When you formally make an offer on a home you want to buy, you’ll fill out a lot of paperwork specifying the terms of your offer. Aside from such obvious things as the address and purchase price of the property on which you’re making an offer, there are some items you should be sure to include in your real estate purchase contract.
1. Finance Terms
If you are like most people and you won’t be able to buy the home without obtaining a mortgage, your purchase offer should state that your offer is contingent upon obtaining financing.
2. Home Inspection
Unless you are buying a tear-down, you should include a home inspection contingency in your offer. This clause allows you to walk away from the deal if a home inspection reveals significant and/or expensive-to-repair flaws in the structure’s condition. For example, if the home inspection reveals that the home needs a new roof at a cost of $15,000, the home inspection contingency would give you the option to walk away from the deal.
3. Fixtures and Appliances
If you want the refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, oven, washing machine or any other fixtures and appliances, do not rely on a verbal agreement with the seller and do not assume anything. Specify in the contract any fixtures and appliances that are to be included in the purchase.
4. Closing Date
How much time do you need to complete the purchase transaction? Common time frames are 30 days, 45 days and 60 days. Issues that can affect this time frame might include the seller’s need to find a new home, the remaining term on your lease if you are currently renting, the amount of time you have to relocate if you are moving from a job, and so on. Occasionally, the buyer or seller might want a closing as short as two weeks, but it’s difficult to remove all the contingencies and obtain all the necessary paperwork and funding in such a short time period.
5. Sale of Existing Home
If you are an existing homeowner and you will need the funds from the sale of that home to buy the home you are making an offer on, you should make your purchase offer contingent upon the sale of your current home. You should also provide a reasonable time frame for you to sell your home, such as 30 or 60 days. The seller of the property you’re interested in is not going to want to take his property off the market indefinitely while you search for a buyer.
There are many other things that go into a thorough real estate contract, but for the most part, you shouldn’t have to worry about them. Real estate agents will commonly use standardized, fill-in-the-blank forms that cover all the bases, including the ones described in this article.
If you want to familiarize yourself with the details of the purchase agreement form you’re likely to use before you write your offer, ask your real estate agent for a sample agreement, or search online for the standard form that is common in your locality.
The Bottom Line
Even though these forms are common and standardized and a good real estate agent would not let you leave anything important out of your contract, it is still a good idea to educate yourself about the key components of a real estate purchase agreement.