Leaving an Owner's Manual Smooths Home Sale Transactions

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To sell, homeowners know they must impress potential buyers. What they may not realize, though, is the importance of leaving a lasting good impression with the buyer who actually purchases their home.

In about ten percent of transactions, buyers have post-closing questions for sellers, estimates Leslie McDonnell of RE/MAX Suburban, Libertyville, Ill.

Usually, new owners send their questions through their real estate agent, who passes it to the seller’s agent, who in turn queries the former owner and relays answers. About one-fifth of the time, McDonnell estimates, a buyer will contact the seller directly.

Questions can center on anything from whether the washing machine is still under warranty to when to change the furnace filters.

Sellers may avoid the annoyance of questions – which can veer into complaints – by anticipating what the new owner should know.

“Thoughtful sellers,” says Mike McElroy of Center Coast Realty, Chicago, “will put together a packet that has warranties, where to find this or that in the neighborhood and any other important information.”

The condo buyers McElroy works with usually ask, “where the keys to the mailbox are, so I always tell sellers to leave them out, clearly marked.”

Kathryn Bishop, an agent with Keller Williams Realty, Studio City, Calif., finds that it’s especially important to leave behind instructions and any relevant information on “smart home” features.

Other information to leave behind, suggest the agents include:

• Names of contractors who have completed remodeling projects or have installed new equipment.

• Paint brands and color names used in rooms throughout the house.

• Names of flooring and tile, and it’s also considerate to leave any extra tile.

• Contact information for any professional services used, like landscaping, gutter cleaning, snow removal.

Such seller etiquette not only avoids post-closing hassles, but it can also spur good neighborly relations when the seller stays in the area.

“We had a seller who just moved across the street, who left behind an information packet and a bottle of champagne,” concludes McElry.

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