The crucial period between an offer and a final contract is an important time to stay in close contact with your real estate agent so you’re equipped with all the information you need to make smart decisions.
What should I expect to see in the contract?
Ask your real estate agent to explain the key points in your multi-page contract, such as:
- Accuracy of information, including the correct spelling of your name and the property address
- The effective date of the contract – important because your contingencies have time limits.
- A list of contingencies, such as that the sale depends on financing, an appraisal, a satisfactory home inspection and perhaps the sale of your current home.
- Property disclosure information from the seller, depending on your state laws.
- A complete list of what conveys with the property
- A list of required inspections, such as a home inspection and a pest inspection
- Information about when you can move in.
- In some cases, such as if your offer is contingent on the sale of your home, the seller may add a “kick-out” clause, which means that the seller could accept another offer if one is made before your home is sold.
How do I know when to negotiate and when to let go?
Your real estate agent can guide you, but you also need to decide how much you want a particular property and what you’re willing to accept to get it. You may want to let go when:
- A bidding war drives the price too high
- The appraised value of the home is below your offer
- A home inspection finds defects that would be expensive to repair
- The sellers are unwilling to make reasonable repairs
- You learn about homeowners association rules that won’t work for you
What are common contract pitfalls I should avoid?
Your real estate agent will help you watch out for:
- Unrealistic deadlines: you’ll need time to arrange a home inspection and receive the report, as well as arrange financing
- Missing deadlines means you lose your chance to end the contract and keep your deposit
- Items that don’t convey with the property: if you’re not sure, ask your agent to confirm
- Communications from your lender
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the most common reasons for contracts to fail or to be delayed are home inspection problems, financing problems or an appraisal issue. Contact a real estate agent to help you navigate the complexities of a real estate contract.
The home-buying process doesn’t need to be scary. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through the process and answer your questions on what you should expect from your REALTOR®, where to look for loans, and what to watch out for when closing the deal. Search homes for sale and use our expertise to help you gain the most in today’s real estate market.
Real Estate Glossary
Use this glossary to make yourself more prepared for the professionals and documents you'll encounter in your real estate experiences.