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Why a handy file can help sellers receive top dollar and enjoy a smooth sale process

Q: We are about to sell our single-family home. The house has had five owners. The workers we hired to repair and improve the home kept finding alterations from prior owners. These discoveries most often lead to an upcharge from our contractor. The previous seller, like my spouse, is a dedicated record-keeper. We have an imposing file of inspections, reports, contractor invoices, contractor change orders and receipts for components.

The real estate agents we interviewed to represent us as sellers were hesitant to discuss the file contents or importance. Seller Agent A said our file was “unnecessary and would confuse the homebuyers.” Seller Agent B insisted it was best to “shred the file,” preferring to “hire new inspectors for this transaction.” Seller Agent C recommended we use our file as a reference for when her assistant drops off the seller’s disclosure that we are to complete. Agent C mentioned that once we filled out the seller questionnaires, “destroy the file.”

In your column, you write that disgruntled buyers can target home sellers after a sale for lack of disclosure. We are hesitant to destroy the file on this house. How do other home sellers proceed when in possession of such extensive record-keeping?

A: Let me reference three prominent real estate attorneys in the Bay Area. Real estate attorney No. 1 asserts that homebuyers file claims against home sellers “80% of the time” in California. Real estate attorney No. 2 states that the number is “closer to 90%.” Real estate attorney No. 3, who was the legal head of a national real estate firm in half of California, proclaims, “It is almost 100% of the time.”

Your file is invaluable in your quest for top dollar, avoiding a sale falling apart in escrow and significantly reducing the chances of post-sale litigation. Today’s agents strive for speed and simplicity. The agents you interviewed would not use your home’s file before, during and after a sale, even if they understood how or why. Luckily, the home seller is the employer. You inform your seller’s agent your file will be well-documented, copied, scanned and the eventual homebuyers will acknowledge its receipt. You’ll most likely order current reports from roof, chimney, termite and property inspectors in the Bay Area. Adding new inspections to your superb seller disclosures will ensure you, your property and the seller’s agent are peerless standouts.

Questions, concerns or inquiries? Realtor Pat Kapowich is a Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager and career-long consumer protection advocate. His hometown of Sunnyvale, California, is where he is based. Office Landline: 408-245-7700, [email protected] Broker# 00979413

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