Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400)

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Joseph Domino 480-390-6011
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate Made Easy

I keep important documents like these forever. I have been in my house 17 years and just recently I had a legal issue that required me to find a copy of my original settlement statement. The title company was no help. Surprise! I found it in the back of my file cabinet with some other important papers.

As John Juarez said, you might want to calculate your tax basis.

Nov 17, 2018 09:55 AM
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

I am not sure what I would tell them. I might advise they talk to an accountant or someone other than me and I would tell them that I keep mine forever. You can also get them all scanned in and put on a thumb drive and shred the actual paper. Title companies around here are doing that for settlement already instead of print copies. 

Nov 17, 2018 09:25 AM
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Margaret, I'm not a good one to ask on this. I have the documents for every house I bought through the 90s. I'm not really a hoarder. It just sounds like it. 

Nov 17, 2018 11:36 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

I keep them forever. Need to be able to prove basis if a sale ever takes place.

Nov 17, 2018 09:41 AM
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Why not forever?

Nov 17, 2018 08:50 AM
Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale-Probate & Trust Specialist

Once the time period for tax reasons has lapsed I do not see any reason to hold on to them. 

Like Carol Williams - I do keep mine longer.  

Nov 17, 2018 08:42 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Thank you for your email. I hope you are still enjoying your home/neighborhood.  I have been advised by xxx that "x" is the reccomended length of time but I have a couple of questions for you. Is that okay?

Nov 17, 2018 08:39 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

I would advise them to ask their CPA.

Nov 17, 2018 10:53 AM
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I've been scanning paperwork I want to get rid of lately. Scan it, put it in a electronic file somewhere, and throw out the actual documents. Then everything is still available but it sure does clear up a lot of space.


Nov 17, 2018 10:45 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

My reply would be until you move again and you close on the sale of your home Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland . Those docs don't take up that much space, you can store them somewhere.

Nov 17, 2018 09:23 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

I would say at least three years after filing the tax return with the IRS. That is the amount of time they have to audit a return. 

I am notorious for keeping records longer but that's mainly because I think they are interesting to look back on many years later.

Nov 17, 2018 08:12 AM
Annette Lawrence , Palm Harbor, FL 727-420-4041
ReMax Realtec Group - Palm Harbor, FL
Making FLORIDA Real Estate EZ

If it's your personal stuff, keep it no less than 10 years. Forever is preferred.

It does not matter what the 'professionals' say is the limitations, a judge makes up the rules as they go. That also applies to the IRS. 

Nov 17, 2018 01:00 PM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

I keep my tax records for 7 years.... I keep the files of properties I've bought and sold for at least 10 years after I sell it...... if I don't sell it, I keep the files.... If it's a home I lived in, I keep that for longer than 10 years....I'm never in a rush to shred deal folders....... 

Nov 17, 2018 12:15 PM
Anthony Kirlew
Keller Williams Legacy One Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Helping You Make Fiscally Sound Choices

I would have them contact the title company, or whoever did the settlement.

I am a stickler for documentation, so I still have my purchase in 2014, and I may me able to find the ones from my purchase in 2003.

Nov 17, 2018 11:28 AM
Harry Norman, REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker

Hi Margaret, I would say at least 5 years.

Nov 17, 2018 10:51 AM
Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

Scan them and keep them in the cloud somewhere.

Nov 17, 2018 04:28 PM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

I have every personal transaction going back 30 years. My tax person always told me keep them forever. That's not necessary, but some of them have sentimental value now.

Nov 17, 2018 03:38 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

We keep them stored on the cloud indefinitely.

Nov 17, 2018 03:29 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

I have heard that tax data should be kept all your life....Go from there

Nov 17, 2018 03:05 PM
J.R. Schloemer, CRS
Kentucky Select Properties - Louisville, KY

For a minimum I would keep them for 7 years with my tax documents. After than it is up to them, but I would keep them longer since it is for my property I live in and still own. 

In today's digital world, why don't they just scan their docs and keep them on an external drive that takes much less space and can be kept forever, with a lot less space.

Nov 17, 2018 02:20 PM
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Margaret, I actually have a document I give to all my clients at closing that outlines what documents to keep and for how long. Email me and I'll forward it to you.

Nov 17, 2018 12:44 PM
Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

What does their accountant say?

Nov 17, 2018 12:16 PM
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

I think attorneys keep doc's for 7 years.

Nov 17, 2018 08:49 AM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

I would hold them for 5 years personally.

Nov 17, 2018 08:39 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

I keep mine forever, but others may be more likely to throw out in less than a decade.

Nov 17, 2018 05:24 PM
Steve Higgins
RE/MAX Kelowna - Kelowna, BC

I would check with your accountant.

Nov 17, 2018 05:22 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

I would probably say, "I keep mine for years...until my husband makes me get rid of them! But, I would probably ask my CPA before shredding any of the critical documents. I would personally recommend to keep them at least until you've sold and Closed on the home - there could be vital documents included in that paperwork, needed to list your home."

Nov 17, 2018 04:55 PM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

The IRS says you should keep tax returns and the paperwork supporting them for at least three years after you file the return — the amount of time the IRS has to audit you. 

The law requires a real estate licensee to retain copies of listings and documents pertaining to the provision of real estate brokerage services for five years after the closing of a real estate transaction, or five years after the listing expires if the transaction is not closed. A licensee who provides property management services must keep records for five years following the termination of a management agreement. Records may be retained in electronic form if specified criteria are met.
A licensee must allow a representative of the State Real Estate Commission to inspect these records if the commission provides reasonable notice. Upon request, paper copies of a document must be provided to the commission at the licensee’s expense. On demand of the Commission, the licensee must display all records, books, and accounts of any money held in trust.

Nov 17, 2018 04:37 PM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Typically they get used the first year on the tax return and that's it.  I'd suggest scanning them and burning them to CD.  Other than that, you'd just need to keep the closing statement until the time frame for tax documents is over.

Nov 17, 2018 04:23 PM
Fred Griffin presently on Leave of Absence
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Talk to your CPA or attorney.

* Do NOT keep them longer than necessary.  If you were to be a defendant in a civil suit years later, those documents could be subpoenaed and you would have to provide them to the Court. They might contain information that could be used against you.  Throw them out when the required time is up.  (Yes, I know a Realtor in Tallahassee who this happened to).

Nov 17, 2018 04:07 PM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

When in doubt, throm them out! Actually, I'd probably suggest they scan them or save them in digital form before throwing them away.

Nov 17, 2018 04:05 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

For as long as the tax period requires it, minimally.

Nov 17, 2018 02:49 PM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I keep records as long as I own them.

Nov 17, 2018 02:26 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

I would keep my paperwork until I have sold the house.  Take no chances.

Nov 17, 2018 02:24 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

I tend to keep documents like that forever. Of course, we haven't moved in over 35 years. I still have them ion a file 

Nov 18, 2018 06:09 AM
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents

I keep paperwork for 10 years however on my house, i keep it as long as i am living there. When sold, i keep it for 10 years then shread. 

Nov 18, 2018 05:50 AM
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

My old accountant told me once to keep it as long as I own the property. 

Nov 18, 2018 05:21 AM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

I just had someone call me and ask for their settlement papers from 1998

I had to disappoint them.  

Nov 18, 2018 12:25 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, Realtor, ePRO, CRS, RCS-D
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

I'd ask your CPA

Nov 17, 2018 11:36 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I save them in the CAR zip forms, they comply with local legal terms and push them automatically after that into achieve. 

Nov 17, 2018 10:46 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

7 years. 

Nov 17, 2018 06:28 PM
Dr. Karen Lewis, Broker 305-3231556
K1 Realty Group - Pembroke Pines, FL
Residential for Sellers and Buyers in S. Broward

I think it's normally three years but I am not sure..I personally would hold them longer..HEY Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland Miss you..I better get on the phone and check on you...I know you have the show today..

Nov 18, 2018 06:38 AM
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

I would keep them until you sell it.

Nov 18, 2018 05:48 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Back in the day, at least 5 years unless there was litigation, then longer!

Nov 18, 2018 05:40 AM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I do not know,

Nov 18, 2018 03:10 AM
Joyce Marsh
Regal | Christie's International Real Estate - Orlando, FL
Regional Manager Regal Christie's Int'l Realty

I also keep mine forever. 

Nov 18, 2018 11:02 PM
Evelina Tsigelnitskaya
SIB Realty - Sunny Isles Beach, FL 305-931-6931

Yes, one of the customer asked if I have his file, closing was almost 10 years ago. 

Nov 18, 2018 10:06 PM
Valeria Mola
SIB REALTY - Sunny Isles Beach, FL
305-607-0709 SIB Realty

Reading the answers. Wow, seems we should keep it forever. :)

Nov 18, 2018 09:55 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Prado Real Estate South - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Great question Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland! My answer without looking is...As long as you own the home.

Nov 18, 2018 05:57 PM
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
WestUSA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

I would keep the docs for my own home(s) for ever. Scan everything. Keep on your secret file server in archives. Among many other documents.

Nov 18, 2018 07:02 AM
Dave Martin (703) 585-4687
Fairfax Realty - Fairfax, VA
Making Realty Dreams a Reality #WeWillGetYouHome

The IRS can go back up to 7 years however depending on the whether the property was ever rented etc I would consult a CPA I would think given that TITLE issues could come back to haunt in the distant future it would make sense to hold on to these docs in your PERMANENT files Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland 

Nov 23, 2018 01:52 PM
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I tell my clients to never throw them away as they could come in handy

Nov 21, 2018 07:06 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

I have kept all my house papers over the years, and when I got my license, was fun to see what the contracts looked like back then, and the commission I paid!     For a homeowner, I would save five years, but check with a CPA for sure.

Nov 20, 2018 09:48 AM
Libby Cousins
Extraordinary Processing - Spokane, WA
Contract Mortgage Processor, licensed in WA

It doesn't take up much space so I keep all real estate documents (actually, they take up no space as I scan them) forever. I would absolutely suggest keeping the papers until the property has been sold. I have had to ask borrowers for prior docs multiple times. This is the same for divorce records and child support orders. You'd think that after 18 years you wouldn't need to worry about proving that you no longer pay child support as the child is no longer a minor - not so with some lenders!

Nov 19, 2018 03:43 PM
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

And here's one more. My client/friend who originally asked this question received this answer.

"Hi Margaret: my attorney said no need to keep settlement papers beyond 3 years of income tax filing. Leslie"

Nov 19, 2018 11:03 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

I ould say 7 years  or life.

Nov 23, 2018 01:25 PM