Documents Needed When Selling a House by Owner in Pennsylvania

A typical looking house in Pennsylvania.

Selling a house by yourself (FSBO or For Sale By Owner) has several advantages over selling through a real estate agent. You’ll avoid paying a commission to the realtor, and you can typically close much quicker. However, if you want to make a swift and smooth home sale without paying a real estate commission, there are several documents you’re going to need.

Paperwork for Selling a House By Owner

If you want to sell a house fast in Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to have the proper paperwork. That way, you can avoid the typical hiccups and delays that come with a real estate transaction.

While some of the following documents are also necessary when selling to a cash buyer, not all of them will apply. For example, potential buyers who purchase homes in cash might not require a home inspection report.

While both FSBO and selling to a cash agent don’t involve an agent commission, there are other advantages of selling to cash home buyers in Philadelphia that FSBO sellers don’t enjoy. For example, you won’t have to pay closing costs or repairs and will enjoy a quick closing date. 

When selling a house by yourself, it can sometimes take a bit longer, as you don’t have access to multiple listing services and other tools like a real estate broker does.

Comparative Market Analysis

A comparative market analysis, or CMA, is a report that helps estimate a home’s value and selling price. It looks at recently-sold dwellings in the area – similar properties, of a similar size – to determine a home’s market value. A CMA helps buyers ensure that the home they’re looking at is competitive and worth the purchase price.

Brokers and real estate agents usually create CMA reports, but you can also make your own report if you don’t want to pay commission fees to a real estate agent. 

Look on real estate listings sites like Zillow and even social media listings and see the prices similar properties in your area are selling for. The main goal is to show the buyer that your asking sale price is fair and competitive.

Mortgage Payoff Statement

A mortgage payoff statement is a statement from your mortgage lender or servicer detailing the exact amount of money you need to pay off your mortgage. It also includes payment information and other details.

Home buyers will want to know how much is left on the mortgage if they are going to assume the responsibility of paying for it. Alternatively, you can obtain a document that you have paid off your mortgage in full before starting the selling process.

Certificate of Compliance

A certificate of compliance shows that your house complies with building regulations and is safe for occupancy. It will help reassure the buyer that the home doesn’t pose a risk to live in and that they won’t experience fire hazards or other hazards that can impact their health and safety.

Original Sales Sheet

The original sales sheet is a legal document you got when purchasing the home from the previous owner. 

This sales contract shows the price of the house during the original home sale. Furthermore, it contains all the disclosures the previous buyer was required to make to you about the house’s history, which can also affect the next buyer. 

Home sellers might not always disclose these details during open houses, but you must provide a disclosure statement with all legally-required seller disclosures before closing the deal. 

For example, if it’s an old house, the previous seller might have disclosed that there is asbestos or lead-based paint in the house. Disclosure forms help ensure that the buyer knows what they’re getting.

Property Survey

A property surveyor will look into the history and details of the property. A surveyor will first determine your legal claim to the property. For example, they might run a title search to ensure there are no liens on the property. 

They can then issue a preliminary title report showing you own the deed and there are no liens. You can also get a title report from a title company that specializes in them.

Once that is done, the property surveyor will move on to the fieldwork, during which they will map out the property, determine boundaries and property size, and more.

Purchase/Sale Agreement

Of course, whether you’re selling a house without a realtor or through a real estate broker, you must create a sale agreement that describes the sale between you and the buyer. If you don’t have a real estate agent to help you create your purchase agreement, it’s worth hiring a real estate attorney who can ensure the sales agreement complies with the law.

A real estate attorney will also ensure there are no legal loopholes that can hurt you. They can also help edit or rewrite the agreement if the buyer makes a counteroffer you agree to.

A technician running a home inspection checklist.

Home Inspection Report

Next, we come to the assessments. Homeowners selling their homes by themselves should hire a home inspector to ensure there are no hidden issues, like plumbing problems or structural issues, that the buyer should know about. If there are, make all necessary repairs and upgrades before selling.

When you sell to a cash buyer, though, you can usually skip this part. Cash buyers will want to look at your home before buying it, but they typically buy homes as-is and don’t usually require an in-depth inspection. Even if they do, you don’t have to pay upfront for the repairs.

A home inspection typically costs a flat fee, though it varies based on factors such as the size of your home, the area, and the specific inspection agency.

Our handy home inspection checklist will show you everything you need to go over before you sell your home, whether you sell it by yourself or through a closing agent.

Appraisal Report 

A home appraisal report shows the market value of a property, but it’s a bit more in-depth than a CMA. It does look at the prices of recently sold homes in the area, but it also looks at additional factors. 

For example, an appraiser will consider the home’s condition before determining its price. They might make a home inspection to ensure there are no safety issues and even consider the design and curb appeal of the house. 

An appraiser may also take the neighborhood into account. If the district is experiencing security issues, people are fleeing, and the real estate market looks bad, the home might not be a good investment. On the flip side, if it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood, that will add some points to its favor. 

Home Deed 

A home deed is a legal document showing the home’s true owner. You need to have your deed, which you got when you bought the house, to demonstrate that you have the right to sell it. You must sign another deed transferring ownership to the buyer when selling the home. 

A home deed is a bit different from a title, which isn’t necessarily a document but more of a legal concept that details your right to access and transfer property ownership. Access can depend not only on your ownership but also on HOA rules. 

Closing Statement 

The closing statement details all the fees and commissions the home sale involves. It’s not specific to a home sale but comes with any type of loan, including mortgage loans. If you’re selling to a friend or relative and offering a personal loan to finance the sale, you may need a closing statement so the buyer knows of any additional fees they must pay. 

Property Tax Records 

You’ll need to provide records of your property taxes to show the buyer that the home does not have any tax debt. Furthermore, they will likely want to see your most recent tax returns or receipts to get an idea of the amount of property taxes they will have to pay themselves. 

1099-S Tax Form

The IRS will also require you to file a 1099-S tax form or the Proceeds From Real Estate Transactions form. This form lets the IRS know precisely how much you make from real estate deals, whether you’re selling your home, apartment, or other real estate property. 

You may or may not have to pay capital gains taxes on your sale. There are exemptions to capital gains taxes, and some home sellers might not have to file the 1099-S tax form. However, it’s essential to speak with a tax professional to make sure you are filing your taxes correctly. 


Selling a home by yourself might reduce the costs to sell a house, but it can also be challenging to find a good buyer and ensure they’re not a scammer. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of speaking to multiple buyers, vetting each one independently, and gathering all the required documents, consider selling to a cash buyer. 

Remember we buy houses Malvern. We’ll inspect your home, give you a fair quote, and then close on your schedule, whether you want to close right away or wait a few weeks. 

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