The decision to put your home on the market is a daunting one. But don’t be overwhelmed by the process. Here’s a quick guide to the key players, their roles and when they get involved in the process.

Agent: Usually the first point of contact. A listing agent represents the seller, while a buyer’s agent represents the purchaser. Each is responsible to their client, though there are cases when a single agent represents both. Buyer and listing agents typically share in the sales commission, though the fee is paid by the seller.

Mortgage lender: Unless the seller plans to finance the sale or the buyer is paying cash — both of which are rare — the buyer will find a lender to finance the purchase. The lender typically controls much of the remaining process.

Title company: Typically both buyers and sellers purchase title insurance. This service, which lenders require before approving a mortgage, guarantees the title to the property is free and clear — meaning there are no outstanding loans or contractor liens against the home.

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Real estate attorney: Generally employed by the title company to double check their work.

Appraiser: Once an offer to purchase is accepted, the buyer’s bank orders an appraisal to make sure the property is worth the amount of the mortgage. The lender chooses the appraiser, and the buyer generally pays the cost.

Home inspector: Though generally not required by lenders, bankers recommend that prospective homeowners hire an independent inspector to check the property for potential defects and hazards.


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