The Process of Selling Your Home

Accepting an Offer

Once a buyer presents the seller or the seller’s representative with an offer along with a $1,000 deposit, the seller may decide to accept the offer, reject it, or make a counter-offer. The seller’s response will determine your next step. (Please note: In some markets, it is not unusual to go directly to signing a purchase & sale agreement. Working with a local realtor will help to guide you through the process).

Home inspection

After the seller accepts the offer, it is routine to have a home inspection. During these examinations, a licensed inspector determines if there are material physical defects and whether expensive repairs and replacements are likely to be required in the next few years. Such inspections for a single family home often require two or three hours, and the buyer should be present during this process. This provides an opportunity for the buyer to examine the property’s mechanics and structure, ask questions and learn far more about the property than is possible with an informal walk-through.

Purchase & Sale Agreement

Provided the home inspection goes well, the next step is to sign a purchase & sale agreement. This document details the specifics of the transaction, such as: repairs to be completed; fixtures to remain with the property; the property’s status regarding lead paint; and, if a septic system exists, the confirmation of a Title 5 certificate (in Massachusetts). The closing date is finalized and a five percent deposit is made (which is held in escrow until the closing). If you have any questions about your legal rights or responsibilities as a seller, you should consider consulting an attorney.

The Closing

This is the day when the buyer becomes the new homeowner, but there are several steps that need to occur beforehand. Prior to closing, the buyer will take a walk-through of the property they’re buying. This is to make sure repairs (if any) were made and that the house is in the same or better condition than when the offer was made. Most lenders will require that the buyer have a homeowner’s insurance binder (proof of insurance) before they’ll close the loan. Additionally, many buyers purchase title insurance that is bought with a one-time fee at closing. Title insurance protects the new owner in the event that title to the property is found to be invalid. After signing the loan documents (and there are many), the sellers will receive the remainder of the payment from the closing attorney and the buyer is handed the keys.

These steps are intended to provide a general guideline on how the home selling process works, however every transaction can have its own special situations or circumstances and might not be covered in this document. This information is intended for educational use only. Opinions or suggestions noted here do not necessarily represent the official policies or positions of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® does not accept responsibility for any misinterpretation or misapplication by the reader of the information contained here. The publishing of this material does not constitute the practice of law nor does it attempt to provide legal advice concerning any specific factual situation. FOR ADVICE ON SPECIFIC LEGAL PROBLEMS, CONSULT LEGAL COUNSEL.

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