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Why you need an attorney if you’re selling your home to a friend

| Oct 29, 2020 | Real Estate Transactions |

You’re getting ready to put your house on the market when a friend expresses some interest in buying it. At first, they may just be engaging in wishful thinking. Then they decide they really do want to buy it –- at the price you want to sell it for.

It sounds like a dream scenario. You don’t have to deal with a real estate agent listing and showing the home. You don’t have to find somewhere to go while your realtor holds an open house or guides prospective buyers through. You don’t have to remove family photos that your realtor replaces with artwork and items that they think will make your home “show” better.

Not having to get realtors involved can, indeed, take much of the cost and hassle out of selling your home. However, you need to do it the right way. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a nasty and costly legal battle – and minus a friend.

If a friend is serious about buying your home at the price you want to sell it for, the first thing you should ask them to do is get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way, you’ll know they’re serious and – more importantly – you’ll know that they can afford to buy the home. If they’re paying cash, you’ll need to verify that the funds they plan to use are available.

If you’re selling your home without a realtor, it’s essential to hire a real estate attorney to guide you through the process. Selling a home is a legal transaction, and there’s a lot of paperwork. A title search has to be done. You’ll need to go through escrow. If your documents aren’t prepared correctly, the buyer could challenge them in court, perhaps successfully, later on. Further, Florida requires specific disclosures by sellers of any defects and other issues with the property. If you fail to disclose those, even if you didn’t intend to hide anything, you could end up in court with the buyer.

Selling a home is too big of a transaction to go it alone. You need a third party who will ensure that everything is being done in accordance with Florida real estate law and protect your interests. You can also let your attorney make the requests you might find difficult to make of a friend. Talk to an experienced real estate attorney before you begin the process.

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