When a buyer makes an offer to purchase your home, your REALTOR® will contact
you promptly. The REALTOR® will scrutinize the document, review it with you
carefully, and answer your questions. The written offer is important because
it lays out all the terms of the proposed transaction and will become a
binding contract if you sign it. The offer states the price the buyer is
willing to pay and the financing terms, such as assuming your loan or
arranging a new loan.
The offer may be contingent on the buyer's selling a home first, or obtaining
an inspection. Ask the REALTOR® how these terms affect you and whether the
offer is reasonable and in line with the market. The offer describes the
property, states who pays for which closing costs, and specifies dates of
closing and possession. Along with making the offer, the buyer may place some
earnest money with the escrow agent as a sign of good faith. The earnest money
will be kept in an escrow account and applied to the buyer's down payment or
closing costs when the sale closes.
In reviewing the offer, you have three options: accept, reject, or make a
counteroffer. A counteroffer is a rejection of a buyer's offer with a
simultaneous offer from you to the buyer. In making your decision, carefully
review the figures compiled earlier to determine your net proceeds. Because
the terms and estimated closing costs may be quite different from earlier
calculations, you will want to discuss the possibilities with your REALTOR®.
You are also encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney and a tax adviser.
In most residential sales, a seller will deliver a Seller's Disclosure Notice
to a buyer on or before the effective date of a contract to purchase the
property. The notice is required by law to be delivered. It provides important
information about the seller's knowledge of the condition of the property.
Complete the notice to your best knowledge and belief. Your REALTOR® will
most likely ask that you complete the notice at the time the listing is first
taken. Copies of the completed notice will be made available to the prospects
looking at your property.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
If your property was built before 1978, federal law requires that before a
buyer is obligated under a contract to buy the property, the seller shall: 1)
provide the buyer with a lead hazard information pamphlet (as prescribed by
EPA); 2) disclose the presence of any known lead-based paint or hazard; 3)
provide the buyer with a lead hazard evaluation report or records available to
the seller; and 4) permit the buyer to conduct a risk assessment or inspection
for the presence of lead-based paint or hazards. A contract for the sale of
property built before 1978 must contain a statutorily prescribed Lead Warning
Statement to the buyer. Your REALTOR® will provide you with the forms
necessary to comply with their law and will suggest procedures to follow in
order to comply.
Accepting the offer
Once you and the buyer agree on terms and sign the contract, the buyer will
generally have to find a lender and apply for a loan. Your REALTOR® may
monitor the loan process, which could last several weeks. During this time,
your REALTOR® will also be busy coordinating other arrangements to prepare
for the final sale.
As part of the process, the title company may order a survey of your property
and research the title to your home, making sure the chain of title is clear.
Clearing the title may require paying off liens - that is, any monetary claims
- against your property. Examples are mechanic's liens, unpaid state and
federal tax liens, court judgments, and probate considerations (if a co-owner
has died). The product of the title search can be in the form of title
insurance, abstract of title, or certificate of title, depending on what is
commonly used in your area.
Inspection and repairs
If the buyer requires inspections of your home, your REALTOR® may coordinate
the scheduling of inspectors. A buyer may hire an inspector to review many
items in the property such as the structural components, mechanical items,
electrical systems and plumbing systems. The inspector will report to the
buyer the items that the inspector finds to be in need of repair. Most likely
the buyer will provide a copy of the inspection report to you and may ask you
to complete certain repairs. Do not be surprised when the inspection notes
some items in need of repair. An inspector is trained to see items and defects
that are not obvious to you and your REALTOR®. No matter how new or well
maintained a home is, an inspector may very well find some items in need of