The Home Stretch
Signing the Purchase & Sale
As soon as you have a signed offer and the inspection is scheduled, it’s time to hire a real estate attorney to represent you. Your attorney will generate a Purchase and Sale (P&S) document for both parties to sign, which includes any final outcomes from the home inspection. At this time the buyer will put down an additional deposit, generally 5% of the purchase price. All deposits are held in an escrow account provided as a service by the listing company.
The costs for legal representation (for both the P&S and closing paperwork) varies anywhere from $600 to $1,000, depending on the scope of work. Some attorneys charge by the hour and some charge a flat rate. We work with a number of great real estate attorneys if you'd like a recommendation.
The buyer’s mortgage
Although the buyers are the ones getting a mortgage, their lender needs to conduct an appraisal on your home. The appraiser will be looking at the condition of your house, to make sure that it’s worth the value of the loan. It is important to keep your house looking as good as possible for the appraiser. As with the open house, all lights should be on, window shades open, countertops cleaned, etc.
If you live in a condominium and your buyer is getting a mortgage, they will need the building’s trustee or your management company to fill out a Condo Questionnaire. Many times a management company will charge you a fee (around $100) for this service. If your association is self-run, someone other than yourself will need to fill this out. Make sure your condo dues have been paid in advance.
The smoke inspection is no joke:
When a home is sold in Massachusetts it is required that the home be inspected by the local fire department for properly working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The cost for this inspection usually runs around $50-$100 per unit.
If you live in a building that is 3+ units, or renovated after 2007, you must have hard-wired smoke detectors installed (If they don’t go off at the same time, you won’t pass the inspection).
The fire department provides a certificate of compliance, which is given to the attorney before the closing.
You will not be able to close on your property without this certificate.
When a home is transferred, it must have working carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are required in any residence that has fossil-fuel burning equipment including, but not limited to:
a furnace, boiler
any other apparatus, appliance or device
enclosed parking within its structure
According to the carbon monoxide regulations, you need to have a detector on each level of the home. Furthermore, there must be a detector placed within ten feet of all the bedroom doors. The carbon monoxide detectors do not need to be hard wired. Click on this link to read the State of MA Smoke Alarm Regulations.
Final water reading
One week prior to closing a final water meter reading is conducted and paid for. This final statement is provided at the closing.
6(d) Certificate—for a condo only
Again, if you live in a condo, pay your association dues in advance. We will need to obtain and notarize a 6(d) Certificate, which is required for the closing. This certificate confirms that there are no outstanding condo fees or assessments owed by you to the association.
Prior to the closing, the buyer will visit the property for a final walk-through to determine that the house is vacant and broom swept. They will also check to make sure everything is in good working order, such as the plumbing, heat, and electrical. If any issues arise, this will be discussed at the closing and dealt with by the attorneys.
Before you go on, commit this to memory: from the moment you own your home to the moment you sell your home, it must be insured against damages to physical items or people who may step on and into your property. This means that even if you’re no longer living in your home, you need insurance. If contractors are visiting your home and get hurt there, you may be held responsible. So, make absolutely sure that your policy is in order, and covers injuries to others as well as your belongings, until the moment the closing papers are signed!
When selling a home, it is always good to know exactly how much you are going to walk away with at the closing. Most homeowners expect that they will receive a check that indicates the sales price of their home less their own mortgage balance. However there are a number of other costs in selling a home that could add up.
Many people are unaware of the Massachusetts tax stamps, or property transfer tax. This is a tax on the sale of any home sold in MA. The current tax rate is $4.56 dollars per thousand. For example, if you sold a home for $500,000, your tax would be $4.56 x 500 for a total cost of $2,280.
If you have your own septic system, another expense is a Title V (septic) inspection. The typical cost for a Title V inspection runs around $800, depending on the level of difficulty to access the tank. This cost also includes the pumping fee. A septic inspection is good for two years.
Other miscellaneous costs include recording fees at the registry, mortgage discharge fees, etc. These costs will typically amount to a few hundred dollars and will be added to your HUD settlement statement (which you will review a few days before the closing).
Your attorney will preside over the mortgage sign-off, and will help with the paperwork for the closing.
Most sellers never attend the closing. They often opt to sign a Power of Attorney a few days before the closing, and receive a check in the mail once the property is signed over to the new owners and the title is recorded at the Registry of Deeds (which happens on the same day).