After hours of gathering information on a property to prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) and contracts, you arrive at your listing appointment confident about your presentation. Halfway through your presentation, the seller asks you if they need to pay off the previously undisclosed home equity line of credit (HELOC) they took out against the property a few years ago. In a second, your potential listing goes from netting your sellers substantial cash to having little or no seller net proceeds. The question now is: How could you have avoided being surprised by this last-minute deal breaker?

Part of preparing for a listing appointment is obtaining a property profile and pre-qualifying the prospective seller before driving off to the appointment. It is not uncommon for a seller to forget to mention secondary liens against the property, or co-borrowers who were never removed from title. These surprises can easily be avoided by doing your due diligence and ordering a property profile as part of the preparation for your appointment.

A property profile will confirm:

  • how ownership is vested and who has authority to employ management;
  • the liens on the property and their foreclosure status;
  • any use restrictions affecting tenants; and
  • comparable sales figures in the area.

Property profiles are very easy to obtain with today’s technology, and include information such as who owns the property and recorded deeds of trust. They will also tell you if there is a notice of default (NOD) or notice of trustee’s sale (NTS) recorded against the property. You should never go into an appointment without this knowledge.

Remember to do your homework! Don’t be surprised the next time you meet with a seller for a listing presentation. The more you know, the higher the probability your presentation will yield a signed contract.

This article was originally posted September 10, 2012 and has been updated.