Real Estate Purchase Agreements: A Complete Guide

CEO Khai Intela
Are you looking to buy or sell residential real estate? If so, you'll need a purchase agreement. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about real estate purchase agreements. What is a...

Are you looking to buy or sell residential real estate? If so, you'll need a purchase agreement. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about real estate purchase agreements.

What is a Purchase Agreement?

A purchase agreement is a legal document used to outline the final negotiations between the buyer and seller of residential real estate. It includes important details such as the sales price, contingencies, and the date of closing. In most cases, the agreement is dependent on the buyer obtaining financing, so it's crucial for the seller to ensure the buyer is preapproved or prequalified for a loan.

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The Importance of a Purchase Agreement

A real estate purchase agreement is a vital document that protects both the buyer and seller. It ensures that all parties involved understand and agree to the terms of the transaction. Without a purchase agreement, disputes can arise, potentially leading to legal complications.

What Does a Purchase Agreement Include?

A typical purchase agreement includes the following:

  • Identification of the buyer and seller
  • Description of the property being sold
  • Purchase price and method of financing
  • Earnest money deposit and sale of another property contingency
  • Closing costs and property condition
  • Appraisal and termination details
  • Disclosures and additional terms and conditions
  • Signatures of all parties involved

Understanding Contingencies

Contingencies are clauses within the purchase agreement that allow either party to terminate the contract if certain conditions are not met before closing. Common contingencies include:

  • Appraisal contingency: The buyer has the option to terminate the contract if the property's appraised value is lower than the agreed-upon sales price.
  • Financing contingency: The contract can be terminated if the buyer is unable to secure financing.
  • Inspection contingency: The buyer can cancel the agreement or negotiate repairs if the inspection reveals significant defects.
  • Title contingency: The buyer has the right to review the property's title and terminate the contract if any issues arise.

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Working with a Realtor or Real Estate Agent

When buying or selling a home, it's essential to understand the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor. A real estate agent is licensed to assist with buying or selling property, while a Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and abides by a strict code of ethics.

Realtors have access to resources that can help facilitate a smooth transaction and ensure you get the most out of your real estate experience. Whether you're buying or selling, a qualified real estate agent or Realtor can guide you through the process and help you achieve your goals.

Selling Your Home: FSBO or Listing Agent?

When selling your home, you have two options: selling it yourself (For Sale By Owner - FSBO) or working with a listing agent. Each approach has its pros and cons.

Benefits of FSBO:

  • Save money on agent commissions.
  • Determine your own asking price.
  • Have full control over marketing, showings, and negotiations.

Disadvantages of FSBO:

  • Lack of expertise in the local market.
  • Requires a significant investment of time and effort.
  • Liability to follow state real estate laws and provide required disclosures.
  • Handling all necessary paperwork and approving the buyer.

It's important to carefully consider your options and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you choose to sell your home yourself, conduct thorough research and be prepared to devote significant time and effort to the process.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

To attract buyers, your home should be presented in the best possible light. Consider the following steps to prepare your home for sale:

  • Administer a deep cleaning to ensure the interior is immaculate.
  • List any damages or deficiencies and decide which ones to address before listing the property.
  • Stage the home with attractive furniture, decorative pieces, and complementing accessories.
  • Enhance the curb appeal by clearing out clutter, landscaping the yard, and addressing any cosmetic defects.

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Determining the Market Value of Your Home

Pricing your home correctly is crucial to attracting buyers and maximizing your return. Consider the following methods to determine the market value of your home:

  • Online pricing tools: Websites like offer pricing estimates based on recent sales data. However, these estimates should only be used as a starting point.
  • Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): Real estate agents can perform a CMA, comparing your home to recently sold properties to determine a ballpark figure.
  • Hire an appraiser: An appraiser can provide a professional assessment of your home's value. This is often required by lenders but can also be done independently.

When pricing your home, consider your timeline and whether you're willing to negotiate. Remember, an overpriced home can deter potential buyers, while a competitively priced home can generate multiple offers.

Marketing Your Property for Sale

To attract potential buyers, you need to market your property effectively. Consider the following steps to maximize exposure:

  • Take high-quality photos of your home's interior and exterior. Consider hiring a professional photographer for the best results.
  • Write a detailed description highlighting your home's features and selling points.
  • Display a "For Sale" sign on your property to capture the attention of passersby.
  • Post online ads on real estate websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and
  • Leverage social media and word-of-mouth to spread the word about your home's availability.

Remember to always be responsive to inquiries and schedule showings promptly to keep potential buyers engaged.

Showing the Property

When showing your home to potential buyers, make sure it's in pristine condition and well-presented. Consider the following tips:

  • Keep your home clean, well-lit, and at an appropriate temperature.
  • Secure pets during showings to avoid any disruptions or accidents.
  • Make arrangements with other household members to ensure the home is ready for last-minute showings.
  • Consider hosting open houses to allow prospective buyers to view the property at a designated time.

Create a welcoming environment and allow buyers space to explore the property on their own. Be available to answer any questions, but don't be pushy.

Receiving an Offer to Purchase

When you receive an offer to purchase your property, carefully review the terms and conditions outlined in the purchase agreement. Consider factors such as the buyer's pre-approval, earnest money deposit, and financing terms. You can accept the offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer that better aligns with your requirements.

Negotiations may involve concessions on repairs, closing costs, or other terms. It's essential to have clear communication with the buyer to reach an agreement that works for both parties.

Meeting the Terms of the Purchase Agreement

Once the purchase agreement is signed, both parties are legally bound to fulfill the obligations outlined in the contract. This includes providing required disclosures, conducting inspections, and resolving any issues identified. Cooperation and adherence to the agreed-upon terms will help ensure a successful transaction.

Getting the Home Ready for Transfer

As the closing date approaches, prepare for the transfer of your home by:

  • Moving your belongings out of the home before the buyer's scheduled move-in date.
  • Cleaning the property thoroughly after it's emptied.
  • Canceling services registered under your name, such as utilities and subscriptions.
  • Securing the property by turning off utilities, locking doors, and setting the thermostat to an appropriate level.
  • Arranging for a final walk-through with the buyer to verify the property's condition.

Closing on the Property

Closing day is when the final paperwork is executed, and the sale is officially completed. Make sure to bring all necessary documents, such as photo ID and keys, to the closing appointment. During the closing, you'll review and sign various legal documents, including the bill of sale, certificate of title, and deed. Once all signatures are obtained, you'll receive the net proceeds from the sale after deducting closing costs and other expenses.

Finally, congratulations on successfully navigating the real estate purchase process! Whether you're buying or selling, this comprehensive guide should help you achieve your goals and ensure a smooth transaction.

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