There is an old expression in the law that “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper that it’s written on.” This is especially true for contracts that involve real estate. A contract to buy or sell real estate MUST be in writing in order to be enforced by a court. A lease lasting more than one year must also be in writing to be enforced.
As with any legal scenario, in matters of real estate, it is critical to verify all associated parties, and really know who you are dealing with. Consider these true cases: A man once signed a purchase agreement to buy land and gave the “seller” a large deposit. He later learned that the seller had deeded away the property a year before to keep it from being seized by creditors. Another person added his fiancee’s name to the deed to his house only to find out, after the marriage was called off, that she hadn’t paid her income taxes and the I.R.S. had placed a lien on “her” (his!) home.
If you decide to draft your own agreement to buy or sell real estate, you need to think of everything that could possibly go wrong and create an action plan to resolve the pitfalls in any given situation. Each possibility needs to have a deadline and method of resolving that particular problem. If a difficult situation arises, you don’t want to find out in the middle of it that the contract you have drafted is completely silent about what to do in that particular situation. If you are the seller of real estate, be sure to outline clear deadlines so that if a buyer cannot live up to them, you can find another buyer.
Matters concerning real estate can be complex and involve important details you may not have considered. The best solution is to have a professional assist you in the drafting of any legal documents or contracts.