Checklist for Selling Your Home

The Sale of a residence involves very important personal and financial decisions. If you are planning to sell real estate, my office is ready to help you with each step of the process. Here is a Seller's Checklist you can print out to keep track of the details:

  • SELECT A REAL ESTATE BROKER, OR DECIDE WHETHER TO SELL YOUR HOME YOURSELF ("FOR SALE BY OWNER" or "FSBO"). If you decide to hire a real estate broker or sales agent, these professionals can provide you with valuable services. Call the agents you are considering, and document how quickly they returned your call to get an idea of how fast they will be returning calls to your prospective home buyers. Do an initial interview over the phone so when you meet you will both be prepared. Insist on a step-by-step marketing plan of how your property is going to be sold and marketed. Look for innovative ways to attract home buyers. Does the broker provide 24-hour internet advertising, lead accountability and tracking services?
  • START USING WORD OF MOUTH TO MARKET YOUR HOUSE. Talk to your friends and family members. They may know someone who is looking to buy in your community.
  • IF YOU DECIDE TO "DO IT YOURSELF" make certain that you budget the time and energy to handle all the work involved:
    > setting a realistic sale price
    > negotiating offers
    > handling the hundreds of details that come up during the process. I can provide the legal guidance and contracts needed for a successful sale.
    CHECK UP ON THE APPEARANCE OF YOUR HOUSE. Painting, cleaning and rearranging the inside and outside of your house will make it more attractive. Clean out and remove clutter from all rooms and closets. Consider putting unused items into storage. Creating open space in your home will give it a spacious look. Painting with neutral colors will give potential buyers a chance to imagine how they would decorate and live in the house. A small investment up front could pay higher dividends at the time of sale.
  • CHECK THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR HOUSE. Potential buyers will have an opportunity to closely examine your house, starting with the structure.
    > Are there defects in the foundation or the framing of the house?
    > What is the condition of the roof and chimney?
    > Are walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors in need of repair?
    Unless you have discounted the price to reflect the cost of repairing the property, you should consider taking care of problems before showing the house to people you want to attract as buyers.
  • CHECK THE UTILITIES AND MECHANICAL SYSTEMS. Look at the age and condition of the mechanical systems, like plumbing and heating.
    Is the heating system Oil? Electric? Gas?
    Were there ever underground fuel tanks on the premises? Have the tanks been removed?
    How is domestic hot water heated? Electric? Gas?
    Will the appliances such as the water heater, refrigerator and stove be included in the sale?
    If there are problems, consult a specialist and weigh the costs of replacement with the benefits of getting more qualified buyers and a higher price.
    SEPTIC SYSTEM. If there is a septic system, it must comply with the strict regulations. Whenever a home is transferred, the seller must comply with these regulations. Tax credits and loans are available for Title V Septic System compliance. Masshousing has a program for Title V compliance.Title V Property Transfer Q & A. Transfers Exempt from Title V Inspections Requirement
  • ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS. If the house is older, does it have:
    > urea formaldehyde insulation. A law requiring disclosure of UFFI has been repealed. Make sure your Purchase & Sale Agreement addresses the potential problem of UFFI.
    > radon
    > asbestos
    > lead paint. There are notification and transfer requirements for these materials. As the Seller , you must provide the buyer with a Massachusetts Department of Public Health Lead Paint Notification Form.
  • OFFER TO PURCHASE. If you have a broker, they will collect the offers and present them to you.
    If you are selling your house yourself, I can provide you with the legal guidance needed to consider offers.
    In addition to the purchase price, an OTP discloses to you how much the potential buyer needs to borrow and what type of mortgage they intend to obtain. Don't waste valuable time negotiating with unqualified prospects. Insist that your agent pre-qualifies candidates, to screen out all unwanted prospects, and if you are selling your home yourself, make sure your buyers are pre-qualified.
  • PURCHASE AND SALE AGREEMENT. If you accept an offer to purchase, you will negotiate a legal contract that commits you to sell the property. I can prepare and review a draft of the Purchase and Sale Agreement for you and your buyer. Important dates in the P&S contract are the deadlines for:
    > buyer to obtain mortgage commitment
    > buyer's mechanical inspection of the property
    > the date for the closing.
  • SMOKE DETECTOR - CARBON MONOXIDE CERTIFICATE. The home must be inspected by the local fire department before the closing. The certificate issued by the fire department will be good for 60 days. If you have a broker, they can schedule this for you. If not, my office can help schedule this. Massachusetts Board of Fire Prevention Regulations. Smoke Detector Statutes: Chapter 148 §26E, 26F, 26F 1/2
  • OBTAIN A FINAL WATER/SEWER READING. My office will submit the information and obtain the figures we need to close out your service and finalize your water/sewer bill.
  • REVIEW DRAFT SETTLEMENT STATEMENT WITH ATTORNEY. I will gather all the information involving sale of your home, and prepare your figures as your closing day approaches. My office will gather the information and documents regarding your city or town property taxes, water and sewer charges, and other costs. All of these figures will be collected in advance of the closing. Several days before your closing, we can provide you with a draft settlement statement for you to review. With proper preparation, the day of your house closing should be anti-climactic.
  • FINAL WALK THROUGH. Just before the closing, the Buyer will walk through the house with you, and/or your broker, to make sure everything is in order.
  • REAL ESTATE CLOSING. By now, all the details of your transaction should be completed. The closing can often be conducted without the need to take time away from work or your other responsibilities.