Sellers should take reasonable steps to protect themselves in the house selling process. The recommendations here are general in nature and not intended to be considered a comprehensive list.
- Be realistic in setting a sales price. All sellers want to get the highest possible sales prices for their home; however if you set the sales price too high, your house may sit on the market unsold. Setting a sales prices for your house consistent with market conditions will help ensure that your house is sold within a realistic time frame.
- Understand your disclosure obligations. Sellers have a duty to disclose latent or hidden defects in their properties that are not readily apparent from a reasonable inspection of the property. In addition, if any dwelling on the property was constructed prior to 1978, the Seller must provide the Buyer with a written Lead-Based Paint Disclosure prior to the contract being signed.
- Prepare the property for showing. Your home should be clean, clutter free, inviting and accessible. To maximize the likelihood of a sale, the house must be available for showing on short notice at the convenience of a prospective buyer.
- Have important information ready for buyers. Buyers are growing increasingly sophisticated in making house-buying decisions. They routinely ask sellers for information about the property to aid them in their decision-making process including surveys, a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement, termite reports and/or termite bonds, information about utility costs, and homeowner association fees and dues. To the extent you can have this information readily available for buyers, it will make the buyer’s decision-making process easier and quicker and thus increase the likelihood of a sale.
- Remember that real estate sales contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. In Georgia, with limited exception, purchase and sale agreements must be in writing to be enforceable. Verbal offers and acceptance will not create an enforceable contract. You should also avoid trying to come to a verbal agreement with a buyer on the thought that it can be put in writing at a later time. In many instances, the process of trying to reduce a verbal agreement to writing leads to dispute over the nature of the agreement between the parties. The best rule of thumb is that if a buyer is not willing to take the time to put an offer in writing, the buyer is either not interested in the house or does not think the offer will be accepted.
Sellers are encouraged to consult with experts and professionals to ensure that you are protected in selling a house.