Once you find the home of your dreams, you’ll need to present the seller with a formal offer to buy the property. This contract should be reviewed carefully since it will contain important information about the conditions for closing your purchase.
The purchase agreement is the best-known type of real estate contract. It is also sometimes referred to as a purchase contract, agreement for purchase and sale, or offer to purchase.
Information to Include in Your Purchase Agreement
Some of the key details that must be included in the purchase agreement are:
- The property's address and legal description
- The purchase price you're offering
- How much cash you will put down as a down payment
- The amount of money you're putting forward as an earnest money deposit
- How long the offer will be open, which is used to keep the seller from waiting to obtain higher bids from other prospective buyers
- A mortgage contingency provision allowing you to be released from the contract if you’re unable to finalize your loan in a certain amount of time
Some of the additional issues that might need to be discussed as part of the agreement include:
- Are there any restrictions on the use of the property?
- Are any of the boundary lines in dispute?
- As the buyer, when can you take possession of the property?
- Is the seller required to provide a marketable title?
- Who will pay for the examination of the title to the property if the offer is accepted?
- Who is responsible for paying for the abstract of title or the cost of title insurance?
- Who pays for the cost of the survey of the property?
- Who is responsible for paying for governmental special assessments that may arise prior to the closing of the transaction?
- If termite damage is found, can you expect the seller of the property to pay for the cost of any necessary repairs?
- If you are purchasing a home that has been newly constructed, have utilities been installed?
- Do you want any additional items to be included in the sale beyond the basic land and structures such as light fixtures or appliances?
How an Experienced Real Estate Attorney Can Help
In some cases, your real estate agent will provide a standard purchase offer or purchase agreement form. However, having a qualified real estate attorney create your contract will provide more protection to you as the buyer. This is one of the many benefits of using a real estate lawyer to guide you through your purchase.
Having an attorney prepare your purchase offer is beneficial if the seller makes a counteroffer that accepts some of your terms but proposes changes to others. For example:
- The seller may want a higher purchase price.
- The seller may want to remove certain contingencies.
- The seller may exclude certain items from the sale such as antique light fixtures they wish to take to their next home.
- The seller may ask for a liquidated damages clause requiring you to pay money if you back out of the deal for reasons that are not listed in the contract.
- The seller may require their attorney to approve the contract as a contingency of the sale.
If the seller has made a counteroffer, your attorney can review their proposed changes and advise you of your legal options. If the seller is asking for something that is unreasonable, your attorney can suggest an alternative that may be more suitable.
Real estate law can be quite complex, but it's important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Your attorney can answer any questions you may have about the contract or explain any terms that are unfamiliar to you. It is absolutely vital that you understand what is contained in your purchase agreement. Once the contract has been executed, it is legally binding—even if you didn't fully understand your obligations when you signed the document.
Do You Need a Real Estate Lawyer? Discover the Alperin Law Advantage
At Alperin Law, our staff is available seven days a week should you have questions related to residential or commercial real estate transactions in Virginia or North Carolina. Contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to learn how we can be of service. We serve all communities in Eastern Virginia, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Newport News, Isle of Wight County, Hampton, the Eastern Shore, and Northeastern North Carolina, including Currituck, Elizabeth City, and the Outer Banks.