provide you with a quick ballpark estimate of your home’s potential value, based on your property’s key features, recent home sales, and active listings, neighborhood data, and local market trends. Get a free, instant home value estimate now!
For a more accurate and in-depth home value report, connect with a real estate agent.
During your initial interview, a realtor should have provided you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) report, which is based on an in-person inspection of your home’s condition, its renovations and upgrades, and what similar homes have recently sold for in your area.
A CMA is a great tool to help you and your agent set a fair listing price for your home. Your agent will know how to best price your home to achieve your goals.
Is a CMA free in North Carolina?
Most North Carolina realtors will perform a CMA for free to try to win your business. It’s typically presented during your initial interview with an agent.
Unlike in some states, North Carolina real estate laws don’t require agents to offer CMAs for free – but they usually do, unless you’re selling “for sale by owner” and just need a professional pricing recommendation.
Should I just get a pre-listing appraisal instead?
Appraisals are usually conducted by the buyer during the home sale process. But you can technically get an appraisal before selling to guide your pricing.
Appraisers typically have more knowledge and experience valuing homes compared to agents and may provide you with a more accurate valuation to help you price your home.
However, appraisals aren’t cheap ($300 to $450 in North Carolina), and can take a while to complete (1-2 weeks), so it needs to fit within your budget and timeframe.
4. Prepare your home for sale
It’s time to get your home ready for showings!
Gather important documents
Most North Carolina home sales require a variety of documents and records for closing, including your mortgage statement, homeowners and flood insurance records, homeowners association (HOA) documents, and property taxes.
Gather utility bills, and any home warranties or appliance manuals you might have, in case the buyer requests them.
Get a pre-listing inspection
You can get a home inspection ($300-$400) if you suspect your home has an issue that could potentially delay (or derail) your sale if discovered by a home buyer.
A pre-listing inspection can potentially help you spot and fix issues with your home before those issues surface on the buyer’s home inspection.
An experienced real estate agent should advise you on whether or not a pre-listing inspection is worth the time and money.
Make home repairs and improvements
Based on the results of a pre-listing inspection (and the condition of your home), it could be worth making certain fixes.
However, your agent is in the best position to advise you on which repairs or improvements to make before listing – in a strong seller’s market, you might not have to make any updates.
Declutter, depersonalize, and clean
Now is the perfect time to sell, donate, or throw away unused or unwanted items, and re-organize your home before showings.
Make sure all areas of your home are spotless but pay careful attention to areas where buyers will notice dirty areas the most, like your kitchen and bathrooms.
Aim to depersonalize every room, removing family photos, artwork, and posters – it’s best to keep the buyer’s attention on your home, not your belongings.
Consider home staging
Staging can increase your home’s appeal and lead to a higher sale price, but it doesn’t make sense for every seller.
Home staging is expensive (up to $3,000), although pricing depends on the size of your home, the number of rooms staged, and your area (it may cost less to stage a home in a lower-cost market like Fayetteville compared to a large city like Charlotte, for example).
Consult with your realtor for advice on whether or not home staging is right for you.
Request a seller’s net sheet
Your realtor should provide you with a net sheet if they haven’t done so yet.
A net sheet estimates how much cash you can expect to walk away with in your home sale at various sale prices. It can help you determine whether or not it makes sense to invest in pre-listing expenses, like home staging or repairs.
Net sheets often include:
- Proposed price: The estimated sale price of the home in various ranges ($145,000 to $160,000), as determined by the agent’s CMA report estimates.
- Existing financing: The remaining mortgage owed by the homeowner ($55,000), which is deducted from the home’s sale price and repaid at closing.
- Lending costs: Estimated seller-paid closing costs to the buyer, if requested.
- Other expenses: The estimated cost of realtor commission (6% split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents), and common closing costs.
- Estimated equity to seller: What the seller can expect to walk away with in the home sale, at various price points, after deducting all sale expenses.
North Carolina home sale calculator
You can also use our calculator to see what you might earn in a home sale after deducting typical home sale costs, including realtor commission and closing costs.
5. Market and show your home to buyers
Now it’s time to actually time to list your home and host potential buyers!
Your listing agent will put a “for sale” sign on your front lawn and post your home for sale on the multiple listing service (MLS): a database most real estate agents use to market and sell properties.
Your agent should also list your home on all popular real estate sites (like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor), and they might also host an open house to drum up more interest.
If you’re selling for sale by owner, it’s probably a good idea to list your home on the MLS via a flat-fee MLS service, so it reaches buyers’ agents and their clients.
My listing is live: What happens next?
Listing your home for sale can be both exciting and nerve-racking! Here’s what to do next:
- Have a plan in place for your pets. I’ve had sellers keep their pets in the backyard or garage during showings, while others removed them from the home entirely. If you plan to keep pets in your home for showings, you’ll probably need to notify buyers (ask your agent for advice on how to do this). It’s your call – not the buyers!
- Check out your listing on Zillow and other popular sites. Make sure you like all of your photos, or request new ones from your agent (or change them out yourself).
- Double-check your listing description. It should describe all of your home’s main features and selling points, and have good grammar and punctuation.
- Consider posting your listing on social media. Get the word out to family and friends, and consider sharing the listing on local Facebook groups.
- Keep an eye on your listing activity. You can check how many people have viewed and saved your listing on Zillow and compare that to other local listings to see how it is performing. This information can be found under “overview” on your listing’s Zillow page (example below).
How does my agent handle showings?
Most agents use a mobile app called ShowingTime to help manage showing appointments.
The app allows buyers to request showings digitally, while sellers can view and approve (or deny) any showing requests (and agents are notified of all activity).
You may start to get showing requests within just a day or two of going live, although it could take longer depending on your home’s price, condition, and local market.
What happens during showings?
You’ll need to leave your home so the home buyer and their agent can tour your home (buyers and sellers rarely have direct contact, and only communicate through agents).
Your house key might be left in a lockbox where the buyer’s agent can access it, and the agent often gains entry by using a one-time code.
Showings typically last between 15 to 45 minutes, depending mainly on the size of your house and how fast the buyer can walk through it.
Let your agent know if you have any special showing requirements like if you want buyers to take off their shoes before entering, if the lights should be left on (or turned off) after showings, or if any part of the house should be closed off.
What happens after showings?
The ShowingTime app or your agent will notify you when the showing is complete and you can return home.
You may get showing feedback from buyers through the ShowingTime app, via email, or from your agent. Feedback can provide valuable insights into your home’s price and condition from the buyer’s perspective.
Hopefully, you’ll also receive a call from your agent saying that the buyer loves your home and is interested in putting an offer in.
6. Negotiate with buyers
Hopefully, you’ve received multiple offers within just a few days or weeks of going live!
The offer should contain the buyer’s offer price, if they’re asking you to pay for any of their closing costs, the type of financing used, an estimated closing date, and an offer expiry date (typically 24-48 hours after submission).
There are three ways sellers and their listing agents can respond to a buyer’s offer:
- Accept the offer. If the offer has everything you’re looking for – price, terms, and timing all look great – then you might just want to accept it without countering, especially if no other offers are on the table.
- Counter the offer. Most of the details of an offer to purchase your home are negotiable, including the home’s sale price and closing date. It could make sense to counter an offer if you’re confident you’d receive another good one if the buyer declines it.
- Ignore the offer. There’s no need to respond to a lowball offer or one that doesn’t meet any of your criteria – especially if you have stronger offers on the table (or you’re confident others will come in.
Remember, if you counter an offer and the buyer accepts it, you’re technically under contract.
How long might it take me to get an acceptable offer?
Timing depends mainly on your home’s desirability, and how well you’ve priced your home (higher-priced homes often take longer to sell).
North Carolina homes are on the market for a median of 45 days, although that figure is lower in several cities, according to Realtor.com.
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Talk with your agent to discuss expectations on when you might receive an acceptable offer after going live.
Price is important, but it’s not everything!
The highest sale price offer is not always the best offer you’ll receive. Besides price, other factors to consider include:
Buyer closing costs: Is the buyer asking you to cover part or all of their closing costs? This will impact your total net proceeds at closing, so run the numbers carefully (and ask your agent for an updated net sheet).
Financing type: Is the buyer paying all cash or financing the purchase? (Cash deals usually close faster and with fewer hiccups compared to financed deals).
Earnest money: Earnest money is usually between 1% to 3% of the home’s purchase price. A larger earnest money deposit gives the buyer more “skin in the game,” meaning they have more to potentially lose by backing out of the deal. Earnest money can get refunded to the buyer under certain circumstances.
Due diligence fee: North Carolina buyers must submit a due diligence fee (often $500 to $2,000), or “good faith money” that is paid directly to the seller. It gives the buyer time to conduct inspections and review the home, and they can walk away if they are not satisfied.
A higher due diligence fee is more favorable for sellers because the fee is usually non-refundable if the buyer chooses to walk away from the deal.
Timing of sale: Is the buyer willing and able to close on the sale within your desired timeframe? You can always counter a buyer’s requested closing date on an offer.
Home sale contingency: Does the buyer need to sell a house in order to buy yours? It might not be worth the risk of the buyer’s other sale not closing – especially if you have stronger offers on the table.
Your realtor is in the best position to advise you on how to compare offers and negotiate with buyers.
7. Review paperwork and sign an offer
Once you’ve decided to accept an offer and you’ve talked it through with your agent, it’s time to review the contract and sign!
Once all parties have signed, your home is under contract and you’re just a month or so away from closing on the sale.
In North Carolina, it usually takes about 35 days to close on a home sale after accepting an offer, lower than the national average of 58 days, according to data from Clever Real Estate and Ellie Mae’s 2021 origination insight report.
What’s in a North Carolina purchase and sale agreement?
The key details of the contract include:
- Basic details. The buyer and seller’s full legal names, and your home’s address.
- Purchase price. How much the buyer is offering to purchase your home.
- Possession date. The estimated date of closing, when ownership transfers to the buyer.
- Earnest money. Funds are held in a trust or escrow account until closing and applied to the home’s purchase price and/or closing costs.
- Due diligence fee. A non-refundable fee paid directly to the seller.
- Personal property. Items to transfer in the sale, such as appliances or storage sheds (this appears on page 5 of the contract).
- Financing Information: What loan type the buyer is using to finance the purchase (conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, cash, or seller financing)?
- Closing costs: A list of closing costs the buyer and seller agree to pay.
8. Conduct inspections, appraisals, and closing walk-through
North Carolina contracts typically provide buyers with a “due diligence period” during which time they can conduct a home inspection.
The contract should state the date on which the due diligence period ends for the buyer (on page 2 of the contract):
Don’t worry: Most home sales are contingent upon the home buyer’s inspection. In fact, the vast majority of home buyers (87%) have a home inspection contingency nationwide.
The inspection usually takes 1-2 hours. It reports on the overall condition of the home, pointing out potential issues, including:
- Roof or plumbing leaks
- Water damage
- Heating and air conditioning failure or poor upkeep
- The presence of termites
- Mold, asbestos, or radon gas
- Insufficient grade sloping and drainage
- Code violations
Sellers usually don’t attend the inspection or see the buyer’s home inspection report. But you might get the report if the buyer asks you to fix any defects or serious issues.
Check with your agent to learn what you are obligated to fix under your sales contract, and the best way to move forward following the home inspection.
Depending on the buyer’s offer, you may or may not be on the hook for the cost of a termite inspection ($75 – $150).
Read the contract carefully and check with your agent to see who’s responsible for paying – and what happens if termites are discovered.
Lenders often require buyers to get an appraisal to determine the home’s fair market value and to be certain that the home is worth its purchase price.
The appraiser visits your home to take interior and exterior photos, noting any features or upgrades that may add value. They’ll compare your home to recent sales in your area, using this information to generate a report that provides an opinion of value.
Both the lender and buyer receive a copy of the appraisal. You’ll get notified if your home’s appraised value comes in lower than the buyer’s purchase price – in which case you may have to re-negotiate the price with the buyer. Talk to your agent for advice on dealing with a low appraisal.
» MORE: How do appraisals work?
The buyer may have the opportunity to do a walk-through of the home a day or two before closing. Don’t worry: they just want to make sure the home is in the same condition since their last viewing.
Here’s what you need to do before their walk-through:
- Clear out your house entirely if you haven’t yet, removing all personal belongings.
- Repair or patch any damaged drywall, paint, or nail holes.
- Make sure items included in the sale contract are still there (appliances, light fixtures, etc).
- Do some light cleaning if the home is dirty.
9. Close on your home sale
You’re almost at the finish line! Here’s what to do in the days leading up to your scheduled closing.
Look out for a closing disclosure (CD). You’ll likely need to sign this form two to three days before closing. It contains every cost to be paid by the buyer and seller and your estimated net proceeds. Double-check all the numbers with your agent, and speak up if the numbers don’t look right. Here’s what a CD looks like.
Clear out your house entirely. Your home should be completely empty before the buyer’s scheduled closing walk-through. It’s a good idea to do another walk-through yourself before then just in case you missed something.
Hand the keys to your agent. Your realtor likely needs your house keys and garage door openers to hand over to the buyer’s agent.
Find out when and where the closing is scheduled. Most of the paperwork has already been completed on your end. Ask your agent if you need to attend your closing in person, or if you can sign any remaining paperwork digitally.
Keep in touch. Don’t be surprised if the closing doesn’t happen exactly at its scheduled time. Buyer closings get delayed quite frequently (there are a lot of moving parts in a real estate transaction). Your agent should keep you updated on closing status 24/7.
Next steps after selling a house in North Carolina
While your home sale is technically complete, there are a few things you might want to do after closing.
Save your home sale documents
It’s best to have both physical and digital copies of the home sale contract for your taxes and personal records.
Calculate your potential capital gains tax
You may or may not owe tax on the sale of your home, depending on your net profits.
The IRS excludes home sale gains of up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a married couple – as long as you’ve lived in and owned your home for at least two of the last five years.
Contact your tax advisor for more guidance on capital gains tax and if you’ll owe anything.
Notify the U.S. Postal Service and DMV
You can set up mail forwarding to your new address via the USPS website (it costs $1.10).
Are you staying in the state? The North Carolina DMV needs you to update your driver’s license and title/registration within 60 days of changing your address.
If you’re moving out of state, you must surrender your license plate and driver’s license to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.
Show your agent some love
Did your agent do a great job? They’d be thrilled if you left them a positive Zillow review, and referred them to family and friends who are interested in buying or selling a home.
Why you should trust us
Our mission is to provide accurate, actionable, and practical information you can use to make better decisions on your real estate journey.
To help create this North Carolina home selling guide, we studied research from the following sources:
- National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report
- NAR’s 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
- Realtor.com’s Spring 2022 Home Seller Report
- Real Estate Witch’s Average Real Estate Commission in North Carolina
- Redfin’s The Trials of a 2021 HomeBuyer
- North Carolina Real Estate Commission website
- Institute of Florida Real Estate Careers online courses
- State of North Carolina Residential Property Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement
We consulted with North Carolina real estate agent and property manager Rodrick Jackson of Spoat, Jackson, & Browne Realty.
We also pulled data from Clever’s 2022 Role of the Realtor survey.
About the author
I’m a real estate agent, investor, and personal finance writer based in Charleston, South Carolina, and I’m passionate about educating homeowners and buyers on the home sale process.
While working as a full-time agent between 2020-21, I closed 19 transactions, assisting both buyers and sellers. As an investor, I own and manage 6 single-family rental properties, and I recently sold a home using a licensed agent in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Before writing for Real Estate Witch, I spent more than 6 years on NerdWallet’s content team as a personal finance writer, where my work was published in USA Today, The Associated Press, and US News, among other publications.
FAQs about selling a home in North Carolina
What documents are needed to sell a house in North Carolina?
There are a number of documents required to sell a house in North Carolina, including, but not limited to:
- North Carolina offer to purchase and contract form
- Residential property and owner's association disclosure statement
- Flood zone statement and authorization
- Owner's or seller's affidavit
- Lead-based paint form (on all properties built before 1978)
- Mineral and oil and gas rights disclosure
- Signed closing disclosure
We recommend checking with a local real estate agent or attorney for more advice on the required documents. Clever can match you up with local agents, with no upfront cost or obligation.
Who pays closing costs in North Carolina – the buyer or the seller?
Both the buyer and seller pay various closing costs in North Carolina. Your actual costs depend on the home's sale price, your location, and if you've agreed to pay part (or all) of the buyer's closing costs.
Common closing costs for sellers in North Carolina, which average .80% of a home's sale price, include title insurance, document preparation, and prorated taxes.
What taxes do you pay when selling a home in North Carolina?
North Carolina sellers usually have to pay excise tax and revenue stamps. The state charges $2 per $1,000 of the sales price, which equals $600 on a $300,000 home sale.
You might also have to pay capital gains tax if you owned and lived in your home for less than 2 years, and if you gained over $250,000 in the sale ($500,000 if you filed a joint tax return with your spouse), according to the IRS.
Can you sell a house with no commission in North Carolina?
It's uncommon to sell a house in North Carolina and not pay any realtor commission. Even if you sell for-sale by owner and don't hire a listing agent, you're still likely responsible for paying the buyer's agent (2% to 3%).
You might be able to avoid paying commission if you're selling directly to a family member or friend. But if you aren't, consider working with a low commission real estate company to sell for the highest price, save money, and get support from a local real estate pro.
Consider this statistic: FSBO homes sell for approximately 26% less than agent-assisted homes, negating any potential commission savings.
How to Choose a Realtor: Expert Secrets. Learn how to vet agents, set up interviews, read and sign a buyer’s agency agreement or listing agreement, and pick the best realtor for you.
How to Sell Your House – The Ultimate Guide: Our guide breaks down the process of selling your house from start to finish, to educate you on the process and help prepare you for your big sale.
How to Sell a House Without a Realtor: If you know what you’re doing, you can cut out seller agent fees by listing your house “for sale by owner” (FSBO). Learn more now.
How Much Does it Cost to Sell a House? Our guide breaks down all of the costs of selling a home, including realtor commission, seller closing costs, and optional pre-sale expenses.
Clever Real Estate – Must-See Reviews: The Real Estate Witch team reviews the agent-matching service Clever Real Estate. Does its service actually save sellers $9,600 in commission fees, on average, as it claims?