Get it in writing

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When buying or selling a home in St. Paul it is important to get everything in writing. The contract to purchase should include:

  1. Purchase price.
  2. Earnest money amount.
  3. Downpayment % if financing.
  4. Type of financing.
  5. Closing date.
  6. Specific contingencies.

An offer might be inspection contingent, contingent on financing or contingent on the sale of a home that a buyer currently owns or the seller may want to add a contingency.  Contingencies always have start and end dates and usually require that some specific thing happen before they can be removed. For example, an inspection contingent offer will have an inspection period with a beginning and an end.

With some types of real estate, there are automatic contingencies and laws dictate when the period starts and how long it has to be.

Sometimes everything is in writing and both parties agree but the agreement is written in such a way that there are misunderstandings. For example, a buyer may ask for a specific repair without specifying that the repair needs to be made by someone who is qualified to make the repair. If the buyer is asking to have a window repaired on a house with more than one window the contract needs to reference the specific window.

Using too many or too few words on a contract can lead to misunderstandings later on. Using the wrong words or not being specific enough can lead to misunderstandings or even lawsuits.

When I receive or review a contract from another agent sometimes I can tell if the agent is new or if he or she is experienced. Experience does matter when writing real estate contracts.

Before making an offer or accepting an offer on real estate read the contract and make sure you understand it. Often I spend more time explaining a contract than I spent writing it and I am fine with that.

If everything isn’t in writing . . . good luck!

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