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Real Estate Purchase Agreement basics

This document is an agreement to sell property at a future date (closing date) under certain terms. You can use this Purchase Agreement to determine the obligations of both parties for the sale to occur on the closing date.

Use the Real Estate Purchase Agreement document if:

  • You are ready to sell your property to an interested buyer and would like to outline the process for the sale until the closing date.
  • You would like to purchase a property and want to enter into a formal agreement with the Seller regarding the terms of the sale.

A Real Estate Purchase Agreement Form does not transfer a title to a building, lot, or home, but it does set out the parameters for doing so. It helps you determine the responsibilities of all parties involved before transferring the property in question.

Other names for this document:

Real Estate Purchase Agreement Form, Agreement to Purchase Real Estate, Real Estate Sales Contract, Home Purchase Agreement, Real Estate Contract Form, Property Sale Agreement

What is included in a Real Estate Purchase Agreement?

Property purchase agreements can vary greatly in complexity—being as detailed as you need them to be. However, there are a few things that should be in every agreement:

  • Names of the parties involved: it's mandatory to identify the purchasing and selling parties, even if one of those parties is an LLC or other corporate entity.
  • All dates involved: when the offer is extended, when it expires, when it is to take place if accepted.
  • A legal description of the property. Contrary to how we think of our home address, a legal description of real property typically comes from a county recorder's office and will describe the property in terms of land parcels.
  • The offering price for the property.
  • In addition to these basics, it can also be a good idea to lay out other critical aspects of the home buying process. Elements such as title requirements, inspections, warranties and escrow can also be sorted out in the initial agreement.

Must the offer be accepted?

Even if your offer meets or exceeds the seller's asking prices, they are not required to accept the contract. As veteran home buyers know, there can often be a counter offer made by the other party; subsequently, the counter offer itself can be countered, and so on.

Who can use a Real Estate Purchase Agreement?

Anyone can use and benefit from a Real Estate Purchase Agreement during the sale of a home. The most common individuals will be real estate agents and attorneys in states that require attorney presence during real estate transactions.

When is a Real Estate Contract used?

Such purchase agreements are used to initiate and outline the home buying process. Despite containing "real estate" in the name, this agreement is typically used exclusively to purchase already-constructed homes, not undeveloped parcels of land.

Can a Real Estate Purchase Agreement be cancelled?

At its heart, a Real Estate Purchase Agreement is just a contract; so, the answer on whether an offer can be rescinded depends on a few factors. When the initial offer is made it's good for a duration of time specified by the document itself. If the offer has yet to be accepted, it is typically possible to withdraw the offer by notifying the other parties. If you plan to do this, be as thorough as possible. While it's important to contact the other parties as soon as possible, it could be critical to document the withdrawal of the offer, as well.

If the offer has already been accepted, then cancelling the contract becomes much more involved. First, check if any procedures for cancellation are outlined in the original contract; if they are, you'll likely need to work within those boundaries to get out of the contract. If there is no clear solution within the text of the contract itself, it may be worthwhile to reach out to the other people involved in the contract. If the seller of the house has received many, or better, offers they might not have any issue with releasing you from your contractual obligations.

What happens if there are disputes over the agreement?

As with any legal dispute, there are a few avenues you can take should you find yourself in disagreement over a contract. First, it is probably best to consult an attorney. Legal guidance can be invaluable if you haven't navigated these waters before. Legal disputes can be settled through the courts (by litigation), by arbitration, or by both parties opting for mediation. The best option will entirely depend on your unique situation.

If you have any serious legal questions surrounding buying a home, it may be best to simply ask a lawyer.

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