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Real Estate Purchase Agreement Checklist

Step 1: Review and Sign

After reviewing the document, the parties simply sign and date it in the presence of a notary or witnesses. Most states just require one notary to act as a witness. However, two witnesses are always required to sign real estate purchase agreements in Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. These states allow a notary to sign in the place of one of the witnesses. Note, in ANY state, lenders can still choose to require two witnesses to sign. The main requirements for witnesses are that they are 18 years old or older and are disinterested from the transaction, meaning they have no stake in the outcome and are not related to either of the parties by blood.

Note, if the seller acquired the property during marriage and the spouse is not already named as a seller in the agreement, then that seller's spouse must sign the spousal acknowledgment section where indicated. This section certifies to the buyer that the spouse will not make any claim to the property in the future.


Step 2: Open Escrow

Hire an escrow agent to act as a neutral third party to help the buyer and seller safely exchange funds, sign documents, and fulfill their obligations.

Step 3: Complete Party Obligations

The buyer and seller will each need to fulfill their obligations under the purchase agreement and meet any other state law requirements. This could include some or all of the following items:

  • Title policy
  • Appraisal
  • Property inspections
  • Seller disclosures (e.g. lead paint disclosure)
  • Property repairs and updates
  • Required permits
  • Other buyer or seller contingencies (e.g. prior home sale, financing, etc.)

Step 4: Close Escrow ("Closing")

At closing, the parties will transfer funds and sign the title and any remaining escrow documents. The title company should then record the deed at your County Recorder's office and notify all interested parties when this is completed.

Step 5: Move Out

Lastly, the seller will need to move out of the property by the agreed date. This could be as early as the closing date, so the seller should plan this step well in advance.

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