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Don’t Go to Closing Alone: Why You Need an Attorney for Your FSBO Home

June 8, 2018 Jake Balderson

don't go to closing along - why you need an attorney by your side when you close your for sale by owner home

In our past few blogs we’ve been walking you through the For Sale By Owner (“FSBO”) process so you can know what to expect if you’ve decided to sell your own home or even if you’re just trying to decide whether it’s the right decision for you.

Today we’re going to talk about the actual closing process.

Closings can be daunting events, even with a real estate agent by your side. Without one, you will still need some representation or counsel during the process. We highly recommend using a qualified real estate attorney throughout the FSBO process to ensure everything is done legally as well as to your benefit.

Closing is the actual act of handing over the title of your home to the new owner. This requires literally hundreds of pages of legal documents that without a professional set of eyes may not be in your best interest or may hold you liable for things you may not realize. Not to mention at least one of the two parties will be coming to the table with a substantial amount of cash.

Prior to closing, your buyer will have made an offer. That offer was likely contingent on you doing a list of things – fixing issues with the house, providing some closing cost or a number of other negotiations. Your acceptance of the offer was a legally binding contract.  If you come to the closing table having not completed the items agreed upon within the contract you may be in breach of contract and liable for any damages or delays in closing.  More than likely, however, if you haven’t completed the items listed in the accepted offer, the closing will simply fall through – having wasted a lot of your time, as well as your buyer’s. There’s no guarantee that the buyer will wait around while you tie up any loose strings, which means you could lose the sale altogether.

There are two major aspects of your closing that a real estate attorney can assist with. The first is contract preparation. A qualified real estate attorney will help you prepare the contract, ensuring you are aware of all the terms, can meet the terms and that it is to your benefit. The second is their role as settlement agent. This involves assistance in preparing the necessary documents for closing such as the deed of the home. During this process your attorney will also act as the liaison between you and your buyer’s legal counsel. The closing process also requires various inspections and your attorney can recommend reliable inspection companies to do this work at a fair cost. Perhaps most importantly during this step of the process, your attorney will be able to identify if there are any issues with the home’s title and can provide counsel regarding how best to resolve the issues while making sure closing is not delayed. Finally, your attorney will act as the settlement agent in the actual closing when all the documents are signed.

Having this assistance during this process is crucial. Your home is likely your biggest investment, so don’t sell it without qualified, experienced legal counsel on your side.