Washington Real Estate Contract & Forms for Selling Your Home
Selling a home in Washington
The state of Washington, named after the first U.S. president George Washington, has a population of more than 6 million. It is now considered the 12th fastest growing state in the U.S.
As for its real estate business, Washington follows similar laws as that of other states although there may be differences in some of these laws and the forms required in certain transactions. Thus, it is essential that people wanting to sell their homes do some research to ensure compliance with your state’s real estate laws.
Specifically, home sellers in Washington state are required by law to provide potential buyers with a disclosure statement. Required since January 1995, the seller disclosure statement describes the defects of the property being sold. The seller should answer each disclosure item by either yes, no or don’t know.
Pricing and marketing tips
If you’re familiar with your community and the home sales process, you can surely handle the task of selling your home by yourself with a little help from your lawyer and financial adviser. Following fair housing laws will also avoid legal problems in the process. You just need to have access to many buyers and you can do this by listing your home on the Internet, putting an advertisement on your local newspaper or online or distributing flyers in public places. You can even put up your own web page to showcase your home.
Before setting the sale price of your home, you may need to get information on the status of your local real estate market and the prices of other homes being sold in your area. You can compare active and past sales in the neighborhood, difference in selling prices and the days they stayed on the market. In this way, you will have a basis as to what price is fair enough for you and your potential buyer. Keep in mind that a bargain price may not sell your home at all while a high price may delay the sale or, in worse cases, may sell your home at an even lower price to your disadvantage.
Once you have a buyer, he or she will provide you with an offer to purchase, also known as the purchase agreement. This serves as the contract which should be written based on the real estate laws of Washington state. Before signing it, you can ask your lawyer to review it for you just to be sure.
The contract specifies a variety of items such as the legal description of the property, purchase price offered, the closing date, the person to hold the deposit money, the things included in and excluded from the sale, guarantee of a clear title, provisions on the payment of bills, taxes and other expenses, inspection clause and other contingencies.
The buyer’s deposit or down payment called earnest money is also stipulated. It will state the conditions under which the buyer can get the money back (such as if he or she fails to secure a loan or there are so many repairs needed) and when the seller can keep the amount (if the buyer backs out of the deal, for instance). The deposit money belongs to the buyer’s funds and is normally held in the trust account of an escrow agent.
As a seller, you are also required to accomplish a seller property condition disclosure form. This form should detail the real condition of your home including the defects. It is, therefore, smart that you know the features of your home such as its age, size, repair records and improvements.
The typical time to close a deal is usually between 30 and 45 days from the date the agreement was reached. This is to allow time to obtain an appraisal, arrange financing, conduct an inspection and for the seller to move out of the home.
During the closing (also referred to as settlement or escrow), the buyer pays the seller the remaining balance of the agreed price while the title of the property is transferred from the owners to the buyers and then registered in local records.
There are also expenses that the seller may have to shoulder as part of closing the transaction. These are the transfer taxes, prorated property taxes, legal fees and other liens on property. Liens are charges on property to satisfy a debt or other financial obligations. These include unpaid federal and state taxes, unpaid child support and divorce lien.
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