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Contract and Disclosures
In California, we use the the California Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions and the associated disclosures which are all issued by the California Association of Realtors.
The California Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions (RPA) is prepared by the buyer of the property, usually with the assistance of an agent. The RPA constitutes an offer and if it is accepted without any counter‐offers, it will become a binding contract. This contract is extremely important as it outlines what is and is not required by both parties in order to close the transaction, the acceptable type of financing and terms, the types of contingencies and the associated timelines for removal, outside companies to be utilized, possession timing, inclusion or exclusion of personal property, legal compliance issues and more.
In addition to the contract itself, there are many disclosures which are required by law. There are agency disclosures between the agents and principles, property disclosures, in depth questionnaires and required disclosures that only apply to certain situations, such as as a successor trustee sale or a probate sale.
The distinction between personal and real property can be the source of difficulties in a real estate transaction. A purchase contract is normally written to include all real property that is fixed to or fastened down or is an integral part of the structure. For example, this would not include potted plants, free-standing refrigerators, washer/dryers, bookcases, etc. If there is any uncertainty whether an item is included in the sale or not, it is best to be sure that the particular item is mentioned in the purchase agreement as being included or excluded.
It is crucial to hire an experienced agent who keeps up on requirements, changes to the law and changes to the contract.