Minimizing Your Risk When Selling Your Home
When the time comes to sell your home, you'll have a collection of chores that should be addressed. Cleaning inside and out, de-cluttering the entire home, repairs and staging will be among your projects, and you'll have a host of relocation items such as finding your next home, learning about schools and utilities and where you'll be shopping and the list goes on.
Your Realtor should be hard at work as well getting your home on the market and ready to sell. While Realtors are NOT lawyers, they can help to make sure your exposure to lawsuits are minimized. That being said, here's out top 6 mantras to remember when selling your home.
Disclosure, or lack thereof is by far the number one cause of lawsuits over real estate transactions. In Texas, homeowners are required by law to disclose any known defects of a property to any interested buyers. If you had a leaking roof or a sinking foundation but had it repaired, no problem just make sure you disclose it in your Sellers Disclosure Statement. If you think your fence was built a little wide of the property line mention it as a possibility on the Sellers Disclosure. You're better off to err on the side of caution when in doubt. This way your buyers can decide for themselves whether or not the issue is of importance to them.
Do it right, or don't do it at all
There's a huge difference between things looking right and actually being right. Do not take shortcuts where they pertain to home repairs, it will only bite you in the end. Over the years, we've seen all kinds of cover ups disguised as repairs. For example, a home has a leaky pipe and causes water damage to the ceiling. The owner fixes the pipe, then simply paints over the water stained ceiling. The problem of course is that the owner didn't repair or replace the soaked drywall and eventually mold came creeping through the fresh paint. The big problem is that because the owner hid the problem, the mold in the attic spread and caused much more damage. The expense of fixing the problem correctly the first time looks like chump change compared to the cost of a full on mold remediation project.
Just the Facts
Don't exaggerate the facts about your home. If the bedrooms are only 10x10, make sure your listing shows 10x10. Most MLS systems and websites have a disclaimer that says something to the effect of "information deemed reliable but not guaranteed" which is a start, but doesn't always protect you, especially if your potential buyers have a reason to believe the facts as you've disclosed them are incorrect.
Talk is Expensive
One thing most experienced Realtors will do their best to do is to keep sellers and potential buyers separated until closing. This isn't done to keep either party in the dark, but rather to protect clients from one another. When owners and buyers start talking directly to one another, things are said or implied, and before you know it you've got a big mess that has to be straightened out before the deal falls apart altogether. If you're a seller and happen to meet potential buyers, your best course of action would be to remove yourself from the situation and insist the buyers contact your agent for assistance. Part of your agent's job is to ensure that any details of a sale are in writing and that your rights are protected.
Remember the Rules
Remember, when you're selling your home, you cannot determine who get's to buy it for any reason other than what's in the contract. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. If you start judging buyers by any of these factors, you open yourself up to nasty discrimination lawsuits, which not only involve the damaged party, but also the Federal Government. So now you have yet another reason to make yourself scarce when the home is being shown.
Honor Your Commitments
When potential buyers write offers figuring they can always cancel if they change their minds, there is no integrity in the deal. And when sellers playing pricing games at the insistence of their realtor, there's no integrity in that either. Everyone involved needs to keep in mind that the end goal is to successfully complete the transaction where both the buyer and seller feel they've gotten a fair deal. If all parties act with integrity, and keep personal issues on the back burner, most transactions would close without a hitch.