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For Sale by Owner Articles • Owners.com - Negotiating for Home Sellers

What To Do After You Find A Buyer

By Robert Irwin
 
You put your home up for sale "by owner" and do all the right things: you fix up the property, list on an internet site such as owners.com, put out a sign and flyers, advertise in the newspapers... and lo and behold, one day someone walks into your house, makes you an offer you can't refuse, and you sell!
Now what? Where do you go from here?
Many sellers feel lost when it comes to the paper work and closing process. If you're one of these, take heart. Here's a synopsis of 7 of the most important steps to consider:
  1. Get a good, signed sales agreement
    In real estate, according to the statute of frauds, it must be in writing. Thus, you'll need your sales agreement to be written down. And since it's a legally binding document, you'll want an attorney to create it, or at least check it out for you. Many attorneys can handle this for a nominal fee.
  2. Open escrow
    The escrow is a company that acts as an independent stake-holder. It handles all monies and documents. When you're ready to give clear title and the buyers have their loan ready to fund, it will close the deal. There are escrow and title insurance companies in every community.
  3. Give your buyer disclosures
    In some states, such as California, you must give a buyer specified disclosures within a strict timeframe. In others buyers will demand them from you. You'll want to disclose all defects in the property, lest the buyers come back later on and say you hid something from them. You can get statutory disclosures from your state's real estate department.
  4. Deal with problems uncovered by inspections
    The buyers will undoubtedly want a professional inspection and lenders will demand a termite inspection. If problems are revealed, they will have to be fixed. While you'll normally pay to correct termite problems, you should negotiate with the buyers over problems revealed in the professional inspection. Proceed to quickly correct those problems you're responsible for. Any delays could threaten the deal.
  5. Track your buyer's progress in obtaining financing
    Most buyers need to secure financing. No loan, no deal. So track your buyer's progress. Ask them if you can call their mortgage broker to see how things are coming. If they miss deadlines, check it out. If the buyer's fall through on financing, you'll want to quickly get your home back on the market.
  6. Clear any title problems.
    Usually there aren't any. But if there are, they could include anything from a loan you paid off years ago but wasn't removed from your title, to an encroachment on your land from a neighbor that neither were aware of. An escrow office can outline the problem, but you might need the services of an attorney to remedy it.
  7. Close the deal.
    When the buyers finally get their loan ready to fund and the title to your property is clear, the escrow officer will call you in to sign the deed over. The buyers will put their funds into escrow. And a few days later title will transfer. You'll need to be out of your old home. And the new owners will move in.
    Of course, there are a few more steps. But, these are the basics. Not so hard, really, is it?

Robert Irwin is the most prolific real estate writer in America having produced over 100 published books in the field. His TIPS & TRAPS McGraw-Hill series has sold well over a million copies and his FOR SALE BY OWNER KIT and FIND IT, BUY IT, FIX IT and other books have been strong sellers for Dearborn.
In addition Irwin writes a regular real estate column for The Wall Street Journal online and is introducing a new weekly column for Owners.com.
Irwin has sold his own property "by owner" and during over 30 years in the business has been a broker and consultant to lenders, agents, buyers and sellers.
He can be reached through his website RobertIrwin.com.

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