Selling your property involves a seemingly endless number of details. This guide is designed to make the process easier to navigate and understand. We hope it serves as a valuable reference, from hiring a realtor® to handing over the keys.
CHOOSING A REALTOR®
Buying a property is more than a business transaction. It’s personal. And it involves a seemingly endless number of details. Your realtor® is your guide throughout the entire process. Make sure your real estate agent is a REALTOR®, which means they have pledged to uphold a stringent code of ethics.
When choosing a realtor® to list your home, be sure they…
- Know their market and have a good handle on market conditions so you can create a thoughtful listing strategy together.
- Listen carefully and “get” you. They should inquire about your personal motivation and priorities, so they can mindfully support your goals.
- Produce professional, well-written marketing materials, with excellent photographs.
- Have a strong web and advertising presence.
- Are detail-oriented—to represent your property most effectively, they should be able to answer almost anything they are asked about it.
- Are personable and easy to be with. There is a great deal of preparation and dozens of steps in the real estate process. Is your realtor somebody you’d like to collaborate with?
- Have a strong sense of integrity—you should feel confident they will effectively advocate for you during negotiations.
- Have community connections to additional professionals (such as attorneys and contractors) that you will need to reach the closing table.
AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS – WHO REPRESENTS WHOM?
State law requires your realtor to present you with the Massachusetts Mandatory Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure at your first personal meeting. (This is a disclosure, not a contract.) The form will indicate we are working as your “Seller’s Agent.” Here is a link to the form >>. Legal definitions are on page two.
When one of our agents brings a buyer that they represent, this creates a dual agency. By signing the SELLER’S CONSENT TO DUAL AGENCY form you acknowledge that this may occur. A dual agent must be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and buyer. Our company does a substantial number of dual agency sales. So that both buyer and seller feel equally and accurately represented, we make sure that each party has an agent communicating on their behalf.
When a buyer submits a Purchase & Sale Agreement in a dual agency situation, they will include the BUYER and SELLER NOTICE OF DUAL AGENCY. Referring back to the consent forms previously obtained, this form notifies all parties that a dual agency is actually occurring.
The seller pays the commission. It is then split between the listing brokerage and the brokerage that brings the buyer. In a dual agency sale, it is split internally. The commission is then split again between the brokers and the agents participating in the sale. Your agent receives no compensation until closing.
Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire. ― Wendell Berry, Farming: a hand book
Thank you for listing your property with Lance Vermeulen Real Estate. We appreciate your entrusting us with your most precious asset. Now it’s time to prepare it for market.
Our goal is clear: To sell your property as quickly as possible, and at the best possible price. We’ve designed a process that gives us the best chance of doing just that. The time and attention required are not insignificant, but we have found it’s well worth the effort. It can take a few days to a few weeks to complete this process. Selling your property is a collaborative effort—let’s do this!
We begin by evaluating your property—inside and out—with fresh eyes. Let’s evaluate it the way a buyer would. Buyers make a gut judgement within seconds of seeing a property—even if they’re seeing it online! Trite but true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Below are a few crucial steps to prepare your property for market.
Give your home as much curb appeal as you can. Is it as welcoming as it can be? Consider the following:
- Front door – Front door is a key focus. Make sure there’s a clear path to it. Repair or repaint if needed. Ditto for all doors—the front of the house is typically highlighted in photographs, while at showings buyers will scrutinize every entry.
- Siding – Does it need paint, repair, power washing?
- Gutters – Do they need cleaning or repair?
- Landscaping – Trim trees/bushes (inspectors don’t like contact between trees/bushes and the house); weed, plant and mulch flower beds; mow lawn.
- Hardscaping – Make sure driveway, walkways, steps, porches, decks and patios are in good repair.
- Details – Do lampposts/lighting, fences, mailboxes and house numbers need attention?
Whether you’re living in your home or it is empty, carefully preparing your property for sale pays off. Research shows that a well-staged home sells more quickly and for a higher price. Also, buyers tend to overlook imperfections when the home is staged. Which of the following do you need to do?
- Make repairs and updates, including painting
- Neutralize – make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living in the home
- Declutter. Sort, throw out or donate unwanted items, begin to pack. (Get a jump on your move; consider renting a storage unit if needed.)
- Clean house and wash windows
- Arrange furniture, define spaces, create optimal flow
- Remove and replace any fixtures you wish to exclude from the sale
Remember, staging principles don’t only apply to living spaces—they apply to closets, pantries, attics, basements and garages, too. All these spaces will need to be empty and broom clean at closing, so make sure they’re on your radar.
We are happy to get together and create a list of staging suggestions. If the home is empty, consider hiring a professional to stage at least a couple of primary spaces. We can refer you to one of the professional stagers in our portfolio.
STAGING OUTDOOR SPACES
Don’t underestimate the impact staging your outdoor spaces can have on the sale of your home. Porches, decks and patios are living spaces, too. Staging them creates appeal, extends your home and connects it to the outdoors. Here’s a to-do list for staging outdoor spaces:
- Ask yourself: Is the area best used for relaxing, entertaining or dining?
- Prune any bushes or overhanging branches.
- Sweep, power wash and re-stain any decking if needed.
- Weed and mulch surrounding flower beds.
- Assess the condition of your outdoor furniture, and replace if needed.
- Use area rugs, pillows, flower pots and hanging plants to soften and accent the space.
- Consider string lights, hurricane lamps, candles, or other decorative lighting to create night-time appeal.
- Water features can create serenity and mask unwanted sounds. Fire features can add drama, ambiance, and warmth.
- Finally, make sure you can easily move through the space.
PREPARING THE BASEMENT
With all the attention on upstairs and outside, it’s easy to forget the basement. Is your basement clean and passable or is it a hazardous dungeon? When you anticipate what buyers will find and make repairs accordingly, you will not only impress your buyer but also avoid difficult negotiations that can derail a deal. Plus, you’ll probably save money in the long run. Here’s a list to guide you in preparing the basement:
- Make sure all lightbulbs work.
- Sweep away cobwebs, so buyers can walk through easily.
- Clear out as much stuff as you can.
- Secure falling insulation. Remove/replace if it’s deteriorated or mouse-infested.
- Repair or replace broken or leaky windows.
- Consider insulating doors between the bulkhead stairs and the basement. (It improves energy efficiency and adds value.)
- Attend to any water infiltration issues. Buyers are most squeamish about water issues, or any trace of them. If you have a sump pump, make sure it is functioning well. Downspouts should be intact, and direct water 6 feet away from the foundation. Make sure bulkhead doors are leak-free and in good condition. If there are any foundation cracks or grading issues that support water infiltration, it pays to attend to them before you list the property.
- Utilize a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels in check.
- Wipe down your boiler/furnace and other mechanicals.
- For dirt basements, consider installing gravel and vapor barrier.
- For basements with asbestos-wrapped pipes, consider having asbestos professionally removed.
- Consider pest management, including sealing your home from critters.
Here are some additional details we recommend you consider as you prepare to list your property.
INCLUDING PERSONAL PROPERTY IN THE SALE
If you are interested in selling furnishings, lawn mowers, etc. to a potential buyer, we can communicate that. However, personal property must be distinguished from real estate. It should not be mentioned in the P&S contract, particularly if the buyer is getting financing, because the buyer’s loan is being approved for real property only. Any items will be listed in a separate agreement.
Title 5 is the part of the Massachusetts State Environmental Code that regulates private septic systems. A Title 5 or a Certificate of Compliance for a newly installed septic system is required for most closings. If you don’t already have a passing Title 5 report on hand, you will need to hire a licensed excavator to inspect the septic system. Typical cost for the inspection is between $800-1000.
You can wait until you have an offer, but we recommend you get your septic system inspected when you list, if possible. Why? First, a passing Title 5 is a selling point to buyers. Second, septic issues are more difficult to deal with in the winter. You don’t want to lose or postpone your sale due to weather-related septic delays. Third, mentally and emotionally, it’s ideal to know whether a costly new septic system is required before you’re faced with an offer, so you can thoughtfully negotiate the sale. Negotiations are tricky enough without septic system issues!
The system will either pass, pass with conditions, or fail.
If the system is given a conditional pass, this means it requires some relatively minor repairs. You will receive the passing report after you complete the repairs.
If the system fails, you can try to sell the property as is. But it is very unlikely a buyer will be willing or able to purchase the property without a new system. Few banks will approve a mortgage on a property with a failed Title 5. That said, in some rare cases, careful provisions can be put in the contract for the buyer to install a new system, usually involving an escrow of 150% of the estimated cost.
Whether or not you sell the property, the law requires you to bring the septic system into compliance within two years.
If you are unable or unwilling to install a new septic system, we suggest you at least begin the process. Get perc tests, engage an engineer to design a new system, and get bids for the installation. At minimum, this gives you the information you need to give a potential buyer, increasing your chance of a successful sale.
If you are in an older home on town sewer, you may want to have the sewer lines scoped to make sure your pipes are not deteriorated, and have not been damaged by tree roots. Again, this gives you the chance to eliminate this potential deal breaker before it comes to the buyer’s attention.
You may choose to get a home inspection prior to listing your property. This gives you the opportunity to repair or improve defects, so they don’t derail the deal when a buyer discovers them. Even if you decide not to take action, it prepares you for the buyer’s inspection. Be aware, the buyer’s inspector may find different issues than yours did and that your realtor must disclose known defects to potential buyers.
A positive byproduct of a preemptory inspection is that if you discover health or safety hazards that are currently affecting you and your family, you can address them.
An Elevation Certificate (EC) determines flood risk and the cost of flood insurance. It documents the elevation of a dwelling compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood. Do you currently carry flood insurance? Is your property in a high-risk area for flooding? Because FEMA flood maps are periodically updated, even if you don’t currently have coverage, your buyer may be required to. The buyer’s insurance agent will likely need an EC to determine their flood insurance premium. It can cost hundreds of dollars, and take weeks to acquire, so by commissioning an EC now, you avoid potential delays once you have a buyer. Here is a link to more information >>
BURIED OIL TANKS
Are you aware of any buried oil tanks on your property? If there is one, any buyer will request that you have it professionally removed, and test the soil to ensure no contamination occurred (as per Massachusetts regulations). Of course, if listing the property has brought a buried oil tank to your attention, for your own safety, and to safeguard the value of your property, you’ll want to attend to this immediately.
WOOD/PELLET STOVE PERMITS
At closing you will be asked to deliver permits for any wood, gas, pellet stove and/or outdoor wood-burning furnace. If you don’t have a permit, consult the building inspector to see whether your installation can be permitted. (Stoves that are not UL-listed are simply too old to be permitted.) If you can’t get a valid permit, we will disclose this to potential buyers, and you will disconnect the unit before closing. This puts the liability for connecting and operating the stove on the buyer.
Perhaps the most critical step in selling your property is determining its market value and developing an effective pricing strategy. The CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) is our primary tool. It shows what buyers have recently paid for comparable properties and what is currently on the market. The location, style, age and condition of your property are all factored in when choosing comparable properties and interpreting the CMA results, or “comps.” We look at what is currently on the market in order to carefully position your property within existing inventory. And we look at days-on-market statistics for your area to gauge timing.
Of course, your personal motivation and goals are key considerations. If you need to sell quickly, you have to price the property competitively. If you want to “explore” what the market will bear, you can contemplate a more ambitious price. In the latter case, we advise you set a date—perhaps 30 or 60 days after listing—for a price reduction if we determine the activity has been insufficient.
Properties in this area typically sell for 5-10% under asking price. When we price the property, we need to avoid pricing it too high, but we also need to leave room to negotiate with your buyer. The CMA is useful here—it shows the ratio of sell price to list price for the comps.
More and more, staging plays a role in getting your house sold. Even if it doesn’t produce a higher price, staging almost always gets the property sold more quickly.
Pricing properties is not an exact science, particularly in the Berkshires where neighboring properties are often wildly different. Besides, humans are highly unpredictable. Also, the sale of your property can be affected by a shortage or an abundance of buyers in a given price range. As knowledgeable realtors®, our instinct for what the market will bear helps us advise you on pricing your property.
Here is a sometimes difficult truth: Your property isn’t worth what you have invested in it—it’s worth what the market will bear. Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking your house will be an exception. Overpriced properties often chase the market for years, and end up selling for less than that offer you refused when your property was first listed. Properties that remain on the market for months—or even years—become stale and fade from the REALTOR® community’s radar. Plus, even if you find a buyer willing to pay what you hope for, their lender will not approve a mortgage if the bank appraisal is less than the purchase price.
If the market value of your property disappoints you, remember how much enjoyment your Berkshire home has brought you, and look to the future.
Once the photographs of your property hit the world wide web, there is no going back. We want to assemble a complete set of optimal photos of every aspect of your house before we “go live.” As soon as you are prepared, we will schedule the photo shoot. Depending on the weather, and schedules, we will take photos once, twice—maybe even three times over the course of a few days.
Here is the paperwork you will sign…
- AGENCY FORMS
- LEAD PAINT DISCLOSURE. Massachusetts and federal law requires all parties (sellers, realtors, buyers) to comply with federal and Massachusetts lead-based paint disclosure requirements for homes built before 1978. The seller generates the form which the buyer completes prior to signing the P&S agreement. Here is a link to the form, FYI >>
- EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO SELL CONTRACT (ERTS). This contract is how you actually hire us to list and sell your property. Below is an overview of some of the key components. (Numbers refer to the relevant paragraph.) We are happy to go over the details in person. And, of course, as with any legal document, we recommend you have your attorney review it.
2. LISTING TERMS. The contract begins on the date you sign it and ends on the date inserted in this paragraph. Typically this is a six-month period. (Extensions will be made if needed.) The list price also goes here.
3. LICENSEE-CONSUMER RELATIONSHIP. This refers to the agency paperwork you’ve already filled out. (See section 1 in this guide.)
5. COMMISSION. This paragraph states the fee you will pay us at closing. It also states what portion we will offer cooperating brokers.
8. OFFERS. (a) It is our obligation to submit to you all written offers—yes, even those offensively low ones. (c) We hold the buyer’s deposits in escrow. At closing, we deduct the commission from that. (All accounting is detailed in a closing statement.)
12. BINDING CONTRACT. (a & b) If/when there are price modifications or extensions, they will be made in writing.
Engage an attorney to review listing contract, and, when it comes, the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
COMPILING DETAILED PROPERTY INFORMATION & PROVIDER LIST
We need to be prepared for any question a potential buyer may have. Our goal is to highlight the primary selling points, know how to carefully present/minimize the negatives, and of course disclose any known defects as per Massachusetts law. For this purpose, we use the INFO LISTING CHECKLIST, the MARKETING INFO CHECKLIST and the PROVIDER LIST.
Thanks and congratulations for doing your part. Now it’s time for our team to jump in! Once we sign final paperwork, we will…
- Schedule the photo shoot
- Write and publish the listing on Berkshire County Multiple Listing Service
- Write and publish the listing on lancerealestate.com
- Syndicate the listing to websites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc. (see full list in listing packet)
- Write and publish listing in the Berkshire Real Estate Guide
- Compile and produce associated marketing materials—detailed property notes, maps, brochures, etc.
- Do additional advertising, where appropriate
- Schedule Office Tour to familiarize LVRE agents with the property
- Schedule Broker Open House (These tours are on a three-week rotation.)
- Install For Sale sign at property
- Schedule showings and give feedback as soon as possible. (Sometimes it takes a few days to get feedback from the buyers.)
- Keep you abreast of market conditions during the process; review marketing strategy over time, to make sure listing remains competitive.
- Present all offers to you
- Negotiate those offers to the best of our ability
- Connect you to our network of community contractors and other professionals, where relevant
- Guide you on the homestretch to closing (See Seller’s Homestretch Checklist >>)
Keep in mind: Once the property is listed, ongoing maintenance will help you capitalize on all your efforts.
To get the most out of each showing, use the Best Practices guides below. (There’s one for full-time sellers, and one for part-time sellers/vacant homes.
- Vacuum and tidy up.
- Clean bathroom, particularly the toilets, and lower toilet lids.
- Clear counters of personal items. Ideally, this applies to all horizontal surfaces like tables, bureaus, etc.
- Open all curtains, and raise blinds.
- Turn on lights to illuminate darker spaces. (Sometimes, the showing agent can not arrive early to turn them on.)
- Don’t cook foods that could put an undesirable odor in the air—think fish, brussels sprouts, etc…
- Make sure yard is mowed, grounds are looking beautiful, and decks, porches and patios are swept.
- WINTER: make sure driveway is plowed and walks are shoveled and salted—including a path to the front door if possible. Ideally, decks and patios should be shoveled, too, so buyer can see these features.
- PETS: Make provision for your pets during showings. Do your dog a favor: take him/her for a walk or a ride. They may be as uncomfortable with buyers touring your home as the buyers are with a friendly dog jumping all over them, or barking in a crate. Clean cat box well in advance of showing, so no odors remain. Make sure we know of any special instructions regarding your pets.
- Make sure you periodically have a caretaker check on your property. Consider technology that monitors temperature, water leaks, smoke/CO, etc.
- Have interior cleaned periodically to keep it looking fresh. (During some seasons, dead bugs and critters need to be removed.)
- Make sure yard is mowed, and grounds are maintained regularly.
- In winter, make sure driveway is plowed and walks are shoveled and salted—ideally including a path to the front door. If you can, have somebody keep decks and patios swept and/or shoveled, so buyers can see these features.
- Keep heat at a minimum of 55 degrees. (If you have the ability to remotely control thermostat, raise temperature for showings.)
CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve signed a Purchase & Sale contract on your property. This sets in motion the process that gets us to the closing table. Your realtor® and attorney will help keep track of the deadlines, and will negotiate on your behalf whenever needed. Here is an overview of key deadlines and components of the contract we hope you’ll find helpful. (Numbers in bold refer to the relevant paragraph.)
5.5 – INSPECTION CONTINGENCY DATE. The purpose of the inspection is both for the buyer to familiarize themselves with how the property functions and to scrutinize it for any safety, mechanical or structural defects. It typically takes at least a couple of days for the inspector to give the buyer a written report to review. The buyer has until the contingency date to tell us whether the inspection was satisfactory.
Plan to be away during the buyer’s inspection. Inspections typically take 2-4 hours, depending on the inspector and the property. Your listing agent will open the house for the inspection.
There are two schools of thought regarding whether the agent should follow the buyers and their inspector during the inspection. Some attorneys advise having your listing agent simply open the house, and then sit in their car during the inspection. Why? Because your listing agent will be required to disclose any defects they become aware of at the inspection. (They can’t disclose anything they don’t know.) The other perspective is, your realtor® can better advise you about any defects if they’ve seen them first hand. Don’t you want to know about any safety and structural issues the inspector finds? If these buyers don’t purchase the property, you may very well want to address the issues— either because they affect your investment and/or your family’s health—or simply because you don’t want the next buyer to discover the same potential deal-breakers.
After the inspection, the buyer will respond in one of three ways:
- They will tell us the inspection was satisfactory.
- They will tell us the inspection was unsatisfactory and cancel the agreement.
- They will tell us the inspection was unsatisfactory and make a request. They will either ask you to address any safety, mechanical, or structural issues, or they will ask for a monetary concession because they prefer to make repairs themselves.
Heads up: often buyers make ambitious requests, forgetting to distinguish between “improvements” they wish to make, and safety, mechanical and structural defects. We will review the buyer’s requests together and respond appropriately.
Occasionally, an extension is warranted if professional estimates need to be obtained as part of this negotiation process.
Assuming an agreement is reached, all parties will sign a revised P&S. If there has been an extension, the second deposit is typically delayed until agreement is reached regarding inspection issues.
3 – SECOND DEPOSIT. We’ll make sure second deposit is received by deadline and put in escrow.
5.6 – SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECTION DATE. A passing Title 5 (or a Certificate of Compliance for a newly installed septic system) is required for most closings. Otherwise, careful provisions must be put in place, usually including escrowing 150% of the estimated cost to install a new system.
If you don’t already have a passing Title 5 report on hand, you will need to hire a licensed excavator to inspect the septic system. You have until the contingency date to provide the buyer with the Title 5 Report.
The system may pass, pass with conditions, or fail. If the system passes, great!
If the system is given a conditional pass, this means it requires some relatively minor repairs. You will receive the passing report after you complete the repairs.
If the system fails, the buyer may cancel the agreement. But in most cases, the seller has a new system designed and installed. You may also ask the buyer to offset the expense of a new system. Assuming an agreement is reached, all parties will sign a revised P&S.
APPRAISAL. If the buyer is getting a mortgage, their bank will schedule an appraisal of the property, to make sure the mortgage is in line with the value of the property. We’ll schedule this with you accordingly. If the purchase price is higher than the appraised value, the bank will not approve the buyer’s loan. In this case, your options are:
- Modify the purchase price to match the appraisal and move forward with this deal
- Challenge the appraisal by arranging for a second appraisal
- Allow the deal to fall through
Keep in mind, if you let this buyer go, you will likely be faced with the same situation the next time.
Cash buyers may also make their offer contingent on an independent appraisal.
5.3 – MORTGAGE CONTINGENCY DATE. If for any reason, despite diligent efforts, the buyer is unable to obtain a commitment letter from their lender, they may cancel the contract—as long as they let us know by the contingency date.
5.4 – INSURANCE CONTINGENCY DATE. If for any reason, despite diligent efforts, the buyer is unable to obtain a satisfactory insurance binder—for example, due to flood insurance requirements— they may cancel the contract—as long as they let us know by the contingency date.
13 – FIXTURES. All fixtures attached to/used in connection with the house are included in the sale (see detailed list in P&S). Hopefully, you have removed—or at least disclosed—any fixture(s) you want to exclude. As part of negotiating the terms of the P&S, you have one last chance to specify any exclusions. It is commonly assumed that appliances stay, and most buyers reiterate this here.
24 – SMOKE AND CO DETECTORS. You must obtain a Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Certificate from your Fire Chief, to be delivered at closing. The Fire Chief will make sure the units are installed everywhere they are supposed to be, are functioning, and are not too old. If your detectors are hardwired, you will need to hire an electrician to make any updates required. If your (hardwired) system is connected to an alarm company, you will have to hire the alarm company to test the system for the fire chief. We are happy to help you prepare for your appointment with the Fire Chief.
24 – WOOD STOVE PERMIT. If you have a wood stove permit—great. We’ll give the buyer a copy by closing. If you do not, you need to disconnect the stove before closing.
HOME STRETCH. Your attorney will guide you through the home stretch to closing. Make sure you are in touch. Give yourself enough time to pack and prepare for closing, especially if you live out of town. Use the SELLERS HOMESTRETCH CHECKLIST to assist you.
22 – WALKTHROUGH. Within 24 hours of closing—most often, the morning of—the buyer will do a walk-though. This is largely a formality to ascertain that the property has been left broom clean, with all personal property and rubbish removed. If this is not the case, you will be asked to rectify the situation.
CLOSING. Closing typically occurs at the buyer’s attorney’s office. Sometimes, it is held at the Registry of Deeds. If the buyer is getting financing, you will arrive 30 minutes after them, to give them time to complete mortgage documents with their attorney. Your attorney will guide you through the closing, which typically takes about 15-30 minutes after you arrive. For cash closings, all parties arrive together, and the closing can take as little as 15 minutes.
Closing is in a couple of weeks. We’re on the home stretch! Here is a checklist we hope you’ll find helpful. Not only should it make this stressful time easier, you’ll feel good when it’s time to hand over the keys—and so will your buyers. Leave yourself plenty of time to make this happen—it always takes longer than you expect!
- WINDOW TREATMENTS. Curtain hardware is a fixture, and stays with the house. Curtains can come with you. If you don’t want them, we will find out if the buyers would like them. Otherwise, simply remove them. Blinds and window shades stay.
- PICTURE HOOKS. Remove all picture hooks.
- PAINT, ETC. Old paint, stain, and other household hazardous materials (solvents, pesticides, household cleaners, etc.) should be disposed of. See this link for proper handling instructions >>.
Find out if buyer wants recent paint/stain (for touch ups). Leave any paint color information for buyer.
- SMOKE & CO DETECTORS. You must obtain a Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detector Certificate of Compliance from your Fire Chief, to be delivered at closing. The Fire Chief will make sure the units are installed everywhere they are supposed to be, are functioning, and are not too old. If your detectors are hardwired, you will need to hire an electrician to make any updates required. If your (hardwired) system is connected to an alarm company, you will have to hire the alarm company to test the system for the fire chief. We are happy to help you prepare for your appointment with the Fire Chief.
- UTILITIES & SERVICES. Arrange to close your utility and service accounts as of closing day. Inform all providers you are moving. In case there is snow, make sure your plow service stays active through closing day. Helpful hint: Plan for a final mow/yard maintenance appointment a few days before closing.
- DSL SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: If you have Verizon DSL, DO NOT cancel service before making careful arrangements with your buyer. If you cancel your DSL, the buyer may not be able to get internet service. (We know this from experience!)
- HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE. End your insurance the day after closing.
- FUEL. Check with your attorney and/or realtor® for instructions regarding topping off your fuel. In most cases, you will fill your oil or propane tank the week before closing, and the buyer will pay for a full tank at closing. Occasionally, the fuel gauge is read, and the buyers pay for a partial tank.
- FOR WOOD/PELLET STOVES. If you don’t have a permit (and haven’t been able to get one from the building inspector) disconnect the stove. (See more in Additional Details in Section 2 of this guide.)
- IF LEAVING FURNISHINGS FOR BUYER. Make sure movers don’t inadvertently remove furnishings you are leaving for the buyer by marking them accordingly.
- MANUALS. Gather any warrantees and instruction manuals, and leave them in one place for the buyer.
- KEYS, CODES, & REMOTE CONTROLS. Gather and organize all keys, garage door openers, and/or remote controls (for gas fireplaces, air conditioners, fans, skylights, etc.) for closing. If there are any keypad codes, jot them down to pass along to the buyers at closing.
- PREPARE FOR WALK THROUGH. Buyers will schedule a walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing—most often, the morning of. The contract specifies that the property be left broom clean, with all personal property and rubbish removed. Remember—this applies to the attic, basement and garage, too. This may seem obvious, but we want to avoid the stress of having to scramble for additional moving equipment, cleaners, or trash removal, on the morning of closing.