1. Archive

A checklist for purchase contracts

Published Sep. 13, 2005

(ran HS HL editions)

How to Negotiate Real Estate Contracts, Third Edition, by Mark Warda (Sourcebooks, Inc., Naperville, IL; 1998, $16.95, 139 pages. To order, phone (630) 961-3900.

This book really doesn't contain much information about negotiation strategy for buying a home. Instead, it is essentially a checklist of clauses to consider when preparing a home purchase contract.

Author Mark Warda, a Florida lawyer, discusses the contingency clauses home buyers and their real estate agents might want to include in a purchase contract. Most of the book is devoted to conditions that can be included in addition to basic price and terms.

Many of the sample clauses include two or three alternatives. Some of these clauses favor the buyer; others are neutral. The author explains the buyer's view and the seller's view of most clauses.

This easy-reading book written in layperson's language, not legalese, explains the pros and cons of controversial contract clauses. For example, the author emphasizes the legal consequences of buying (or selling) a house "as is." That means the seller won't pay for any repairs but, in most states, must still disclose known defects, Warda says.

The book's most interesting chapter includes "creative clauses." Some are pretty routine, such as paying the buyer interest on a large deposit. Others, such as putting up a promissory note instead of cash for the deposit, might not be acceptable to most sellers (and their realty agents).

The appendix contains sample purchase contracts, a personal property checklist and a lead-based paint addendum (required by federal law).

Since real estate laws are different in each state, writing a national realty contract book is not easy, but Warda has done an excellent job of highlighting contract clauses home buyers and sellers should include or at least consider. On my scale of 1 to 10, this book rates a 9.