Whether you're downsizing an empty nest or you've outgrown a starter home, selling your house is complicated and has legal ramifications. Become familiar with the process early on to avoid problems later. Although the steps involved in selling a home are similar regardless of where you live, Florida's laws are unique in some respects.
Is An Agent Necessary?
Although it's possible to handle a real estate transaction on your own, there are potential problems involved with the "for sale by owner" option. Without a broker, something a simple as getting people to look at your house can become a challenge. Opting for an agent gives you visibility and guidance throughout the process. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation offers a by-county database to help you begin your search for an agent.
Listing Your Home
You can use one of several listing methods for your home. Under an open listing, you can work with several agents. An exclusive agency listing ties you to one firm, although you can sell the home on your own. Under an exclusive right to sell listing - the most common type - your broker is the only one who can sell the house. The type of listing, as well as details such as the duration of the listing, will be part of your agreement with your broker.
Setting a Price
Determining what other homes in your neighborhood have sold for and looking at listings for homes similar to yours can help you decide how much to ask for your property. In today's market, sellers sometimes under-price homes to attract more potential buyers, and this can drive up the price.
Under state law, sellers must reveal problems that could make buyers reconsider their purchase. This can include anything from deed restrictions to issues with the foundation. A buyer might sue you later if you fail to disclose. Review a sample disclosure form to give you an idea of what you'll have to tell the buyer.
Make Me an Offer
After your house has been listed, someone will make an offer. You don't have to accept it, however. In fact, the offer/counteroffer process can go back and forth several times as things such as amenities and repairs are negotiated.
A Purchase Agreement
After you've accepted an offer, outline details such the closing date and price in a purchase agreement. This document legally commits you to sell your home.
Ironing Out Problems
Occasionally, a home inspection will turn up issues after a purchase agreement has been signed. You and the potential buyer still can resolve these issues so the sale can proceed. You could come down in price or you might agree to cover the repair costs.
The keys change hand and documents are finalized at closing. You'll also have to take care of any taxes or fees that are due. Remember to bring a driver's license or other identification with you.
Consult a Legal Professional
Florida real estate laws are complicated, and each transaction is different. This article is intended as a general overview. Consult with a legal professional if you have specific questions.