Selling a Home FAQ
Q: Why should I list my home with a real estate agent instead of selling it myself?
A: Many homeowners successfully complete the sale of their home without using a real estate agent or lawyer. Those who complete the sale on their own are responsible for all aspects of selling a home including:
- Following up on potential leads
- Accurate and timely completion of all paperwork
- Following the laws and disclosures required when selling real estate
Q: What is a listing agreement?
A: If you do decide to hire a real estate agent to assist you in selling your home, he or she will define the terms of
your agreement in writing. This is called a listing agreement. The agreement will cover such items as:
- Length of time the agreement covers
- Commission to be paid to the agent
- Advertising or other promotional materials the agent will provide
- Sale price of the home
Q: Do I have to accept an offer made on my home?
A: No. But if the offer exactly mirrors the conditions of the listing agreement under which you have offered your
home for sale, you may be obligated to the real estate agent for the commission. Both buyer and seller must
sign the agreement for it to become binding.
Q: What information must I reveal about the house on the disclosure statement?
A: Each state sets out what information must be disclosed by the owners of a specific piece of property. The
disclosure statement covers material or major defects that the owner has knowledge of, including:
- Structural defects and modifications
- Possible easements
- Neighborhood problems
- Other material facts that may affect the potential purchaser’s decision
The federal lead paint disclosures apply to the sales of residential property, including mobile homes, constructed before 1978 and require sellers to disclose known lead hazards by providing an informational booklet and a disclosure form attached to the purchase contract. Depending on location, other disclosure may be required.
Q: Can I stay in the house longer than the date stated on the purchase agreement?
A: Not without reaching an agreement, in writing, with the buyer to postpone or change the closing date or allow
you to remain in the home past the closing date. The buyers are under no obligation to accommodate your
request and can force the closing to proceed as scheduled, with you vacating the property as noted in the
purchase agreement. Should they agree to your request, you should anticipate paying extra for both the
accommodation as well as the extra time in the home.
Q: I’ve decided I want to take some items in the house that were originally to be left with the house. Can I change my mind?
A: Not without reaching an agreement, in writing, with the buyer. If you’re taking additional items from the home,
reducing the value of the home, expect a reduction in the purchase price of the home by an equal, or possibly
greater amount, than the value of the item. The buyer isn’t obligated to accommodate your request.
Q: The purchaser asked for an extension to secure financing. Do I have to agree?
A: No. The terms of the purchase agreement should reference any contingencies with regard to financing. If there
is not a reference to obtaining financing, you may force the sale and take the buyer’s earnest money if he can’t
come up with financing in time for the closing.
Q: I think I can get a higher price for my home than the offer I accepted. Can I back out of the deal?
A: No, not without potential consequences. Exactly what you can do and how much it will cost you will depend on
how the contract is worded and the laws of your state. You might not be able to get out of it at all. If you break
the contract, in many states the buyer can sue to force you to sell him the property at the price specified in the
contract, unless the contract provides for specified damages in case of a breach.
In other states, the buyer may be limited only to monetary damages. But those can be high in a case like this. In addition, if you used a realtor, he or she can probably sue you for the lost commission, too. I suggest you start by hiring an attorney who can tell you what you are likely to face if you break the contract. Hiring an attorney is only the first expense of many you are probably going to have if you choose this path.