Thinking of moving? Before listing your house, make sure you’re putting your best foot forward by assembling a team of trusted advisors. A real estate agent and an attorney can look out for your best interests, guide you and help you navigate the process as seamlessly as possible.
The first step in getting top dollar for your home is pricing it properly. A house that is properly priced will see more activity and sell more quickly than one that’s overpriced. The initial asking price is incredibly important and should be based on facts and knowledge, not the opinion of your friend, neighbor or coworker. Your real estate agent can help you target a realistic asking price based on important factors like market value and comparable homes in the area.
Next, you should make sure that there are no “problems” lurking behind the scenes. Do a quick check to make sure that your title, taxes, assessments, building permits and flood elevation are all in order. This information is publicly available to potential buyers so it’s best that you do what you can to identify and mitigate any potential problems prior to listing your property.
Although you can do some of the preliminary work on your own, the most efficient way to check for potential problems is to ask your attorney to run a title and municipal search on your property. This search generally costs around $500 and is the same type of due diligence your buyer will do prior to purchasing your property.
If you prefer to do it on your own, the following are the steps you’ll need to take:
First, check the Tax Assessor’s field card. Make sure the livable square footage as well as the other amenities in your home are properly listed. If you do notice a discrepancy, be aware that correcting the field card may cause your property taxes to increase. It’s entirely up to you, but either way it’s important to have the information so that you are prepared to address and/or respond to any discrepancies.
Second, make sure the permits on file at the Building Department match the improvements at your house. Open permits can generally be closed without too much time and effort, however, if you’re aware of work done on your property without a permit, you should let your attorney know prior to finalizing the listing so that he or she can advise you on how to best disclose this information to any potential buyers.
Third, check with the Fire Marshal to assure that any paperwork related to a removed oil tank has been properly filed. Also be sure to confirm that there is no indication of contaminated soil remaining on the property. Full removal paperwork has only recently begun to be filed with local Fire Marshals so if the paperwork is incomplete, check your personal files to see if you have more complete paperwork. Do not dispose of any paperwork regarding the removal of an oil tank; hold onto it and transfer it to the new owner upon the sale of the home.
Fourth, check with the Town Clerk on any documents regarding your property. Make sure that there is a recorded release for any mortgage that has been paid off or refinanced. If there are any unreleased mortgages, check your files for evidence of the release, payoff or refinance and speak to your attorney about the best way to address the problem.
Selling your home can be a stressful process, but if you take the proper steps to put a team together in advance, you can be sure to avoid any unnecessary hiccups along the way. This leaves you plenty of time to figure out how you managed to accumulate so much “stuff” while living in your soon to be former home.
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.