Offer to Purchase Real Estate FAQ - United States


An Offer to Purchase Real Estate (the "Offer") is a document that sets out the basic proposed terms and conditions between the Buyer and the Seller in a real estate transaction. Once the Offer is signed by the Buyer and the Seller, and the contained contingencies are met, it then becomes a legally binding agreement.
What is commonly found in an offer to purchase real estate?

There are various points, items, and conditions found in the Offer. The basic ones include the following:

  • Names of the Buyer and Seller
  • Purchase price
  • Legal description and the address of the property
  • Fixtures and items to be included or excluded in the sale
  • Proposed financing
  • Property condition disclosure
  • Closing date for the sale
  • Deadline for acceptance
  • Any contingencies of the sale
There may be other terms included in the Offer. Moreover, the parties often will not accept the first offer and will make a counter-offer to include additional terms that they feel are necessary. As such, our contract has the option for the parties to include additional clauses in addition to the common terms and conditions.

What is the legal description of the property and how can it be obtained?

The legal description of the property is description of the property by reference to government surveys and recorded maps and it is used to identify the location of the property on most legal documents. You should be able to obtain the complete legal description of the property from the County Recorder's Office by providing the property's municipal address or tax parcel number.

What is a property condition disclosure?

A property condition disclosure is an informational form provided by the Seller to the Buyer. It discloses any known defects in the physical condition of the property that may materially affect the property's value, including but not limited to malfunctioning appliances, pest control problems, mold problems, structural issues with the home, roof defects, etc. Each state has different requirements as to what should be disclosed, so we recommend that you make yourself aware of the statutory disclosure requirements for your state. To protect yourself, in addition to completing the state-specific disclosure form provided with the purchase agreement, you should disclose any material defects affecting the Property of which you are aware. If you are unsure of what you should include, please contact a local attorney.

What is the closing date?

The closing date is the date on which the Seller of a property delivers the deed and the buyer pays for it and can take possession of the house. The closing date is typically 30, 60, or 90 days after the contract is signed. For people who are financing the purchase through a mortgage, you should ensure that the closing date will occur before the mortgage commitment letter expires.

What are fixtures?

Fixtures are items of personal property that have been attached to land or buildings in such a way that they cannot be removed without damaging the item, land or building. As a Seller, you may choose to exclude some fixtures because they have sentimental value, if they are hard to replace, or for some other personal reason. Examples of fixtures include chandeliers, custom-made drapes, window blinds, built-in appliances, built-in cupboards, light fittings, and wall-to-wall carpeting.

What are contingencies/conditions in an Offer?

Contingencies in the Offer are conditions that must be fulfilled prior to the Offer becoming valid. If the conditions have not been satisfied by the deadline, then the Offer becomes null and void. For example, the Buyer may need third party financing from a bank before purchasing the Seller's home. Therefore, it is quite common to have a financing condition in the Offer, whereby the Buyer will not be obligated to complete the purchase unless the adequate financing described in the Offer can be obtained. Contingencies/conditions are not limited to the scope of Buyer's financing; it may involve completion of building inspection, providing proof of clear title, or any other issues deemed important enough by both parties and which require completion before the deal can solidify.

Do I need to use a real estate purchase agreement in addition to the offer to purchase?

Once the Parties have signed the Offer, it becomes a binding contract. So technically, it does not require another piece of document to make a valid deal. However, it is a good idea to use a real estate purchase agreement to flesh out the details of the deal that are also important but not covered in the Offer. For example, our Real Estate Purchase Agreement deals with property condition disclosures, title policy and survey, conflict resolution, and even options to terminate.

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