Legal Steps to Take When Selling a House This Year

Legal Steps to Take When Selling a House This Year

So, you’re ready to say farewell to your old home and dive into a new adventure. Whether you’re upgrading, downsizing, or moving cities, selling a house can feel as challenging as navigating a maze. 

The legal intricacies and countless decisions, such as determining the listing price or understanding the agent commission, can seem overwhelming, particularly for first-time home sellers. However, fear not. We’ve got you covered.

This year is your year, and we’re here to help ensure the journey to sell your home is smooth, quick, and most importantly, legal. We’re simplifying the selling process and presenting all the legal steps you need to take, from partnering with a real estate agent or opting for a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) strategy to finalizing the closing costs and handling the transfer tax.

Regardless if you’re in Wisconsin, New Jersey, or Alabama, the principles are pretty much the same, and armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to tackle the home selling process. Ready to embark on this journey? Let’s unravel the legalities of selling a house step-by-step.

Legal Steps to Selling a House

The first step is to determine the market value of your home, which involves a comprehensive comparative market analysis (CMA). This step might involve consulting with a real estate agent, using online tools like Zillow or Redfin, or conducting a survey through multiple listing service (MLS) resources. Remember, the ultimate goal is to set an appropriate listing price to attract potential buyers without compromising your expected sale price.

Once you have the listing price, your next move is to prepare a disclosure statement. This legal document, which varies from state to state, outlines any material defects or known issues with your property. The purpose is to provide transparency to prospective buyers, making them aware of what they’re getting into. You should consult a real estate attorney to ensure you comply with all disclosure requirements.

Then comes the question of marketing your property. Whether you’re doing it through a realtor, conducting open houses, or listing the house by owner (FSBO), the goal is to reach as many home buyers as possible. In today’s digital world, don’t underestimate the power of social media in attracting potential buyers.

Now, onto the exciting part – receiving offers and negotiating the sale price. This is a delicate process and might involve several rounds of counteroffers. Each counteroffer should be documented in the purchase agreement for legal purposes.

Once you agree on a price, the closing process begins, handled by an escrow or title company. They will check for liens, manage the transfer tax, and ensure everything is in order. Your buyers might also request a home inspection, a standard practice in most real estate transactions.

Finally, the closing documents are signed, and you transfer the title to the new owner. With that, you’ve successfully navigated the legal steps to selling a house.

Deciding on How to Sell Your House

Now that you understand the legal steps to sell your house, deciding how to sell your house is important. Do you want to work with a real estate agent or go the FSBO route?

Hiring a real estate agent or realtor brings a wealth of expertise. These professionals understand the real estate market and can provide valuable advice on listing prices, house upgrades that may increase your home’s value, and effective marketing strategies. They can guide you through the selling process, help you understand the legal documents, and even negotiate with the buyer’s agent. However, this expertise comes with agent commission fees that can cut into your profits.

On the other hand, selling your house by owner can save you on real estate commission fees. However, it means taking on the entire process yourself. This includes listing your house on MLS, hosting open houses, negotiating with potential buyers, and understanding legal requirements. It might be daunting but can be worth considering if you’re comfortable managing such responsibilities.

Whatever route you decide on, remember the end goal – to sell your house fast, at a good price, and legally. To get started on this journey, consider reaching out to Cream City Home Buyers. They are seasoned cash home buyers in Wisconsin who know the ins and outs of the market. With services like “sell a house fast in New Berlin“, they are an excellent resource, particularly if you’re looking to sell without a realtor.

Should You Fix Up Your House

Deciding whether to invest in home upgrades before putting your property on the market can be a significant decision. Understandably, you want your house to make a great first impression on potential buyers, and fixing up your house can help with this.

Consider the general condition of your house. If it has serious issues such as a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, or structural damages, addressing these problems is a must. These material defects can greatly affect the sale price, and disclosing them to prospective buyers is mandatory. Please do so to avoid legal complications down the line.

Selling a house as-is might be a viable option if you are in a hurry or want to avoid dealing with repairs. Companies such as “we buy houses Milwaukee” offer to buy homes in their existing condition, providing an expedited sale process. 

Setting an Asking Price

Setting an asking price is vital in the home selling process. High, and you might deter potential buyers; too low, and you risk leaving money on the table.

Your real estate agent can be a valuable resource, helping you conduct a comparative market analysis to determine a competitive price. They compare your home to similar ones sold in the area (comps) and account for its size, location, condition, and unique features.

Online platforms like Zillow or Redfin can also provide valuable insights into your local real estate market. If you are going the FSBO route, a flat fee MLS listing can be beneficial for setting the right price. Furthermore, an experienced real estate attorney can guide you through this process, ensuring you adhere to all legalities.

Disclosing Damage on House

Transparency is key when selling a house; disclosing any known damage to potential buyers is legally and ethically required. In most states, sellers are legally obligated to complete a disclosure form indicating any known defects in the property.

This includes but is not limited to, structural issues, water damage, electrical or plumbing issues, pest infestations, or any past problems that have been repaired. Disclosing this information may deter potential buyers, but it encourages trust and transparency in the transaction.

Failure to disclose known issues can lead to serious legal consequences, and buyers could sue the seller for misrepresentation or fraud. Whether you decide to fix up your house before selling or opt for a “house as” sale, accurate disclosure is necessary.

Consider using resources such as the “Lawyer Fees when Selling a House” guide and “Guide to home inspections” to ensure you’re not missing out on any crucial disclosure details. In conclusion, honesty truly is the best policy when selling a house.

Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

Engaging a real estate attorney can be a strategic move, particularly if your property has any unusual aspects or if you’re selling in a state where it’s customary. Real estate attorneys specialize in the legalities surrounding property transactions and can provide guidance and support. 

They can review all legal documents, including the sales contract and disclosure form, to ensure accuracy and protect your interests. If there are any liens on the property or issues with the title, they can help resolve these complexities. They can also facilitate the closing process, ensuring everything is done legally and on time.

Moreover, a real estate attorney can offer legal advice if a buyer decides to back out or if issues arise during the home inspection. They can also clarify any legal jargon, helping you understand what you’re signing in the sales contract and disclosure statement. Understanding all the ins and outs is always advisable, so there are no surprises down the line.

Hiring a Real Estate Attorney

Showing Your Home

Showing your home is a great way of attracting potential buyers. It’s your opportunity to showcase your home’s best features and make a lasting impression.

Staging your home can make a significant difference. The goal is to help potential buyers envision themselves living in the space.

Home Inspections and Appraisals

Home inspections and appraisals are essential components of the real estate transaction process. 

The buyer typically requests a home inspection after a sales contract is signed. It thoroughly examines the property’s structure and systems – from roof and plumbing to heating and electrical wiring. 

The inspector’s role is to identify potential issues or material defects that might affect the home’s value or pose safety hazards. It’s important to remember that the “Guide to home inspections” can provide more detailed information about this process.


Negotiating the terms of your home sale can significantly impact the final sale price and other conditions of the sale. A good realtor, particularly a competent listing agent, can be an invaluable ally during this phase. 

Having in-depth knowledge of market trends and negotiation strategies, your real estate agent can help you review all offers and counteroffers, ensuring that you’re making a well-informed decision. It’s important to remember that the highest offer is only sometimes the best one. It would help if you considered factors like the buyer’s financial status, proposed closing date, requested contingencies, and whether they’re a cash home buyer or reliant on financing.

Escrow and Payments

Once you’ve accepted an offer, the next step is the escrow process. A third party sets up an escrow account, often a title company, to securely hold all necessary funds and documents until all sales contract conditions are met.

The escrow holder ensures all agreed conditions are met, such as home inspections, appraisals, title searches, and securing mortgage financing. Once all terms are fulfilled, and the closing documents are signed, the escrow holder releases the funds to the seller and the deed to the buyer, marking the completion of the sale.

Closing on Your House

The closing or settlement process is the final step in your home-selling journey. This is when the property legally transfers from the seller to the buyer. While the process can vary slightly depending on local real estate laws and customs, some essential steps generally apply.

Before the closing date, the buyer can perform a final walkthrough of the property to ensure it’s in the agreed condition. The title company or real estate attorney will prepare all the necessary closing documents, such as the deed, settlement statement, and closing disclosure detailing the final financial aspects of the transaction. 

At the closing meeting, all parties involved—buyers, sellers, real estate agents, attorneys, and often a representative from the title company—gather to sign the documents. As the seller, you’ll need to hand over the property keys and any other important information about the property.

Finishing Paperwork

One of the final steps in selling your house involves completing all necessary paperwork. This may seem daunting, but understanding the required documents can make the process more manageable. 

Key documents include the real estate purchase agreement or sales contract, which outlines all the terms and conditions of the transaction. This document includes details such as the agreed sale price, closing date, contingencies, and any included items, such as appliances or light fixtures. 

The seller’s disclosure statement is another important document. It outlines any known issues with the property or repairs made during your ownership. Remember, transparency in seller disclosures is vital, and intentionally withholding known defects can lead to legal problems. 

Wrapping it Up 

Selling a house can be a complex journey with multiple legal steps and decisions. 

From deciding how to sell your house, setting an appropriate asking price, understanding and disclosing any damage, and possibly hiring a real estate attorney, to showing your home, navigating home inspections and appraisals, negotiating the deal, understanding escrow and payments, to finally closing on your house and finishing up the paperwork – each step is important in its own way.

So, are you ready to sell a house in New Berlin or anywhere else in the country? Now you know the legal steps to take when selling a house this year. Here’s to a successful home sale and starting a new chapter!

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