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Buying or Selling Real Estate: Think Beyond the Form

Thinking about buying a home?  Or perhaps you’re in the market for a new residence and are planning on selling your current home?

Your home is one of the biggest purchases or sales you make in your lifetime.  However, when either buying or selling this asset, many resort to using pre-printed purchase agreements provided by their real estate agent or broker believing they can avoid the expense of an attorney or expecting that the transaction is a “simple” deal.  While this method may save money and time in the short run, the potential long term consequences could be costly.

A Purchase Agreement is a legal contract containing the terms and conditions of the sale and purchase of real property.  It is the roadmap for completing the transaction.  While pre-printed forms provide the minimum requirements for an enforceable contract (identity of the parties, description of the real property, and agreed purchase price), more often than not they do not fully cover all aspects of the transaction.  This can leave parties bound by a legal contract without adequate protection.

Most pre-printed realtor forms are slanted in a Seller’s favor and do not always protect a Buyer’s interests.  Do not believe that because the terms are laid out in a pre-printed form that the arrangement is “standard” and that you are protected.

There are several issues that should be addressed in a Purchase Agreement which may not be in pre-printed forms:

•    Who is responsible for paying property taxes and how they will be prorated?

•    Do specific contingencies need to be satisfied prior to close such as obtaining a mortgage, having the home inspected or sale of the Buyer’s current home?

•    What happens if there is a title problem? How will the Seller show marketable title?

•    Are land division rights being transferred?

•    What representations and warranties are being given? Do they continue after close?

•    Who is responsible for costs at closing?

You should never enter into a contract without fully understanding how a particular term or condition could impact you. Real property law is a diverse and complex body of law dating back hundreds of years.

After the Purchase Agreement is signed, the due diligence period begins. We at Shinners & Cook take pride in assisting our clients throughout this period and by offering services such as title review, tax review, and closing document review to ensure your interests are being looked after from start to finish.

When deciding to purchase or sell your biggest asset, why would you rely on a standard pre-printed form.  Each transaction is unique, like you, and the experienced attorneys at Shinners & Cook, P.C. will treat you that way.

As always, you can contact Shinners & Cook at 989.799.5000 with any questions regarding your real property or any other legal questions.