Selling your home? Get ready for the legal paperwork

Amanda Phillips
Amanda Phillips
Published on February 15, 2021

The home selling process is unlike any other. Sell a car and pretty much all you do is hand over the keys and the pink slip.

Selling a home requires mountains of legal paperwork, however. From listing to closing, get ready to sign a lot of papers.

Sadly, it can become so burdensome that many home sellers (and buyers too), become overwhelmed and stop reading what they’re signing. Big mistake.

If you can’t stomach reading another document, run them by your attorney. This is important stuff and you need to understand what your signing.

Today we introduce you to two forms that you’ll receive and help you understand their importance.

Listing Agreement or Contract

When you choose a real estate agent to represent you in the sale of your home you are actually hiring his or her broker. Only the broker is legally able to enter into a contract with home sellers and buyers.

Real estate agents (unless he or she is also the broker) act as the broker’s representative (which is why they are called “agents”).

This is important information that most real estate consumers don’t understand. The listing agreement is a contract between you and the real estate broker who is being represented by a real estate agent.

There are certain items that must be included in this contract according to federal and state law and the National Association of REALTORS® (if the broker is a member).

The basics include:

  • The offering price
  • The date the contract begins and ends
  • The amount of the broker’s fee (the commission you’ll be expected to pay at closing)
  • Your agreement for your agent’s broker to cooperate with other brokers and how that other broker (the one who brings the buyer) will be compensated.
  • Whether or not your broker can reveal previous offers.

Other items you may see include:

  • Your permission to allow the broker to put up a sign in the yard and a lockbox on the door.
  • Your permission to allow the broker to list the home in the Multiple Listing Service and online.
  • A list of items that are not included in the home sale (such as appliances).
  • Your promise that you own the home and there is no pending notice of default on the property. 

Seller’s Disclosure

Real estate brokers have legal and ethical duties to both parties in the transaction – duties that their agents must carry out.

Sellers, too, have duties and one of them is a legal duty: disclosure.

Failure to disclose aspects of the home that may impact the buyer’s safety and comfort or the home’s value can land a home seller in court, facing huge fines.

A home defect discovered after the sale is the primary court dispute in the real estate industry.

Take your time when filling out this form. If you don’t understand anything, ask. Although we aren’t licensed to practice law, we’re happy to help in any way we can.

Answer the questions honestly. If you truly don’t know if a certain defect exists, say so. If you do know, however, you have a legal duty to disclose your knowledge.

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