1) DISCLOSURES – Before closing on a sale, make sure all disclosures have been made and received by the buyer. Under Florida law a seller is legally obligated to disclose all known defects that would not be readily apparent to the buyer. This is most commonly accomplished by completing a seller’s disclosure. But simply filling out the form is not enough. It is incumbent upon the seller to ensure that the disclosure is received by the buyer before the transaction closes. Even if due to a miscommunication, the failure to ensure that the buyer receives the disclosure could lead to liability to the seller if known issues are later discovered.
2) FORM CONTRACTS – Many form purchase and sale contracts are written for the protection of the real estate agents facilitating the transaction and not buyers or sellers. Often provisions in those contracts are not seller-friendly, and you should consider having an addendum drafted to the form to better protect yourself. Examples of provisions which may require modification include the remedies of parties following default, whether attorney’s fees are available in the event of breach, limitations and restrictions on the inspection period, contingencies to closing, and other provisions. To ensure your rights are protected in the sale, you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney who can help craft an addendum to fit your needs. This is quite inexpensive considering the amount at stake in most real estate transactions.
3) AGENTS – A seller should carefully review agreements with real estate agents and any other individuals involved in the transaction. Like the form purchase and sale contracts, many of these agreements are drafted to be one-sided in favor of the agent. Frequently, sellers will sign away rights and remedies in the event of negligence or misconduct by these agents without even being aware. Provisions may also be included which hold the seller responsible for any claims made against the agent or other individual. Before entering into such an agreement, sellers should seek advice from a qualified attorney regarding their contractual rights and the risks involved.
4) FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS – Many sellers fail to consider the significant costs involved in selling their home. While some of the expenses involved may not come out of pocket, they will reduce the amount received as proceeds from the sale. Sellers are often obligated to make current all homeowners’ association or condominium assessments, community development district fees and municipal special assessments and taxes. Sellers also frequently have a myriad of expenses associated with the sales transaction, including title insurance policy and search charges, recording fees required to cure title, documentary stamp taxes and surtaxes on deeds, fees of the closing agent, survey costs and other items. On top of these expenses, the seller is also obligated to pay the real estate agent their commission as specified in their listing contract. To better understand the total financial gains and the expenses associated with the sale, a seller should seek the advice of someone qualified to analyze and interpret the sales contract.
These are just a few of the issues to keep in mind before selling your home. As with any legal transaction, you should always make sure you are as informed and as educated as possible; anything less could result in future legal or economic liability. Take advantage of the counsel of an experienced real estate attorney to guide you in this exciting process and help you protect your self and your investments.