Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
Young man with eyes closed, enjoying music over headphones while relaxing on the sofa at home
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan

    Reviewing the Purchase Contract: Tasks to Set Yourself Up for Success

    One must never underestimate the significance of carefully examining every detail in a purchase contract. When selling a property, understanding the terms and conditions of the agreement can save you from potential pitfalls and financial losses. The process of reviewing a purchase contract involves evaluating the clauses, assessing the buyer's financial qualifications, negotiating contingencies, and ensuring all legal requirements have been met. By meticulously analyzing the contract, you are setting the stage for a successful and worry-free sale.


    Setting realistic expectations

    The real estate market is ever-changing and today's sale may not reflect tomorrow's conditions. When selling a property, setting realistic expectations is paramount. This entails determining a fair and accurate sale price, comprehending the timeline of the selling process, and having a sensible understanding of the potential challenges that may arise during the transaction. By establishing attainable goals and not succumbing to wishful thinking, you can avoid disappointment, frustration, and financial strain.

    The role of a real estate agent

    A skilled real estate agent is your unwavering ally in navigating the complex process of selling a property. Their expertise and experience in the market can prove invaluable in assisting you with reviewing the purchase contract. From assessing the buyer's credentials and negotiating contingencies to explaining intricate terms and conditions, a real estate agent can empower you with the knowledge and support needed to make informed decisions. Leveraging their extensive network and resources, they can provide guidance and clarity that fosters transparency, enabling you to challenge conventional thinking and set yourself up for success when selling your property.

    Check ouut The Difference Between Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and RealtorsⓇ.

    Understanding Key Contract Terms

    Purchase price

    Let's begin by tackling the elephant in the room - the purchase price. This is the amount that the buyer agrees to pay for your property. It's essential to set a realistic purchase price that accurately reflects your property's current market value and potential. Don't be overly ambitious with your pricing, as this can deter potential buyers and prolong the selling process. Instead, research comparable properties in your area and consulting with an experienced real estate agent. Remember, the purchase price isn't set in stone; it can be negotiated during the offer and counteroffer stages, ultimately reaching a mutually agreeable sum.

    Earnest money deposit

    The earnest money deposit is a financial gesture made by the buyer to demonstrate their seriousness and commitment to purchasing your property. This deposit is typically a percentage of the purchase price and is held in an escrow account by a neutral third party until closing. The amount varies based on factors such as the local real estate market and the buyer's financial standing. As a seller, it's vital to understand that this deposit protects you in case the buyer backs out of the deal without a valid contingency. However, don't forget to make sure the earnest money is returned to the buyer if they exercise a contingency in good faith.


    In the world of real estate, contingencies are your safety net. These conditions must be met before the transaction can proceed, protecting both parties from potential pitfalls. Common contingencies include financing, appraisal, inspection, and title contingencies. As a seller, it's crucial to be aware of each contingency and how it may impact the sale of your property. For example, a financing contingency allows the buyer to walk away from the deal if they're unable to secure a mortgage, while an inspection contingency can give them room to negotiate repairs or a lower purchase price. 

    Closing and possession dates

    Last but not least, pay attention to the closing and possession dates. The closing date is the day when both parties finalize the transaction, sign the necessary paperwork, and transfer ownership of the property. This date is typically set 30-45 days after the contract is accepted and can be flexible based on the needs of both parties. The possession date, on the other hand, is when the buyer can officially take possession of the property (i.e., move in). In some cases, the closing and possession dates may be the same, while in others, a rent-back agreement may be in place, allowing you as the seller to remain in the property post-closing temporarily. When agreeing on these dates, don't lose sight of your objectives – you and the buyer should be able to comfortably meet the proposed timelines.

    Evaluating the Buyer's Financial Qualifications

    Proof of funds

    A critical component in reviewing a purchase contract is confirming the buyer's ability to afford your property. Proof of funds is a document that attests to the buyer's financial capacity to complete the transaction. This can include bank statements, letters from a financial institution, or other official documents that demonstrate sufficient liquid assets to cover the purchase. When reviewing the proof of funds, ensure it's recent and legitimate, and that the funds are in the buyer's name. Don't be shy about verifying this information with the financial institution if necessary, as it's better to be safe than sorry.

    Pre-approval letter

    In addition to proof of funds, it's advisable to request a pre-approval letter from the buyer's mortgage lender. This document not only shows that the lender has tentatively agreed to provide financing, but also indicates the maximum mortgage amount they are willing to lend. The pre-approval letter offers a degree of assurance that the buyer is not merely window-shopping but is indeed serious about purchasing your property. Check the pre-approval for expiration dates and follow up on any conditions outlined in the letter to ensure the buyer remains qualified to purchase your property.

    Dealing with a cash buyer

    Cash buyers can be a godsend when selling a property, as their transactions usually proceed more quickly and smoothly compared to those relying on mortgage financing. However, cash buyers still need to provide proof of funds, and you should be diligent in evaluating their financial qualifications. In addition to bank statements, also consider the source of their funds—whether from personal savings, investments, or gifts. Don't hesitate to probe deeper if something seems amiss, as cash deals are not immune to complications or fraud.

    Assessing the buyer's creditworthiness

    Apart from verifying the buyer's financial strength through proof of funds and pre-approval letters, it's crucial to assess their creditworthiness. Although the buyer's credit score is not something you can directly access, you can still gather clues by requesting additional information, such as their debt-to-income ratio and employment history. This will help you gauge their ability to manage debt and maintain stable employment, further ensuring your confidence in the transaction's success.

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    Negotiating and Addressing Contingencies

    Home Inspection

    A comprehensive home inspection is your first line of defense when selling a property. As a seller, it's essential to be proactive and address any issues that arise from the inspection to avoid potential deal-breakers. Conducting a pre-sale inspection gives you a clear understanding of the property's condition, allowing you to make necessary repairs before listing. This transparency not only builds trust with potential buyers, but also empowers you to negotiate from a position of strength. Remember, an informed and confident seller is more likely to navigate the complex process of reviewing purchase contracts and address contingencies effectively.


    Appraisals are an integral part of the property selling process, as they help establish the actual market value of the property. An accurate appraisal is vital when setting a realistic asking price. If the appraisal comes in lower than expected, fear not, as you can still negotiate with the buyer or challenge the appraisal. To do so, gather evidence supporting a higher valuation, such as recent comparable sales or property improvements, and present it to the appraiser. Should the deal fall through due to a low appraisal, rest assured knowing that your property is better prepared for the next buyer and potential appraisal.

    Financing Contingency

    A financing contingency protects the buyer by allowing them to back out of the deal if they cannot secure the necessary financing. As a seller, it's crucial to assess the buyer's financial standing beforehand. Request a pre-approval letter from the buyer and analyze their proof of funds to ensure they're capable of purchasing your property. By doing so, you minimize the risk of a financing contingency derailing your sale. If the buyer has difficulty obtaining financing, explore alternative options, such as seller financing or granting an extension to the contingency period.

    For more information, read What does "Contingent" mean in Real Estate?

    Counteroffers and Concessions

    In a perfect world, every offer would be accepted without negotiation. However, reality dictates that counteroffers and concessions are a fundamental aspect of property transactions. It's essential to know your legal and financial boundaries while negotiating. Be open to potential adjustments to the purchase price, closing date, or conditions in the contract. Remember, well-informed sellers have the advantage of standing on solid ground during negotiations. By understanding the market dynamics and maintaining open communication with the buyer, both parties can work towards a successful transaction that benefits everyone involved.

    Closing the Deal

    Preparing for closing

    Closing a property sale is the final hurdle to jump before successfully selling your property. To set yourself up for success, it's crucial to be well-prepared for this critical stage. First, make sure you're aware of any outstanding tasks and work with your real estate agent to ensure they're completed in a timely manner. Some tasks might include obtaining any necessary permits, completing repairs agreed upon during negotiations, and ensuring all required documents are ready for closing day. Additionally, coordinate with the buyer and their agent to confirm the date, time, and location of the closing meeting. Finally, be prepared for last-minute surprises - whether it's a delayed closing date, unexpected fees, or buyers requesting last-minute concessions, stay flexible and maintain open communication with all parties involved.

    Understanding closing costs

    Closing costs are an often overlooked but essential component of the property selling process. As a seller, you're responsible for a portion of these fees, which typically range between 1% to 3% of the property's sale price. Some common closing costs include real estate agent commissions, transfer taxes or stamp taxes, title insurance, and any outstanding property taxes. It's wise to familiarize yourself with the closing costs you'll be responsible for to avoid any financial surprises on closing day. Consult with your agent or a real estate attorney to get a full understanding of your obligations, and consider negotiating with the buyer to see if they'd be willing to cover a portion of these costs.

    Signing the paperwork

    On closing day, you'll be required to sign a multitude of documents to finalize the property sale. This paperwork includes the settlement statement, which outlines the financial details of the transaction; the deed, which transfers ownership of the property to the buyer; and any necessary affidavits or disclosures (such as property condition, tax, or environmental disclosures). It's essential to read through these documents thoroughly and ensure everything is accurate before signing. If you have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to consult with your agent or attorney to clarify any ambiguities. Once all parties have signed the required documents, the sale is considered complete.

    Handing over the keys

    After all the paperwork is signed and the funds have been transferred, it's time for the final step: handing over the keys to the new owner of your property. This act symbolizes the official transfer of ownership and marks the end of a successful property sale. Before you hand over the keys, make sure to remove any personal belongings from the property and bring it up to the agreed-upon condition. Keep in mind the closing date and possession date might differ, so verify with the buyer when they'll take possession of the property. Finally, bid your former property farewell and make your exit with the confidence that you've successfully navigated the complex process of selling a property.


    In conclusion, the process of reviewing a purchase contract when selling a property is complex and requires meticulous attention to detail. By setting realistic expectations, leveraging the expertise of a real estate agent, understanding key contract terms, evaluating the buyer's financial qualifications, and addressing contingencies effectively, you can successfully navigate this intricate process. It's essential to avoid common mistakes such as inadequate preparation or failing to communicate effectively. Ultimately, fighting misinformation with transparency and embracing simplicity will empower you to sell your property confidently and efficiently, laying the foundation for a successful and worry-free sale.

    If you’re ready to sell your home, visit to start a listing on the MLS for free, or find your perfect home at

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