Purchase and Sale (P&S)
Talk to your attorney about ANY question you have about the agreement BEFORE you are scheduled to sign it. Signing can be in person or electronic. The purchase and sale lays out everything that you are going to do and not do, and everything the buyer is going to do and not do before closing. It describes some of the buyer’s understanding of what he or she is buying.
Sometimes, if there was work that you agreed to complete before the P&S that has not been completed yet, it will describe that work. This is often a separate addendum or Repair Rider. This work sometimes requires documentation to prove that it was completed. If it requires that work is done by a “licensed electrician” or that the “remediation is proved effective” you will probably need to provide paid invoices or updated test results related to the work required.
Once the buyers give the purchase and sale to their lender, the lender will order the appraisal. The appraisal requires a visit by an independent appraiser, and he or she will review comps and the condition of the home to determine the value. In practice, the value is often what the buyer has offered to pay, but occasionally it’s a bit more. If it’s less than what you have agreed to, the buyer may not be able to get their mortgage unless they make up the difference with cash. Since they aren’t required to do that, you may need to renegotiate the purchase price to keep the buyers.
Prepare your house as you would prepare it for an important showing. Appraisers will take pictures of the rooms, including the bathrooms. Like a showing, we’ll meet the appraiser and it’s best if you’re not home. We’ll give them the best comps, the listing materials, and a copy of the purchase and sale.
Next, you have to move out. You leave anything affixed to the property and anything you included in the P&S. Generally, if you need tools to remove something, or if removing it would require patching, it’s affixed. You remove everything else with only a handful of common exceptions. Your P&S probably says the premises is to be left in “broom clean condition and free from all debris”. Let’s break that down.
What to Leave
Some buyers appreciate full (or mostly full) gallons of recently applied paint and extra tiles or wood that match a floor. Old paint can be unsightly, though, and hard to get rid of. If it isn’t currently on a wall, or is older than 5ish years, it should be trashed. Concord offers a great paint recycling program, and its website has detailed disposal explanations for different kinds of paint. Latex or Acrylic paint should be dry before being thrown out, which you can accomplish by opening up mostly empty cans, and by either spreading out or adding a drying agent to full containers. Oil-based paint and other chemicals can not be thrown out – for those you need to see what your town offers for hazardous waste. If you are hiring a professional waste removal company, like Concord Removal, you can ask their advice. It’s ideal not to leave this for the last minute.
Speaking of trash, it’s common to leave trash and recycling receptacles. If it’s something issued by your municipality, it should definitely stay. If not, you can leave trash barrels if they’re clean and tidy, and not too numerous. If the buyers balk at the walkthrough, that’s an easy thing for us to deal with.
You will also need to leave everything listed in your P&S, usually all the appliances (fridges, ovens, ranges, washer & dryer, and anything else that is built into the space). If you have a question, please ask. We’ll often refer back to the original listing, which we created after talking to you about what — if anything — you wanted to have excluded from the sale. If you didn’t exclude anything, the rule is that if it takes tools to remove, or if it would leave a space to be patched, or wires loose, it stays.
Similarly, for play structures, trampolines, sculptures, planters, or other questionable outdoor items, if it’s not explicit in the P&S, the same rules apply. We have had it happen, though, that buyers wouldn’t close without swingsets removed, for example. So we try to get the details addressed ahead of time. If you didn’t exclude anything from the property or yard in the original listing, let’s touch base before you remove anything affixed.
What to Remove
Everything else has to go. Even if it seems like something that “really fits the space” or you think “the buyers will really appreciate” if it’s personal property that can easily be removed, it should be. If you’re not sure, or you would like to leave it as a kind gesture, we’ll confirm that it will be received that way by the buyers ahead of the walkthrough.
If you have a lot of valuable used items or antiques, we probably connected you earlier in the process to connect with an appraiser or services like Dutiful Daughter or Buy-and-Consign that do cleanouts along with sales. Another fun resource is Ramble Market for resale.
Our favorite donation resource for valuable items is the Lincoln METCO team of volunteers who’ll pick up items from you and sell them with all proceeds benefitting the Lincoln METCO Coordinating Committee (MCC) and its support of our Boston-based students.
Unfortunately, many donations are closed during the pandemic, including the MCC. However, Household Goods (formerly HGRM) in Acton is now open with certain restrictions! They are wonderful and take most useful household items. For clothes, there are Planet Aid boxes around, as well as Goodwill in Concord or Savers in Framingham, these three plan to reopen within the next month or so.
Another good option, especially when donation centers are closed or when you want items picked up (and you don’t care about donating them to a tax-exempt organization) is FreeCycle where you can list items you’re giving away. You may need to post them in a couple of neighboring communities’ lists. Of course, Craigslist and Facebook and local listserves are also good options even when the items you are listing are free.
We’ll get the fire department to come out and issue a smoke detector certificate.
Final Water Bill
About a week before closing you’ll need a final water meter reading from the town. You will pay for the water you used up to this point. If you live in Lincoln, you request this from the Water Department via an online form that you can print from here. This form has to be emailed to the water department email address that is on the form at least three weeks prior to closing. No matter which town you are in, you will need to bring a paid receipt to the closing (or email to your attorney).
Oil and Propane Tanks
Your P&S may be clear about this, but many are vague. For folks with oil or propane tanks, it is often up to the buyers whether they prefer to have the tank read (and pay for the rough amount) or have the tank filled (and pay for the oil in the full tank). We may read the gage on the oil tank, or they may request that it be read by the provider that fills the tanks. Whatever the amount due on the
Just like your water, you will need to have your gas company read your final reading and pay that bill. However, usually, gas companies make it easy to transfer and you won’t need to document this for the buyers.
Electric, Cable, Internet, etc.
You’ll need to contact your utilities to tell them the effective date for the end your service.[/emaillocker]