Welcome to our Real Estate 101 series! This is another in a series of articles we’ll be doing to help educate clients and the public in general about relevant topics in the world of real estate. This is important because real estate is a “hyper” local market. What works in one location may not work in another. Lawrence, KS is very different from rural Kansas markets and even other nearby city markets! So, these topics we cover will be very specific to Lawrence and the surrounding areas but may not relate to other places so well. With that being said, let’s dive into our next topic: A Contract Checklist for Sellers!
When listing a home for sale, a lot of activity typically comes on the front end. Lots of showings and excitement proceeding accepting a contract can give way to a sudden odd feeling of quiet. Inspections will typically occur within 10 days, so at first the focus is on getting through that process. We’ll discuss inspections in other article. So, what the heck to do in the meantime?
This is a rough outline/checklist of focus points for a seller preparing to close:
- Arrange for utilities to shut off/transfer ownership to the buyer. The most common main utilities are electricity, gas, water & trash, and sometimes cable/internet. These days this process is easier than in the past. Companies like Evergy have easy online service shut off and start-up requests. Or a quick call to their customer service line can accomplish it. They will usually ask for the date of closing, so instead of actually coming out and turning service off, they’ll get a final reading on the meter and the ownership of service will transfer seamlessly.
- Arrange for any subscriptions or annual services to stop. Such items can include lawn services like mowing, landscaping, and irrigation system maintenance. Others might include satellite TV, alarm systems, annual sewer line cleaning, or HVAC system maintenance.
- Smart Home considerations: These days there are all sorts of smart home devices. Trying to inventory an exhaustive list here would be. . . exhausting! Often times these items will leave with a seller. Examples might include a wireless internet router, an Amazon Alexa or similar virtual home assistant, or other wireless devices. Some, however, are more “attached” to the home. Such items might include Ring doorbells, installed camera systems, or a Google Nest. Often there can be some disagreement over what stays and what goes, so it’s always good to declare these items up front in a seller disclosure and indicate what remains with the home and what doesn’t. Sometimes new users can encounter difficulty in using systems that remain with the house, especially if they are password protected or part of a subscription service. Long story short, it’s just another element of arranging to move out that home sellers should be aware of these days!
- Completing any agreed-to or previously planned repairs. If a buyer requested any repairs for deficiencies found at inspection, now’s the time to get them done! It’s best to get a jump on repairs as soon as possible. For most types of home repairs, it’ not difficult to have the work completed prior to closing. However these days, some jobs might take a little longer. To help make this just a little less stressful, we have solutions for any sort of situation that may arise. Contractors can either be paid at time of service, or the invoice can be added to the closing statement to come out of proceeds.
- Move-out Cleaning: This is one that can sometimes get overlooked in the busy process of moving out. But it is important and many buyers expect to walk into a relatively clean property when they purchase it. Ideally a good cleaning would occur just before closing day. If time is running out, there are lots of good cleaning services that are priced competitively and can help in a crunch!
- Paperwork: There ALWAYS paperwork! Luckily, the stack of papers a seller signs is much smaller than the stack a buyer signs. We usually arrange our seller clients to sign with the title company who’s handling closing. This is typically done in advance of closing, usually a few days prior, and only takes about 15-20 minutes. This is when the seller signs the deed to be held by the title company until closing day when they will execute the recording of the deed thereby transferring ownership to the buyer.
- Move Out! We usually counsel sellers to be out of the property by the day before final closing. Most often the buyer will do a final walkthrough and it’s typically best if this is done after the seller is fully moved out. Last thing to take care of on the way out is leave any spare keys, garage-door openers, or instructions in a convenient location and let your agent know where the buyer can find them.
And with that, one adventure ends and another begins! Hopefully this checklist is helpful in visualizing the process of moving out of a home. Moving sucks. There’s no way around that and no way we can sugar coat it. But, with the help of a good agent guiding you from start to finish, the stress should be minimized. Problems almost always arise, but with every problem there’s a solution! And good solutions are what separates good agents from not-so-good agents. We say it often but it bears repeating: chose an REALTOR you can trust!