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For Real Estate Sellers


What you need to know before you even call a broker

Selling a home can involve a great deal of decision making and anxiety. Oftentimes people hire a broker to minimize this stress and assist the seller in getting a potential buyer to make an offer on their home. However, before you decide if you want to use a broker or try to sell it yourself, you should be aware of the following;

Listing Agreements

Most agreements between the seller and broker fall under one of the following three categories:

1. Exclusive right to sell- This gives the broker the right to collect the commission is sold to anyone during the period of the contract, even if the sale is to someone that the seller found their own.

2. Exclusive Agency- This allows the broker to a share of the commission if the property is sold by his or her efforts or that of any other broker, but not if the seller found someone on their own.

3. Nonexclusive Agency- This arrangement entitles a broker to a commission only if they are the first person to find a buyer who is ready, able, and willing to buy the seller's home. If the seller or a different broker finds a buyer first, the broker is not entitled to a commission.

Evaluate what arrangement would work best with your current situation before you make any agreement with a broker. Your lawyer will be able to assist you with this and can review the contract for you.

What a Seller must disclose to the Buyer

Generally, a seller (who is not a professional, i.e. contractor, architect, etc.) has no obligation to voluntarily disclose known defects. However, the seller is required to answer truthfully and accurately any question the buyer raises specifically about the condition of the house and the land. The failure to do so can create problems where the buyer may have a claim against the seller if the buyer reasonably relied upon those claims. This requirement also applies to anyone who is acting on behalf of the seller as a representative, such as a lawyer or a broker. Furthermore, it is crucial to note that Massachusetts law imposes even stricter requirements on a real estate broker, obligating them to disclose to the buyer any material defects to the house of which they are aware. Therefore, a seller should always consult with their attorney before making any disclosure to anyone.

The one exception to this rule is the Lead Paint Disclosures. In Massachusetts, if a home was built before 1978, the seller (or its representative)must notify a potential buyer about the dangers of lead paint and give the buyer ten days for a lead paint inspection.

Regardless of whether you decide to hire a broker or try to sell your house yourself, it is important to be aware that many details that sellers do not see as problems can become severe and costly mistakes. Therefore it is important to carefully review paperwork ANYONE asks you to sign, or ideally, consult an attorney before agreeing to sell your home.

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Stramer Law Offices
134 Main Street
Milford, MA 01757
Phone: 508-478-6944
Fax: 508-478-6949
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