For home sellers, the time between signing the Purchase & Sale Agreement and actually getting a check can feel like a black hole. What’s happening and what should you be doing during this time to prepare for a successful transaction?
There are a lot of moving parts in any home sale, especially if the buyer is getting a mortgage. A lot of the work falls on the buyer but there is a lot that you can do as the seller to keep things moving smoothly and to avoid unpleasant, last-minute surprises.
- Appraisal – the lender will be sending an appraiser to the home to evaluate its value. Make sure your agent has prepared a packet to help the appraiser support the agreed price in his or her report.
- Fire inspection – most states require that smoke and CO2 detectors be inspected prior to the closing. There is often a long lead time on this so schedule the smoke inspection as soon as you have an agreed offer.
- 6D certificate – if you live in a condo, you’ll need this document from the trustees or management company showing that your condo fees are up-to-date. If they’re not, be sure you bring them current a few weeks before the closing so this certificate can be issued.
- Check public record – you could have a lien on your property that you’re not aware of and this can cause delays. Often things like home equity loans, although you may not have a balance, will still show up on a title search. You could also have liens from credit card companies, mechanic liens from people who have worked in the house, etc. Often these are found by the closing attorney just a day or two before closing. By discovering them early, you have a better chance of resolving the issue and closing on time.
- Start packing – it may seem like a long time before the closing date but it will go by fast. Put a box in every room and pick a time each day to fill the box with things you’re not using. Have another box for things you don’t want or need in your new home but that are good enough to donate and a big trash bag for everything else. Tackling this unpleasant task little by little will help you be more organized and will reduce that last-minute stress.
- Schedule movers – many movers have a long lead time and may want to visit the home before giving you a price. Even though there’s always a chance that the closing date could change at the last minute, it’s almost impossible to get movers – or even a moving truck for a DIY move – last minute.
- Schedule junk people – if you’ve lived in your home for a while, there may be things that you just don’t want to deal with: old tools, patio furniture that’s lost its appeal, cans of old paint and who knows what else. Professional junk removal people can save you a lot of last-minute drama.
- Schedule cleaners – of course you can clean the house yourself once all of your personal items have been removed but there’s going to be so much happening that day, you may want to have a professional come in and have one less thing to worry about.
- Keep things clean and maintained – just because it’s not going to be your house much longer, that’s not a reason to let things go. Keeping the lawn mowed, hedges trimmed, and everything in the home in good working order will save you from last minute issues.
- Address anything from home inspection – if you promised to repair, service or do anything that was found during the home inspection, get that out of the way early. With luck you can get the buyers to sign off that the work was complete a week or more before the closing and save yourself closing day surprises if they don’t like the way something was handled.
- Call utility companies to arrange final bills.
- Check the rarely-used areas – attics, that cabinet over the fridge that you need a step stool to reach, closets in the eaves and other such spots are notorious for being forgotten during clean out.
- Prepare for the final walk-through – normally, either the day before or morning of the closing the buyers and their agent will tour the home to make sure that everything looks pretty much the way it did the last time they saw it. The problem is that without the furniture, every little flaw is visible and often the house looks smaller that it did the last time they saw it. It’s not unusual for buyers to feel a little disappointed when the see the house empty so be prepared that you might hear some little complaint about the house or its condition. Just put yourself in their shoes and, if it’s a reasonable request, maybe you can do it. If not, let the attorneys hash it out.
- Maintain positive attitude – keep a smile on and envision yourself in your new surroundings – everything will work out fine.
I hope this helps you to prepare for the big day. If you have any other questions, I’m here to help.