This article was originally published in Real Estate Agent Magazine Twin Cities, written by Charity Malmberg, Founder and President of Trademark Title


As a real estate agent, your job encompasses so many different facets and responsibilities and, at times, it can be hard to stay on top of them all. Not only are you responsible for helping buyers find a sound home that’s worth its market value and that fits their specific needs, but you’re also ensuring that your sellers have a home and property truly ready for sale.

Of course, readying a home for sale is largely the responsibility of your seller; however, one way you show your value and expertise as an agent is through helping your seller identify potential issues ahead of time and resolving said issues before it becomes a costly problem for your seller and even your business.


1. Septic System non-compliance

If your seller has an unruly septic system this could cause some significant issues and become one of the more costly items missed in a transaction. In fact, up to $25K or more might be needed in escrow to resolve septic issues, clearly enough to eat up your commission and cost additional monies to close the deal. Rice County requires that non-compliant septic systems are brought into compliance within 12 months of the date it is found non-compliant. If this issue happens to arise during the sale of the home, it will take negotiation to decide who is responsible for this cost. Additionally, if it’s winter and the ground is frozen, an escrow may need to be set up until the spring. Counties and municipalities have differing requirements for septic systems. For a list of counties and their requirements email us at

2. Unresolved code violations

Perhaps your seller has been informed, even years ago, about a couple minor code violations. Under law, violations (and other known issues for that matter) need to be brought to the attention of the buyer. Be sure to address any and all violations your seller is aware of and help them find the resources to get them resolved ahead of time. If the violations are too numerous or too expensive (an addition to a home that is no longer up-to-code) it may not be in their best interest to fix the problem before selling, but they will still need to inform the buyer. In addition, take the time to familiarize yourself with the Minnesota Statue 513.55 on disclosure requirements and advise your seller to do so as well.

3. Truth in Housing inspections

Before you put a home on the market, it’s a great idea to check each municipality for its requirements of selling. Each one varies greatly and can come with their own time frames of when inspections need to take place and if any of the items need to be resolved prior to closing or transfer of ownership.

St. Paul for example requires the following:

Any owner or agent of an owner who sells or makes available for sale a Dwelling or Dwelling Unit by implementing any of the following actions, including, but not limited to, advertising the sale of the Dwelling or Dwelling Unit, entering into a listing agreement to sell the Dwelling or Dwelling Unit or posting a sign that the Dwelling or Dwelling Unit is for sale, or any action where the logical result of that action will be the sale or change of ownership of the Dwelling or Dwelling Unit shall, within three (3) calendar days of any such action, have a Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluation completed by a Licensed Evaluator, or obtain a copy of an Alternatively Accepted City Inspection Report.

Richfield, however, only requires a point of sale inspection to be completed by a city inspector prior to the transfer of ownership or closing.

Having a master list of all municipality and county requirements will allow you to be better informed as well as be the knowledgeable resource that buyers and seller need in today’s marketplace. Be sure to review and update those lists at minimum annually. If you have listing packets already put together in a folder on your computer or in your filing cabinet, be sure to save this master list in there as well.