A letter of agreement to sell a residential property need not use a standardized pre-printed sales form, but it must include a number of specific items to qualify as a legal sales contract. Pre-printed contracts endorsed by professional real estate organizations typically include all of the requirements for a legal contract, but these contracts are available only to member real estate agents. Review any contract letter with a licensed real estate broker or a member of the legal bar specializing in real estate law in the state where the property is located to ensure the contract includes all the necessary requirements for a valid sale.
Begin writing the agreement letter by including a description of the property. Obtain a legal copy of the house grant deed to locate this information. The county assessor or treasurer's office retains the legal grant deeds. Copy the description from the deed and also include the exact street address and parcel number from the grant deed.
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Add the names of the legal owners offering the house for sale and a description of the property boundaries to the agreement letter. Order and review a copy of the residential title report to obtain this information. Title reports track the official title trail for a specific property, including all owners since the property's construction. The document also includes a physical map of the property with clear boundaries. It also outlines any special conditions attached to the property land, including utility restrictions and land easements and use zoning of the structure. Include this information in the agreement letter, if special conditions apply to the house and parcel.
Add the terms of the sale to the letter. Also include the sales amount, type of mortgage loan the buyer selects, amount of the buyer's deposit and the escrow and title companies that the buyer and seller select to assist with the home sale to the agreement document.
Add any special sales terms and a date to close the sale to the agreement letter. Some states also require a number of home disclosures listing potential risks associated with the home, including the use of any lead paint in the structure. The federal, state and county governments all have disclosure requirements in many geographic areas. Add any required disclosures to the content of the letter.
Have all owners listed on the home grant deed and home mortgage loan (if used) sign the sales letter agreement and initial each separate page of the formal agreement.
File the agreement letter, title report and any state-required home disclosures with the escrow company. Most states require the letter to also have a notary stamp and endorsement to ensure the signatures match with the legal buyer and seller.
Although escrow company representation is not required to sell residential property, the agency offers a neutral party for both buyer and seller to ensure that the transaction meets the state's real estate laws and requirements.
Things You'll Need
Grant deed copy
Residential title report
- Nolo: Deeds FAQ; 2011
- State of Arkansas: General Exam Content Outlines for Sales and Broker
- National Association of Realtors; Post-Contract Pitfalls; April 5, 2011
- "New York Times"; Your Home - Disclosure? Seller Beware; Jay Romano; March 14, 2004
- HUD.GOV: The Lead Disclosure Rule
- American Land Title Association: Consumer Information
- Orange County: Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly: Fees for Service
- Dearborn Publishing: Title Report Sample