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Top 10 Real Estate Attorney Tips for Selling a Home

In this article we discuss our top 10 real estate attorney tips for selling a home. Selling a home can be a highly stressful and confusing process. Sellers are often in the midst of a major transition, attempting to time the sale of their home with the purchase of a new one. An accepted offer leads to a formal Purchase and Sale Agreement, full of complex laws setting forth a seller’s rights and obligations. So many sellers make the mistake of attempting to navigate the closing process without the advice of an experienced real estate professional. The end result can be disastrous.

Follow these top 10 real estate attorney tips for selling a home to get the highest price possible, to protect your interests and to successfully navigate the closing process.

Hire a Real Estate Agent

Many owners attempt to sell their own homes without the assistance of a real estate agent. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward, real estate commissions can be a significant closing expense. Moreover, technological innovations have made it simple to list your property on the internet without the assistance of an agent. There are, however, many advantages to hiring a real estate agent.

First, consider the amount of time it will take you to educate yourself on applicable real estate laws and procedures. An experienced and knowledgeable agent is already familiar with the process and can guide you accordingly. Second, an agent is familiar with the local real estate market. He or she can advise you of the fair market value of your home. Such knowledge is essential to both getting your home sold quickly and for the most money possible. Finally, an agent will handle all communications with potential purchasers and their agents. Again, this can save you a significant amount of time and money.

Hire an Attorney

A knowledgeable and experienced real estate attorney is an indispensable part of the sale process. Again, real estate laws are complex. Once you have an accepted offer, its is necessary to draft the Purchase and Sale Agreement. While many organizations have standard printed agreements that can be completed, it is necessary to have an attorney explain your rights and duties under the agreement. Moreover, there are often many transaction specific provisions that need to be added to the agreement.

Consider a few examples of issues that could arise in connection with the closing:

  • The property has an illegal addition;
  • The property has termites or asbestos;
  • Closing does not occur by the date specified in the agreement. Do you have to return the deposit?

Having a real estate attorney on your side can help you to navigate each of these difficult issues and many more. Hiring an attorney is also related to our third tip for selling a home – performing a title search.

Performing a Title Search

Prior to closing a title search is typically conducted to ensure the seller has title to the property. This is done in order for the title insurance company to issue title insurance, which any mortgage lender is going to require from the purchaser. However, it is a best practice for the seller to order a title search prior to listing the property. This way, any potential issues with title to the property can be identified and dealt with. An attorney can review the title abstract to advise you of any issues and corrective action.

Attorney Review Negotiation

A real estate transaction is unique in some respects. It is one of the few transactions where the parties merely agree to a price before signing the contract. The remaining terms are subject to negotiation and will be ironed out during a period known as attorney review. Items such as real estate taxes proration and transaction specific contingencies must be negotiated. Your attorney will review the signed agreement and be given an opportunity to suggest revisions to protect your interests.

Professional Home Inspection Negotiation

In connection with the closing, the buyer will hire a professional to perform a home inspection of your property. The inspector will compile a report detailing the results of the inspection. The report will include recommendations for repairs and safety upgrades. These recommendations will be further categorized by priority, those that are essentially required, those that are not, and those that fall somewhere in the middle.

Following the home inspection, the buyer will typically want to implement as many of the inspector’s recommendations as possible. As a seller, it is important to know your rights under applicable law and the Sales Agreement. A buyer could attempt to renegotiate the price or even back out of the deal. An experienced real estate attorney can negotiate each of these items on your behalf, as well as protect your interests.

Time the Sale of Your Home

Not all selling seasons are created equal. To sell your home quickly consider listing it in the first two weeks of May. Homes tend to sell about 6 days quicker than usual during this period. If this period of time does not work for you, shoot for the Spring or early Summer. The warm weather leads to increased buying activity and higher prices.

Clean Your Home Thoroughly

Nothing can cost you a potential sale faster than a dirty house. Clean the interior thoroughly. Mop the floors, scrub the kitchens and bathrooms, touch-up scuffed walls, clean the windows and remove clutter. Take equal care to clean the exterior. Power wash siding, walkways, decks and patios. Trim hedges and cut the grass. Remove weeds. Your efforts will pay off by creating a positive first impression in the market. 

Finish Your Basement

A finished basement adds more living space to a home. For those buyers with young children, it is a dedicated play area. For those that like to entertain, it is the ideal location for a wet bar. Basements can be finished relatively inexpensively. Yet, they can add tremendous value and can certainly help to set your home apart from the competition.

Remove Pets from the Home Prior to Scheduled Showings

It may be an unpleasant thought, but many potential buyers do not like pets. They do not like the odors or the thoughts of pet related damages to the home. If you are able remove your pets from the home prior to all scheduled showings. Open houses are great for mass showings that potentially reduce the number of times that you will need to remove your pets.

Closing Documents Preparation and Review

Once you reach the closing table there are still many issues that can arise. Having an experienced closing attorney is essential to completing the real estate transaction. Closing attorneys can assist you to clear the title of any outstanding liens or judgments, review all closing documents to ensure there are no errors and review all fees incurred in connection with the sale to ensure that they are correct and warranted. An experienced closing attorney will save you time and money, as well as protect you from future lawsuits.

Selling a home can be both an exciting and stressful time. The top 10 real estate attorney tips for selling a home discussed in this article can help you to successfully navigate the process. If you have any questions about the home selling or closing process, please contact our experienced real estate attorneys today.

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Tomei Law, P.C.

223 N IL. Rt. 21, Ste. 14
Gurnee, IL 60031

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