When you work with a real estate agent, all the right documents are prepared for you. But the moment you decide to sell your house on your own, that paperwork becomes your legal and financial responsibility. It’s just one more reason for sale by owner (FSBO) can be a daunting task.
While paperwork can vary by state, there are numerous documents that every home seller will need on hand. Below we’ve listed the essential paperwork that you’ll need to sell your home without a realtor.
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Paperwork to collect before listing your home
Original sales contract
|Agreement you made with the home’s previous owners or with whoever built it (if it was a new build)|
The sales contract offers buyers more transparency on what they’re buying. It includes the purchase price, disclosures made at that time, and the terms under which the home was sold to you (such as contingencies).
|Remaining balance on your mortgage, plus interest (a.k.a. payoff amount)|
The payoff amount can help you estimate how much you’ll earn on your home sale. Your mortgage lender is legally required to provide your payoff amount for no charge.
Homeowners insurance record
|Full history of your homeowners insurance policy, including claims you’ve made since owning the house|
Though not legally required, providing insurance records can help buyers estimate how much they’d pay for homeowners insurance. It also offers transparency into any damages and repairs.
|Disclosure of bylaws and fees for homeowners associations|
The "declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions" (CC&R) details rules about garbage pickup, parking, home decorations and the like, as well as the fees homeowners will pay. Even if it’s not legally required to disclose HOA covenants in your state, buyers may ask for a copy of the CC&R, so it’s good to have one on-hand.
How to get one:
Ask your HOA for a copy, possibly for a fee. To avoid paying, you can also check the county recorder’s office or the county assessor’s website.
Records of repairs and maintenance
|Before-and-after photos, material receipts, and labor contracts of all the work you’ve done on the home as its owner|
Buyers will likely want evidence of recent renovations. This gives them an idea of what's already been repaired and what will likely need attention sometime down the road.
Comparative market analysis
|Report of local property market trends, focusing on historic and ongoing sales data for properties that are similar to yours|
A CMA helps you estimate a listing price. By comparing your home to homes that have sold in your area (or are under contract), you can get a good idea of how much your home can sell for.
Typically, realtors will provide you with a CMA for free. You can also do a CMA on your own, or use a third-party tool to generate one.
Past utility bills
|Your most recent electricity, gas, sewage, and water bills|
Home buyers will likely ask for utility bills to help them estimate how much they’ll pay each month for these services.
Essential paperwork needed to list your home
Preliminary title report
|Financial and legal document that names the current homeowner, discloses any liens, and gives information on the escrow provider and title insurance|
"Prelims" reassure buyers that you indeed own the property you’re selling, as well as that there are no liens on the property. They also have crucial information on the parcel itself, such as where the property begins and ends.
You can buy a title report from one of the major title companies, such as Fidelity, First America, Old Republic, or Stewart.
Mandatory disclosure statements
|Documents that tell buyers all the known issues and hazards with the house|
States require you to disclose known problems to prevent buyers from purchasing something that will harm their physical or mental well-being. Failure to follow mandatory disclosure laws can lead to legal battles and put you on the hook to fix those problems or pay settlements.
Disclosure laws differ by state, but common mandatory disclosures include:
Cases of water damage Use of lead-based paint Toxic material levels Known hazardous conditions Termite damage Homeowners association rules (CC&Rs) Natural disaster zones
How to find it
Check your state’s government website to find the specific disclosure laws, as well as forms you can print out.
Open listing agreement
|Contract between you and a buyer's agent that you'll pay them agent a commission ONLY if they bring you the final buyer|
An open listing agreement gives you a solid backup plan if you fail to find buyers on your own. You're not obligated to a single agent, so you can work with as many as you like. It's also simpler and more cost-efficient than using flat-fee MLS listing services.
Paperwork after you get an offer
|Document with the buyer's offer price and initial terms (contingencies), plus a description of the property — NOT the final contract or legally binding|
Purchase agreements lay out the framework for the final contract. Since these agreements aren't set in stone, you can still negotiate the terms. Be meticulous, especially when you’re selling a home without the help of a realtor.
Contingency removal form
|Shows that every contingency has been met and can be removed|
Contingencies are conditions that must be met before the home sale can proceed. When they've been satisfied (based on home inspection results, mortgage approvals, etc.), the contingency removal form removes them in writing.
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Documents you need to close on a sale
Recent tax statement
|Official statement that tells how much you pay in local property taxes|
Buyers need to estimate their future property taxes to place the right prepayment amount in their escrow. These statements also show that you’re up to date on your taxes.
|Legal document that transfers property ownership from seller to buyer|
Once executed, the buyer becomes the legal owner of the home.
Final purchase agreement
|Contract with official conditions of the property sale, including purchase price, closing date, earnest money deposit, and contingencies|
As a legally binding contract, if your buyer jumps ship at the last minute, the purchase agreement lets you keep the earnest money or pursue legal action.
|Documentation that you repaired or fixed any problems discovered through the inspection|
If you and your buyer included inspection contingencies in the purchase agreement, these responses show that you followed through and fixed the problem.
An official change to the purchase agreement
Amendments add additional information to a contract or can correct previously agreed-upon terms.
Get support with paperwork and save
For homeowners in the early stages of planning a property sale, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of paperwork required from both seller and buyer. The best way to navigate the legal and financial jargon is with the help of an experienced real estate agent.
A top-notch realtor can provide hands-on support and guidance throughout the entire transaction — from clarifying documentation requirements to breaking down and settling points of disagreement.
You can get targeted help from a limited service realtor, transaction coordinator, or other real estate professionals.
If you're weighing your options for buying or selling a house, Clever can help!
Our fully-licensed concierge team is standing by to answer questions and provide free, objective advice on getting the best outcome with your sale or purchase.
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