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As a buyer, once you have found the house you want to buy and have agreed on the price, you will probably be asked to sign some kind of document and pay a deposit. The buyer's agent usually prepares a Contract. If a real estate agent or broker prepares a contract, it will usually be subject to approval by the parties' attorneys within a specified short time.
Before signing a contract, you should consider seeking legal advice. Once you sign a contract, your rights and obligations are determined. Your attorney may no longer have the opportunity to structure the contract to meet your objectives.
Whether you are seller or buyer, you should understand the contract terms and how they affect you. Other parties to the contract probably have no obligation to tell you what the contract means. You may not understand the legal meaning of much of the terminology or what must be changed or added to protect you.
So, if you plan to have an attorney represent you in the transaction, the time to consult one is before you sign anything – or immediately after you sign a contract that is subject to attorney approval.
The contract of sale will identify the parties and the purchase price and how it is to be paid. It should adequately describe the property to be sold, the type of deed to be delivered, the quality of the seller's title to the property, a description of personal property included in the sale, and the date the buyer will take possession. It should also cover dozens of other issues about the property and the responsibilities of the parties to each other.
The contract should in most cases let the buyer cancel the contract if the buyer can't obtain a mortgage loan or if the sale falls through for some other reason that isn't the buyer's fault. In each of these cases, the buyer should receive back it deposit.
Sometimes a seller wants to stay in the house after closing while arranging new accommodations. Although this can be risky to a buyer, it does occur, and the attorneys can work out an appropriate arrangement to protect both parties' interests.