Why Hire a Lawyer to Prepare a Real Estate Purchase or Sales Contract?
In the age of the internet, it is so easy these days to surf the internet and find a real estate contract "form". Simple, right? The problem is that the contract:
  • Is not tailored to your specific transaction and transaction goals;
  • It doesn't address what is not in the contract regarding specific business points, individual asset protection, alternative legal remedies, and liability protection of either the buyer or the seller (depending on who is initiating the contract).
In my experience, I have represented clients who have signed their internet form contract or realtor-provided form contract and have sought out my legal expertise after the clients realized there was not enough content negotiated to protect them with respect to their inspection period, their earnest money or their legal rights regarding default under the contract by the other party, in addition to other business or legal matters.

First and foremost, you want a comfort level of knowing that the contract is enforceable in a court of law. Generally speaking, an enforceable real estate contract requires the requisite intent of all of the parties to enter into a contract for the purchase and sale of real estate, an identifiable parcel of real estate being the subject matter of the purchase and sale, an offer from one party to the other, an acceptance of the offer by the other party, and an exchange of something of value (called "consideration" in legal terms), and the contract must be in writing. "My word is my bond" and "handshake" deals don't hold up in a court of law. The fact that you are purchasing from or selling to a friend, partner, family member, business associate, or colleague is not a good enough excuse to avoid putting the parties' agreement in writing. A contract that does not contain these basic elements may be cause to question the validity and enforceability of the real estate contract, and could result in the loss of time, money, and the real estate.

Important items that need to be addressed, negotiated, and tailored to the Client's specific concerns in the transaction are: how to present the offer, how long should the offer remain open (a "reasonable" amount of time is too vague and leaves too much room for interpretation), accepting an offer, exchange of good and valuable consideration (which does not have to be monetary), ensure that valid and workable dates are set for inspection of the real estate (including, but not limited to, physical inspections, title review, and environmental inspections and studies), review of the mortgage commitment, review of other contingencies (missing any deadlines could add extra fees or prevent the buyer from backing out of a deal should the buyer find something catastrophically wrong with the property), remedy provisions, and seller representations. This list of negotiated points is by no means all inclusive of matters to be negotiated and tailored to the Client's transaction goals.
The legal consequences that can result from a poorly drafted real estate contract (or any legal contract for that matter), whether from mistakes or omissions, can cause major stress and serious financial loss. I will often work with your loan officer, brokers and agents, and the title company to be sure the transaction flows smoothly through closing and also regarding post-closing matters. Only an experienced real estate attorney who is regularly familiar with the contract elements, the title commitment, reviewing easement and covenant documents, whether it is a home or commercial real estate purchase or sale, can catch all the problems or mistakes and save you future expenses and aggravation to correct them. My job as your real estate attorney is to review your real estate contract and advise you before you sign it.

Once you have gone through the process of the real estate purchase or sale transaction you will begin to understand the steps and procedures and you will appreciate having a seasoned professional as another pair of eyes looking out for your best interests.

5301 Spring Valley Rd.

Suite 200

Dallas, Texas 75254



Joy H. Phillips
Joy H. Phillips practices in the areas of commercial transactions including documentation of commercial loans for lenders, real estate loan documentation, and the documentation of real estate transactions. She also practices in the areas of real estate law, business law, probate, and estate planning. Ms. Phillips received her certification as an Attorney-Mediator from the American Academy of Attorneys-Mediators, Inc.

She received a B.S., with honors, in 1979 from Temple University and a J.D. in 1982 from Temple University School of Law. Ms. Phillips has been admitted to practice in Texas and Florida since 1982. She is also licensed to practice before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Ms. Phillips is a member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, Texas Women Lawyers Association, Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Women Lawyers Association, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, and the State Bar of Florida.