offer and purchase & sales agreement

The Offer to Purchase Real Estate *
By law, real estate agents are required to present all offers to a seller. When answering questions about their property, every seller has the duty to respond fully and accurately to any request for information about a property. This is true whether the information is requested directly by a prospective buyer, or by a real estate agent who, in turn, may pass along the information to a prospective buyer. Answers that are misleading or are half-truths are improper and the seller may be liable for them. If the seller doesn't know the answer he or she should not guess, but should qualify the answer with this acknowledgement.

Once a seller receives an offer to purchase offer to purchase, he or she may counter offer, by accepting the offer with additional stipulations, including but not limited to a renegotiation in price. For example, the seller may accept the offer to purchase price, but require 30 days to find suitable new housing. Buyers and sellers should be careful when making offers and counteroffers to ensure that they understand all the terms and conditions in the offer and any contingencies included therein. Common contingencies in an offer to purchase can include home inspection, financing approval and lead paint inspection.

The seller's agent will assist in finalizing the terms of the sale between buyer and seller in the form of a written purchase and sale agreement. This agreement once signed is a binding contract to which the seller and buyer will be obligated.

The Purchase & Sales Agreement *
The offer to purchase outlines the initial agreement between the buyer and seller regarding the purchase price and any provisions to be included in the subsequent purchase and sale agreement. Depending upon the intentions of the buyer and seller and the language contained in the agreement, acceptance of an offer may be sufficient to create a binding contract between the parties.

The purchase and sale agreement contains a list of inspections, services and fees agreed upon by both buyer and seller. There may be as many as 30 clauses in a purchase and sale agreement, so buyers should be intimately aware of their responsibilities prior to signing. Because most sellers typically require a larger deposit when the Purchase and Sale Agreement is signed, buyers should make sure they understand their rights and obligations before signing. Buyers with specific legal questions or concerns should consult an attorney who is familiar with real estate law.

Although brokers are not attorneys, they may complete a standard offer to purchase form and are aware of its content and importance in the home buying process. In most cases, the purchase and sale agreement is the final written and binding agreement for all terms and conditions of the transaction.

* From the MA Association of Realtors Website - Buyers Toolkit

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