Selling your home may be one of the biggest projects you ever undertake. You can make the process a little easier by taking a few moments to learn a little about how it works.

Contracting With a Seller's Real Estate Agent

Although you don't have to work with a real estate agent, a seller's agent can help you avoid common mistakes, like setting the wrong price for your house or not completing the proper legal documents. Your agent also has access to promotional tools private sellers can't access.

Find an agent by searching the online database of the Illinois Association of Realtors.

Listing Options

In most cases, you will have a contract with your agent outlining terms such as price, items to be excluded from the sale, and your agent's responsibilities and compensation. Setting a price can be tricky and should take into account factors such as the property's fair market value and market conditions in your area.

Your listing type can be one of several, including:

  • Multiple listing — With this popular option, your listing appears in your local MLS publication so that all member agents may show and sell the home.

  • Exclusive agency listing — With this listing, your broker gets a commission even if another agent sells the home, but not if you find the buyer.

Disclosing Home Defects

Illinois law requires that sellers disclose the true condition of the home, using the state's Real Property Disclosure Report. Federal law also requires you disclose the presence of lead-based paint in houses built before 1978. Failing to disclose what you know can lead to a lawsuit and expensive legal bills.

Evaluating the Offer

An interested buyer will give you a written offer to purchase containing an offering price and other terms. You may choose to accept or reject this offer for any reason that is not discriminatory (race, age, etc.) or submit a counteroffer changing any terms you do not like.

Finalizing Your Purchase Agreement

When you and your buyer have all agreed-upon terms in writing, you have your finalized purchase agreement, ready to be executed. This document is legally binding, so make sure it really reflects what you want.

Negotiating Contingencies

Your contract will most likely contain contingencies, which are items that must be cleared up before you can finalize it. A common contingency is the inspection and how to handle any defects uncovered. Some buyers may want the contract nullified for certain defects. Otherwise, you can try to negotiate a solution, such as you paying for repairs arranged by the buyer. If you can't agree, the contract can be canceled.

Closing the Sale

Once all contingencies have been cleared, it is time to sign the final paperwork and hand over the keys. You can choose to be at the closing or you can sign the necessary documents ahead of time and have your attorney represent you.

Getting Legal Advice

Selling a house involves a lot of legal details, and real estate law is always changing. Therefore, it's a good idea to talk with an experienced real estate lawyer to be sure you meet all the state's requirements.

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