Information for First Time Sellers

Offer versus ContractA buyer makes an offer by submitting a written, signed offer to purchase.  
The selling agent notifies and submits the offer to the listing agent, who then arranges an appointment with you.  Although the selling agent generally is not present when the offer is presented, that agent can request an audience with you and listing agent together if there are unusual conditions or multiple offers involved.

You as seller have 3 options: 

  • Accept the offer as written.
  • Reject the offer if it is totally unacceptable.
  • Counteroffer, changing any unacceptable conditions.

When the counteroffer goes back to the buyer, the buyer has the options of withdrawing, accepting, or countering the counteroffer.

When both the buyer and you finally agree to all terms, have indicated agreement by signatures and initials, and after notifiying all parties, the offer becomes a sales contact

Inspections and Buyer Financing – Several other professionals enter into the home-selling process after the offer is accepted, including a home inspector hired by the buyer, termite and heating/air inspectors, and the lender’s appraiser.  The sales contract stipulates the procedure for negotiating possible repairs.  The listing agent can assist in scheduling agreed repairs, if any, and should make sure that the contract terms are satisfied.

If the buyer is financing the purchase, the time until closing is typically 30 to 45 days.  Discuss with your listing agent whether you want the home to remain available for showing until the buyer’s loan has final approval.  Cash sales usually are closed much quicker.

The buyer selects the closing attorney, who completes the closing documents.  The closing attorney checks that you have clear title to the home, determines that there no legal claims against it, and issues an opinion that the title is clear.  Most sellers allow the buyer’s closing attorney to prepare their deed conveying title and disburse funds on their behalf at closing.

Seller’s Details - You will need to give authority to the closing attorney to obtain payoff information on any mortgages and lines of credit.  Your outstanding balances on these will be subtracted from the amount you receive from the buyer at closing.

You should also gather warranties and instruction books for the home’s appliances and major systems to give to the buyer.  You can bring these to the closing, or leave them in an obvious place in the home.  About a week to 10 days prior to closing, you will need to notify utility and other service providers of your final billing date and forwarding address.  Be sure to bring all keys and garage door openers to closing.

Walkthrough Inspection – A walkthrough inspection prior to closing allows the buyer to determine that all conditions of the contract have been satisfied and that the home is substantially in the same condition as it was when the contract was accepted.  It is up to the buyer, accompanied by their selling agent, to perform the walkthrough inspection.  Utilities must still be on so that appliances and major systems can be tested.

Seller’s Typical Costs – At closing, the following items are subtracted from the sales price:

  • Mortgages, line of credit balances, and interest to the payoff date
  • Pro-rated real estate taxes and homeowners association dues, if any
  • Real estate commissions
  • State and local deed transfer taxes
  • Inspection fees and repair costs negotiated in the contract

If you have been escrowing for real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance with your lender, you may be “double paid” at closing but will receive a refund of money accumulated in your escrow account after closing.

The seller, the buyer, and the real estate agents all receive copies of the settlement statement at closing.

Congratulations!  Your home is sold and settled!

Tips on selecting your Realtor
Tips on staging your home
Tips on pricing your home
How to Help a Realtor show your home
Tips for first-time sellers
Tips about agency representation
Tips about selling your home yourself
Tips for an easier move
Tips for moving with children