Whether you're moving up from a cramped starter or leaving an empty and too-large nest, selling a house can be complicated. While the process is similar nationwide, specific laws in Michigan govern transactions there. Learn as much as you can before you start so you can avoid problems later.
While some people want to handle a home sale from start to finish, most folks prefer professional help. A broker can market your home, show it to potential buyers, track paperwork and more. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs offers tips on finding a broker, including a searchable database.
Creating a Listing
There are several types of listing agreements you can use when contracting with a broker. An open listing, which real estate firms don't like, means that anyone can sell the home. With an "exclusive agency listing," the firm you sign with is the only one that can sell the home, though you can sell it on your own. Under an "exclusive right to sell" agreement, the most common type used, that agency is the only one that can sell the home for a set period of time.
Your actual listing will include attractive facts about the house — size, amenities or upgrades, the quality of schools, nearby parks, etc. Looking at what other homes in your neighborhood have sold for will help you set a price. You also can check pricing on similar-size houses nearby.
What to Disclose
In Michigan, sellers have to fill out disclosure forms that lets buyers know about anything that might make them think twice about buying the house. In fact, you can be sued if you hide serious issues, such as problem with the foundation. You'll also have to give information about heating systems, water service and more.
Make Me An Offer
You have a potential buyer, but the offer is way lower than the asking price. Never fear. Most buyers expect you to counter their first offer. In addition to price, you also can negotiate amenities, repairs or additions.
Once sales price is settled, nail down that and other crucial details such as closing date and financing in a purchase agreement. Review a sample document to get an idea of what to expect. The agreement is legally binding once it's signed.
Occasionally an inspection will reveal a previously unknown issue with the house. This doesn't necessarily mean the deal is off. You can negotiate with the buyer, perhaps lowering your price or agreeing to pay for some repairs, in order to complete the sale.
Closing the Deal
At closing, you and the buyer sign all paperwork and you turn over the keys. You'll also need to pay any taxes or fees you owe. Don't forget to bring photo identification with you to closing.
Real estate laws in Michigan are complicated, and each situation is unique. This article is intended only as a general overview. For specific legal advice, contact an attorney.