That 30-60 day period between accepting a buyer’s offer and closing the deal is a busy time for both parties.
While the buyers are focused securing financing and making sure the house is as it appears to be, sellers are mainly concerned with 1) proving that they have the right to sell the property, and 2) making sure the buyers are aware of the true condition of the property.
Here’s an outline of what sellers can expect during the closing process.
Disclosure and Clear Title
First, you’ll probably need to disclose any material facts about the property to the sellers. The requirements vary by state, but often include items like known water damage, structural issues and liens.
You will also need to address any clouds on title. If the title company finds any discrepancy in ownership or encumbrance that could invalidate your clear title, these will need to be removed before title can transfer to the buyer. Common title issues include things like foreclosure proceedings, liens from contractors who have not received payment for their work on the property, and probate issues when the owner of record has passed away and the house is being sold by the deceased’s estate.
Appraisal and Inspections
An appraisal will be completed (at the buyer’s expense) to assure the buyer’s lender that the property is worth the sales price. Sellers typically don’t need to do anything except make the property available to the appraiser.
The buyers will also probably want a home inspection, so the property will need to be made available to the inspector. Inspections often uncover maintenance issues in the home that may require repairs. The buyers will notify you shortly after the inspection to make any requests for repairs or to ask for a price reduction to account for the cost of the required repairs.
These requests are entirely negotiable. You can agree to some, or all, of the requests. Or you can refuse and risk losing your buyer. A good real estate agent is invaluable at this stage of the transaction. They know industry standards regarding who typically pays for what, they can offer practical advice, free from the emotion that goes with being the homeowner, and they can often save a deal threatened by the results of an inspection.
At this point, you have a bit of waiting to do, typically a couple weeks while the seller works with their lender to secure financing. But you’ll probably be so busy packing you won’t miss the hustle of the transaction!
Signing the Paperwork
Just a few days before the closing date, you’ll get to sign the small mountain of paperwork that accompanies every real estate transaction.
It’s generally helpful to request a copy of the documents before your signing appointment so you can read everything through in your spare time. That way you won’t be rushed through while the notary waits for you to read the docs at the signing appointment.
That’s it! Now you just need to leave a few things for the buyers: keys, garage door remotes, appliance and system manuals and warranties, etc.
Then you can turn off the lights, lock the doors, and embrace a new chapter in your life!