Selling a house in Washington, D.C. is harder than you realize. If you ignore the District’s laws and regulations, you could be faced with costly legal problems. Before you sell your home, be aware of what you need to know.
Differing Roles of a Real Estate Agent
Your real estate agent has the means to accurately assess the current value of comparable homes in your area and effectively market your house to ready and willing buyers.
You can find licensed real estate agents at Realtor.com.
Real Property Listing Agreements
There are three kinds of real estate listings:
- Open listing—Owners retain the right to sell the home and pay no commissions.
- Exclusive agency listing—Owners execute a listing agreement with a broker and pay a commission only if the broker is the procuring cause of the sale.
- Exclusive right to sell listing—The seller pays a commission to the listing broker regardless of who brings in the buyer.
Your agent determines the selling price by comparing prices of similar homes that have been listed in your immediate area. Your listing should include:
- Price and commission
- Items included or not in the sale
- Duties and obligations of seller and agent
The seller must disclose known defects in the home’s structure as well as the following:
- Hazardous conditions
- Systems—air conditioning, sewage, heating, plumbing
- Landmark status
Your failure to make the required disclosures can expose you to a lawsuit. Sellers generally use the Washington, D.C. Seller’s Disclosure Statement.
What Is an Offer?
An offer is one that is made to pay a certain price based on certain terms and conditions. It is a legally binding contract when the seller accepts the offer and notifies the buyer of its acceptance.
A counteroffer is one that rejects the original offer and presents a new offer.
Once an offer is agreed upon, it will go into escrow where the buyer deposits certain funds into an escrow account along with instructions.
Washington, DC Purchase Agreements
A legally-binding contract, the purchase agreement contains a gurantee of a clear title, as well as the following information:
- Identification of all parties involved
- Specific price terms
- Applicable financing terms
- Closing date
- Inspection date
Post-Contract Negotiations/Defects Found
Generally, if an inspection turns up material defects, the buyer can insist that you pay to remedy the defect or lower the purchase price.
Understanding the Closing
At the close of escrow, the following events occur:
- The buyer signs a promissory note.
- Costs and fees are paid.
- All documents are signed and transferred.
- The deed is recorded.
Sellers need not be present at the closing so long as all costs are paid and documents are signed. You will typically have to turn over the keys to the buyer the same day as the closing or when you get occupancy.
Stay Informed With a Real Estate Lawyer
Washington, D.C. real estate law can be difficult to follow or understand. Property laws and regulations are not the same in each state, so stay informed by consulting with a local real estate attorney before you sell your home.