Understanding the Real Estate Process from A – Z – A Seller’s Guide to Real Estate – Part 9
This is the ninth post of a series in an FAQ format that I hope will help would be sellers better understand the real estate process that they are about to go through. There will be a follow-on series for real estate buyers.
FAQ – What’s my role while we wait for the closing date?
Allowing the various inspectors in and the appraisers in are pretty normal roles. Getting out of the way and allowing them to do their jobs is a part of that role. Your Realtor may suggest that you be gone for the inspections, so that you don’t bug the inspector or offer extra, “helpful” information during the process. The Sellers may also get involved in supplying the Homeowner Association Master Deed and By-laws for review by the Buyers.
As we discussed in the last post, there will be some contingencies in any offer. The Sellers’ role in those is mainly just to accommodate whatever needs to be done to meet those contingencies. In some cases, there will be requests that are made by the Buyers, based upon the home inspection or the FHA/VA appraisal visit. That could involve making or contracting for repairs to issues that the inspector or FHA/VA appraiser found that need resolution. Those items will need to be resolved and the appraiser will return to make sure that they were fixed.
For other items from the home inspection list, Sellers may offer some form of monetary settlement in the form of an additional Sellers’ Concession for the items that they just don’t feel that they can get done (or want to spend the time and effort to get done) in time to make it to closing. Sellers will be expected to supply paid receipts for any tradesmen that they hire to do the work, as well as permits and permitted work inspection results from the local building officials.
This is also the time to get rid of stuff that you don’t want to move. You may offer to sell some items to the Buyers, if they need the things that you don’t want anymore. First-time buyers and move-up buyers often don’t have all of the furniture that they need to furnish a home and often will by your excess stuff. Any sale of personal property items between you and the Buyer are outside of closing and must be handled between you and the Buyer. That usually involves getting a separate check from the Buyers at closing or before closing.
You can also downsize by having a garage sale, giving stuff to relatives or calling the local Salvation Army or Good Will to come pick stuff up. Moving is the best time to simplify and downsize your life. Hopefully you already had some plans for where you were going to go when the place sold and how you were going to get there. Otherwise, get busy; you only have 30-45 days to get those arrangements made and implemented. Hiring a moving company to help can be very difficult at certain times of the year and you’ll be surprised how many of your friends and relatives suddenly have plans for whatever time it is that you need help moving.
You will want to contact the utility companies and tell them the date that you will be “transitioning out” of your house (the closing date or whenever you plan to leave after your post-closing occupancy). You should ask for final meter readings on that date, but DO NOT tell them to shut the utilities off on that date. It is extra work for the utility and a big hassle for the buyers if you have the utility companies shut off the gas or electric service. If the closing takes place in the dead of winter it can also cause extensive damage if the pipes freeze because you shut off the gas and electric services.
Don’t take this wrong, but don’t do anything stupid while you are waiting for the closing date. Sellers have been known to strip things out of a house that the Buyers have every right to expect will be there when they take possession. Sellers who strip out window treatments that weren’t specifically excluded in the MLS listing or who take or switch out light fixtures may find themselves with irate Buyers who have every right to queer the deal and walk away if they discover the changes during the final walk-through. That is right in the contract; so don’t do anything stupid that could cost you the sale.
Make the new owners’ lives a bit easier by preparing a packet of information that you probably have
If you are to turn the keys over at closing you will need to have all of your stuff out and leave the place broom clean for them. You should bring all keys and all garage door openers to the closing. If you have left over trash it should be moved to the curb for the next trash pickup, unless your neighborhood or local government rules don’t allow that. The best rule of thumb for what you need to do to have the place ready for the new owners is the golden rule and do for them what you would hope someone would do for you.
So, you have things to do while waiting for the closing date; but just like I advised at the front end of this process, patience and perseverance are still required. You will probably also be focused upon your own move to wherever you are going next, so you’ll be busy.