Step 5. Close the sale
The final steps to closing your seller’s property involve a final inspection, providing the buyer with the necessary paperwork and finally—taking the property off the market.
Now’s the time to move the deal to the final stage in your CRM. You can set up activities and goals to make sure nothing is missed. It’s the final countdown and a CRM system helps you get across the finish line smoothly.
Part 1: Schedule a final inspection
A final inspection is the buyer’s last chance to point out anything in the property they aren’t happy with.
Real estate laws require that you (as the agent) and your client (the seller) provide the buyer with full-disclosure about anything that’s faulty at the property. If your seller doesn’t comply, they’ll be liable for any defect, so make sure you keep the buyer in the loop.
Obviously, the time of a final inspection needs to be agreed by the seller and buyer. But the sooner the better to keep the sales process moving.
Either you or your seller must arrange for a qualified inspector to prepare a final inspection report. Make sure whoever organizes the inspector informs them that you’ll be present. Let your seller and the buyer know that a typical final inspection can take up to four hours depending on the size of the property, so they’ll need to clear their schedules.
Make sure you’re there for this inspection as well, so you can navigate your seller and buyer through the process.
Don’t think this is necessary?
There are instances where an inspector will say something about an element of the property (like the fireplace will need to be replaced in the next 5 years) and your buyer may panic.
In their head, they might perceive this as “the fireplace needs to be replaced immediately, otherwise the property isn’t suitable.” By being present, you can deal with these concerns, keeping your buyer calm and on track to close the sale.
The property needs to be evaluated from top to bottom: from the rooms and features to the foundation and rooftop. Have the buyer check that the air conditioning and heating are working throughout the property, as well as all of the plumbing and electrical outlets (and any appliances that have been included in the sale).
Finally, the inspector will look at the property’s foundation, room, walls, windows and any other structural element of your buyer’s property.
The main aim of a final inspection is to give the buyer peace of mind that the property is in good condition. If all goes well, it should help to move them along their buying journey and make them more comfortable when you move on to the final negotiation after the inspection.
Part 2: Handle the final negotiation for your seller
It’s up to you as a realtor to handle the final negotiation for your seller after the property inspection. Usually, the buyer will have their own agent that you’ll be negotiating with, but you could be negotiating with the buyer directly.
Keep in mind that, sometimes, a final negotiation isn’t always needed. If the information that’s been given to the buyer has been accurate, and there were no surprises during the final inspection, it’s likely they’ll be happy to pay the original price.
If the buyer found areas of the property they weren’t happy with, it’ll be up to you to handle these negotiations. If this happens, the best way to get a deal made is to make a compromise.
Sometimes the seller may have to take a little less for the property than they were hoping for, but remind them it’s a better solution than having the property sitting on the market for the foreseeable future.
Pro-tip: You and your seller can avoid a final negotiation by being as transparent as possible with buyers throughout the sales process.
Part 3: Sign the papers and hand over any necessary documents
The next part of the process: signing the purchase agreement.
A foolproof purchase agreement will outline any payments and credits that are owed to your seller and any payments that are due from the buyer.
Make sure you include every cost in the purchase agreement. This includes transactions such as title and tax searches, adjustments (if they were necessary) and prepaid taxes.
The buyer’s agent will draw up a formal contract, which the buyer will sign before sending it over to you and your seller. Take the time to explain everything to your seller and review it with them before they sign it on their end.
Once the purchase agreement has been signed by both parties, it’s time to hand over the property documents to the new buyer. And there are a lot of them.
The best way to make this as painless as possible is to collect everything from your seller during the sales process and keep it on file.
- The property deed
- Seller’s insurance policy: Typically, your seller will need to make sure the property is insured prior to the final closing of the property so the buyer is protected.
- Any water, sewerage and property tax bills: If your seller’s property is hooked up to municipal sewerage and water, you’ll need to have proof that everything is paid up for the closing. This goes for property taxes, too. State or local transfer taxes are usually paid when the property title is handed over from the seller to the buyer.
- Certificate of Title / Title Insurance Policy: As a real estate agent, you should’ve checked titles and policies earlier in the process to ensure there are no surprises (refer back to the very first step in this guide). You must make sure any unpaid taxes, assessments or other issues are resolved by your seller before you hand these over to the buyer. The property’s title insurance policy is for the buyer and covers them for potential losses that could result from property ownership disputes. Both the new buyer and their lender should get a copy of these.
- Final utility readings: Your seller needs to take final readings of any gas and electric meters in the property and give them to their service provider and the new buyer. This will make the move-in a lot easier for the new buyer as service providers will already know your seller is no longer responsible for utilities at the property.
- Any service records or warranties: Your seller should hand over any service records or warranties for any appliances or maintenance that’s ever been done on the property. Any recommendations for a reliable plumber or electrician is also a nice touch for the new buyer, especially if they’re new to the area.
- Plot and survey plans: Finally, the buyer will need to get a copy of an up-to-date survey for the closing. If your seller has misplaced them, you should be able to get a copy from the town or city hall for a small fee.
Once all of the documents are handed over and all the paperwork is signed, the very last step for you as a realtor is to remove the property from the market. Take it down from the MLS, your website and any social media advertising you’ve been running for it.
The speed of the Real Estate Sales Process depends on you
The real estate sales process can be a long one. But the longer it lasts, the more time your seller will be out of pocket, and the more time your agency will have to spend on finding a buyer.
Ideally, you want to close a property sale as quickly as possible (without the seller feeling rushed).
Organizing the seller from the earliest stages of the sales process (staging their property and getting their documents in check) can make a massive difference in how quickly and swiftly the sale will go. CRM systems can also go a long way in simplifying, organizing and automating your sales process.
Once you’ve hooked a potential buyer, the key to a smoother sale is to help both parties with any questions they have so you can stamp out any objections that could stall the sales process.
After all, 89% of people selling their home use a real estate agent, so getting a sale right can open up doors for your agency. Not only with current clients, but with homeowners who are looking for a competent agency to handle their next property sale.