When you agree to buy a home, the realtors typically draw up a purchase agreement stating the terms of the sale and any concessions or agreements you negotiated with the seller. While this document should definitely have the standard terms—e.g. home inspection requirement and financing terms—here are two you may want to add.
Include Appliances and Fixtures
You may assume the sale price on the home includes the appliances and fixtures, but that's not always the case. It's not unusual for sellers to take everything that isn't nailed down (and some things that are) when they move out. If you don't specify in the contract that you are, in fact, purchasing the appliances and fixtures, you won't have a legal recourse to recover those things if the sellers make off with them.
While it may seem extraneous, it's best to make a list of all the things included in the sale, such as the refrigerator, washer/dryer, and water heater. Include all the fixtures and any furniture or decor (interior and exterior) the seller may be giving you. It's better to have all of your bases covered than to arriving on moving to a home that's been picked clean.
Any Prorated Amounts
If you negotiate any discounts or partial payments with the seller, be sure to include that in your purchase agreement to avoid trouble down the road. For instance, sometimes sellers will agree to pay part of the property taxes when they sell the house in the middle or towards the end of the year. The tax man will still come after you for the full payment even if the seller doesn't follow through, and you'll need the note in the purchase agreement to prove your case if you end up going to court to collect from the seller.
Other prorated amounts you'll want to include are:
- Real estate agent fees
- Closing costs
- Rent (if the seller remains in the home for a period of time)
- Repairs to the home
- Various tests and inspections if you agree to share the cost
Be sure to include the relevant dates the prorated amounts are valid for. If the seller is paying for six months of property taxes, for example, be sure the purchase agreement states which months those are for (e.g. January to June).
For help drawing up your purchase agreement or finding a home that's right for you, contact a real estate agent.