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Do You Need a Realtor to Sell Your House?

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Legal Considerations

If you don't have a realtor, be sure to work with a lawyer (preferably a real estate lawyer) who can review contracts and advise you on other legal matters. Some forms you'll need to have include the following:

  • Deposit receipt
  • Offer to purchase
  • Seller's disclosure form
Don't Go There

If you've already assumed the responsibilities of a realtor, don't—under any circumstances—try to be your own lawyer, as well. In our litigious society, it's imperative that you get competent legal advice.

Some people selling their own homes have gotten into big trouble by not disclosing certain information about their homes or through other mistakes.

If you live in an old home that may contain lead paint or asbestos, for instance, don't even think of selling it without first disclosing that information. Have the home tested for radon and termites, and any other possible problems.

Be especially careful to avoid even the appearance of discrimination when you're selling your house. If a physically disabled person wants to see the house, for instance, you can't legally say something like, “I won't show you the house because you wouldn't be able to get around in it. It's got a lot of steps.”

It is unfair under the law to discriminate in a real estate transaction on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, handicap, and presence of children in a family.

And if you're involved with financing, be sure to consult with your lawyer about terms and agreements. Work carefully with your attorney to assure you come through selling your house legally unscathed.

Practical Considerations

If you're going to try to sell your home, you'll want prospective buyers to see it at its very best. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint wouldn't hurt. How about cleaning all the windows and washing the curtains?

A few other tips for getting your home in tip-top condition are as follows:

  • Check the roof and gutters to see if they need to be cleaned or repaired.

  • Make sure the shrubbery is trimmed and the lawn neatly cut. If it's autumn, keep the leaves raked.

  • Check to be sure all the plumbing is in good working condition.

  • See that all the appliances are working properly.

  • Make sure the caulking around tubs, windows, showers, and sinks is in good condition.

  • See that the house is clean; consider having the carpets cleaned if they're dirty.

Once your house is in shape and you've determined a fair price, got your advertising in place, and considered all the legal aspects, you're ready to launch it onto the market. Good luck!

If you decide, on the other hand, that you don't have the time, energy, or personality to sell your own house, don't feel bad. There are plenty of realtors out there who will be glad to do it for you.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance in Your 40s and 50s © 2002 by Sarah Young Fisher and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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