Post details: How to Sell Your Home - Part 3


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How to Sell Your Home - Part 3

The Offer
Carefully review the offer to purchase submitted by the buyer. It tells you the price the buyer is willing to pay and under what conditions. This offer is the most important document of the sale. Once you and the buyer sign it, it becomes the contract of sale. Once an offer has been extended, your options are to:

- Accept the terms with no changes and sign the offer.
- Make a counteroffer to the buyer by making some changes. Many counteroffers may take place before the final agreement is signed.
- Reject the offer entirely.
- Sign a binder, if applicable in your state. The binder is a more detailed contract that sets forth the major terms and is signed by both parties.
- Once you've signed an offer, you may accept a backup offer if the buyer clearly understands the house is under contract.

The Price
- Decide on a price. Be sure to estimate your proceeds -- the sale price minus fees, taxes, and insurance.
- Don't be concerned if the offer is your asking price. It doesn't mean you underpriced your home, but rather that you priced it right.
- If the price is less than you wanted, look at the contract as a whole. -- Perhaps the buyer is assuming some of the closing expenses you expected to pay.
Be ready to split the difference if you and the buyer come within about $1,000 of each other.

Earnest Money
An earnest money deposit will be held by a third party until an agreement is reached between you and the buyer. At that time, the money is usually credited to the buyer and applied to the down payment. Until you accept his or her offer, the buyer may get the earnest money back. On the other hand, you may keep the earnest money if the buyer fails to follow through with the contract once it's accepted.

Title and Deed
As part of the contract process, you must prove to the buyer that you have a clear title on the house -- that you own the property, and there are no legal claims against it. Through a title search, proof is provided in the following ways:

- The insurance company may search the title through the owner's policy of title insurance. Either the buyer's insurance company or your own may conduct this search, depending on the buyer's preference of company.
- The abstract of title is a condensed history of a title to a property and a certification by the abstractor that the history is complete and accurate.
- The certificate of title is reviewed by your attorney who searches the title and issues an opinion that the title is clear.
- In some parts of the country, the Torrens system is used as a means of registering property. At closing, the duplicate Torrens certificate of title is turned over to the buyer.

Property Deed
Be prepared to convey the property with a deed -- a legal document that transfers the title (or ownership rights) of the property to the new owner. Most buyers will require a general warranty deed, in which you guarantee that no one will bring a claim against the title.

Review the contract for the special conditions under which the buyer is offering to buy your home. A common condition is one in which the purchase of your home is contingent on the buyer selling his or her old home. The conditions may also be more specific, such as asking you to provide a survey of the property.

Read the fine print in your contract to understand the provisions (or ground rules) of who pays for what in the context of the sale. For instance, the contract should explain who is responsible if there's damage to the house after the contract is signed. You or the buyer may add special provisions to the standard ones.

Sale Specifics
Double-check the list of everything you intend to sell that is included in the contract and make sure it is accurate. This list may include items such as fixtures, window treatments, or appliances.

Better Homes and Gardens



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