In Massachusetts, a signed standard form offer to purchase is a binding and enforceable contract to sell real estate
In Massachusetts, a signed standard form offer to purchase is a binding and enforceable contract to sell real estate-even if the offer is subject to the signing of the purchase and sale agreement. So if a seller signs and accepts your offer and later gets a better priced offer, I wouldn't advise the seller to walk away from the original deal. The signed offer allows the buyer to sue and record a notice of claim in the registry of deeds against the property which will prevent its sale until litigation is resolved. I have actually had to do this more than once, to the seller's surprise that the offer is binding.
In some cases, the seller or buyers may not desire to be contractually bound by the acceptance of an offer. In that case, language can be drafted to specify that the agreement is non-binding.
I always advise buyers and their brokers to use addendums
With the offer to purchase, I always advise buyers and their brokers to use addendums, including for such contingencies as mortgage financing, home inspection, radon, lead paint, and pests. The home inspection and related tests are typically completed before the purchase and sale agreement is signed and any inspection issues are dealt with in the P&S. Also in the offer you really need to pay attention to deadlines. For example, I often see a mortgage contingency date just a few days before closing. However, as a seller, are you really going to want to pack all your things only to find out the buyer did not get financing.
Additional resources provided by the author
Attorney Amy Saunders, Esq.
Law Office of Hanson & Saunders
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