The Offer to Purchase states the price the buyer is willing to pay for the house, the date the sale will close, and other important terms of the transaction. There is a state-approved form for Offers used in nearly all home sales. It can be completed by a party to the transaction, a real estate agent, or an attorney. State-approved forms are revised periodically. There often are one or more attachments (or addendums), which add more terms to the Offer.
The Offer will usually include contingencies toprotect the parties by setting conditions that must be met. Common contingencies include financing and professional house inspection. Depending on the transaction, the Offer might include other contingencies, such as septic and well inspections, land survey, sale of the buyer’s home, and occupancy by the seller after closing. The attorney can advise the buyer or seller about which contingencies are appropriate. By law, the seller must provide a condition report disclosing any known defects in the property, and a disclosure regarding lead-based paint.
The seller can respond to the buyer’s Offer by accepting it, rejecting it, or making a Counteroffer presenting different terms for the sale. The
Offer/Counteroffer process may go back and forth until both the buyer and seller are satisfied. When the buyer and seller sign the contract, it becomes a legally binding contract, subject to satisfying any contingencies.
If the inspection discloses significant defects in the property there may be further negotiations on repairs or credits. The lawyer can advise the buyer or seller about the inspection provisions that are best for the client. The lawyer also can prepare an amendment if the parties modify their purchase agreement due to the inspection, or for other reasons.
It’s critical that the contract be complete and legally enforceable. If your attorney didn’t write the Offer, it’s wise to at least have him or her review this document and any Counteroffers. If your attorney can’t review the Offer before you submit it to the seller, insert a contingency for attorney approval.