Common Parts of a Purchase Agreement for Washington Home Buyers

Published:
April 20, 2023
Last updated:
April 20, 2023
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When you make an offer on a house in Washington, you have the option to include certain items within your purchase agreement. This is an important step in the home buying process, because it could determine whether or not the seller accepts your offer — and at what price.

Today, we will explore the common parts of the purchase agreement, and some of the things you might choose to include when making an offer.

Offer vs. Purchase Agreement: What’s the Difference?

You will encounter the terms “offer” and “purchase agreement” when researching the home buying process in Washington. But what do these terms mean exactly?

The offer is just what it sounds like. This is when the home buyer offers to pay a certain amount of money for a home. The buyer’s offer might include other items as well, such as a request for a contribution from the seller. The seller can choose to accept the offer, reject it, or make a counteroffer by adjusting the terms.

The purchase agreement (a.k.a., real estate contract) is a signed legal document. Once the buyer and seller agree on the terms of the sale, they will both sign the purchase agreement and proceed into the escrow stage of the transaction.

Another way to think about it: The home buyer’s offer becomes a legal purchase agreement once both parties have agreed on the terms and signed the document.

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What to Include in Your Agreement

And that brings us back to the question at hand. What items should you include in a purchase agreement, when buying a house in the state of Washington?

Real estate transactions can vary due to a number of factors. But there are certain items that show up in most purchase agreements in the state of Washington. These can include:

  • Offer price
  • Earnest money deposit
  • Closing date
  • Possession date
  • Contingencies (e.g., home inspection, financing, appraisal)
  • Personal property included in the sale
  • Financing terms
  • Closing cost allocation

Let’s examine some of the most important parts of the purchase agreement, from a home buyer’s perspective…

Offer Price and Earnest Money

The purchase agreement should include the specific amount of money you’ve agreed to pay for the house. This is one of the most important items that go into the contract, and for obvious reasons. This is what legally sets the purchase price of the transaction.

You can also include your earnest money deposit amount. In the state of Washington, most home buyers provide an earnest money deposit when making an offer. While it’s not required, such a deposit is customary and could increase the chance of getting your offer accepted.

Some home buyers also include contingencies within their purchase agreements, to protect them from losing their deposits in certain situations. So let’s talk about that contract component next.

Contingencies

In a real estate context, a “contingency” is a certain event or condition that must be fulfilled in order for the sale to be finalized. As a home buyer in the state of Washington, you have the option to include a variety of contingencies within your purchase agreement.

For example, you might include a financing contingency that makes the sale of the property contingent upon you obtaining financing from your lender. If you’re unable to obtain financing for some reason, this type of contingency could allow you to back out of the sale without any penalty.

As a home buyer, you could also include a contingency for a home inspection, a property appraisal, or the sale of your current home. Just be sure to consider local real estate market conditions before adding such contingencies, as they could affect the seller’s willingness to accept your offer.

Closing Date and Possession Date

In the state of Washington, purchase agreements also include the closing date and possession date. While they might occur on the same day, these are two different things from a contract standpoint.

Here’s the difference between them:

The closing date determines when the sale of the property will be finalized. This is usually the date on which the home buyer signs all finalized documents and pays the closing costs and down payment. Buyer and seller agree on the closing date during the negotiating process. It will then be added to the purchase agreement to be signed by both parties.

The possession date determines when the home buyer can take physical possession of the property and move in. Depending on the terms of the purchase agreement, the possession date might fall on the same day as the closing day. In other cases, it might occur later to give the seller time to vacate the property. All of this should be clarified in the purchase agreement.

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Personal Property

A purchase agreement in Washington can also include specific personal property items that will be conveyed with the home.

Generally speaking, a home sale only includes the structure itself and the land it sits on, along with attached features like cabinets and lighting. If the buyer wants to acquire other items during the course of the sale, they will need to be added to the purchase agreement. A personal property clause can be used for this purpose.

In a real estate context, “personal property” typically refers to items that are not physically attached to the home. This might include furniture, appliances, exercise equipment, rugs, etc.

Buyer and seller can agree on personal property transfer during the negotiating stage, or include it as an addendum after the fact. Either way, it has to be in writing for the personal property items to convey along with the sale of the home.

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