How to make an offer and close a deal

10 Replies

I was wondering how exactly I have to make an offer on a property without using an agent. All I can find when googling is how to determine the offer price, but nothing about the exact form. I am sure there are regulations. Do I need a lawyer for that? Can someone please point me to the right place to find that information for California?

Also, once my offer got accepted, how exactly do I have to proceeds? Does the accepted offer become the sales contract? And how can I put the deed in my name? Again, without an agent if possible.

Depends on the state. I can't help with too much with California specific stuff.

Doing a quick Google search, I found this:

For some reason I can't get the link to work. Google, "California residential purchase agreement".

Generally, after acceptance, you have your due dilligence phase, and all that. Closer to closing, there will generally be a title company involved, unless your state requires attorneys.

Why are you against using an agent for purchasing properties?

Thanks @Shawn Torsitano . The link does not work, but I was able to find the document anyways. 

I am looking to buy a property not from MLS, but direct from the seller with more creative financing like subject to existing mortgage or similar. I don't think I need an agent for that (I might be wrong?). Also, a standard offer form probably won't work as I would need some special clauses describing the creative part in detail.

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Need is very, very subjective. I highly doubt it is legally required, even in the People's Republic of California(to far?). However, it may be prudent for you to seek some help of a qualified professional, if you don't feel confident enough to do this on your own.

There are usually addendums that agents have access to for a variety of situations. I have access to all of ours through Zip Forms(Zip Logix). You may be able to subscribe to something like that, I'm actually not sure if licensure is required. See:

They are charging almost $1,000 for non-member versions, I have no idea how normal that is. I pay I think $89 a year up here in Oregon, but I am also part of our Realtor associations.

You may also be able to find downloadable versions of various addendum and forms online. You could also just try emailing some agents in your area, and asking for some blank versions of what you need.

Edit: Here are some standard forms you could purchase:

@Simon Stahl Since you are looking to do a more creative structure I would recommend utilizing the services of a good real estate lawyer in town. They will be able to help draft the offer and will also be able to either close it or give you the number for a title company they recommend. You'll then have a solid base for moving forward in the future.

I second the advice to use a lawyer. They can make sure you don't do anything dumb (illegal) and are cheaper than an agent.

Still, if I were you, I would buy one or two houses WITH an agent first. After that, you'll know the process well enough to handle it on your own. That experience will be worth the commission. Plus, that agent may bring you deals in the future. We buy without an agent when we can, but the biggest value of our agent is the deals he brings us that we would have never known about without him.

Thanks to all three of you for the advice. Sounds like ideally I should try to go both ways and connect with an agent AND a lawyer. I definitely do not want to do it completely alone, especially in the beginning. 

Hi Simon!

I agree a agent is the best way to go. Since you have already come to an agreement with the seller and just need help drawing up the documents, you should be able to work out an arrangement with an agent to only charge for time to draw up the documents. I don't agree that a lawyer is cheaper than an agent. Lawyers often charge hundreds per hour. I'm sure you can find an agent in your area for $100 or less per hour to draw up the docs and make sure you go through the right processes.

Good luck!!

@Simon Stahl Not to go against the grain of the other posters, but figuring out how the process works from offer to closing can be nuanced depending on each transaction, but with the right council it does not have to be a mystifying process. If you are doing an on-market transaction then go with an agent. But if it's an off-market transaction then I would go with a lawyer. Yes they will cost money, but they are going to be much more knowledgeable when it comes to creative real estate structuring. They will also be able to help you draw up an offer that is custom fit. 

In my personal opinion I think agents by and large are not used to creative structuring of transactions. They are used to checking off boxes on state-approved forms, which isn't always the best way to go because some creative deals just don't fit neatly into the fields. Sure agents have a lot of addendums available and a lot of them are extremely beneficial, however, this may not be what is needed. Agents also have liability issues so if you can hire one on a per hour basis, great, but some will insist on a high minimum charge due to their liability of having their name attached to your offer. (Before all the agents and brokers out there go crazy by me saying this, please know that I honestly mean no offense by my comments. I'm married to a broker myself and have a lot of respect for the profession.0

Be prepared to have to come out of pocket for lawyers or agents for off-market transactions simply due to the fact that the seller has not agreed to pay for your agent out of the sale price. It'd be great to be able to wrap these funds into a loan, but no dice.

Good luck to you.

Even if you are buying it from the seller directly, there will be a sale purchase agreement and the mode of transactions will be considered as a purchase deal. Whatever price will be set in between you and seller will be considered as a purchase price (should be less than or equal to appraised value) and you need to follow the minimum down payment guidelines. That's how the loan will be funded and in the funded amount the existing mortgage will be paid off and the rest over will be handed to the seller. 

Just FYI: I was reading in the California realtor estate license preparation book yesterday and stumbled over two interesting peaces of information:

1. A real estate agent is not allowed to write an offer from scratch because he/she is not a lawyer. They can only fill blanks in standard pre-printed offers. That makes their abilities pretty limited when it comes to the more creative sides.

2. About my initial question about offer and contract: The offer actually IS the contract. It becomes valid once both parties have signed it.