What Do I Need to Know Before I Sell My Home?
There is a multitude of reasons for someone to decide that they should sell their house – some are buying a bigger one, others are downsizing, and some just feel like they want a change of the scenery. Regardless of the reason you chose to sell your own, you should learn a thing or two before making a legal mistake.
Selling a home is a monumentally huge moment in anyone’s life, but there are various legal pitfalls one might fall into if they forget to do their homework first. So, to help you protect yourself, we have made a list of very things that you should consider before going on this adventure.
Should you use a real estate agent?
When you are selling your home you have two options that are both very viable. You can attempt to post your seller’s ad as FSBO and try selling it yourself (For Sale By Owner) or you can hire a good agent. if you choose to represent yourself you can use one of the websites set up so that anyone who wants to buy a home can find the property you are selling.
Or, you can hire an agent. While they will charge a fee (usually between five and seven percent of the achieved price) the fact is that they can save you a lot of time and even more trouble. Not to mention that the agent, if you find a good one, is probably going to get more money for your home and even make you get more money after his fees than what you could get yourself.
There is a downside, of course – You will have to do a lot of research to find a good agent (unless your friends already know a great one) and you do not get to change your mind as an agent will probably charge you for finding a buyer whether you change your mind or not.
Should you use an attorney?
While you can get away without hiring a lawyer to handle the actual transaction, you should, at the very least consult an attorney that is experienced in real estate to see if there are any legal issues connected to your property or the sale of your home and to try and get answers to any possible legal questions you might have.
Now, we have prepared some of the questions that you should ask an attorney if you do not know the answers yourself.
a) What information are you obligated to disclose in regards to your property and under the law of your state?
b) Are there issues with illegal construction, zoning issues or permits?
c) Are there any issues with the deed?
And, of course, if you can afford it, you should have an attorney at your side every time you are signing a contract that has a lot of importance to you.
Sometimes, due to the lack of expertise, various issues may arise after concluding the contract and those issues tend to be followed by lawsuits. Those lawsuits could easily have been avoided if an attorney was present prior to the signing.
What are the disclosures that you need to make?
Well, that depends on the state you live in and is the reason we told you to hire a lawyer. However, you do have an obligation to disclose any known defects to a potential buyer.
In most states, any flaw on your home that will, or might, negatively affect the value of the property, the desirability or the quality of life for those who buy the home needs to be disclosed. This means that not disclosing any of the big flaws can lead to fraud charges and severe repercussions.
What about closing the deal?
Once you start receiving offers, you will need to choose the best one. So, try evaluating them not only by the price that they are offering but other things as well. Try to consider their financing and the contingencies they are asking for. Then, you can choose to accept their offer, reject it, or make a counter offer. Once both sides are satisfied you will sign a contract with the terms listed in it. Be extremely careful about anything that is put in writing and definitely consult a lawyer before signing.
Once the deal is closed, the buyer can take possession of the property, so do not forget to vacate it.
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