Sellers of Real Estate

Sellers of Real Estate who are transferring ownership of their property are responsible for conveying clear and marketable title at the time of the closing and they are required to cooperate with the Closing Attorney, real estate agents and mortgage brokers as may be necessary.

Do sellers need attorneys?:

Yes, as a seller you are responsible for producing a Warranty Deed and various documents in order to transfer the real estate. An Attorney should prepare these documents. The Closing Attorney for the Buyer will usually offer to prepare all necessary documents and obtain mortgage payoffs in order to facilitate the closing. Sellers may elect to pay the Closing Attorney for their document preparation but they are encouraged to obtain their own representation in order to ensure that their rights are being adequately protected. Additionally, the Sellers are responsible for providing information to the Closing Attorney to obtain mortgage payoffs. They may be required to share bank account numbers, social security numbers and written authorization to release this information.

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Can a Power of Attorney be used?:

Yes, in the event a Seller is unable to attend the closing then usually the Seller is permitted to appoint a representative to sign documents on their behalf. A Specific Power of Attorney is usually required to be executed designating a person that the Sellers trust to sign on their behalf. Normally at the time the Seller signs the Power of Attorney they are also required to sign the Warranty Deed. In the event that you have a need to appoint a Power of Attorney be sure that the person has clear instructions not to sign anything unless you have first reviewed the documents and authorized them to sign. Notifying the Closing Attorney as soon as possible will be important to ensure a smooth transaction, as documents must be reviewed in advance of the closing.

What are Tax Stamps?:

Tax stamps represent the sales tax on the transaction. The payment is remitted to the respective city or town and a portion is forwarded by the city or town to the State of Rhode Island. Tax stamps are required to be reported on the deed at the time of the recording. Transfer tax stamps are the responsibility of the sellers. The cost is $4.00 dollars per thousand in Rhode Island.

Out of State Sellers:

If you are selling real estate in Rhode Island and you are not a resident, then you may be subject to a 6% withholding tax payable to the State of Rhode Island, pursuant to Rhode Island General laws 44-30-71.3. The Closing Attorney will be required to collect 6% of the Seller's Net proceeds as reflected on the Settlement Sheet. The attorney must then remit the money to the Division of Taxation. If the actual gain that the seller would recognize on the sale is less than 6% of the net proceeds then the Seller will be entitled to a reimbursement upon filing a tax return with the State of Rhode Island.

This withholding tax liability may be mitigated by filing the GAIN method with the Division of Taxation, prior to the closing. The GAIN method allows a seller to only pay taxes on the actual gain recognized in the sale. This is determined by calculating the difference between the seller's tax basis in the property and the sales price of the property. This GAIN method can be completed and filed by a local attorney.

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