Is a purchase contract necessary to buy vacant land

4 Replies

I have a seller that has agreed to sell me a (small) vacant lot in Texas.   This is my first land deal.  Do I need to get them to sign a purchase agreement and a deed or do I just need the deed?

They live out of state and I plan on sending the documents to a Notary and having them sign the documents with the Notary witnessing the signature.

When I search online I see examples of purchase agreements and deeds.  I'm not sure if I need both.  Do I need both when I record the sale with the county?

@Billy Rogers

You don't need a purchase agreement to make the deal legal.  However, you're going to want to have a title company or lawyer involved to ensure the title is transferred and recorded properly.  Plus, I would want them to conduct a title search just to make sure there are no undisclosed encumbrances on that title.  And, part of the job of the purchase agreement is explaining to the title company exactly who is paying for what.  The other part of the purchase agreement is that without it the seller is not legally bound to sell you the property.  If they pull out without a signed purchase agreement, you have no legal recourse.  Also, if they get a higher offer, before closing, you have no legal recourse. 

Another also...if they have even basic access to the internet, you can signup for a free Adobe account and use their EchoSign service to have the documents eSigned.  That eliminates the whole old school notary thing, and it has been tested in court.

Just grab a copy of the TREC contract for land.  It's free on the TREC site.  Fill it out, scan it in, and use EchoSign to sign that bad boy.

Billy, I am about to do the same thing, buying a vacant lot here in Texas as my first real estate deal (I've never even bought a house - so I'm totally new).  Did you end up using a title company?  If so, was it a  considerable expense?  For mine, I'll be paying $100 to the seller, plus about $800 to pay off various liens.  My plan is to hire an abstractor to check for any more liens I'm not aware of, have the notary bring the documents to the seller along with a cashier's check (which is why I don't think I can use EchoSign) and have everything signed and paid on the spot.  My theory is that the risk of losing the $100 just doesn't outweigh the cost of getting title insurance and going the traditional route.  What are your thoughts?  How did it all turn out for you?  And am I completely bonkers for thinking this is a good plan?

Torey,

My seller lived in Montana so I found a notary at a local bank and she agreed to notarize the sellers signature and hand over the check for me and send the document back.  She didn't charge me anything.   I just sent her the cashier's check, contract and stamped return envelope and everything went smoothly.  Once I got the contract I recorded it with the county.   This was on a property that is assessed at $5k that I bought for $425 so I didn't feel like it merited closing with a title company and getting title insurance.  For something say $10k or more title closing with insurance is probably worth it.

I did talk to a title company and will probably use them in the future for larger deals.  I just don't think its worth it for something you are only spending a few hundred dollars on.

And no I don't think you are completely bonkers.

Good luck with your purchase.

@Billy Rogers @Torey Seward

Just so you know, the county clerk will record an invalid deed.  The title insurance isn't to protect your $425 purchase price, its to ensure your ability to sell it when someone offers you $5000.  It is not going to be the best day when you have someone trying to hand you a stack of cash but you then find out about some issue with the title that clouds your ownership.

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