Before you buy or sell a home in Central PA, there are five legal documents you must familiarize yourself with in order to be an informed consumer and protect yourself in any real estate transaction…

1. Consumer Notice

2. Seller’s Property Disclosure

3. Seller’s Estimated Costs

4. Agreement of Sale

5. Listing Agreement

This guide will introduce you to these five must know forms as well as provide sample documents for you to see and review prior to engaging in any real estate activity in Pennsylvania. If you do, you will be better educated than most of your competition, thereby putting you at an advantage when it comes to selling your home intelligently and for the most money.

1. Consumer Notice

The Consumer Notice explains what a PA Real Estate Agent does and the different ways agents can represent consumers (Listing Agent, Buyer Agent, Dual-Agent, etc.). Agents are required to provide the consumer with the Consumer Notice at their initial interview. If you have spoken with an agent regarding selling your home (or buying), you should have received a copy of this notice, if not, you should probably look for another agent.

If you are selling the home on your own, you’ll still need to familiarize yourself with this form, because chances are the buyer will have an agent and they will have to provide you with the Consumer Notice the first time you speak so that you know they represent only the buyer at that point and you are on your own unrepresented.

You can then:

  1. Hire the Buyer’s Agent to represent you as well (making them a Dual-Agent – I do not recommend…I do not believe an agent can truly represent either side to the fullest when
    in a Dual-Agency situation – others might disagree, but that’s what I think),
  2. Hire your own agent or attorney to represent you, or
  3. Remain unrepresented and represent yourself (probably what you will choose since you decided to sell by owner).

REMEMBER,

if there is only one agent involved in the sale of a property, then either one of the parties is not represented at all, or the agent represents both parties, in either case, it might be a good idea for both parties to have their own agent representing just them to have someone looking out for and negotiating on behalf of only them.

lauren-metzger-dave-metzger

“We had an absolutely wonderful experience with Derek and highly recommend him to anyone!”

Lauren

2. Seller’s Property Disclosure

The Seller’s Property Disclosure (or some form of it) is a form that all sellers in PA are required to fill out and provide to prospective buyers prior to entering into any Agreement of Sale. The purpose of the Disclosure is to provide prospective buyers with information regarding any known defects or issues with the property that the Seller(s) is aware of (like getting water in a basement every time it rains, a leaky roof, a broken furnace, etc. etc.).

Yes, the buyer will most likely do their own inspections, but some things cannot be seen during inspections, so it is paramount that you fill out and supply this form to all prospective buyers so that you are on record telling them anything you know so that they cannot come back later and accuse you of knowing about an issue and you being caught in a tough spot.

It’s a serious legal matter that all known defects and issues be disclosed and sellers get sued all the time, so to protect yourself and when in doubt, disclose, disclose, disclose, so you can never be accused of withholding any information.

REMEMBER,

even “For Sale By Owner” sellers are required to provide some sort of a Seller’s Property Disclosure. If you are selling a home in Central PA and cannot or will not provide a Disclosure, buyers have the right to demand it (plus it’s a legal requirement anyway). Educated unrepresented buyers and buyers represented by agents will not make any offers or sales agreements without seeing and understanding the Seller’s Property Disclosure first. Fill this out immediately, make it as comprehensive as possible, and supply it to everyone that expresses interest in your home.

3. Seller’s Estimated Costs

The Seller’s Estimated Costs sheet outlines all the costs and fees associated with selling your home…things like Transfer Tax (traditionally in PA, Seller(s) pays 1% and Buyer(s) pay 1%), Recording Fees, Notary Fees, Real Estate Tax Prorations, Broker Fee if applicable, Mortgage Payoff amount if applicable, etc. If you are selling by owner, you might want to just fill one of these out for yourself so you have a good idea of what you’ll be leaving the settlement table with.

A good rule of thumb (quick way to calculate out the costs) I use:

For Sale By Owner:

Purchase Price X 0.985 = Proceeds after all selling fees, but before loan payoff*

Example: $250,000 X 0.985 = $246,250 (after all selling fees, but before loan payoff)

Listed Home (assuming a 6% broker fee, this can fluctuate):

Purchase Price X 0.925 = Proceeds after all selling fees, but before loan payoff

Example: $250,000 X 0.925 = $231,250 (after all selling fees, but before loan payoff*)

*Does not account for prorated real estate taxes because you cannot calculate that until you have a settlement date.

REMEMBER,

if you’re selling by owner, run your own numbers so you are not surprised at settlement time. There’s nothing worse than getting less than you were expecting! Inform yourself.

If you are represented by a Listing or Selling Agent, then they are required to provide you with a Seller’s Estimated Costs sheet prior to signing any offers, agreements of sale, etc… Do not sign any purchase paperwork without first receiving, understanding, and signing a Seller’s Estimated Costs sheet.

julia-wolfe

“This is the second time we’ve worked with Derek. Each time, he went above and beyond to support us through the process.”

Julia

4. Agreement of Sale

An Agreement of Sale is a contract between Seller(s) and Buyer(s) that outlines the terms under which a sale will take place (price, inspections elected, settlement date, proposed financing, etc.) as well as states if any agents/brokers are representing Buyer(s) and/or Seller(s) in the sale. Every property sale should have some form of Agreement of Sale contract executed by both parties to ensure that both Buyer(s) and Seller(s) perform all the duties necessary and the terms agreed to are clear and adhered to in order to ensure a smooth sale process.

REMEMBER,

if there is no Agreement of Sale in place, then there is nothing ensuring that the Buyer(s) (or Seller(s) ) do what they say they will do, and both parties could be at risk. Many times, the Buyer’s bank will also require a Sales Agreement be in place.

For an in depth look at the PA Agreement of Sale, see “Consumer’s Guide to The Agreement of Sale” herein.

5. Listing Agreement

If you are selling by owner, you can skip this, but might be good to know anyway so that when agents ask you to list your home (which they will), you know what’s up and are educated.

A Listing Agreement is a contract between an agent/broker and a Seller(s) that outlines the terms under which the Seller and agent/broker shall sell the property (asking price, length of listing, broker fee, who pays for marketing expenses, duties of Seller and agent/broker, etc. etc.), as well as formally and legally hires the agent/broker to represent the Seller(s) and work on their behalf. The Listing Agreement (or some form of it) is required for any property that is listed and/or marketed for sale or rent by a licensed agent/broker in PA.

REMEMBER,

without a Listing Agreement or Seller Representation Agreement (in the case of a “For Sale By Owner” situation where an agent is not listing or marketing the house, but is simply hired to facilitate and represent the Seller(s) in negotiations and throughout the transaction process; and other duties), an agent/broker does not represent or work for a seller, so in the case of a “For Sale By Owner” property, if an agent brings a Buyer(s), Seller(s) must assume that the agent only represents the Buyer’s interests and not the Seller’s unless a Listing Agreement or Seller Representation Agreement are signed.

scot-giambalvo

“We highly recommend Derek without reservation! If you need to hear it straight from someone, I am happy to explain why he’s the right agent for you.”

Scot

Additional Resources

Consumer’s Guide to the PA Agreement of Sale

HouseLogic.com

Great articles on everything from DIY projects to home sale procedures etc. etc.

BobVila.com

Great articles on everything Home Maintenance and DIY projects

National Association of Realtors Website

Pennsylvania Association of Realtors Website

Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors Website

Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission Website

This is the government entity in charge of overseeing real estate practices in Pennsylvania


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