Q: I have a possible buyer for my home and am selling it by myself. There is no agent involved on either side of the transaction. What are my responsibilities as a home seller? Are there any disclosures I have to make? There is no mortgage on the house.
A: How fortunate you are to have a buyer for your home and no real estate commission to pay. That’s a pretty good deal (providing you haven’t way underpriced the house).
We have found that there are times that home sellers that sell on their own make mistakes in pricing their home that can result in the home lingering on the market. Likewise, we have found that buyers looking at homes that are for sale by owner will expect to get a break on the price to a greater degree than if the home was listed with a real estate agent.
As a home seller, you must live up to any requirements imposed by the state, county or local municipality. For example, you will generally have a lead-based paint disclosure to give to your buyer along with a pamphlet about lead based paint. You may also have to deliver to your buyer a radon gas disclosure. You are probably required to fill out and sign a seller disclosure form, indicating your knowledge of any material defects in the property that are hidden from view that could affect the value of the home, as required by the laws of the state in which you live.
You may also need to purchase a title insurance for the property, or at least contribute to the cost of a title policy and, maybe even a survey of the land for your property. This is dictated by local custom and law, and can certainly be negotiated into the purchase contract.
The easiest, and smartest, thing you should do is hire a local real estate attorney for a fixed fee and have him or her prepare the documents, assist you or the buyer in the purchase of a title policy, and conduct the closing. Even if you live in a state where real estate attorneys aren’t commonly used to close house deals, you should hire one because you don’t have a real estate broker and you need to be sure that your interests are protected.
If you don’t know a real estate attorney, call your local Bar Association and ask for the head of the real estate committee. Then, ask that person for a referral to a local real estate attorney who can ably handle all details of the closing. Make sure you get a letter of engagement that spells out what the attorney will do for you or at least understand what this attorney will and won’t do for you during the home buying and selling process, along with the price you are being charged.
In addition to handling all of these details, you can ask the attorney to make sure that the other aspects that need to be taken care of to close the deal are handled by the attorney to close the deal.
Congratulations on the sale!