Real estate transactions are complicated, and misunderstandings occur all the time. It doesn't matter if you're outlining your relationship with an agent, making an offer on a home, negotiating repairs or handling some other element of a real estate transaction. Get it in writing or face an increased risk of ending up involved in a lawsuit.
Start with good form
The best way to obtain a written record of an agreement in a real estate deal is to use a form specifically created for your transaction. This form, when filled out properly, provides a clear statement of everyone's intentions and responsibilities. Such contracts, forms and addenda exist for many types of real estate transactions, and you can access forms for common real estate activities from the Texas Real Estate Commission's website. As public records, these forms are available to anyone. However, TREC says its forms are intended for use by real estate professionals, and it makes sense to get assistance from an expert.
Filling out forms incorrectly could result in a useless contract. You could also obligate yourself to terms you didn’t intend or miss an important aspect of an agreement that could put you in a bind. Plus, improperly using a form could even set you up for a lawsuit by the other party.
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While the Texas Real Estate Commission puts out forms that cover some real estate transactions, its forms library has holes—no listing or buyer-representation agreements, property-management contracts, forms for commercial property or residential leases.
Many of these other types of forms are created by attorneys and associations. For example, Texas Realtors—real estate agents and brokers who choose to join the Realtor association and abide by a professional Code of Ethics—have access to more than 100 additional forms for every type of real estate situation imaginable. These additional forms are available only to members of the Texas Association of Realtors.
Texas Realtors have a form that specifies whether a buyer walked through the property and accepted its condition prior to closing. Texas Realtors also have access to a form that helps the parties to the contract deal with contingencies, such as the sale of one property being contingent on the buyer selling his existing home.
More forms, more protection
When you work with a Texas Realtor, you benefit from his access to all of those forms and his expertise to fill them out correctly. You can put in writing all the details of your transaction exactly as you want them on a form specifically created for your type of deal. That means that your intentions and responsibilities are clearly stated for the record. And that’s a great way to avoid surprises, hassles, misunderstandings and lawsuits.