The Sale of a Pennsylvania House

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State and local regulations govern Pennsylvania home sales. A sale by owner can be done, but by not following these strict regulations you could be exposed to costly legal issues. Before selling your home, be aware of a number of things.

The Real Estate Agent's Role

A real estate agent has the resources and knowledge to determine the current value of comparable homes in your area and to market your house to a wide audience. You can locate a licensed real estate agent at

Property Listings

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 but only pay a commission if the broker is the procuring cause of the sale.
  • Exclusive right to sell listing: The seller pays a commission to the listing broker no matter who brings in the buyer.

What Is Included in the Listing

One of your agent's tasks is to assess the selling price by comparing prices of similar homes that have been listed in your immediate area while considering a number of additional factors, such as:

  • Price and commission
  • Items included or not in the sale
  • Duties and obligations of seller and agent

Pennsylvania Seller Disclosure Requirements

The seller must disclose known material defects in the home's structure, as well as the following:

  • Various systems
  • Hazardous substances
  • Basements and crawl spaces
  • Legal issues affecting title

Your failure to make the required disclosures can expose you to a lawsuit. Home sellers generally use the Residential Real Estate Sales Disclosure Statement.

What Happens with an Offer?

A potential buyer makes an offer to pay a certain price based on certain terms and conditions. It becomes 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 with different terms. Once the purchasing agreement is signed, the deal goes into escrow, which includes the deposit of funds, documents, and instructions to complete the transfer.

Your Purchasing Agreement

A purchase agreement is a a legally binding contract setting out the terms and conditions of the sale, including:

  • Identification of all invovled parties
  • Price and financing terms
  • Clear title guarantee
  • Inspection date
  • Closing date

Negotiating if Defects are Found

Should an inspection turn up material defects, the buyer can negotiate to continue the sale by insisting that the seller pay to remedy the defect or lower the purchase price.

Closing Events

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 so long as the deed is recorded or you obtain occupancy.

Speak with a Lawyer

State real estate laws are complicated; speak with a Pennsylvania real estate attorney before you sell.

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