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What Documents Do I Need to Keep After Selling My House?

James Anderson

October 27, 2022

What documents do I need to keep after selling my house? There is a mountain of paperwork that must be filed away after closing a property transaction.

Are you sure you need to keep all of them? Remember that you don't want to waste time filing unnecessary documents, but you also don't want to lose track of anything important.

If you lose your closing paperwork, the closing business is obligated by law to preserve a copy for at least seven years. However, you should save relevant paperwork in the event that you need to submit a claim against the seller or your professional representation team in the future (i.e., your real estate agent, home inspector, or mortgage lender). Though we really hope it doesn't, it's smart to be ready just in case.

Here, then, are the documents you need to save from the hundreds you'll get during the home-buying journey and the reasons why you need to keep them.

1. Buyer’s agent agreement

A buyer's agent agreement is a legal document between a homebuyer and a real estate firm that establishes the buyer's agent as the buyer's legal representative during the home-buying process.

The conditions of your relationship with your agent will be laid out in this contract, including who will be responsible for paying the agent's commission (often the seller), the duration of the contract (typically 90 to 120 days), and the process for canceling the contract.

Why should you hold on to it? It details the services your agent has promised to give and might be useful in the event of a dispute with them after the deal has closed.

2. Purchase agreement

A real estate purchase agreement (or "purchase agreement") is the starting point for any real estate transaction and serves as a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller that certifies the parties' agreement on the purchase price, closing date, and other conditions.

You'll need to stick to the terms of this agreement strictly. There may be legal consequences if you or the seller fail to meet these obligations.

3. Addenda, amendments, or riders

The conditions of your purchase agreement may be changed by these sorts of papers. If a study finds an encroaching fence installed by a neighbor and you want the fence removed, for instance, the sales contract must be properly revised to reflect this change.

Keep them since they alter the conditions of the original contract you signed and are usually connected to things like house inspections and appraisals.

If, for example, the seller agreed to make specific repairs based on the home inspection results and both parties signed a repair addendum, you will need to refer to this document if there are future repairs problems.

4. Seller disclosures

If the seller knows of any issues with the house, either current or historical, that might influence the value of the property, and they have a legal obligation to provide this information to potential buyers. Depending on the rules in your state, you may be required to report things like lead-based paint, insect infestations, and home improvements that were carried out without a proper building permit.

Just in case big issues arise with the house after you move in, you'll be glad you kept these disclosures and can use them as evidence in a lawsuit against the seller. You may have problems holding the vendor legally responsible for their loss.

5. Home inspection report

A Home Inspection

After inspecting your house, your home inspector should compile a full report detailing their findings and any concerns they may have found.

Why should you preserve it? A thorough report from a home inspection will contain images of any trouble areas and a complete description of the inspector's findings. In the event that maintenance is required in the future, you will have this report as a reference.

6. Closing Disclosure

A closing disclosure (CD) must be sent to the borrower at least three working days prior to settlement by the mortgage lender. Your loan's terms (usually 15 or 30 years), loan type (fixed or adjustable rate mortgage), interest rate, and closing charges are all spelled out in this document.

The CD contains a record of all the money you paid at closing and the fees and interest you paid on your mortgage, so it's crucial to save it for future reference. You'll need this paperwork to prove if you want to deduct mortgage points or other costs from your taxable income.

7. Title insurance policy

If there are any disputes about who actually owns a property, title insurance can help settle them. The insurance company will do a public records check of the property's title in order to uncover any lingering issues, such as unpaid mortgages, unrecorded liens, or forged signatures on legal paperwork.

You should keep it in case someone else, such as a prior owner, seeks to lay a claim to the property. It's important to remember that lenders and purchasers each need their own type of title insurance, and you should do the same.

8. Property deed

When you acquire ownership of property outright, you will be presented with a deed, a legal document that affirms or assigns ownership rights to the residence. Once the paperwork necessary to transfer the title has been registered in your county's public records office, you will often receive the deed to the property through the mail.

Having a property deed on hand is the only method to prove to a third party that you are the rightful owner of the residence you are occupying. Since the deed will be mailed to you instead of the mortgage lender or title business, they won't need to hold a copy.

When selling a home, what paperwork is essential?

Depending on the circumstances, selling a home may be lengthy and require copious amounts of paperwork.

You may be in for some unexpected challenges if you expect an easy transaction while selling your property through the conventional real estate market. As you might expect, a great deal of planning and documentation is involved with selling a property. Know what paperwork you'll need before you put your house up for sale. The following is a helpful starting point, but it is by no means a complete list of requirements.

1. Mortgage loan documentation

What Documents Do I Need To Keep After Selling My House

If you want to sell your property, you'll need to display the details of your mortgage loan and associated papers (if you have one). You'll need to provide proof of your account status, the total amount outstanding, and any fees linked with the account. If you need this documentation, you should get in touch with the financial institution that is servicing your loan.

In accordance with mandatory U.S. legislation, this document will indicate your payback amount. What you owe to settle the debt is what is known as the "payoff amount." Be aware that your payout amount is different than your present balance. However, interest accrued up to the payback date is not included in your current account balance. For legal reasons, your loan servicer must provide you with this number if you ask for it.

2. Mandatory disclosures

The process of making potential purchasers aware of any known faults with a home for sale is known as "disclosure," and it is governed by regulations in every state in the United States. In order to sell your home, you must create a disclosure document.

Laws vary from state to state but always follow the same basic structure. The seller and/or the seller's agent must inform the buyer of any issues with the property that may compromise the buyer's health or safety. Always check the paperwork requirements in your state.

Asbestos, environmental contaminants, violent crimes committed on the property, pending or settled legal challenges, and neighborhood nuisances are just some of the issues that the seller or buyer must disclose.

The disclosure about lead-based paint is one example of disclosure with countrywide applicability. Any residence in the United States built before 1978 must have a disclaimer about the presence of lead-based paint if it is for sale.

3. Deed to the house

To complete the sale of your house, you must have the original deed that was issued at the time of purchase. In many cases, this occurred many years ago, making it difficult to track down the original deed. No need to panic if you can't locate your original deed; there are ways to get a new one.

An option is to go to the office of the recorder in your area. Although their names may vary, most counties have a designated office for maintaining records of property transfers and ownership. Some of these bureaus even have online record-keeping services.

If this is not possible, you might ask the title firm you originally dealt with to go to the county recorder's office on your behalf. Although usually free, a minor charge may be required in some locations.

Finally, you may have someone else do it for you by using a deed retrieval service. Pricing for these services varies widely across providers.

4. Property tax documentation

You must also provide proof that property taxes have been paid. If you want to offer potential purchasers an idea of the property tax they would have to pay, you will usually have to show them your most recent tax statement.

Keep in mind that the number of days between the sale of your house and the closing might result in you owing money for back property taxes. The laws of the community in which you reside will determine the type of taxes you must pay.

5. Homeowners insurance records

Home Insurance

Although not required by law in any jurisdiction, it is recommended that homeowners insurance documentation be provided throughout the selling process. Providing proof of homeowner's insurance is an open and honest approach to disclosing any major changes made to your house. One possible application for this data is to help a buyer estimate their annual premium costs for homeowner's insurance.

6. Personal identification information

Whenever dealing with a government agency, it is imperative that you prove your identity. Wire fraud, money laundering schemes, and other forms of predatory behavior are rampant in today's real estate market. Safeguarding yourself and others from falling victim to these frauds can begin with simple steps like confirming your identity.

You must present a valid picture ID, such as a driver's license or state ID card, to establish your identity. A piece of an official letter addressed to you personally may also be required. This might be anything from a bank statement to an energy bill. If you plan on closing the sale of your home in a state that requires identification other than your driver's license, be sure to have appropriate documentation with you.

7. Original sale contract

In some cases, while selling, you'll be asked to submit the original sales contract. As the buyer, you have signed this contract. For the sake of openness, this paper displays essential information like:

  • The original sale price
  • Disclosures that were required at the time you purchased the home
  • Proof that you own the home you intend to sell
  • The terms under which you purchased the home

8. Final purchase and sale agreement

Signing Documents For What Documents Do I Need To Keep After Selling My House?

A final buy and sale agreement is a crucial piece of paperwork when selling a home through the traditional real estate market. In this process, both you and the buyer's agent or attorney will be involved.

The ultimate buy and sale agreement is an all-inclusive contract that details every facet of the deal, from the earnest money to the purchase price to the closing date to the disclosures to the tax implications. It is impossible to close a real estate deal unless both parties are satisfied with the conditions outlined in the buy and sell agreement.

The best way to avoid a mountain of paperwork

By selling your home privately, you may avoid a lot of red tape and paperwork. In addition, cash offers can alleviate some of the hassles and red tape typically associated with real estate purchases that rely on conventional financing.

A typical market listing of your house might not be the best option for you if you can sell it for cash. You should calculate how much money you'd make after fees and taxes from a transaction before making a final decision.

FAQ

What's the most crucial piece of paper you get at closing?

At closing, you will obtain a number of crucial legal papers, the most significant of which are your closing disclosure, the promissory note, and the mortgage or deed of trust.

Which part of the closing paperwork specifies monthly payment amounts?

You may find out how much your monthly mortgage payment will be in the closing disclosure. The total amount you will pay for your mortgage, including closing expenses, fees, and the loan itself, as well as the number of installments required to repay the loan, are all included in this document.

How long does it take to obtain the keys to the house after closing?

In many jurisdictions, a local time can be adjusted. Any contract that a customer signs can be revoked within 72 hours, as required by federal law. During this time, you have the "right of rescission," often known as a "cooling-off period," during which you can back out of the deal and obtain a full refund of any money you've already paid toward the purchase of the house.

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