Know Your Contract: The Simple Secret To A Smooth Transaction

There are a number of ways a real estate transaction can go sour—emotions run high, homes are on the line, and significant money is at stake on all sides. But most of the ways a transaction can go wrong revolve around just one thing: one of the parties not understanding the fine print of the deal.

Whether you’re on the buying or selling side, the smart, simple thing you can do to cover your bases—before the bids start flying—is get to know your contract.

By Agent or by Lawyer

There are two practical ways most buyers and sellers can get to know their contract.

Since your buying or selling agent will supply the contract and is invested in the transaction’s success, he or she is a good starting point. As we’ve said, we believe the right agent for you is one who will take the time to understand your particular case and meet your informational needs as a client. That might mean sitting down with you for an hour to review the contract until you really understand the common contingencies you may face if things don’t go according to plan.

For buyers and sellers in particularly hot markets, just reviewing your contract with your realtor may not be enough. The gravity of the transaction size—more than $1 million, for instance—suggests that meeting with a lawyer and having him or her review your contract is the smart way to go. After all, a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars is a small price to pay for the assurance that your contract is sound and you know what you’re getting.

Know Yourself
Only you can gauge what path makes the most sense given your legal experience, financial situation, and risk tolerance. Regardless of whether it’s a conversation with your realtor or a deeper dive with a specialized lawyer, do your homework and get to know your contract. You won’t regret it if things don’t go according to plan, and if things do go according to plan, congratulations—you’ve just completed a successful transaction.

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