For Sale by Owner..House selling advice needed.

My mother is currently in the process of selling her house. Specifically, she called one of those “we pay cash for your house” things, and has an offer.

A bit of background on why she’s doing it that way. The house is a very lovely 1920’s house. But it’s a lot of work. Still has most of the original wiring. Still has a fuse box. She’s just had to replace a lot of the original pluming in the bathroom (to the tune of $3000), only to have another set of pipes start leaking this past fall. In order to get to the pipes, half the kitchen ceiling has to be taken down. The walls are all still plaster, and the floors (under hideous green carpet) are hardwood. We’ve pulled up all the carpet, and my wife and I refinished the living room floors. And they came out beautifully. But that still leaved the dinning room, and upstairs to do. It took us a solid 14 hours to sand down the floors enough to get the stain out the first time, so trying to find time to go through that again is challenging.

The yard is absolutely stunning, if you can keep up with it. This is Virginia, where crap grows seemingly overnight. Keeping up with it was the full time occupation of the couple that built the house, and lived there until 1985, when my mom bought it. For a single person, living alone, it’s almost impossible to keep it under control.

My mom is selling to this guy for $72K. The appraiser set the value at $94K, but my mom has tried to sell the house on the market before. Telling the agents that she’d be willing to sell for less, but that she doesn’t have the time or money to fix everything. At first, the listing agents were all “we understand, it won’t be a problem at all”…but nothing ever came of it. Agents in this area seem to be pretty lazy about selling houses, pretty much just putting them in local magazines, and waiting for someone to call.

So, all this being said, since my mom is selling right to this person, what does she need to do to protect herself, ensure she gets the money, and has all the paperwork legal? She really needs the extra money that she’ll be getting from this, so getting a selling agent that will take 3% is not really an option. Can she just go to a lawyer and pay a flat fee for document preparation? How does it work when you’re selling yourself? Is she responsible for getting the money from his bank, to her mortgage company? The guy she’s selling to told her something about taking 2 days to get the money after closing…that doesn’t sound right to me, but is there some process that I don’t know about that takes place? She owes about $60K on the house, so how does the money get routed, and by whom? I know this is a lot, but we (as a family) have always gone through agents, and have no idea how to approach this on our own. I’m especially worried that she’ll get ripped off somehow.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Get a real estate attorney. They will find out the mortgage payoff figures and will pay off everyone at closing from their escrow account. They will make everything nice and legal.

The bit about “getting the money two days after closing” sounds fishy to me. I wouldn’t transfer title without the money.

Most charge a flat fee. Around here it’s around $3,000 and it’s money well spent.

Definitely get a real estate lawyer. Earlier this year my husband and I bought a house from my parents. Even though we all trust each other and weren’t too worried about the whole transaction, we went ahead and got a real estate lawyer to set everything up, and it went very smoothly. We didn’t have to worry that we were forgetting something or that anything was “fishy” (ie, you don’t get the money until 2 days after closing type stuff), and I think the legal fees were around $300 or so. Very cheap, and well worth it.

Thanks all…Athena, did you just look in the yellow pages? Is there a service for finding them? If I called the office that the builder we bought our house from, do I just say I want document preparation? Also, the monetary figure you and Annie quote is a huge gulf, are we all talking about the same thing? Because she really can’t afford to loose $3k out of that money. It’s very tight for her as it is.

Again, thank you.

Actually, working in real estate I was thinking of all the “closing fees.” The attorneys here bill you for everything in one lump sum. I’m also in New Jersey, where everything costs more.

I would ask the builder which closing attorney he used. Or call a real estate company and ask them for three referrals.

Like Annie says, the closing fees come to much more than just the lawyer fees. These are fees such as taxes, title insurance, etc. etc. that you’re going to pay regardless of if you get an attorney or if you don’t. Most of these fees (at least the big ones) are tied to the price of the house - $3K seems a bit high for a $74K house, but it all depends on where you live. I understand that money is tight, but your mother IS going to have to pay some cash to sell the house. There’s no way around that.

Some fees are paid by the purchaser of the house, some are paid by the seller. A real estate attorney can tell you all about them.

We’re in a small town, so we just picked up the phone book and looked for “Attornies - Real Estate.” I think there were only one or two. If I were you, I’d do the same thing. Check the phone book and call 5 or 6 real estate lawyers. Find one that does this kind of work frequently. Find one you get a good “feel” for. I don’t think it’ll be that complicated.

Frankly I would probably use or my public library & read their books on the subject, they are great & both have easy to read law books on all sorts of things. Being better informed before calling a lawyer is very important to me that way they can’t play games with me.