Home Sellers: Your Legal Checklist

Home Sellers: Your Legal Checklist


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There comes a time when homeowners decides to part with their home. Whether as a result of divorce, moving to a smaller house or transfer to a different city, there is a legal process in place that one must adhere to. Here is a legal checklist for home sellers selling a residential house.

Clear Debts, Liens and Encumbrances

A title should only be transferred free of encumbrances, otherwise this will show when the contingency search is conducted; the title will therefore not be a good one. If the sale goes through, the money owed will be deducted from the sales proceeds. Therefore it is advisable to clear all loans and money due before proceeding to make your property available.

Some of the debts that will show on your search report include;

  • Outstanding debts
  • Child support
  • Civil court judgments
  • Local, federal and state tax liens
  • Unpaid homeowners’ association dues

Joint Tenancy

You might encounter difficulty trying to sell a house that is owned jointly. In cases of inheritance, all the beneficiaries have to come together and give their consent to sell. They have to go through a lengthy procedure in the court; otherwise the sale cannot be made. If you are a couple getting divorced and agree to sell the property mutually, then you’ll need to sign the transfer deed giving ownership to the new owners and agree to share the proceeds.

Draft a Home Sale Agreement:

In the US, laws have not been very clear on domestic partners ownership rights, should they purchase property together. To this end, there’s a need to establish what is expected of each of the partners or their obligations, especially if only one of the partner’s name is found on the title. Before the sale is made, it’s advisable that the partners sit and look at the financial outlook of the house, such as obligations on mortgage, cash needed for renovations and such. From there, there should be the criteria for sharing the proceeds and sharing the burden based on, for example, the percentage contribution that each made towards buying the house. After this, the partners can have their real estate agent draft a sale agreement that would simply state their intention to sell the property and what the share of profitability and obligation would be.

Gather All the Important Documents

The following documents are important for you when you’re making your sale:

  • Title Deed
  • Surveys
  • Evidence of liens, judgments and encumbrances
  • Documents of major improvements or damages
  • Agreements made between tenants
  • Agreements, if any, made between you, the seller and your real estate agent
  • Copies of restrictive covenants, if any, imposed on the community. It’s important to disclose these as they might influence the decision of the buyer.
  • A copy comparing home sales in the area, if available.

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