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How to reduce the stress, time and effort of closing paperwork

ForSaleByOwner May 16, 2024

Paperwork of any sort can be a headache — and when it comes to closing the sale on a home, first-timers might fear there isn’t an aspirin big enough.

Yes, there is paperwork involved in real estate transactions. But it’s there for good reason, to protect both buyer and seller. The good news is that properly approached, closing paperwork can be tamed.

“First and foremost, hire a good real estate attorney,” advises Eddie Tyner, general manager of “That’s the No. 1 thing a seller or buyer can do to ensure that the closing process goes smoothly.”

According to Tyner, most of the anxiety first-time buyers and sellers experience around closing occurs because they simply don’t know what to expect. “If you have a good attorney on your side, their job is to answer your questions, review the contract and protect your interests,” he says.

This is especially important for by-owner sellers because during closing, they will be dealing with the buyer’s appraiser and inspector — and this is where there are plenty of i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed.

FSBO Seller Empowered by the Process

Jeff Januszek, a social media marketing specialist who recently used to sell a condominium in downtown Cincinnati, says he experienced some of those closing-time fears. Januszek and his wife had already used the site to find the home they bought for their move to New Orleans and decided to take the plunge and become FSBO sellers, too.

“It all just clicked,” Januszek says. “The interface was awesome and super easy. I had my listing complete in probably about an hour. I started getting bites immediately — and a week or so later, I received an inquiry from the folks who (ultimately) bought it. It all happened so quickly. I had listed and sold within a month.”

Januszek adds that his condo sold for the asking price, which he described as a pleasant surprise. “I thought it would be a beat-down.”

He says that his decision to hire a good title agency was a major factor in his low-stress closing. “I thought I was going to get a whole bunch of extra paperwork sent to me and that someone would be calling and informing me of one additional fee after another,” Januszek recalls. “But that didn’t happen.”

Januszek estimates that it cost him about $700 to hire his title agency.

He also praised the online by-seller site for walking him through each step of the FSBO process. “There were the resources for what to do next, how to come up with the contract, how to take care of the title.”

The 6 Steps to Closing’s experts have created a six-step checklist to help by-owner sellers navigate the home sale closing process with a minimum of stress:

  1. Draw up a closing timeline.
  2. Do a self-inspection of your home to pinpoint problems before the buyer’s inspector arrives.
  3. Hire a real estate attorney and title company.
  4. Touch base with your buyer from time to time to make sure his or her mortgage is nearing approval.
  5. Make sure you’ve signed all required forms.
  6. If you’re still living in your home, arrange for movers early so you’re all set when the day to leave comes.

If They Can Do It, So Can You

Tyner, who used to sell his own home earlier this year, says that anybody willing to invest a little time and effort can successfully sell their own home.

Januszek concurs. “You do need to put the work into it,” he says. “It took some effort — but not that much effort. It was definitely worth it for me.”

And experienced experts can help keep it all hassle-free.

Read more: The FSBO Sellers Guide to Closing