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Documents To Sell A House For Sale By Owner

Whether you’re selling your home on your own or with the help of a real estate agent, there’s tons of paperwork involved. After all, it’s the biggest sale in most people’s lives. Read on to learn more about the documents you need and where to get them. You’ll also get the answers to frequently asked questions about how to sell your house yourself.

Where Can I Find The Right Paperwork To Sell My Home?

Before you start having showings of your home, you’ll need to line up all of the necessary paperwork. Different states have different regulations. What may be relevant in one state may not be applicable in another, so be sure to thoroughly research the local requirements. You can check your state and county government websites and fill in any cracks with information that can be found on the sites of your state land title association and local real estate agent associations.

If you need some help, a real estate attorney can provide this information for you and might take on your home sale at this point for a flat fee. You can also check out these do-it-yourself real estate forms and guides to get access to attorney-prepared, state-specific information that you can instantly download and start using.

What Documents Do I Need To Sell My Home?

While this varies by state, some examples of documents you may need to sell your home are:

Property survey: This is a legal document that shows the buyer the boundaries of your property. It also includes other details such as where any fences, driveways or other structures are located. This is typically ordered by the buyer.

Receipts and warranties: This information will help you document any new appliances, finishes and upgrades to your home.

Plans and permits: If you did any additions or upgrades, be sure to have the plans and/or permits handy.

Certificates of occupancy: These certificates show  that your home is compliant with municipal building codes and is safe to inhabit. You’ll need to get this from your municipality, have the permit pulled, have the inspection done, do the repairs (if applicable) and then have your home re-inspected.

Loan documents: This document typically includes the first mortgage, second mortgage and any home equity lines of credit.

Latest utility bills: These bills show buyers the amount your household has paid for electricity, water and/or gas each month.

Latest property tax bill: This bill gives buyers an idea of what they will pay in taxes should they purchase your home.

Title: The title shows that you own a legal or equitable interest in the home.

Homeowners association covenants and agreements: This will show buyers the rules established by the body that governs your neighborhood or condominium. It can include information about parking, pets, noise levels and more.

Floor plan or blueprints, if available: This gives buyers more insight into the layout and size of each room in your home. One way to stand out to buyers is to play up anything about your home that may be historically significant, such as a framed blueprint or a newspaper article about the home.

Once you have all your documents gathered, have at least two copies of anything that pertains to the house or your ownership. This way they’re available to potential buyers to inspect when they visit your home.

How Do I Sell A House By Owner?

Selling your home is a big thing to take on, but you can see significant savings by doing it yourself. There are five main steps to take:

  1. Assess your home’s value
  2. Get your home ready for sale
  3. Promote your home’s sale
  4. Negotiate the sale
  5. Close on the sale

Let’s get into the details of what each of these means.

Assess Your Home’s Value

Before listing your home, you want to accurately determine its value. A home that’s listed over its value can deter buyers. Later on in the process, it could cause problems with a buyer’s mortgage lender if the appraisal comes in too low.

On the other hand, you don’t want to list your house too low because you won’t get its full value. So how do you figure out its proper value?

First, you can easily look up an estimate online. Sites like Rocket HomesSM offer free home value estimates. This gives you a general idea, though it may not be completely accurate.

For a small fee, For Sale By Owner offers Pro Pricing. A licensed professional will perform an in-depth evaluation on your home. Within 5 – 7 business days of visiting your home, you’ll have a detailed report.

The other avenue is to hire a licensed appraiser. Most will charge $300 – $500 for the appraisal. You can use this valuation in negotiations with buyers. Unfortunately, a buyer’s mortgage lender won’t accept this appraisal and will order another.

Get Your Home Ready For Sale

Before you consider putting your home on the market, you need to make sure it’s in tip-top shape. While you may have gotten used to your home’s quirks, a potential buyer may see them as faults.

Make minor repairs, touch up paint and marks on the walls, clean the carpets and declutter. Think about how you would clean if a celebrity or royalty came to visit.

You want buyers to see the full potential of the space. Make sure it smells clean and is sparkling.

If you’ve already started packing, make sure all boxes are in a storage area and out of the main living spaces. You could go a step further and rent a storage unit to keep your stuff while transitioning.

Promote Your Home’s Sale

It may sound old school, but start with a great yard sign to promote your home’s sale. People hunting for houses in your neighborhood will see it and make note of it.

Get your house listed. Start by listing on popular home listing sites, like If you want to take it a step further, pay to have your home listed on a multiple listing service (MLS). An MLS is a catalog of homes accessible to real estate brokers and agents. With a listing on an MLS, you’ll get more traffic.

Organize and host an open house. Advertise it on sites like Facebook and Craigslist. Place signs on major roads nearby to lead people to your home.

Negotiate The Sale

Once you get an offer in, you’ll need to negotiate. A buyer may offer below your asking price or ask for you to pay closing costs.

This is the stage where you’ll need documentation. Within days of accepting a buyer’s offer, you must get a copy of their mortgage approval. Once a buyer submits a written offer that’s acceptable to you, a written contract must be drawn up.

This contract will include price, closing concessions, closing date and location plus a list of contingencies. These contingencies protect the buyer and allow them to back out of the contract if things go awry. For instance, if there’s a problem discovered during a home inspection, a buyer will have the option to back out.

Close On The Sale

Depending on your state’s laws, the closing will either take place at a title company or a real estate attorney’s office. The date of closing is when the buyer and seller come together and finish the sale.

Your house doesn’t sell until this moment. Make sure to keep communication channels open between yourself, the buyer and the closing agent. When asked for documentation, provide it as soon as possible to keep the process moving.

Why Do I Need A Disclosure Statement?

Before any potential buyer visits your home, you’ll want to make sure you complete a disclosure statement and have copies available when you show your home or hold an open house.

Required by most states, the disclosure outlines key defects or dangers about the property. This might include, but isn’t limited to, radon, structural problems, flooding, mold, lead paint, asbestos and other potentially problematic conditions.

Disclosure typically comes in the form of boilerplate documents (put together by the local or state REALTOR® association), where the seller is responsible for answering a series of yes/no questions detailing their home and their experience in it. You should be able to download a disclosure statement form for free from your state’s REALTOR® association.

It’s only fair that the buyer knows about such problems before making an offer. At the same time, a thorough disclosure statement protects you from post-sale claims by the buyer that they didn’t know about defects in the house.

What Should Be Included In A Real Estate Contract?

Nothing is more critical to your home sale than preparing and executing a proper legal agreement between you and the buyer. This contract between the buyer and seller outlines the terms of the agreement and should include:

  • Property and its characteristics: The type of property (condo, single family home, multiunit), address, lot size, parking, property identification number, etc.
  • Identity of the parties involved: Typically the buyer and seller
  • List of fixtures/personal property: What’s included in the purchase price
  • Purchase price: The agreed-upon price of the home
  • Earnest money amount and financing terms: The money paid to confirm the contract and details on the buyer’s financing
  • Target closing date: The date intended for the home sale to occur
  • Contingencies: Examples of this include attorney review, inspection provisions and/or a home sale/close contingency
  • Prorations: What the seller and buyer owe on items such as taxes, assessments and utilities
  • Title: What type of title clearance the seller is obligated to provide
  • Closing costs: Which party must pay for which closing costs
  • Notice or default legalese: What happens if a party breaches the contract
  • Miscellaneous provisions: Any other provisions the parties agree on

Before that first offer comes in, be prepared. If you can’t give the buyer the proper documents or be able to fill out a contract on the spot, your offer could fall through.

Are There Closing Costs On Homes For Sale By Owner?

There will always be some sort of fee for you as the seller, even if you’re not using a real estate agent. The good news is that almost everything in a FSBO transaction is negotiable, though.

Something else to keep in mind is that closing costs will vary, sometimes quite a bit, by state. Some common examples of closing costs you can expect are a deed transfer tax, excise tax and document preparation. Sometimes you may also need to pay for the owner’s title policy.

If you want to ensure your home sale goes smoothly, you’ll need to be absolutely sure you have all the required paperwork and documents to sell your home in order. If you need more guidance, check out our packages for home sellers. We’re here to help!

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The Do and Don’ts of Remodeling

When Stan and Mary Anderson moved into their new house, the first thing they decided to do was renovate the outdated bathroom. “The tub and tiles were avocado green,” Mary complained. “It was straight out of the 70s.” But soon, they’d completely transformed their bathroom, complete with bright track lighting and a Jacuzzi tub. “I love the bathroom now—it’s so luxurious and relaxing. It was definitely worth both the time and the money,” Mary said.

And as it turns out, this was one of the wisest home renovations the Andersons could have undertaken to increase their property value. When looking at houses, buyers consider the kitchen one of the most important selling points in the house, with bathrooms—especially master baths—coming in a close second.

When it comes time to selling a home, homeowners often consider remodeling to try to increase the market value. Remodeling may be smart in some circumstances, but it can also be a double-edged sword: While most home sellers would be unwise to do absolutely nothing to improve their homes before they sell, they’d be equally unwise to improve everything. However, by following a few simple guidelines and avoiding some potentially costly mistakes, you can make home renovation work for you.

Take Care of Your Investment

One of the smartest things you can do to increase the value of your home is to take care of it while it’s yours. Annual maintenance makes a huge difference on the amount of wear and tear that shows up on your home when it’s time to sell. Therefore, keep the gutters clean, watch out for water damage, take good care of the yard, and slather on another coat of paint every few years. And keep records of everything you do—it will be a strong selling point to show to potential buyers.

Start Small

We all know a little can go a long way. So before you decide to add on another room or install a fireplace, you might find that minor improvements make a major difference. For instance—as we’ve discussed, bathrooms are one of the most profitable renovations you can make. But instead of installing a Jacuzzi tub, why not start out by changing the toilet—an improvement that can cost as little as $200 and make a drastic difference. Similarly, try a new coat of paint, new fixtures, upgrading towel racks, or a new medicine cabinet before relaying the vinyl or replacing the tile. You might find you don’t need major changes after all.

Don’t Go To Far

The details of a home certainly do contribute to the property value, but just as important are neighborhood values. If the improvements bring your house up to neighborhood standards, they’re probably going to be worth it in the end. But adding features above and beyond the other homes on your street or in your complex will actually be detrimental. In a row of Toyotas, a Porsche sticks out, and if you create a white elephant, you’ll actually be making it more difficult to get your asking price.

Before undertaking any major renovation projects, check out the other homes in your neighborhood to make sure you’re sticking with the neighborhood standards.

Know What Works

It’s true that homes in nicer condition often sell for a higher price. After all, most buyers don’t have the time, money, or energy to invest in a major renovation project. However, making unnecessary improvements may impress buyers, but may not actually pay off.

The biggest mistake most people make when they set out to renovate is expecting to get a dollar-for-dollar return on their upgrades. However, even the most desired upgrades rarely yield a 100% return. In the case of the Andersons, remodeling the bathroom would probably yield an 80% return on their investment, similar to major kitchen remodeling (80%), bathroom addition (81%), and adding a second story (83%). The most profitable renovation tends to be minor kitchen remodeling, while the lowest includes replacing windows (68%) and converting a bedroom into a home office (68%).

It may seem strange, but adding a pool actually added no value to a home and was often considered detrimental. Not only are pools a tremendous liability, but few new homeowners want to take on the responsibility of maintaining a pool.

Look at your house objectively and decide which features actually need renovation, and which renovations will go the farthest. If your kitchen still has a Frigidaire from 1950 that could have a negative affect on the entire kitchen. But re-facing the kitchen cabinets in maple just because you like it better than cherry won’t make a difference to anyone but you.

Stay True to Your House

You might be moving out of your home because the old-fashioned fireplace just isn’t modern enough, but don’t assume potential buyers will feel the same way. Don’t add steel appliances to a country kitchen, or sliding glass doors in a rustic family room. Make sure that renovations match the style of your home—not your personal style.

Similarly, don’t change the function of the rooms in your house. If a potential buyer needs a home office, they can easily transform a bedroom by bringing in a desk and some filing cabinets. However, if you designate the room as an office yourself and install permanent bookcases, you’ve limited potential buyers by eliminating an actual bedroom. Customizing the features of your house might make it perfect for you—but can alienate potential buyers.

And finally, don’t waste time and money finishing an attic or a basement, as those features tend to be at the bottom of the priority list. When was the last time you looked at a house and thought, “If only the attic were nicer?”

Turn to the Pros

Another big mistake sellers often make is trying to undertake renovations themselves. If you have no experience laying tile or hanging wallpaper, hire a professional! In most circumstances, you’ll cause more trouble trying to do-it-yourself if you’re unqualified, and you’ll probably just end up having to hire someone to fix your mistakes. Doing it right the first time is always best for the bottom line.

Budget Your Money

When undertaking a renovation project, most people underestimate their budget by 20-30%. For instance, the average minor bathroom renovation can cost upward of $9,800. It’s smarter to plan for unexpected expenses and to have a little cushion than it is to be on the losing end of a very expensive bargain.

And don’t just underestimate money—time is also a crucial consideration. You can’t expect to completely redo your bathroom in one weekend. Potential buyers are usually turned off by half-finished projects.

Make Renovations Pay Off

Renovations can definitely pay off in the end—if you approach them wisely and with realistic expectations. With a little planning and objectivity, you can strike that perfect balance between your personal tastes and what will appeal to potential buyers—and then reap the rewards!

Don’t forget to download your free FSBO eBook: Download your free e-book and learn how to sell your home for sale by owner and save thousands! In this free comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to successfully sell your home on your own.

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5 Scary Home Staging Mistakes to Avoid

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7 Ways to Stage a Home’s Exterior

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Expert Home Staging Tips to Avoid Deal Killing Criticisms

If you think that home staging isn’t important, or if you’ve left it off your “to do” list entirely, you may want to rethink that position, and here’s why:

Staging your home to sell before you list gets you prepared to sell and gets you better photos for your listing, which will create more views for your listing online. In turn, you drum up more interest in your property, which can translate into multiple offers and a greater chance that you will get the price you want. Getting the price you want equals a faster closing and a faster closing means… Well, you fill in the blank of what it means to you.

Today, 90 percent of home buyers search for homes online before ever actually setting foot on a property. Just imagine if you listed your home for sale today and you uploaded and posted pictures of your home right now. What would your photos reflect? What might the feedback from prospective buyers sound like? What opinions would they have of your home’s condition, upkeep, cleanliness and space? Would your home move to the top of their “must see” list, or would they decide that you’re asking way too much for far too little?

Not staging your home to sell or at a minimum consulting with a professional home stager to get advice may cost you more in the end, but following these 5 expert home staging tips can help you avoid any deal-killing criticisms.

Staging Tip #1: Decluttering

They say a happy home is a messy home but no buyer wants to see your cluttered counter tops and kids’ toys everywhere. If you think you can get away with decluttering by simply shoving things in your closets, drawers and garage you could be vulnerable to a deal-killing criticism.

Here’s how to cut through the chaos and declutter your home:

Pare down your possessions by packing away items that are out of season or used infrequently. If you are listing during the summer put away your winter clothing and vice versa if you are listing during the winter. You should also pack any unnecessary kitchen items such as holiday dinnerware or flatware.

Use Off-Site Storage
If you have big, bulky furniture or personal items that are cluttering up your home, consider utilizing a self-storage space. Often you can find a provider that will offer you the first month free or at a discounted rate without a deposit.

Organize for Open Spaces
There are probably plenty of objects around the house that you want to part with. An effective way of decluttering and removing unwanted items is to organize them by where you plan to take them – whether that’s the document shredder, an electronics store for recycling or a charity for donation – can be highly effective.

Staging Tip #2: Depersonalizing

Make sure that you separate the concept of decorating from staging. Decorating is personalizing while staging is depersonalizing in order to help the buyer visualize your home as their home.

These tips for depersonalizing your home will help buyers fall in love with your home:

Depersonalization is all about neutralization. From a neutral color palate to storing away your personal collections such as posters and memorabilia, you want to make your home a blank canvas that any house hunter can paint him or herself into and discover where they will add their personality.

Room Overview
The most important rooms to focus on are your living room and bedrooms as they will be the most personalized areas in your home. The kitchen and bathrooms are more utilitarian and functional, but you should still make sure that you are removing personal items from countertops and cleaning out cabinetry.

Staging Tip #3: Odors and Aromas

Smell is the sense with the strongest connection to emotion, which means an unpleasant smell can send potential buyers running for the hills. Make sure that you cast out evil odors and incorporate pleasant aromas.

Odors to Eliminate
Home shoppers will be able to detect all of the unique smells in your home from the smell of the previous night’s dinner to your dog or cat. Some specific odors that you should be on the lookout to eliminate include:

  • Smoke
  • Strong Cooking Scents
  • Pet Odors
  • Body Odors

Aromas to Add
After cleaning and eliminating any unpleasant scents, you can rely on the following 5 smells that have almost universal appeal:

  1. Lime
  2. Grapefruit
  3. Bergamot
  4. Orange
  5. Peppermint

Baked goods can also be an inviting smell for homebuyers as long as you avoid overly complex scents. Stick to simple chocolate chip cookies, bread or cupcakes to entice house hunters.

Staging Tip #4: Cleaning

A deep cleaning that covers every area and item of your home is a crucial staging technique. You need to make sure that you are as systematic and thorough in cleaning your home as a potential buyer will be at inspecting it. Follow these tips to keep your home clean for staging:

  • Dust from ceiling to floor including ceiling fans and light fixtures, furniture, archways, overhangs, walls and baseboards.
  • Deep clean your carpets.
  • Clean your wood and tile flooring.
  • Make sure that you give your kitchen and bathrooms special attention and don’t skip over a single detail.

Most importantly you need to make sure that you continue to clean throughout the time your home is for sale. Don’t risk all of your hard work coming undone because you let your cleaning routine slip.

Staging Tip #5: Use a Professional

To avoid deal-killing criticisms when selling your home, get professional home staging advice or hire a professional home stager before you list.

Decluttering, despersonalizing, eliminating odors and cleaning are essential steps in properly staging your home. If your busy scheduling is keeping you from completing any of these essential elements then it may be time to call in a professional home stager.

Whether you utilize a home staging expert for their services or just for their advice, you can avoid making any crucial mistakes while focusing on communication with the buyers a beautifully staged home will attract.

Darlene Parris is Interior Redesigner, Organizer and Home Stager with Upstaged!, based in Los Angeles.

This article has been republished for additional educational purposes. This article is not affiliated with any links or products that appear on the same pages. Read more about our editorial policy.

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8 Easy Home Selling Tips

Why sell your home yourself? Selling a home by yourself, without an expensive real estate broker, is easier than most people think, but it will take some work on your part. You will be doing a lot of things that a real estate agent might normally do. Follow the step-by-step selling guide, and you’ll not only save lots of money, but we’ll help you make the house selling process as easy as possible.

1. Make Your Home Look Great
Presentation is everything. Home buyers are attracted to clean, spacious and attractive houses. Your goal is to dazzle buyers. Brighten-up the house and remove all clutter from counter tops, tables and rooms. Scrub-down your house from top to bottom. Make it sparkle. Simple aesthetic improvements such as trimming trees, planting flowers, fixing squeaking steps, broken tiles, shampooing rugs and even re-painting a faded bedroom will greatly enhance the appeal of your house. Also, make sure your house smells good. That’s right, clean out the cat box and light mildly scented candles.

Invite a neighbor over to walk through your house like a buyer would. Get their opinion on how it “shows.” The stuffed donkey in the family room may have to go to your in-laws for a while.


2. Price Your Home Right
Careful not to over price your home. Over-pricing when you sell a home reduces buyer interest, makes competing homes look like better values, and can lead to mortgage rejections once the appraisal is in. Over-pricing when selling a home is the single biggest reason why many “for sale by owner” (FSBO) home sellers don’t sell their homes successfully. The home selling market dictates the price (not what you think it should be worth).

One of the best ways to correctly price your house when selling is to find out how much other homes, similar to your own, recently sold for in your neighborhood. Talk to home sellers, buyers and check out the real estate listings in your local newspaper.

Typically, if you set the price of your home at 5 to 10 percent above the market price, you are likely to end up with an offer close to your home’s true value. Also, you may try calculating the cost per square foot of your home compared to the house selling prices in your area (divide list price by square footage of livable space). If your house has more features or other desirable qualities, you may want to set a slightly higher house selling price.

The easiest way to accurately price your home is to contact your local home appraiser.

Finally, set your house selling price just under a whole number, such as $169,900 rather than $170,000.


3. Hire a Real Estate Lawyer
Even though it’s an additional expense, it may be wise to hire a lawyer who will protect your interests throughout the entire transaction. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you evaluate complicated offers (those with a variety of conditions), act as an escrow agent to hold the down payment, evaluate complex mortgages and/or leases with options to buy, review contracts and handle your home’s closing process. They can also tell you what things, by law, you must disclose to buyers prior to a sale and can also help you avoid inadvertently discriminating against any potential buyers.

In some areas, title companies will handle all aspects of the transaction and have in-house legal departments that can assist you with legal issues that may arise. To locate a title company in your area, visit our Find a Pro page.

Unless you’re significantly experienced in the home selling process, having a real estate lawyer at your side provides peace-of-mind. You know you’ve got someone looking out for your interests, not just the buyers. To locate a lawyer in your area, visit our Find a Pro section.


4. Market Your Home for Sale
Exposure, exposure, exposure. That’s how sellers sell their home fast. provides extensive listing exposure because hundreds of thousands visit the website every day. In fact, is one of the top 25 most visited real estate websites in the U.S. getting millions of visitors looking to buy or sell a home every month.


Write Your Listing Ad
While For Sale By allows you a longer description of your house than you could afford that in a newspaper ad, your advertising copy should be thorough yet short, simple and to-the-point. Long, flowery prose will not make your house sound more appealing. It will simply make it harder for the home buyer to read. Make sure to provide the critical facts buyers are looking for such as the house’s number of bathrooms, a re-modeled kitchen, etc.

Most home buyers quickly scan ads, so it is important that your house stands out. For example, you may want to add a theme-line such as “Priced below market” or “Great schools.” Stay away from industry jargon and use language that makes home buyers comfortable. Survey our web site and see how others have written their ads. You will quickly see which are “buyer friendly.” Copy their approach for your ad.


Home Photos: Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words
If you are taking a photo of your home, be sure that the home’s yard/driveway is uncluttered. Remove bikes, garbage cans and parked cars. The same applies for interior shots. People are looking to buy your house, not your possessions. Think of furniture as props and the room a stage. Move things around if you have to. Also, take lots of house photos. Film is cheap…your home deserves quality. The more you shoot, the better the odds are that you’ll get a few really good shots.


Yard Signs
Lawn signs are one of the most important marketing tools for home sellers. They attract attention to your home. Professionally-produced yard signs (like the ones we can send to you) telegraph to home buyers a “quality” image of your house. Directional signs also help drive buyers to your property, especially if you do not live on a busy street.


Open Houses
Open houses are sometimes a good way to attract buyers to your home. Typically, real estate agents conduct open houses for two reasons; 1. Clients expect them 2. They are a good way to attract buyers, not just for the open house but for all houses for sale in the Real Estate Agent’s area (yes, your competition). The fact is that very few houses sell due to a open house itself.


Home Brochures/Information Sheets
It is a good idea to create an information sheet (with a photo) about your home to give potential buyers. Consider printing copies of your ad from For Sale By to give to people who visit your home.


The MLS or Multiple Listing Service can also help market your home, particularly to real estate agents who may know of buyers seeking a property like yours. The MLS is a directory used by real estate agents to announce to other agents that they have a home for sale. In many selling markets, For Sale By can put your house on the MLS (for an additional fee). However, if a real estate agent finds you a buyer after seeing your home on the MLS, you must usually pay that agent a 2.5% to 3% commission (the law states that all commissions are negotiable, however).

You are your home’s best salesman. As every salesman knows, to be effective you have to really know your product. And who knows your home better than you? Certainly not a real estate agent, who, in all likelihood, has spent only a few moments in your house before showing it to prospective buyers.

Sell your neighborhood as well as your house. Show enthusiasm, but don’t get caught-up talking too much about how “your daughter spent the best years of her life in this very room.”


5. Negotiate and Accept an Offer
When a home buyer makes an offer (this is often presented to you directly from the buyer or through their lawyer), you should consult with your attorney. Buyers and sellers have an Attorney Review Period, which is usually three days, to cancel or amend the offer. The offer becomes a contract at the end of the Attorney Review Period, and is binding. Many of your home’s offers can be complicated and contain special clauses that favor the buyer.


Purchase Price Isn’t Everything
Carefully consider the purchase contract’s other terms and conditions. Too many contingencies can leave loopholes and cause a deal to collapse. Especially avoid contingencies that favor the house’s buyer, such as linking the escrow closing date to the buyer’s sale of their current home. If the buyer insists on such terms, include a so-called kick-out clause in the contract that will allow you to consider other offers if the buyer isn’t able to sell within a certain period of time.


Assess Your Buyer’s Financial Qualifications
Is the buyer pre-approved? How much of a loan is the buyer seeking? Unless you are in an active market, lenders tend to shy away from underwriting a deal in which the purchase price is higher than the nearest comparable sale and the buyer is putting less than 10% down. If this is the case, your buyer may not be able to obtain financing.


Know the Home Selling Market
How you judge an offer also can depend on market conditions. If the selling market is slow, you may feel vulnerable, especially if circumstances are pressing you to sell. Make sure any offer you accept does not keep you in escrow longer than 30 days. In a hot market where multiple offers are likely, be wary of countering more than one offer at a time (you could end up in legal trouble if two buyers both accept your counter offer). Also be wary of offers that promise more money but contain poor contract terms (long escrow, multiple contingencies, etc.).

If you feel the home’s offer is insufficient, make a counter offer. Rarely is a first offer the buyer’s absolute highest price they are willing to pay. Negotiating is part of the home selling process.

Again, your lawyer should review the details of all offers.


6. Home Inspections
All standard real estate contracts are going to give the prospective home buyer the right to inspect your property – so be prepared. Under a general inspection you are obligated to make major repairs to appliances, plumbing, septic, electrical and heating systems – or the buyer may cancel the offer. The inspection will also include your property’s roof, as well as a termite inspection (in some states, house sellers must provide proof that the home is termite free).

If you are concerned about how your home will fare when inspected, you may want to visit your local inspector. They can conduct an inspection for you before a potential buyer has one done. This way, you can address the problems before a buyer stumbles upon them.

Once the inspections are complete, the buyer makes an application to a mortgage lender.


7. Buyer Appraisals and Other Details
The mortgage lender will order an appraisal of your home to make sure they are not paying more than the house is worth. They may also order a surveyor to make sure that the property boundaries are properly laid out. They will also order a title search to determine if there are any liens against your property. These tasks are all the responsibility of the buyer and/or their attorney.

At this point too, the mortgage company will issue a commitment. Again, the buyer (and their attorney) must complete all conditions listed on the mortgage commitment.

Prior to closing, you should notify your lender that you will be paying off your mortgage. After a closing date has been agreed to, you should contact your utility providers and advise them of your final billing date.


8. Closing Time
The day of the closing, the home’s buyer will do a “walk through” of the property to make sure all agreed repairs are completed and that the home is in the same condition as when the buyer made their offer. If problems arise at this point, the closing can still take place with funds held in escrow to remedy the problem.

Closings usually occur 30 to 45 days after you have signed the sales contract. Depending on what state you reside in, you may close with an attorney, or with a title company. At the closing, all monies will be collected, any existing loans or liens will be paid, the deed will be transferred, and insurance will be issued insuring a free and clear title. The home seller will receive the proceeds of their home in one to two business days after the closing.


Don’t Forget to Do Your Home Work
This step-by-step home selling guide is a general overview of the process when selling a home. Each state has slightly different laws and customs as they relate to the transaction process.

Selling a home yourself can be time consuming, but the financial rewards can be tremendous. With help from, the process of home selling a home by owner as easy as possible.

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Top 6 Ways to Stage a Home’s Interior on a Budget

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Home Improvement Projects with the Biggest Payoff [Infographic]

Before you call the contractor (or pick up the hammer), find out which home repairs, renovations and remodels reap the most rewards.

Home Improvement Projects with the Biggest Payoff

To view, download and print Home Improvement Projects with the Biggest Payoff [Infographic] as a PDF.

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Indoor Home Improvement Projects to Consider To-Do List

As an initial step in preparing your home for visitors, take a critical look at the inside and make repairs and upgrades you feel are necessary before showing your home.

For instance:

Consider painting where needed. Earth tones and neutral colors sell best.

Decide whether flooring needs to be repaired or upgraded.

Identify and repair major defects: cracks in foundation walls, roof leaks, etc.

Fill cracks; caulk where needed.

Unify the look of your home. (For instance, replace metals as necessary so they match.)

Be sure your plumbing and electrical systems are working properly.

Fix any locks that don’t work or doors that don’t open and close with ease.

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Outdoor Home Improvement Projects To-Do List

Before you begin fixing, decluttering and staging your home in preparation for visitors, take a critical look at the outside then make a list of repairs and upgrades you feel are necessary before showing your home.

For instance:

Remove landscaping and or trees that block the view of what buyers are paying for.

“Compliment” the entry — paint the front door to make it pop.

Make sure your shutters are in good shape.

Plant attractive bushes and flowers (in the ground or in pots) especially near the front door.

Assess the condition of your gutters, soffits and fascia and fix where needed.