You’re selling your home. You’ve spent time cleaning, packing, painting, tidying and landscaping in preparation for potential buyers. You’ve vacated your home for showings. You’ve taken all of your real estate agent’s advice, priced it to sell and gotten your home completely ready. All your hard work is finally paying off and you’ve got a buyer! The offer has been made and accepted but your work is not yet done.
As a seller, you still have a number of tasks to accomplish before the sale of your home is complete. There are details involved in a home sale and you can’t afford to miss a single one. Your real estate agent will be there to guide you through the process so you should be covered. However, it never hurts to be informed about the process. Here are a few of the things you need to know, which will help you to be super prepared!
Your real estate agent can help with closing details
After the price is agreed upon and a contract signed, consult with your agent about the next steps. A contract isn’t always a sure sale. There could be contingencies in the contract for the buyer such as approval of financing Ask your agent what will happen next and what your involvement needs to be, if any. He or she will be able to brief you on the upcoming events that will hopefully lead to a secure closing.
Ask your agent to send the agreement of purchase and sale to your real estate lawyer as soon as possible. If you don’t already have a lawyer, your Realtor will be able to recommend one.
Consult a real estate lawyer
A home sale is a legal contract, entailed with all the accompanying legalities and paperwork. Talk to him or her about what you need to do between acceptance of the offer and the closing. Ask your lawyer if your agent has sent the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and any other necessary paperwork to your lawyer’s office. Provide him or her with the name and date of birth of the buyer. Be sure to apprise your lawyer if the property you are selling (or buying) is now or will be, a rental property. He or she should know if it has a well or septic system, too. Make sure every line item requiring a signature or initial has them in place well before the closing date.
You will have to bring a cheque with you to the closing for the fees. Your attorney’s office can usually give you an estimate of the total costs a couple of weeks out from closing and a final figure a few days beforehand. You may be leaving keys with your lawyer so be sure to ask what you should be prepared to provide both before closing and after.
Call your insurance agent
Your insurance agent should be next on your list of professional people to visit or call. Your policy needs are certainly changing and you will need to make some adjustments. One thing you may need to purchase before closing is a short-term fire insurance policy. Coverage for 2 weeks prior to closing is sometimes recommended and you’ll need to get a copy to your lawyer’s office as well.
Notify your insurance agent that a change is coming but don’t cancel your policy until the sale is actually completed. You never know what could happen (fire, flood, natural disaster) – between the moment you cancel and the actual closing.
Contact your local utilities and various service providers
Once you have a confirmed closing date, you can start contacting your local utilities and service providers to close your accounts, settle any payments and terminate services. This includes gas, hydro, water, cable or satellite TV, Internet, and land line if you have one (do people still have those?). Don’t forget the lawn service/landscaper if you have one and newspaper delivery. A Change of Address and arrange for mail forwarding at Canada Post online here. To make it easy on yourself, make a list and check each item off so you aren’t paying for services past the date you leave the home.
Put together a small package for the buyer
The new owner will probably change all the locks and security codes but collect all the keys and bring the garage door openers. Leave all of them with your lawyer at the time of closing.
At the home, leave a packet for the new owner. Leave behind instruction manuals and warranty info for any appliances still in the home. If you have a security system, change the code to something simple and leave it for the new owners. They can change it later to something personal and they won’t know the special codes you will likely use in your next home!
Close up the home
Whenever you vacate the property, whether it is weeks before closing or minutes, be sure to close it up properly. Close the blinds or pull the curtains, turn off the lights and lock the doors. If the property will be vacant for any period of time before the new owners move in, leave a light on to give the illusion that someone is still living there. This should at least reduce the chances of a break-in.
Talk to your agent about all the little details that must be managed between offer and closing. Be sure to check every box on your list!
If you don’t have a real estate lawyer, we highly recommend and work with the lawyers at Victor Hussein Professional Corporation. Victor and his team can be reached by visiting http://www.vhlaw.ca or by calling 519.744.8585.