One of the most dreaded aspect of buying or selling anything of note is the paperwork. It’s probably the biggest deterrent for home owners simply selling their property themselves, and for good reason. While state and local laws can change the process greatly, there are few documents that you’re always going to want to utilize.
First of all, you’re going to need a sales contract. A legally binding agreement; this is how you make sure you’re going to get paid for the property, and how the new owners can prove they actually bought something. The document should contain the price of the property, contingencies that allow the buyer or seller to back out of the sale without penalty, as well as what penalties will be suffered if either party backs out for any other reason. Any special terms of your agreement (such as the property being sold “as is”) must be noted here as well. State laws can make contract language tricky, so it is advisable to have a local lawyer look over anything before you or the buyer sign it; a poorly written contract is completely useless, and can cause serious problems.
Property Disclosure Form
A property disclosure is required in some, but not all, states. It’s highly recommended to use one regardless, as the lack of one might open you up to trouble later. The disclosure serves as a legal notice of any and all defects you may know the property to have. Undisclosed defects can lead to a suit filed against you if it can be proven that you were aware of the problem, and sold the property under false pretenses. Make sure you check for local regulations, as some states require specific forms or warnings for problems like mold.
An occupancy agreement spells out when you’ll be moving out and when the new owners will be moving in. If you allow the buyers to move in before the deal is officially finalized, you’ll need a pre-occupancy agreement. This agreement states who is responsible for what issues before the deal is closed. You still own the house until the final deal is signed, and you could find yourself on the hook for any damage done before the future owners officially purchases the house from you. A post-occupancy agreement is one made when you are still living in the house when the house is officially sold, and protects against similar misunderstandings.
Lead Poisoning Form (if Applicable)
The federal government requires certain forms filled out if your house has lead paint in it. Further, warning needs to be signed and dated by all parties involved in the sale and you must also provide the home buyer with an EPA approved pamphlet about lead paint.
As has been mentioned several times, you’re going to want to take a look at any state or county requirements that cover the transfer of property. Consulting a lawyer for this purpose isn’t bad idea, as they’re going to be more familiar with the material. Thorough and intense research will be required to make sure you don’t make a potentially small, but critical, mistake.