How to Navigate the Paperwork of a Home Sale

A Brief Guide to the Paperwork of Selling Your HomeWhen it comes to the question of selling a home, many sellers agree that the most difficult part to manage is the paperwork. There are so many forms to navigate and notarize that the odds of making a mistake are high. Filing the wrong piece of paperwork can result in delays of the sale or worse. Whether using an agent or not, it helps to know what is being signed and why. (Keep in mind that rules vary according to the state or community in which you live, whether it's an area like Hermosa Beach or elsewhere.


The deed for the home essentially says that you relinquish control of the entire property directly to the buyer. It has to be delivered to the purchaser, and it's the buyer's job to go over the terms and ensure that all terms are correct before signing. Titles can generally be made either to an individual, a trust, or to joint tenants. Once it's been signed, it's turned over to the county recorder before it becomes a public document. This ensures that the chain of title is clear so there are no disputes about who owns the property.

Seller's Affidavit (Affidavit of Title)

This may be called something different, depending on where the home is located in the South Bay, but it's the document that discloses information about the property that may interfere with the buyer's ownership. For example, if a neighbor is in the process of contesting property lines, this information would be shared on the seller's affidavit. It may also include any known structural defaults of the home or any liens or outstanding contracts for the home.

Bill of Sale and Tax Documents

The bill of sale is for any property within the home that is being given to the buyer. While a home sale normally includes the appliances and light fixtures, it needs to be spelled out on the bill of sale in order to prevent disputes. This means that if you forget the satellite dish on the roof and it's not included in the bill of sale, you have every right to ask for it back. Certain municipalities may also require the buyer and seller to calculate taxes at the time of the sale. Both parties will need to agree upon and declare the purchase price and tax before officially transferring the property.

The Commitment

The title company will also have their own paperwork before completing a transaction, but the seller paperwork functions much like the paperwork needed for local and state regulations. A title insurance commitment may be needed to declare any liens or potential title conflicts to the title company. If the escrow instructions do not match the information listed on the title, then this will usually delay the sale. Sellers may need to pay off liens or get additional information to validate the title.

Closing Documents

Closing documents are required by the title company in order to complete the transfer. Again, it's more or less giving the same information provided in the deed, bill of sale, and seller's affidavit. However, it usually includes additional details, such as marriage or financial status. Sellers also have to agree to work with the title company if there are any problems or disputes with the property. If there are any other extenuating circumstances, such as attorney involvement, sellers also need to include that information in the closing documents.

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