Make sure that all of the names are spelled correctly.
Description of the Property
Make sure that the contract contains both the street address and an accurate legal description of the property. (A tax collector's folio number is NOT a legal descriiption.)
Make sure that the down payment (this is also called the "deposit" or "earnest money") you put up with the contract is small enough that you can afford to lose it if problems develop with the deal.
Make sure that the closing date is far enough away to give you time to have the property inspected and to get a mortgage commitment.
Mortgage financing contingency
Make sure that the contract contains a "mortgage contingency." This is a provision in the contract that says that if you are not able to get a mortgage to purchase the property, you are able to get your deposit back. Some of the standard form contracts severly limit the rights of a buyer to get back deposits. You should insist on a mortgage contingency provision that has no limits on your rights to receive a refund of your deposit if the mortgage lender backs out of the deal.
If the contract calls for arbitration instead of litigation to resolve disputes, it will be very difficult for your to protect yourself if the seller decides to sell the property to someone else. You should delete the provisions calling for arbitration.
Make sure that the contract provides that the winner in any litigation or arbitration is entitled to recover attorneys' fees.
What a contract says is what the contract really means. If someone tells you that a provision of a contract is just "boilerplate" that does not mean what is says, do not believe it and check with an attorney.
Get It In Writing
The written contract should contain everything that is important to the deal. Verbal promises of the seller or the real estate agent probably cannot be enforced.
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