Can I write my own real estate contract? Vital factors and easy steps
Real estate sales can be expensive, so you may be wondering, “Can I write my own real estate contract?”.
The good news is that yes, you can either create a contract from scratch or customize sample real estate contracts from PandaDoc. Either way, there are a few things every real estate contract should include.
How can I write my own real estate contract?
The easiest way to write your own real estate contract is by customizing a ready-made template from PandaDoc.
That way, you’ll know your agreement includes all the information you need to complete a sale that works for both parties.
However you choose to do it, though, as you write up a contract for real estate, you need to ensure that both the home buyer and the seller can understand it.
That means using simple language and an easy-to-read font, as well as subheadings to break up the text.
What steps should you follow when writing your own real estate contract?
- State the property’s address and write a description of the property, including the necessary legal descriptions.
- List the names, addresses, and contact information of the buyer and seller.
- Specify the property’s sales price and the amount of any earnest money (and where it will be held).
- Outline any property taxes and who’s responsible for paying them.
- Set the closing date and specify who handles the closing costs.
- Set the move-in date.
- List any fixtures, fittings, or personal property included in the sale.
- List any relevant disclosures, such as lead paint or water damage and specify the buyer’s right to inspect the property for any defects.
- Outline any contingencies that may delay or negate the sale, like a pending inspection or appraisal, and include a standstill agreement.
- Include a seller’s warranty (if applicable), such as purchasing a title insurance policy.
- Explain what happens if there’s a breach of contract and how you’ll resolve disputes.
- Assign risk of loss (that is, who bears the cost if there’s a flood, fire, or some other disaster before closing).
- Include a space for signatures.
Some states, like California, have created real estate purchase agreements you can download and change.
You can also get a template from PandaDoc, as well as benefiting from real estate contract management software functionality.
Common terms and elements in a real estate contract
Seller and buyer’s data
The names of the buyer and seller, contact information, and current addresses.
Any for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) agreement should include the property’s address and a legal description of the land. Next, list any restrictions, permits, zoning laws, easements, or encumbrances on the property. Make sure you have copies of any relevant documents. For instance, if you used a real estate easement agreement template, you should make this available to the buyer.
Different states have different requirements, but you may need to disclose:
- The location of any wells on the property
- Known hazards, such as lead paint and asbestos
- Repair history
- Termite damage
- Subsurface sewage
- Any history of methamphetamine production on the property
- Water damage
- If the property is governed by a Homeowners’ Association (HOA)
Specify the property’s purchase price, including any fees or adjustments. Your contract should also state if the buyer is paying an earnest money deposit as a good faith payment.
In certain circumstances, you or anyone else involved in a real estate transaction can add an addendum. An addendum modifies part of the contract (while the rest of the contract stays the same).
Contingencies are the conditions that must be met for a home sale to proceed. Two of the most common contingencies are:
- Inspection contingencies: The sale is contingent on the results of a home inspection.
- Financing contingencies: The sale is contingent on the buyer securing a loan in a set amount of time or at a certain interest rate.
Closing costs and date
Detail the closing costs of the sale, including escrow fees, transfer tax, title search fees, notary fees, and so on, and which party handles which costs. Closing costs can include as well as commissions for your agent and the buyer’s agent. (If you’re not sure what your agent’s commission is, check your real estate agency agreement template.) Also, specify the closing date of the sale.
Considerations are anything of value that’s exchanged in a transaction. If you don’t include considerations, your purchase contract is invalid.
Property tax details
Your contract should specify which property taxes the buyer is responsible for.
The contract should also detail the conditions for refunding the earnest money.
Usually, the buyer loses their earnest money deposit if they break the contract unless an agreed-upon contingency entitles them to walk away.
Title insurance protects lenders and buyers from losses relating to a defective title.
For example, if the seller owes back taxes or there’s a lien on the title. One of the parties must buy a title insurance policy to protect against title issues.
Title companies typically offer two types of insurance:
- Lender’s title insurance: Bought by the buyer to protect the mortgage lender.
- Owner’s title insurance: Bought by the seller to protect the buyer.
Signature of both parties
Both parties must sign the contract for it to be legally binding. In some cases, a real estate agent, auctioneer, or real estate broker may sign on behalf of one of the parties (with their consent).
Create and revamp your real estate contracts with PandaDoc
You can write your own real estate contract using the steps outlined in this post.
Or you could save time and customize a premade template from an online document solution like PandaDoc.
PandaDoc offers over 750 templates to suit all your needs. This includes a real estate apartment sales contract template and many more.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial and see how PandaDoc could work for you!