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What Paperwork Does a Home Seller Need?

Posted by Justin Havre on Friday, September 7th, 2018 at 3:36pm.

The Key Paperwork You Need to Sell a HomeThe required paperwork for a home sale will vary depending on which province the home is located in. However, that doesn't mean sellers can't learn more about the underlying principles of what buyers are looking for to help them make a final decision. Learn more about what type of information will help net the best purchase price—whether the form is officially required or not.

What Buyers Want

The official paperwork each seller needs will vary based on the province of the home, with some requiring a lot of data and some requesting just the bare bones. Instead of treating the regulations as a starting point though, sellers may want to consider the information that will help a buyer decide if the property is for them. This may include electricity and gas bill statements, so a homeowner can factor in how much they'll spend to heat the property. Or providing the municipal tax assessment, which can be obtained at the seller's local municipal office. Sellers should also give documentation of any active leases on the property, or standing contracts related to the home. Sellers may also have to supply the original property assessment that they received upon first moving into the home.

Receipts, Lists, and Opinions

Home sale paperwork gives the seller a chance to brag a little about their property by including all of the proof and information for any home improvements they made. This could be anything from a new dishwasher to a full kitchen renovation. Buyers and sellers will also need to state what is and isn't included in the sale of the home. There is no such thing as going overboard on this list, so list everything from light fixtures to mirrors to avoid any potential arguments in the case the seller forgets certain property (e.g., a satellite dish, ATV, etc.)

Sellers should tuck any active warranties or relevant user's manuals into the buyer's paperwork as well. Finally, sellers should consider commissioning a Certificate of Location, whether it's required in their province or not. This document is prepared by a surveyor who gives his professional opinion about the safety and condition of both the building and grounds.

Potential Problems

First and foremost, buyers want to know about any potential problems long before they have to handle the closing paperwork. This includes anything from a lien on the property to a neighbor's claim that they own the hedges along the perimeter of the estate. For the most part, this will usually be included in the title information. Sellers should also have their mortgage information handy (assuming the seller still has a mortgage).

This paperwork should include everything from the payment details to any penalties that may have incurred. Buyers and sellers will work together to decide what is and isn't included in the sale of the home. This list of property will need to be as detailed as possible to be useful. This way, if a seller forgets their satellite dish on the roof, they can come back to claim it as long as it wasn't an official part of the sale.

Potential Costs

From the utility bills to any fixed costs on the properties, buyers may request to see the seller's bills from the last 12 months (or the seller may be required to provide them). Sellers should aim to give buyers as much information as possible so they know they can budget for the costs of the home. If the seller had a three-year contract with a pool cleaner, for example, then the buyer will need to have this paperwork prior to closing.

Sellers should also provide information on property taxes for the past year, as well as any lease information relevant to the home sale. (A municipal tax assessment can generally be found at the seller's local municipal office.) Sellers need to be extremely careful about the information they provide to potential buyers because any mistakes can come back to haunt them during escrow.

The Dirty Details

Buyers want to know that they're going to be covered in the case of a potential dispute. Ex-spouses, neighbors, and banks may all make a claim on a property, which can lead to a lengthy legal battle for the buyer. If the seller foresees any problems, this will need to be spelled out in the Land Title Information. A lien on a home or a vague clause in a prenuptial agreement, for example, should be included in the paperwork.

If the next-door neighbor says that a full half acre of the land is up for grabs, then the seller has to disclose the details of the dispute and the surrounding documentation. Sellers may also be asked to give the financial details related to their active mortgage (including the history of payments or potential penalties.)

Wrapping It Up

Paperwork Needed to Sell a Home

The key to a successful closing is tied up with how much prep work was done prior to putting the home on the market. Those who can supply everything at a moment's notice send a strong message to potential buyers: this home is an open book and this seller is a responsible individual. If a seller lives in a particularly popular area, then having the paperwork will also speed up the process if they get a good offer right off the bat.

When it comes time to close, sellers just need to be sure that the information on the original paperwork matches that of the closing documents exactly. If the buyer makes a last-minute request or a seller realizes that their calculations were off by a few dollars, this can delay the selling process by days or even weeks. Both the buyer and seller need to have all of their ducks in a row when it comes to official documentation as well as formal agreements.

Potential Benefits

To increase the likelihood of a sale and to encourage multiple offers, sellers will want to highlight how they've handled the property so far. A glowing Certificate of Location tells buyers that a surveyor has looked over the property and found it to be in excellent conditions. Sellers will want to include all information and documentation regarding any home improvements or renovations they've made to the property as well, including any active warranty documents and user information.

This ultimately tells an owner that the South East Calgary property was well cared for during the seller's ownership. Finally, sellers can include information about the future of the neighborhood as a means of tempting buyers into higher offers. For example, if a luxury shopping center is planning to be built in the area in the next few years.

A real estate agent is always going to be the best person to talk to about mandatory paperwork, especially considering the stipulations for each province can range from simple to complex. Sellers can do themselves in a favor in the meantime by thinking like a buyer, and providing as much detailed information as possible about the state of the home and the future of the property.

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