Selling your home, as we all know, is a process: months of hard work alongside your listing agent to primp your place, market the property, and reel in a buyer. So by the time the big day arrives to close the deal and hand over the keys, you’re probably so ready to be done—which is all the more reason to tread carefully during this final step of the process.
“You don’t want to say something that’s going to upset or surprise the home buyer,” says Judy Weiniger, broker associate and CEO at Weiniger Group in Warren, NJ.
Fortunately, in some states (such as New Jersey) home sellers aren’t required to attend the home closing, as they typically sign their portion of the documents in advance. So there’s little risk of their inserting their foot in their mouth. But in many states, it’s typical for home buyers and sellers to meet face to face at the closing, which creates an ample opportunity for problems. And if the closing is delayed, that could drain money out of your pocket.
“A good chunk of your settlement costs as a seller, such as your mortgage and condo fees, are pro-rated,” says Katie Wethman, a real estate agent and founder of the Wethman Group in Washington, DC. “So there’s a daily carrying cost you have to eat if you’re responsible for settlement getting delayed.”
A closing delay can be even more stressful if you need the cash from this sale to fund a new home purchase that’s closing soon. Ticktock!
Due to all that’s riding on your home closing going off without a hitch, some experts say the best approach for home sellers is to show up, smile, and keep their lips sealed. We’re not saying you should sit there in stony silence, but your goal should be to “make the buyer feel good about buying a great house,” says Weiniger.
In other words, if you have anything negative to say, it’s best to say nothing at all. In particular, avoid these red-flag phrases below.
- ‘I can’t believe we made it to closing—those negotiations were brutal!’
Negotiations between home buyers and sellers can indeed get stressful, whether you butt heads over the home’s price or which repairs you’re willing to take care of after the inspection. Yet on closing day, that’s all water under the bridge.
If you have any lingering resentments or requests, now is definitely not the time to bring them up! They won’t get you anywhere, and could put your once-happy buyers on edge.
- ‘Honey, remember that crazy time the basement flooded?’
Naturally, selling your home brings up old memories—some good, some bad. Reminiscing about the bad ones at closing could get you in trouble. For example, if you talk about the winter when the pipes froze and burst, “it’s going to plant doubts in the buyers’ mind, especially if their home inspector missed it,” says Wethman. “All the sudden, the buyer might be worried there’s mold behind the walls.”
- ‘I’m getting divorced, and really have to sell this house fast’
It’s safe to assume that no one feels comfortable hearing about a stranger’s pending divorce (awkward!), but broaching the topic at closing can actually create serious legal complications for a home seller.
“If you’re going through a divorce, you typically need to have the divorce finalized before you can legally sell the house, since it’s an asset that needs to be divided,” says Jennifer Baxter, associate broker at Re/Max Regency in Suwanee, GA. Furthermore, if the house’s mortgage hasn’t been paid off yet, a divorcing couple usually need to decide how they’re going to split the amount owed before selling the house.
Therefore, if you’re getting divorced, it’s best to iron out all these details before your close, as raising these issues without firm answers during your close could stop the whole process in its tracks.
- ‘I didn’t remove all my boxes from the garage. Can I get them next week?’
A comment like this might seem harmless, but it can be hugely irritating to home buyers, who already have enough on their plate between coordinating movers, buying furniture, and everything else that comes with purchasing a house. If you left anything behind, don’t inconvenience the buyers by showing up a week later to pick them up—instead, offer to swing by after closing (or at their convenience) to grab them.
- ‘I’m excited to move to a safer/friendlier/more family-oriented neighborhood’
No matter how excited you are about where you’re moving next, it’s generally a bad idea to subtly disparage where you’ve been, since this is where your buyers are planning to settle down after all. Hence, it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep any potentially negative information about the neighborhood to yourself.
Originally Posted On Realtor.com
Written By Daniel Bortz