In the current real estate environment, it often seems as though even the most straightforward transactions are getting tripped up somewhere along the way. However, there are steps that you can take early in the your house sale process to minimize these hiccups or avoid them entirely. Reviewing the following items prior to the contracting process will make for a considerably smoother contracting process:
Review the property description on your deed to make sure there are no unusual easements. If there are, discuss them with your broker and attorney to make sure that they are disclosed properly and will not negatively affect your property value. If you do not have a copy of your deed, you can obtain a copy from the Town Clerks office.
Check the Tax Assessor’s field card. Does the field card correctly list the livable square footage in the house and other structures and does it match your listing? Note that you may not want to correct the field card if doing so might cause the property’s taxes to increase, but you should be aware of the issue and be prepared to address or respond to any discrepancies.
Look for open permits at the Building Department, and be sure the permits on file match the improvements that are listed. Any open permits can generally be closed without too much time and effort. If there was unpermitted work on the property, you should discuss this with your attorney to decide how to best describe this work and properly disclose it to potential buyers.
Confirm that any paperwork on a removed oil tank was properly filed with the Fire Marshal and that there is no indication of remaining contaminated soil. Full removal paperwork was not routinely filed with the Fire Marshal until relatively recently; therefore, if the paperwork seems incomplete, check to see if you have more complete paperwork in your personal files.
If the property is in a flood zone, ensure that you have an up to date flood elevation certificate to share with potential buyers. If you have flood insurance, confirm that it is possible to transfer the flood insurance portion of your homeowner’s insurance to a new buyer.
Finally, review the inclusion/exclusion list on your listing in detail. Do you really want to take flat screen television brackets off of the wall and repair the holes that are left behind? Is it worth it to dismantle and rebuild the children’s swingset at your new home?
At Rucci Law Group we consider ourselves part of the home transaction team, with the goal of a successful closing that is as stress-free as possible. If at any time you have questions regarding your listing or whether a certain issue should be disclosed to a buyer, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help.
Amy Zabetakis is one of founding members of Rucci Law Group, LLC. She practices primarily in the areas of real estate, zoning and land use litigation. Amy can be reached at 203-202-9686 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.