It seems that the best real estate blog articles are born from the comments and questions of the readers and subscribers. It makes sure that the content is not only fresh, but it is also based upon the current interests of people active in the Tallahassee real estate market.
Recently, a reader had a question about an offer she is making which concerned the difference between an offer and a real estate contract. She asked:
When we looked at the house we put an offer on, the seller’s disclosure indicated that, among other things, the washer and dryer conveyed with the sale. We are still negotiating, but the washer and dryer have been removed from the premises. Our agent says that is perfectly acceptable, but I don’t understand how they could be put in the disclosure as included and then they aren’t. Is this really allowed?So, the real question is when you negotiate a home purchase, what is included in the sale?
Real Estate Offers Can Be Changed At Any Time
Any disclosures and documents that you review before making an offer are, in a sense, part of the offer. But a home seller can change the offer at any time. Think about it. If you decide to sell your home and change your mind later, there isn't a law that requires you to continue to try and sell your home! Just as a homebuyer has the right to withdraw an offer at any time, so too can a homeseller.
The same is true with any part of your home. The washer, the dryer, and everything else is no different. So, in the question above, the seller just decided that the washer and dryer were no longer being offered as part of the home for sale.
The Real Estate Contract Is The Controlling Document
The key to the question above rests is the statement "we are still negotiating ..." which means that no contract exists. The real estate contract is the controlling document, and any item included in the contract is legally bound as part of the agreement. Once there is a contract, not just an offer, the included items become part of a legally binding agreement, not just an offer.
The seller can change the offer at any time, but once there is a contract, it takes both parties to change anything about the agreement, including what is being conveyed in the transaction. So if you are buying a home and there is something in the house (not nailed down ...), make sure that it is specifically included in the contract.
A Well-Written Real Estate Contract Is Legally Binding
The important message in all of this is that there is a big difference between an offer and a contract. Offers can be changed at any time, but a well-written real estate contract is legally binding. Make sure you work with somebody who is an expert at both, it could mean the difference between your total satisfaction and happiness with the home versus confusion and heartache over a botched, expensive purchase.
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Joe Manausa, MBA is a 26 year veteran of real estate brokerage in Tallahassee, Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. He is a daily blogger with content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today's challenging market.