For Sellers

Tips For A Stress-Free Home Selling Experience

Working with the right team of real estate professionals is the first step – the right real estate agent and lawyer will give you all the information that you need and help you keep on top of the seemingly endless things on your to-do list. Your real estate agent will be your best resource during the initial stage of selling your home. Once you’ve received an offer, your lawyer will work with you and your agent until the offer is firm (that is, until all the conditions have been waived or fulfilled). Once the deal is firm, your lawyer will become your primary resource for help and information.

Your To-Do List:

The best advice I can give you for a stress-free move is to start your preparations early. The following is a short (and not exhaustive) list of tasks:

  • Start Packing Early – I’ve assisted hundreds of families sell their homes and the one comment I get consistently is that it always takes longer to pack than expected. Start packing early so that you have time to contact local charities in your area who will appreciate donations of clothing or furniture (the more you donate the less you have to move).
  • Pack and Move Everything. The standard Agreement of Purchase and Sale states that the seller will provide vacant possession on closing. This means that you cannot leave garbage, debris, furniture, etc., in the home or anywhere on the property – doing so is a violation of your Agreement.
  • Read The Inclusions and Exclusions in the Agreement. Before you start packing make sure that you remember what items you agreed to include in the purchase price, and what items are excluded and make sure that you pack accordingly. for example If you’ve included all electric light fixtures, you cannot take the dining room chandelier with you.
  • Mortgage Information. Your lawyer will need information about any mortgages or lines of credit that are registered against the property, as they must be paid out by your lawyer on closing. Go through your paperwork and collect a recent mortgage or line of credit statement that includes your mortgage number and the full name and address of your mortgage company. This information should be provided to your lawyer as soon as possible, and no later than 2 weeks before closing. Without a discharge statement from your mortgage company, your sale cannot be completed.
  • Property Taxes. There will be an adjustment to the balance due on closing from the purchasers based on property taxes. If you pay your property taxes by installment (usually 4 times a year, depending on the municipality), your lawyer will need your most recent property tax bill and they will also need to know how much you have paid for the year. If you pay your property taxes by monthly pre-authorized withdrawal, you will need to get a Statement of Account from the property tax department showing how much has been assessed and how much has been paid on account of your property taxes. You should provide this information to your lawyer as soon as possible and no later than 2 weeks before closing.
  • Contact Your Utility Companies. Your lawyer should notify the Utility Companies of the change of ownership, however, utility companies will not close accounts or schedule meter readings on the instructions of a lawyer – the person whose name is on the account must make the phone call. Typically, hydro and natural gas companies will come to your property and take their own meter readings and your final bill will be mailed to the forwarding address you have provided to them. In Durham Region, you must contact the Water Billing Department to advise them of the sale and they will give you instructions on reading your meter.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company. Advise them of the sale and arrange for cancellation or transfer of your policy.
  • Arrange for the Oil Tank to be Filled. If your property is heated with oil, unless the parties have agreed otherwise, you must arrange and pay for a full tank of oil. Advise your lawyer of the name of your oil supplier, the size of your tank and the date that the tank will be filled. Your lawyer will adjust the balance due on closing so that the purchasers reimburse you for a full tank of oil.
  • Mail Forwarding. There seems to be an endless list of people and companies that need notice of your change in address. Consider having Canada Post automatically forward your mail for a period of time. The cost is reasonable and this will give you time to make sure that all of the necessary parties have been notified.
  • Contact Information. Make sure that your lawyer has a way to contact you on the day of closing. Remember to charge your cell phone and keep it turned on.   Also, make sure that your lawyer has your forwarding address so that your reporting package and copies of all documents can be sent to you after closing.
  • Keep In Touch With Your Lawyer. Keep your lawyer up to date on any change in your sale, such as a change in closing date. Make sure that your lawyer has your current contact information so that you can be reached before and after closing. Tell your lawyer as soon as possible if you’re going on vacation before closing (and especially if you will not be available during the last few days before closing).
  • Practice Your Signature. There is a lot of paperwork to sign. You will meet with your lawyer before closing to go over the closing documents. At that time, your lawyer will ask that you bring a key to the property (and reveal. your alarm code, if applicable). Additional copies of keys and garage door openers may be left on the kitchen counter or in one of the kitchen drawers

If you’d like more information or have questions about how to make your selling experience stress-free, I’d be pleased to speak with you by phone, by e-mail or in person.