Originally Posted by Mary E.
One thing that isn't clear to me is what happens after we sign a sales contract with a willing buyer?*
Do I just take the contract to a title company and pay them to complete the transaction?*
Welcome to the board, Mary. If you're in California then Nolo still has an excellent FSBO book for that state's legal system.
But, yeah, it's that simple.
After you & the buyer swap the paperwork through a few counter-offers (the devil's details are usually in the contingencies) then take a copy to the title company, deposit the buyer's check with them, and get started. Depending on the terms of your offer and the "local custom" for your area, you may have to arrange for the pest inspection or the home inspector or the appraiser. However in most areas it's done (and paid for) by the buyer so that they can select people they "trust".
You're the person in charge of ensuring that contingencies are cleared by the time that you and the buyer say they'll be cleared. You may also agree to continue marketing the property for backup offers which hopefully put pressure on the buyers to clear their contingencies.
If applicable, you'll have to provide your mortgage/HELOC info to the title company so that they can clear the lender's liens. You may also wish to have the title company search for contractor/subcontractor liens on your place. Subs don't always do a good job of letting you know that they're in a dispute with a contractor and their surprise lien on your place can really mess up the sale's timing.
The title company can help with some aspects of the sale by telling you what's customary, but it's not their job to hold the buyer's/seller's hands through the transaction. They're only interested in holding the money, clearing your title, selling the title insurance policy to the buyer, and closing the deal. Questions more complicated than that are best handled by a lawyer or a friendly RE agent.
When your mortgage is paid off, someone has to pay the fee to record that fact at the local records office. It always seems to be a problem... make sure the title company and your mortgage bank understand who's doing that. Same thing if you take any paper back from the buyer-- make sure it's recorded and that it's clear who's paying the recording fee. It's amazing how many $250K closings will be held up to settle a $25 recording fee. $250K seems like a big chunk of change but $25 is real
money to most people.
We've used realtors to buy homes but we prefer buying FSBO and we've always sold FSBO. In defense of realtors, we tend to be control freaks demanding clients who want to poke our noses into every corner of the deal. Our preferred customers are experienced buyers (without their own realtors) because they know what they want and they don't waste your time. However they may also try to lowball their offer or even to slide a contingency past you. Our next-best customer is a realtor carrying a full-price offer with no contingencies, for whom we're happy to kick in a percent or two at closing. Our least-favorite customers are a tie for (1) clueless buyers who show up at closing with a pit-bull lawyer "just to answer a few questions" and (2) realtors who are happy to help us sell our house for a "small fee".