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Miami Condo Selling Guide: From Contract to Closing

Selling your condo is an exciting journey, and the moment your listing goes under contract marks a significant milestone. However, this isn't the finish line – there are crucial steps and considerations to navigate before the deal is sealed. In this article, based on my experience as a real estate agent in Miami, FL, I will guide you through the post-contract phase when selling a condo, helping you understand what to expect and how to ensure a smooth transition. 


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In This Article:

  • Understanding the Contractual Obligations

  • Seller's Maintenance Responsibilities

  • Documentation and Seller Disclosure

  • Escrow Funds and Condo Association Application

  • Loan Application and Inspection

  • Seller's Agent Responsibilities

  • Coordinating with Your Real Estate Agent

  • Finalizing Financials

  • Preparing for the Closing Process

  • Moving Out


Understanding the Contractual Obligations


Once your condo is under contract, understanding the contractual obligations is paramount for a smooth transition. This involves more than acknowledging the closing date; it encompasses various facets, including the Seller's responsibilities, maintenance obligations, and documentation requirements.


Here are some of the common obligation sellers have when selling a condo in Miami:


  • Payment of Liens and Assessments: The Seller must pay the total liens imposed by a public body before closing. The Seller is responsible for the public body's most recent estimate or assessment for an improvement that is substantially complete as of the effective date but has yet to result in a lien. The buyer is responsible for all other assessments.

  • Seller Disclosure: The Seller Disclosure form affirms that the seller know of no facts materially affecting the property's value that have not been disclosed to the buyer.

  • Seller Assistance and Cooperation in Close-Out of Building Permits: If the buyer's inspection identifies open or needed building permits, the Seller must provide information and cooperate in good faith with the buyer's efforts to obtain estimates for necessary repairs or work. This doesn't mean that the Seller has to contribute financially unless added to the contract.

  • Title Examination and Cure Period: The buyer has five days after receiving the Title Commitment to examine it and notify the Seller of any defects that render the title unmarketable. The Seller has a 30-day cure period to make reasonable, diligent efforts to remove defects after receiving the buyer's notice.

  • Lease Information: The Seller must provide estoppel letters from tenants at least ten days before closing or, if unable to obtain them, an affidavit with the same information.

  • Liens: The Seller must provide an affidavit at closing attesting to the absence of any financing statement, claims of lien, or potential lienors. If improvements have been made, the Seller must provide releases or waivers of construction liens.

  • Withholding under FIRPTA (Paragraph 556): If the Seller is a foreign person, the buyer must withhold a certain percentage of the amount realized by the Seller on the transfer unless an exemption or a Withholding Certificate is provided.



Seller's Maintenance Responsibilities


The Seller is responsible for maintaining the condo unit in the contract's agreed-upon condition. This involves addressing any issues between the contract signing and closing.


Seller maintenance responsibilities include:

  • Regular upkeep

  • Timely repairs, 

  • Keeping the utilities on

  • Ensuring the property is in the promised condition 



Documentation and Seller Disclosure


Sellers may need to provide crucial condo documentation and disclosure forms after the contract signing if these weren't initially provided. These documents typically include details about the homeowners' association (HOA), rules and regulations, the association's financial health, seller disclosure, and a condo rider.


These forms include:



Escrow Funds and Condo Association Application


Sellers can anticipate the buyer submitting funds in escrow if this step still needs to be completed. This financial transaction is a security measure, assuring the buyer that the property is taken off the market. Additionally, buyers will likely need to submit a condo association application to initiate approval promptly. Sellers should be prepared to cooperate and provide any necessary information the association requests.



Loan Application and Inspection


Buyers, especially those relying on financing, must initiate the loan application process promptly after signing the contract. Ensuring that the buyer is progressing with their funding is essential for a timely closing.

  • Scheduling a home inspection is a standard part of the home-buying process. This step is crucial for the buyer to identify any potential issues with the property.

  • The lender may order an appraisal of the property to assess its market value. This step is crucial for the buyer to identify any potential issues with the property.



Home Inspection and Potential Negotiations


The buyer will likely conduct a home inspection. Be prepared for potential negotiations based on the inspection report. Decide in advance what repairs you are willing to undertake and what can be negotiated regarding price adjustments.


Things sellers should keep in mind and consider:

  • If the inspection reveals minor or significant issues, consider addressing them to maintain a positive relationship with the buyer and prevent delays in the closing process.

  • Have an inspection done before listing.

  • Decide before listing whether or not you are open to negotiating any items found during an inspection. The Seller can either make the repairs or improvements themselves, adjust the price, or offer a credit at closing.



Seller's Agent Responsibilities


The Seller's agent is pivotal in promptly ensuring everyone fulfills their duties. Even if the buyer has an agent, the Seller's agent should ensure that all deadlines are met to ensure a smooth closing. This includes following up on the submission of funds in escrow, condo association applications, and the initiation of loan applications.


The listing agent's responsibilities typically include but are not limited to:

  • Constant communication with the buyer's agent 

  • Ensuring that both parties are on the same page

  • Reviewing contracts and addenda

  • Reviewing and delivering request post-home inspection reports

  • Providing access to the property for inspections, appraisals, and walkthroughs

  • Assist with scheduling inspections, appraisals, and walkthroughs

  • Address any issues or disputes

  • Help with gathering information and documents

  • Act as a liaise with the title company chosen by the buyer to facilitate a cohesive process



Coordinating with Your Real Estate Agent


Communication is critical during this phase. Stay closely connected with your real estate agent to stay informed about the progress, address any concerns, and ensure all parties agree. Regularly check in with your agent to get updates on how the buyer's financing is progressing and to discuss any issues that may arise.



Finalizing Financials


As you approach the closing stage of your condo sale, meticulously finalizing financial matters is crucial for a seamless transaction. This involves working closely with the chosen title company to ensure that all financial aspects are addressed and resolved to satisfy both parties involved.


Settling Outstanding Dues: One primary consideration is settling any outstanding dues related to the property. This could include delinquent homeowners' association (HOA) fees, which must be paid in full to avoid complications during the closing. 


Addressing Liens on the Property: Liens on the property, whether from contractors, government agencies, or other entities, must be addressed before closing. Clearing any outstanding liens ensures the buyer receives a property free of encumbrances.


Expired or Open Permits: Another consideration often overlooked is the status of permits for any past renovations or construction on the property. If there are expired or open permits, it's crucial to address them to avoid potential complications during the closing process.


Example: Suppose the Seller made significant renovations to the condo in the past, such as remodeling the kitchen or adding a new bathroom. If the permits for these improvements are still open or have expired, it may delay the closing process. Sellers should proactively address these permit issues to ensure a smooth transaction.


Property Taxes:

Sellers should also be aware of the current status of property taxes. Any outstanding property taxes must be settled before the closing to prevent delays in transferring ownership.


If the Seller has unpaid property taxes, paying them off before closing is essential. Title companies typically verify the status of property taxes during the closing process, and resolving any outstanding issues in advance helps avoid last-minute complications.



Preparing for the Closing Process


As the closing date nears, efficient preparation is crucial for a smooth transaction. Key considerations include:


  • HUD Closing Sheet: Review the HUD-1 Settlement Statement for accurate financial details. Sellers should verify costs and fees, addressing any discrepancies promptly.

  • Closing Options: Determine if the closing can be done remotely or if an in-person visit is necessary. Flexibility in this regard streamlines the process and ensures timely completion.

  • Understanding Your Role: Recognize your role beyond signing documents. Be prepared to provide additional information or clarification on property details promptly.

  • Communication with the Title Company: Maintain open communication with the title company to confirm steps and requirements. Addressing concerns in advance reduces the likelihood of last-minute complications.



Moving Out


As the closing date approaches, orchestrating a well-planned move-out is essential, particularly if the property has a tenant. This phase involves strategic planning, effective coordination with the buyer, and meticulous attention to detail to facilitate a seamless transition.


Tenant-Occupied Condo

If a tenant occupies the property, clear communication is vital. In many cases, the buyer will honor the tenant's lease. If the buyer takes possession of the property after closing, ensure the tenant and the buyer are well-informed about the move-out plan and timeline. Please coordinate with the tenant to schedule a convenient time for them to vacate, aligning with the closing date.


If the property has a tenant with a lease still in effect, discuss a mutually agreeable move-out date that accommodates their schedule. Clear communication minimizes disruptions and fosters cooperation during this transition.


Coordination with the Buyer

Establish open lines of communication with the buyer to coordinate the logistics of the move-out. Confirm the date and time of the closing, and discuss when the buyer will take possession of the property. This coordination ensures a smooth handover and minimizes any potential inconveniences.


Last-Minute Packing and Cleaning:

Prioritize last-minute packing and cleaning to leave the condo in optimal condition. Attend to any minor repairs or touch-ups that may be necessary before vacating. This attention to detail contributes to a positive impression during the final walkthrough.


Moving Logistics

Whether the property is vacant or occupied, plan the logistics of the move meticulously. If necessary, arrange for a moving company, coordinate the keys, and access information transfer with the buyer. Ensure that the property is fully vacated by the agreed-upon time.


If using a moving company, schedule their services well before closing. Provide clear instructions on accessing the property for the move and ensure that all personal belongings are removed.



Conclusion


Navigating the post-contract phase is a critical aspect of a successful condo sale. By understanding the contractual obligations, maintaining open communication with your real estate agent, addressing inspection outcomes, finalizing financial details, preparing for closing, and executing a smooth move-out, you set the stage for a successful and stress-free closing.



Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


What happens if issues arise during the home inspection?

Issues identified during the home inspection can lead to negotiations. Be prepared to discuss potential repair or sale price adjustments with the buyer.


How can I ensure a smooth closing process?

Stay organized, communicate effectively with all parties involved, and work closely with your real estate agent and title company to address potential hurdles.


What documents do I need for the closing?

You'll need identification, the property deed, and any relevant financial documents. Your real estate agent and title company will guide you on the specific requirements.

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