Now that you’ve decided to sell your home, it’s time to get all the paperwork together! By organizing important documents upfront, your Reilly REALTOR® will be better equipped to market and sell your property.
Hands down, the Seller’s Disclosure Notice is the most important document you are entirely responsible for when selling your home. It provides the buyer information regarding the general condition of your property, including the structure, appliances, and mechanical systems, to name a few. You'll also find a section regarding zoning changes, legal issues with the home, and other related property conditions.
According to local Austin real estate attorney, Bo Blackburn, “Mistakes on the seller’s disclosure form are the number one cause of home sale lawsuits.” Avoid legal trouble! Be honest and thorough when filling out your Seller’s Disclosure! Answer each question to the best of your knowledge and pay special attention to questions that refer to known issues with the home. Even if the issue has been repaired, whether by you or the past owner, you must disclose it and indicate that the repair has been made. In addition, if you are aware of pertinent information from a previous inspection (e.g. standard, pool, termite, foundation, roof, etc.) be sure to disclose it and provide a copy of the entire past report as part of your seller’s disclosure.
Providing the Seller’s Disclosure Notice not only informs the buyer about your home’s condition, but if completed thoroughly and honestly, it can protect you from future legal problems. Thus, it’s in your best interest to disclose everything you know about the property you are selling. At REILLY, REALTORS®, we recommend using the Seller’s Disclosure from the Texas Association of REALTORS®. Note: Download the form to your computer, then open your local copy before filling it in to avoid losing your changes!
Certain property features may require you to provide additional disclosures or addendums. Here are a few of the most common:
- Septic System - If you have any type of independent sewer or septic system on your property, you are required to disclose information about the system. Your REALTOR® can provide this form for you from the Texas Association of REALTORS®.
- Gas System - If you receive propane gas service to your property, you are required to disclose information about the service. Access the form here: Addendum for Property in a Propane Gas System Service Area
- MUD Notice - If your property is located within a Municipal Utility District, you must disclose information about the district to the buyer. This form will vary depending on the location of each district, but you can see an example here: Travis County MUD Notice to Purchaser
- Lead-Based Paint - If your home was built prior to 1978, you are required to provide a notice of lead based paint, whether it is present on your property or not. Access the form here: Addendum for Seller's Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint
In addition to the Seller’s Disclosure(s), be prepared to provide the following additional documents and information about your property.
- Mortgage Information - Assemble and review all documents related to your mortgage. The state of your home loan can be a huge influence on the price of your home and whether or not you are in a position to sell. Taking the time to understand your loan now can save you headaches down the road.
- Property Taxes - While the title company will obtain official records of your property taxes, it's helpful to have this information readily available since potential buyers may ask about taxes and tax rates.
- HOA Information - If your property is governed by a home owner's association, you should, at a minimum, have the name and contact information of the association readily available. While the title company will order restrictions and a resale certificate from your HOA once you are under contract, it's a good idea to have a copy of the restrictions before you list the home. Understanding the rules and regulations enforced by the HOA, especially for unique properties, is helpful to the sales process. With a copy in hand, your agent will have information readily available to answer questions potential buyers may have, such as whether a swimming pool or addition is allowed on the property.
- Other Property Restrictions - Some properties have restrictions, even if not governed by an HOA. If you are aware of possible restrictions, be sure to share them with your REALTOR®.
Surveys and Audits
- Property Survey - A property survey will show the boundaries of your home and other important details related to the property. If you have made any major changes, like an addition or even a new sidewalk, a new survey may be required. In addition to providing a survey, you will also need to complete the T-47 Residential Real Property Affidavit. This is a notarized document that tells the buyer what you know about the home’s boundaries and if any changes have occurred since the previous survey. For example, if you add a patio, you can simply write that you added a 10 x10 patio of of the back of the home.
You can access the T-47 Residential Property Affidavit online.
- Original Home Appraisal - The original assessment of your home’s value is an important tool in determining the square footage of your home. If the square feet listed on your appraisal is higher than the value listed on the tax records, you may choose to list the higher square footage in the MLS and other marketing materials.
- Energy Audit - An energy audit measures your home's energy efficiency and most often covers your air heating and cooling systems, windows, attic insulation, ductwork, and weather stripping, to name a few. The Energy Conservation Audit andDisclosureordinance in the Austin City Code requires sellers to provide a home energy audit if the subject property is:
- within Austin's city limits
- within Austin Energy's service area
- is at least 10 years old (or older) at the time of the sale
- Utility Bills - Buyers will want to know the utility costs of you home, so it's helpful to provide copies of your utility bills. If possible, your copies should show 6 to 12 months of payments along with each provider's name and contact information.
- Top Features of Home - If you have any noteworthy features or upgrades in your home, now is the time to list them! Give your REALTOR® a list of items that will make your home stand out to potential buyers. Great items to include are a pool, deck additions, new flooring, custom cabinets, new paint, and media rooms. This is also the time to include any desirable features about your neighborhood, like amenity centers and proximity to local schools or businesses.
- Floor Plan - Having an accurate floor plan of your home is a bonus for potential buyers. It makes a great addition to paper flyers, online listing photos, and virtual tours. If you have a copy of a floor plan from your builder, share it with your REALTOR®.
- Warranties for Appliances - Buyers will appreciate having warranty information for your home, appliances, and any other covered items when they move in. Be sure to provide contracts and warranty information for your pool, water softener, air conditioner, etc., as well as major upgrades like a new roof. Instruction manuals for appliances, like the dishwasher, are also helpful.
The amount of paperwork needed to sell your home can seem overwhelming, but information is key to a successful home sale. If you have questions about any of the documents listed above, please contact your REALTOR®.