The Home Category The Home: family money matters

What paperwork do I need to sell my home?

Painting and fixing up are only part of selling a home. You must also advertise the house accurately and provide information to the buyer to disclose any problems or defects, especially items such as lead paint and asbestos. Prepare to sell your house by assembling the paperwork you need before advertising or listing with a real estate agent.


If you have documents from when you purchased the house, you have a good starting packet. Review this information and look for a house plan, landscape plan, title insurance policy and deed information with a legal description of the lot or property. Look for homeowners association information or subdivision restrictions. The previous advertisement for the house may also be helpful, since it attracted you to the property.


Check with your mortgage company for the payoff on the mortgage on a date when you anticipate a sale could be completed, and request the information in writing. Contact the tax appraisal district and ask for a tax statement saying that taxes are current and giving the amount of last year's taxes. Locate the warranty deed if your house is paid, and make sure it is filed with the county clerk's office. Obtain a copy for your use. Make copies of recent utility bills and locate the homeowners insurance policy. Assemble a file of paper copies of this information.


Make a list of the items you plan to take with you. Include draperies, tanks, appliances, rugs and removable shelving, or remove these items before you show the house. Provide this list to potential buyers if you leave the items to show the house. Make a list of problems with the house for full disclosure. Most states require written disclosure on a seller's disclosure statement.


Determine how much money you need to receive from the house. Add a minimum of 10 per cent to that figure. The 10 per cent should cover real estate agent fees and closing costs that you pay.

Decide how much money in repair allowance you are willing to spend. This covers items discovered by an inspection service or the purchasers before the closing. Add this figure to your minimum sale price, since this is money you may not receive from the sale. Keep these figures available for reference as you discuss a selling price with potential buyers.


Have a contract of sale available. These forms, along with disclosure forms, are available at an office supply store. If you have a buyer, complete the contract by filling in the blanks, either for sale "as is" or with a warranty, and accept a good faith deposit from the buyer. You agree to sell the house for the price on the contract, with the method of financing stated. If you have a real estate agent, he will take care of this, or if the buyer has an agent, she can complete the paperwork.


You and the buyer can decide on a tentative closing date, but you must rely on others to complete the sale. The buyer may need financing by a conventional loan or a Federal Housing Administration or Veterans Affairs loan. He will also want title insurance, a survey and an appraisal. A settlement statement should be available to all parties about 24 hours before closing so you can review the figures and have questions answered before the closing. The mortgage closer at the finance company, a real estate agent or an attorney can coordinate the closing and have all documents prepared in advance. All these items take time to prepare, but a buyer will not want to close the sale without essential documents.

The last piece of paper you need is the check. If you have a mortgage or even two mortgages, all liens must be paid before you get any funds. The settlement statement should contain a total amount so you are not surprised at the closing.