Put it in Writing

Put negotiations in writing. Don't reveal your strategy, and don't make oral offers. You want to buy the house, but don't hand over money until you're sure the seller is legally capable of conveying a good title and meeting other conditions. The seller, in turn, doesn't want to deliver the deed until you've paid for the property. Now what? Present the seller with a written contract setting out the commitments and promises that you and the seller need to agree on and fulfill to make the sale. A well-drawn contract should protect all parties.

The first contract you submit should be comprehensive; everything of any importance should be included. Once it is accepted by the seller, it may be too late to add or change anything. Your contract should include:

  • Offering price
  • Down payment
  • Legal description of the property
  • Method of conveying the title
  • Fees to be paid and who will pay them
  • Amount of deposit
  • Conditions under which the seller and buyer can void the contract
  • The settlement date
  • Financing arrangements
  • A list of appliances, furnishings and personal property being sold with the home

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