Getting to a happy closing table may be harder than it sounds, especially for you as sellers, who are often parting with years of history and memories with your home. The process can be sad and painful – not to mention disappointing if you haven’t sold the property for as much as you would have liked. Furthermore, the sale – and purchase – of a home is a long process and journey for you and the buyers. In other words, it’s not just an accepted offer, followed by the signing of a Purchase & Sale Agreement, which ultimately culminates in the closing. It’s the inspection, buyer visits to the property, appraisal, mortgage contingency, saying goodbye to the house, packing up, preparing the house for the buyers and more.
And so getting to a happy closing table can be complicated, and it means cooperating, treating one another with respect, making compromises, understanding the other’s emotional mindset and working together so that you achieve happiness during that final hour when the deed is transferred from you to the new owner of your home. Here are some tips – mostly for you as sellers – to keep in mind to make the process go as smoothly as possible:
Allowing access to the property – Believe it or not, this is often a heavily contested and heated issue. As sellers, many of you are stressed when thinking about all of the tasks and packing that must be done to get to the closing table. Therefore the thought of allowing the buyer into the house at possibly inopportune times for measuring or meeting contractors might send you over the edge. But in these instances, try to remember the golden rule and strive to be as civil, gracious and generous as you can be. In reality, three or four buyer visits prior to the closing aren’t really going to derail your efforts to be out of the house on time. (Note for buyers – endeavor to be equally respectful to sellers by grouping contractor visits, for example, so that several come during one visit to the house instead of separate appointments for each of them. This minimizes the inconveniencing of the seller and goes a long way.)
Doing repairs in a timely manner – Often there are action items and repairs that you have to do prior to the closing. Make sure to do these tasks in a timely manner and send the receipts to your agent and attorney as soon as the work has been done. This will save unnecessary stress in the days before the closing when you’re searching for the work receipts needed at the closing.
Walking the buyer through the home – This is over and above the call of duty, but by taking the time to walk the new owner through your home, conveying useful information about the house and neighborhood, showing him/her how the systems work and what makes the house special to you, you will be helping the buyer more than you know. “Pay it forward” as they say.
Leaving any manuals and warranties for the buyer – This is another golden rule moment and a nice courtesy for the buyer. How appreciative and happy would you be if the seller did the same thing for you when buying a house? That says it all….
Ensuring a smooth final walk through – There are basically two critical elements to having a smooth final walk through. First, that you’ve left your home, both inside and out, in “broom clean” condition. By making sure that your home is in neat and tidy condition, you will be making for a happy buyer. Second, that you’ve left any and all items that have been included in the sale of your home for the buyer. Note that this doesn’t mean the remnant tiles, wallpaper and paint cans, for example, that “go with the house.” No items “go with the house” unless you and the buyer have agreed that they do – even if those things were left at the house when you bought it.
Saying goodbye to your home – Every seller has their own version of this, but it’s a healthy thing to do after the years you’ve spent in the house and memories you’ve built there. Some plan a weekend or evening when all family members come back to the house to reunite, while others say a prayer/blessing before leaving for the last time.
Purchasing a gift for the buyer – This is another over and above, but it happens more than you might think. It’s such a nice way to leave the house for your buyer. And think, good karma…. In fact, my friend, Landis, uses a series of quotes from It’s a Wonderful Life when she leaves gifts for the next owner of her home. “Bread….that this house may never know hunger. Salt…that life may always have flavor. And wine….that joy and prosperity may reign forever.” She writes the words, and then leaves bread or a bread mix, salt or salty nuts and then a fabulous bottle of wine for the buyer! How thoughtful and magical at the same time.
What are your thoughts on getting to a happy closing table? Have you had some of these issues when selling – or buying – a home? How did you deal with them? And did you ultimately get to a happy closing table? I can’t wait to hear….
For more information on this or about the real estate market in Weston, Wellesley, Wayland and the surrounding towns or if you are considering selling your home, please contact me, Lisa Curlett (www.lisacurlett.com, 781-267-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org), to answer any questions or for a complimentary home appraisal.