Serving home sellers

anywhere in California

Questions and Answers (FAQ)s

Contents

1. What's Included in the Service?

2. Why Do I Need a Contract to Sell My Property?

3. Why Do I Need to Make Disclosures When Selling My Property? What if the Sale Is "As-Is"?

4. I'm an "Exempt" Seller. Why Do I Still Have to Make Disclosures?

5. For Sale By Owner: I'm Selling My Property on My Own but Don't yet Have a Buyer. Can You Help Me?

6. I Received an Offer from a Buyer's Realtor. Can You Help Me?

7. My Buyer's Realtor (or the Same Brokerage) Offered to Represent Both of Us in the Transaction. What Should I Do?

8. I Have a Buyer, but Who Will Represent Him/Her in the Transaction?

9. Do You Accept Payment from Close of Escrow?

10. If My Home Sale Falls Through for Some Reason, Will I Still Owe a Fee?

11. What Is the Process of Selling a Home in California?

12. Will I Owe Taxes on the Sale of My Property, and Will There Be Tax Withholding?

13. I Received an Offer from an Investor. Can You Help Me, and Do I Need Representation?

14. How Much Will This Cost?

15. In Addition to Legal Fees, What Are the Other Costs of Sale?

16. I Am Attempting a Short Sale, Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure, or to Sell With a Foreclosure Pending. Can You Help Me?

17. I Have a Bankruptcy Case Pending. Can You Still Help Me?

1.What's Included in the Service?

Marcus Brown's home sales service includes:

(1) Strategically planning your transaction to help maximize the opportunity for a successful sale and help minimize your risk going forward.

(2) Advice and drafting related to your extensive disclosure obligations as a seller of a California residence to help streamline negotiations and minimize your risk of liability after the sale. 

(3) Preparation of the purchase-sale contract, which you will need to have an escrowed transaction, a practical must for sales of real estate. The contract is another valuable opportunity to minimize risk of liability consistent with the deal terms and is the opportunity to ensure you are getting the deal you want.

(4) Coordinating a title insurance company escrow for your transaction, another practical requirement for California home sales.

(5) If you need seller financing documents, we would prepare those for you.

(6) Advising you with regard to any unforeseen hiccups in your transaction.

(7) Addressing the questions and concerns that you have during the transaction.

(8) Review of escrow-prepared settlement statements and deeds to ensure consistency with your deal terms.

(9) Handling any custom drafting or revision of contract documents or real estate instruments that becomes necessary.

(10) If you and the buyer want to share an attorney, that can often be arranged.

Click here to arrange for services.

2. Why Do I Need a Contract to Sell My Property?

It's not realistic to sell your property without a contract because you cannot have an escrow without a contract. The escrow agent will require a contract to handle your transaction. You need an escrow because it is too risky to attempt to sell real estate without one. Furthermore, to sell real estate at market value, the buyer and the buyer's lender will require title insurance, and the title insurance company will require an escrow before providing title insurance. Legally speaking, a professionally-prepared contract ensures you are making the deal you want and minimizes your risk going forward consistent with the terms of your deal.

3. Why Do I Need to Make Disclosures When Selling My Property? What if the Sale Is "As-Is"?

California and federal law together require sellers to make numerous disclosures to prospective buyers, and these requirements cannot be waived by the buyer. Therefore, even if the terms of the sale are "As-Is," the seller is required to make disclosures. Failure to make required disclosures creates a substantial risk of future monetary liability to the buyer for non-disclosure, which is a type of fraud. In a seller's market, which is common in California, there is usually no downside to making the disclosures, whereas failure to provide them, or providing them too late, creates unreasonable risks for the transaction and for future liability of the seller.

4. I'm an "Exempt" Seller. Why Do I Still Have to Make Disclosures?

When you hear the term "exempt" seller in California, that only means that the seller is exempt from some of the statutory disclosure requirements, not all of them. "Exempt" sellers still have disclosure obligations under California and federal law.

5. For Sale By Owner: I'm Selling My Property on My Own but Don't yet Have a Buyer. Can You Help Me?

If you don't have a buyer or a market-price offer, you should consider hiring an experienced realtor with a positive track record in your neighborhood. Typically, a realtor will provide you the best access to the marketplace of buyers. If you still decide to market and sell the property on your own, yes, Marcus Brown can be there to advise and represent you when offers come in and during the purchase-sale transaction. You should still expect to offer and pay an approximately 2.5% commission to the buyer's realtor. Buyer's realtor's commissions plus our attorney's fees are likely to total about 3% of the sales price, which is still a savings over the typical listing agreement. 

6. I Received an Offer from a Buyer's Realtor. Can You Help Me?

Yes! Marcus Brown can advise and represent you when you receive offers. It's important that you have independent advice and representation so you may strategically and appropriately handle your disclosure obligations, make sure you get the deal terms you want, and minimize your risk going forward. You should still expect to offer and pay an approximately 2.5% commission to the buyer's realtor. Buyer's realtor's commissions plus our attorney's fees are likely to total less than 3.5% of the sales price, which is still a significant savings over the typical realtor's listing agreement. 

7. My Buyer's Realtor (or the Same Brokerage) Offered to Represent Both of Us in the Transaction. What Should I Do?

With proper disclosures, it's not against the law for a realtor to represent both the seller and the buyer in a transaction. But even though it's legal, this almost always involves a conflict of interest, practically speaking. It's important that you have independent advice and representation so you may strategically and appropriately handle your disclosure obligations, make sure you get the deal terms you want, and minimize your risk going forward. You should still expect to offer and pay an approximately 2.5% commission to the buyer's realtor if he/she helped the buyer find your property. Buyer's realtor's commissions plus our attorney's fees are likely to total less than 3.5% of the sales price, which is still a significant savings over the typical realtor's listing agreement. 

8. I Have a Buyer, but Who Will Represent Him/Her in the Transaction?

 

If your buyer has come to you without his/her own realtor, then we can still help you. It's not necessary for the buyer to have representation for us to work with you. That said, if the buyer ends up wanting his/her own representation before proceeding with the transaction, it's likely best for the buyer to hire his/her own real estate attorney. We can provide a referral if you like. If you and the buyer prefer, we may advise both of you in the transaction, but that's only appropriate where the parties are already in agreement on the terms of the deal and where the parties are willing to share and receive all communications and relevant information among each other and Marcus Brown as the parties' attorney.

9. Do You Accept Payment from Close of Escrow?

Yes, we will defer payment until close of escrow under two circumstances: (1) you pre-authorize us to charge the fee to a credit card if escrow does not close for some reason or (2) your transaction qualifies for our contingent fee pricing, under which there is no fee unless escrow closes. Click here to find out if you qualify for contingent fee pricing.

10. If My Home Sale Falls Through for Some Reason, Will I Still Owe a Fee?

For qualifying transactions, we offer contingent fee pricing, under which you would not pay a fee if your home sale falls through, i.e., if escrow does not close. Click here to find out if you qualify for contingent fee pricing. For other, non-qualifying transactions, we may defer payment until close of escrow, but you would still owe the fee if the transaction does not close. Of course, part of our service is to coordinate your transaction in a way that helps maximize the likelihood of a successful close of escrow.

11. What Is the Process of Selling a Home in California?

Once the seller has located a prospective buyer, a typical home sale in California includes the following: 

(a) Disclosures (we fully advise you and handle preparation of disclosure documents)

(b) Price negotiations (we will advise and/or represent you in this process according to your preference, although we do not provide advice regarding the value of your property)

(c) Contracting (we will fully advise you and handle all preparation and revision of the contract)

(d) Buyer's investigations, if applicable (we will fully advise you and handle any contract modifications regarding any issues that arise during the Buyer's investigations)

(e) Signing of documents with the escrow agent (we will review the critical escrow-prepared documents to ensure that they are consistent with your deal and will address any questions or concerns you have regarding the documents you are signing. The only exception is we do not provide advice regarding income taxes or income tax forms. Please consult with a CPA regarding any income tax questions that arise.)

(f) Close of escrow, cash to the seller (once all buyer's and/or buyer's lender's funds are in escrow and both parties have signed the necessary documents with the escrow agent, the escrow closes, and you, the seller, receive the proceeds from your home sale--your home sale is complete and successful).

12. Will I Owe Taxes on the Sale of My Property, and Will There Be Tax Withholding?

It depends. Before you enter a contract to sell, you should consult with a CPA to determine what your income tax liability will be, if any, and how much tax withholding is likely, if any. In addition, you may wish to review the following information: from the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board.

13. I Received an Offer from an Investor. Can You Help Me, and Do I Need Representation?

There are many residential investors in California who purchase homes to either hold as rental properties or to fix and flip. If your property is distressed, or you are in financial distress, an investor may be the best buyer for you. Otherwise, you should consult with and potentially hire an experienced realtor with a positive track record in your neighborhood because investors often pay less than market value for properties, while a realtor can help you get full market value. Regardless, however, you should absolutely obtain independent legal advice before signing an investor's offer or contract. Investor's offers and contracts are often non-standard and one-sided, so it's particularly important that you have independent advice and representation so you may strategically and appropriately handle your disclosure obligations, make sure you get the deal terms you want, and minimize your risk going forward. If you believe selling to the investor is the best course for you, Marcus Brown can advise and/or represent you as part of his home sales services. 

 

14. How Much Will This Cost?

To receive a price quote, please click here. The price depends upon the specifics of your transaction. Our fees are typically a fraction of 1% of the sales price. One advantage of our home sales services is that we offer a fixed (flat) fee so that you know how much the service will cost. Many attorneys charge by the hour, which means you don't know what the total cost will be until the services are completed. In addition, for qualifying transactions, we offer contingent fee pricing, where you won't owe a fee unless your sale successfully closes.

15. In Addition to Legal Fees, What Are the Other Costs of Sale?

Most costs of sale are typically negotiable between the buyer and seller. These negotiable costs include (a) escrow fees (usually buyer pays or the parties split), (b) recording fees (usually buyer pays), (c) notary fees (usually buyer pays or the parties split), (d) title insurance premiums (usually buyer pays), and (e) documentary transfer tax (usually seller pays in low-tax areas; in high-tax areas, the parties usually split). If you hire a realtor under a listing agreement, the seller usually pays a percentage commission, typically 5% or 6%. If you are selling on your own and the buyer's realtor connected the buyer to you, you can expect to pay an approximately 2.5% commission. Even where you agree to pay something to the buyer's realtor, our service fee plus the buyer's realtor's commission is usually about 3% of the sales price, still a significant savings compared to the typical realtor's listing agreement.  

16. I Am Attempting a Short Sale, Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure, or to Sell With a Foreclosure Pending. Can You Help Me?

Yes, if you have a buyer or are planning a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, we can assist even while your property is in foreclosure or in need of a short sale. Legal advice is important in these situations so you fully understand the short sale or deed-in-lieu terms and how they may impact you going forward. We can also assist you in negotiating or working with your lender(s) to apply for short sale or deed-in-lieu approval.

17. I Have a Bankruptcy Case Pending. Can You Still Help Me?

Unfortunately, our home sales services are not a good fit for property owners who have a pending bankruptcy petition or are about to file for bankruptcy. You should consult with your bankruptcy attorney about how best to sell your property. Note we can help you once your bankruptcy case concludes.

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