If you’re ready to sell your home, you should know that there’s more you can do to prepare than just finding a terrific real estate agent and sprucing up your home. There are a few legal issues to consider before posting that “For Sale” sign in your yard. In order to help you navigate the tricky world of real estate, we’ve composed a legal checklist for selling your home. This list will help you protect yourself from legal pitfalls that could affect an uneducated seller.
Resolve debts, liens, and encumbrances:
If your property has incurred any sort of debt, lien, or encumbrance, you will need to take care of this prior to settling with a buyer. These issues can arise through a variety of ways including:
- Federal, state or local tax liens
- Civil court judgments
- Missed spousal or child support payments
- General unpaid debts
- Failure to pay homeowners association dues
Inherited property and divorce:
The ownership structure of your home plays a huge role in your ability to sell the property. If you’ve inherited a property with several family members as joint tenants or are going through a divorce, you must make sure everyone is on the same page.
In terms of joint tenants, you need to have everyone agree on how to split the net proceeds of the sale before you attempt to sell the jointly owned property. This may require lawyers and your state’s court of equity.
As far a divorce, both you and your spouse need to mutually decide to sell the home. If the property was owned through joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety, both owners will need to sign the transfer deed over to the new buyers and agree to split the proceeds accordingly. Never try to sell your home out from under your ex! You could face serious fraud consequences for trying it.
Gather important documents ASAP:
To get a head start on the sale of your home, compile all the important documents related to the value of the property, such as:
- Evidence of encumbrances, liens, judgments, etc.
- Documentation of major repairs, damage or improvements
- Any agreements made between tenants or co-habiting partners