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Completing a purchase with a real estate sales contract.

Buying or selling real property can quickly get complicated. Find out what is often included in a contract for a new home or other real estate transaction.

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A homeowner sitting at a table filling out information for a real estate contract on their tablet device

What is a real estate contract?

A real estate contract is a legal document between the buyer of a property and the seller. It states that there will be an exchange of ownership of a property, usually (but not always) for money. For a home or real estate property purchase to be valid in the U.S., the real estate agreement must be in writing.

A real estate contract is distinct from a mortgage note. A mortgage note is an agreement between a borrower and lender that secures the loan used to buy a property, while a real estate contract is between the buyer and the seller of the property, and it concerns the sale of the property itself.

A graphic of signing a real estate contract on a tablet device and laptop with Adobe Sign

What to include in a real estate contract.

A real estate contract usually includes:

1. Name and contact information of the buyer
2. Name and contact information of the seller
3. Location of the property
4. Value of the property
5. Purchase price and down payment for the property
6. Sale and closing date
7. Time frame for the transaction and deadline for completion of the sale
8. Details about who has to pay for expenses such as inspections, surveys, title insurance, and closing costs
9. Information about utilities, property taxes, and other fees
10. Date of closing

Some of the most important elements of a contract are buyer contingencies, which allow a buyer to make a decision based on certain events or additional information gained during the purchasing process, such as the results of an inspection of the property. For example, if the inspection reveals issues that the buyer is not willing to deal with or pay for, a contingency clause could allow the buyer to back out of the deal and not purchase the property. There are also types of contingency clauses that could allow the buyer to make a decision of whether to move forward with the purchase of the property based on the information in applies to disclosures the property owner makes to the buyer via escrow.

Both of these elements can be time consuming. Before signing the contract, buyers and property owners alike should consider how much time they’ll need for inspections and disclosures, and for any additional negotiations or considerations that arise from them. Buying or selling property is an enormous undertaking. Make sure you understand everything in the contract before finalizing it and consult an attorney or real estate professional for specific advice when needed.

A home buyer standing in front of their desk signing a real estate contract on their mobile phone
A graphic of a real estate contract on a mobile phone next to a graphic of a real estate contract on a laptop

Go digital with real estate deals.

Contracts take time and effort. You can make them more efficient with digital documents and electronic signatures. E-signatures are binding in all U.S. states and territories and many other countries across the globe. Digital contracts can be easier for everyone to access, as they can be viewed on nearly any device capable of displaying a PDF.

Send documents for e-signature.

Real estate contracts often require several signatures from the parties involved as proof that they understand and agree to various sections and subsections. Whenever a contract is amended or updated, or an addendum is added, new signatures are necessary. Gather signatures electronically, so all parties can review and consent to contracts and move the deal forward.

Fill and sign forms online.

A real estate purchase contract is only one part of a larger constellation of documents. Commercial and residential sales can include several forms outlining everything from home inspections to counteroffers to zoning, and involved parties need to review and sign all of them. Electronic forms can make life easier for homeowners, real estate brokers, sellers, and everyone else who might be involved in the sale of property from one party to another.

A homeowner sitting at a desk reviewing a real estate contract on their laptop while drinking coffee

Create better real estate contracts signing with electronic signatures.

Real estate contracts are among the most important agreements homeowners will sign in their lives. First-time homebuyers in particular need to be able to access and review everything in the contract for their new home. Paper contracts can add friction and additional time to an already high-stakes deal. With Adobe Acrobat, homeowners, sellers, and real estate brokers alike can finalize agreements more efficiently and make selling and purchasing a home a little easier.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Adobe does not and cannot provide legal, financial, accounting or any other related professional advice. Laws and regulations frequently change. You should consult an attorney, accountant, or other appropriate professional advisor regarding questions specific to your situation. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Adobe provides this material on an “as is” basis. Adobe disclaims and makes no representation or warranty of any kind with respect to this material, express, implied, or statutory, including representations, guarantees, or warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or accuracy.