The 5 Key Documents You Need to Sell a House

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The 5 Key Documents You Need to Sell a House.

You’ve decided to sell your home. Now comes the paperwork. Selling a house involves tons of paperwork. Each document needed to sell a house represents a discrete stage of the home-selling process. 

We’ve compiled a list of the documents needed to sell a house and walk you through what to expect as you go through each transaction stage. 

Documents You Need to Sell a House

The sale of a house occurs in stages. For each step, you’ll need specific documents to sell the house. 

It might be helpful to think about the documents you’ll need:

  • Before listing  
  • While listing
  • While your home is on the market
  • Upon offers and contract
  • When closing

Documents you’ll need before listing your home

Before you list your home, you need to locate the following documents:

  • Original sales contract: This was the contract with the previous homeowner when you bought it. It has information about the term of the transaction and your purchase price and the home’s value.
  • Appraisal: This document tells your potential buyer the home’s fair market value. To sell your home, you’ll need to get a new estimate. 
  • Mortgage payoff amount: If you’re selling your home before the mortgage is paid off, contact your mortgage provider to secure a document that shows the payoff amount. 
  • Homeowner insurance documents: You need to provide proof of homeowners insurance and any claims you made while you were the owner. 
  • Homeowners Association (HOA) documents: If your home is in a development, it’s probably part of an HOA. The buyer needs to know the HOA rules, guidelines, and dues. 
  • Home repair and maintenance: You undoubtedly had to maintain and repair the home while you were the homeowner. You should have these documents handy, so the new buyer can continue with the maintenance and deal with any pressing issues promptly. 
  • Capital improvements: You might have upgrades to your kitchen or bathroom, added a pool or replaced the roof. These improvements may lessen your tax burden when you sell the home and help lower your potential capital gains tax from the sale. 
  • Manuals and Warranties: Manuals and warranties for appliances let the potential buyer know about the condition of the appliances that may come with the home. These can be big appliances like:
    1. Dishwater
    2. Refrigerator
    3. Stoves 
    4. Washer and dryer 
  • Utility bills: Buyers might want to know how much they will pay for electric, gas, sewer, and water bills. 

Documents you need when listing your home 

If you decide to use a real estate agent, you’ll need to have the following documents: 

  • Listing Agreement: This document gives the agent exclusive rights to sell your home. 
  • Comparative market analysis (CMA): This report compiles the home sale data in your area and helps a real estate agent determine how much to list your home for. 
  • Home seller’s net sheet: This will tell you how much money you’ll make after selling your home. It’s figured by taking your final sale price less taxes, real estate agent commission, mortgage balance, and escrow fees. 
Two young homeowners going through house selling documents they'll need while their house is on the market

Documents to have handy while your home is on the market

As you put your house on the market, you’ll need to have the following documents available to make the transaction as smooth as possible for your prospective buyers:

  • Preliminary title report: This document tells you the taxes you owe on the property, conditions and restrictions, and any other outstanding actions on your property. Typically, you’ll get this document from a title company, which costs a few hundred bucks. 
  •  Disclosure form: There are mandatory disclosure laws in most states. Typically, you must fill out a disclosure statement attesting to the presence of lead-based paint, asbestos, environmental hazards, water damage, faulty appliances, neighborhood nuisances, property disputes, or liens.
  • Pre-inspection report: This might be helpful for you to get ahead of defects in the home. The buyer will have an inspection report, so they will find out about the defects. 
  • Natural hazards report (CA): If you live in California, you’ll have to fill out a natural hazard report detailing how hazardous your land or property is. The property disclosure includes information about floods, dams, fire, earthquake faults, seismic, radon gas, airports, people convicted of sex crimes (Megan’s Law), and military ordnance. 

Documents needed for the offer

Your home has been on the market, and it attracted a buyer. They made an offer; these are the document you will need: 

  • Purchase offer: This document outlines the agreement between the buyer and you. The purchase offer provides details about the property, the price, and the people involved in the transaction. 
  • Final purchase and sale agreement: This is a binding contract that details the sales price, purchase terms, earnest money, the closing date, and any contingencies. The buyer and the seller must agree to the terms and sign the document before the sale can proceed.

Documents needed to close

You’ve progressed through the offer, and now it’s time to close. As you move toward closing on the home, you’ll need to have the following documents: 

  • Home inspection report: Your buyers will have a home inspection done. The home inspector goes through the interior and exterior of the home and records any defects or hazards in the house. 
  • Appraisal: If the buyer is financing the home purchase, they’ll need an appraisal. You can request to get a copy of the report. 
A homeowner signing the last house selling documents to finish the sale of his property

Documents needed to finish the sale

You’ve closed the transaction, but a few loose ends still need to be tied up. To finish the sale, you’ll need to have the following records:

  • Current tax statement: You must provide your buyer with your property tax receipts and the amount of any outstanding taxes you owe on the property. States and municipalities generally determine who pays taxes and when. 
  • Closing statement: This document shows you how much money you’ll receive from selling your home minus closing costs, taxes, and real estate commissions. The title company generates this statement. 
  • Deed: This is a physical document that legally and officially transfers ownership (title) of a house from you to the buyer. The deed has information about both parties and the property. 

What Are the Main Documents Needed?

We reviewed a somewhat exhaustive and comprehensive list of the documents you need. There is a subset of records that are more important than the others. 

The primary documents that you need to locate include the following: 

  • Title Register & Plan Documents
  • Proof of Ownership 
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Lease Agreement
  • Contract for Sale & Transfer Deed
Two elderly homeowners going through the house selling documents they'll need to sell their property

Title Register & Plan Documents

The Title Register and Title Plan are officially registered documents. Together they provide proof of ownership and details about the property. 

The Title Register provides detailed information about the following:

  • Owners
  • Names and addresses
  • Price paid and date of purchase
  • Tenure of title (freehold or leasehold) 
  • Class of title
  • Length of lease
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Personal covenants
  • Easements
  • Mortgages
  • Charges
  • Restrictions 
  • Notices

The Title Plan shows the property and adjoining properties. The owner’s property is outlined in red and colored markings showing the land owned, easements, covenants, and other restrictions or rights. 

Proof Of Ownership

Proof of ownership is how you claim the rights of your property. To own a property, you need the real property documents that support your property rights. Several records may indicate proof of ownership.

Warranty and quitclaim deed

A warranty deed is proof of ownership showing the owner’s name and a description of the property. 

A quitclaim deed is another type of property deed. Warranty deeds are more common, but quitclaim deeds exist. A quitclaim deed provides that only the current owner has the right over the property. 

Bill of sale 

A bill of sale can be used as proof of ownership. This document comes from a previous owner and shows the transfer of ownership. Think of it like a receipt. 

What if I lost my property deed? 

You’ll need to get a new document immediately. You can usually get a new copy of the deed at your local county clerk’s office, which will generate the deed and notarize it. 

When you go to the county clerk, you’ll need the following: 

  • Copy of driver’s license
  • Copy of Social Security Number
  • Proof of your association with the address, like a utility bill or your driver’s license 
  • Proof of business between you and the title company

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a home energy survey that shows you how energy efficient your home is and provides a plan for improving your home’s energy efficiency. 

You must legally have an EPC if you’re selling your home. An EPC rates your home on a scale from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). This rating lasts for ten years. 

Lease Agreement

A lease is a contract that dictates the terms under which a party agrees to rent property owned by another partner. The lessee, or tenant, is guaranteed use of the property, and the lessor, or owner, is guaranteed regular payments for the life of the lease. 

Both lessee and lessor face legal consequences if they violate the lease terms. 

Contract for Sale & Transfer Deed 

A contract for sale is a purchase agreement between you (the seller) and a buyer. You agree to sell the property to the buyer for the price the buyer agreed to pay. This document is a legally binding agreement between the two parties that provides information about the real estate transaction. It may include the following: 

  • An official description of the property
  • Address
  • Selling price
  • Mortgage lender details
  • Deposit
  • Closing date
  • Counter-offer details
  • Legal consequences if the sale is broken 

A transfer deed is how the ownership of property occurs. The property deed is a legal document that transfers one person’s rights of ownership to another. 

The deed is the legal and official proof of the transfer. Every deed must include the following information: 

  • An indication that it is a deed
  • Property Description
  • Signature of the party transferring the property 
  • Information on the party taking title to the property 

Navigating the sale of a home can be exciting, sad, and complicated all at once. Thankfully, organizing and getting your ducks in a row before things get crazy can help make the process much more manageable for you and the home buyers.

At We Buy Houses For Cash, we understand that selling a home can be stressful and time-consuming. That’s why our professional team of real estate experts is here to make the entire process as fast and easy as possible. With our streamlined cash-buying process, you don’t have to worry about repairs, realtors, or the hassle of unending mounds of paperwork. 

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