If you are selling a home for the first time the process can be intimidating. Be prepared for your real estate closing by learning what happens and what it all means to you. Watch this segment of Designing Spaces from Lifetime TV to learn more.

For Sale by Owner or “FSBO” vs. Real Estate Agent

You are not required to use a real estate agent to sell property in Florida but it is easier. If you do choose to sell and market your property yourself, there are a few things for you to consider.

FSBO Checklist

  • The market favors sellers
  • You’re not in a hurry
  • You want to save 6% commission
  • You're already have a buyer
  • You have the time and motivation to learn about the process, answer phone calls, and show the property

If these are not true for you, then you should consider using a Real Estate Agent in conjunction with your Attorney.






Real Estate Attorney – Real Estate Agent


Real Estate Attorney - On Your Side

As the only member of your home-buying team who is qualified to give you legal advice, a good Florida real estate lawyer is worth his or her weight in gold during key points of the process. And, as long as your real estate lawyer issues your title insurance, as opposed to a title insurance agency, you won't pay more by involving him or her early on.

Main Duties

  • Provide legal advice and guide you through the closing process.
  • Review the contract and explain all the provisions and contingencies.
  • Prepare, review and explain the Closing Statement or Closing Disclosure and inform you how much money you need to bring to closing.
  • Address related legal matters like income and tax consequences and how you should take title insurance.

Real Estate Agent - You Need to Sell the House

Four out of 5 homes sold in the US annually are sold through a real estate agent – for good reason. They can provide a selection of services to market your property and help you find a buyer. An experienced real estate agent will have a valuable understanding of the local market, which enables them to price your property appropriately. They will showcase your property on popular real estate websites and handle all the inquiries and showings. Most Real Estate Agents in Florida are “transaction brokers,” which means that they do not represent the seller or the buyer. One agent may be described as the “seller’s agent/broker” and one may be the “buyer’s agent/broker,” but the agent does not have any ethical requirement to act in the best interest of their client. So what does that mean? Let’s say you are negotiating to sell an investment property. You tell your real estate agent how much you would be willing to reduce the sales price. Your agent can share that information with the buyer. This does not mean the agent will not take wonderful care of you. It just means they do not represent you; they represent the transaction.

Main Duties

  • Use their unique knowledge of the local real estate market to help you sell your property.
  • Advise you on staging your property for maximum impact.
  • Work with buyer’s agents to arrange property tours for them and their clients.
  • Interact with buyer or buyer’s agent to negotiate price and terms for the property.





Let’s get Honest

Just because you love your property does not mean it is problem free. You have to be forthcoming about its flaws, and that is what the seller’s disclosure is all about. You must disclose any material defect not readily visible to the buyer, like a crack in an exterior wall hidden by a bush or the fact that your bathroom flooded a few years ago. Your real estate attorney or agent will walk you through completing the required form.


What can happen if you choose not to disclose?

The buyer can sue you. Talk to your attorney if you are unsure about the seller disclosure. It’s better to get the answers now than clean up a legal mess later.




You’ve received an offer!

You’ve finally made it to the end of selling your property. Well, not quite. This is the start of the contract process. When you receive the contract you must have your attorney review it right away.



Remember, once the contract is signed, you're legally bound to the terms.

Your attorney is familiar with Florida real estate contracts and Florida real estate law. He or she will review the contract, explain all the provisions and contingencies and suggest changes necessary to protect you and your investment.

The contract spells out the terms and conditions of the purchase-from the purchase price all the way down to who pays the utilities until you take possession of the house. Remember, your attorney can offer you valuable advice that can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars down the road.




Race to the Finish

The closing process can be the scariest part of the entire journey of selling a property. It doesn't have to be.


Pre-Closing - Things to Expect Before Closing

  1. Title Insurance – In this phase you’ll work with your real estate Attorney to solve any “Title Defects.” These are legal rights to a property claimed by someone other than the owner, such as unpaid taxes or claims from a former spouse. It is important to address these problems now and not have them come up later and threaten the ownership of your property. Provide your attorney with a copy of the Owner’s Title Policy you received when you purchased the property. It can simplify the process and save you 40% on title insurance premiums if you have to provide title insurance to your buyer.
  2. Inspection – The buyer will likely order an inspection of your property, the results of which will influence their decision to purchase. Find out what your options are, if problems are found.
  3. Appraisal - The buyer's mortgage lender will require that a certified or licensed appraiser assess your property to determine the overall quality of the property and its fair market value. If your house is appraised below the sale price, the lender won't grant the loan at that price.

Closing - Have your Attorney Present

While as a seller you don’t have as much responsibility at closing, it’s important to always have your Attorney present to address any issues that come up.

  1. The closing agent looks over the purchase contract and figures out what payments are owed and by whom; prepares documents for the closing; conducts the closing; makes sure taxes, title searches, real estate commissions and other closing costs are paid; ensures that the buyer's title is recorded; and, of course, ensures that you are paid!
  2. Common things you have to pay for:
    1. Mortgage balance and prepayment penalties, if applicable
    2. Other claims against your property
    3. Document stamps (taxes on the deed)
    4. Real estate agent commission
    5. Legal fee or title insurance premium
  3. Transfer of Title – This is the big switch. You will execute a Warranty Deed to transfer ownership of the property from you to the Buyer.

Post-Closing - It’s All Finished

Be sure to save copies of your closing documents. You may need them to prepare your income taxes – especially if the transaction was a short sale.

In the future, you may need to consult your real estate attorney on other issues involved with home-ownership. Since he or she has been working with you all along and is familiar with your property ownership structure, your attorney can be your best source for invaluable advice.