Writing an Offer to Purchase in Washington State

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Writing a Purchase Offer in Washington. Got it.

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Do buyers today really listen and read.


I recently had the good fortune to write an offer for some young clients. The standard offer form we use in our MLS is five pages long with the front page being mostly blanks to fill in terms and then 4 pages of boilerplate. In addition to that there are various addenda which usually bring the offer to 15 pages or so.

The first time I write an offer with any client I like to go through the offer pretty slowly. The way the laws read here, and in most states, I think, are that I can tell the client what each clause says, but I should not interpret how it effects them and their rights in the contract. If they have any questions about that, they should see an attorney. I'm pretty careful about the process and do like to go over every clause on each of the 15 pages.

The couple I was working with are smart people with good jobs and one would think they would have an interest in knowing what they are signing, but more an more I am seeing changes. And I think the cause of this new attitude is the Internet. That's right. The Internet.

How many times per week do you or any of us who use the Internet daily, looking for new programs to help us be more productive, or wishing to engage in some social activity, or even just to log on for the first time to the public library in our town have to read and then accept the terms of use for the particluar site we've landed on? And how many times do we really read those terms of use? I would answer, from my own experience, not many.

So, as I was reading the boilerplate items to these clients they would often interrupt me toward the end of the first sentence of the paragraph and say "Got it." And I had to wonder if they were speed reading the clause and already knew what it meant to them or did they just not care? It is boring, but important stuff. Things like how we count days, and what delivery of a notice means. These things don't make and difference to us right now. Right now we want this house.

I suspect that there are agents out there who don't takle the time to go through the details. It would be easy just to tell the buyers to sign here and initial there and that is how you get this house. There are terms the buyers could actually change in the boilerplate and if the seller goes along with it, it's quite alright.

It seems to be a case for the buyers of: they dont know what they don't know. Is it up to the agent to make them know these details or to let them sign and then later, when there are questions, just say, "Well, you signed it."

I'm happy to take as much time as you would like when writing an offer. It is important to know the details of the documents that you are signing.


Posted by





Glenn Roberts



Comments (6)

Larry Bergstrom
Crescent Realty, Inc. Spanaway, WA. - Spanaway, WA

Great post Glenn. I even like to give them a copy of all the forms that will be used so that they can review them at their leisure.  Not every one does of course, but the smart ones usually do.

Aug 24, 2010 04:18 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Larry - I give buyers copies of things way ahead of time and some, years ago actually read them. Really rare these days.

Aug 24, 2010 04:42 AM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Glenn, absolutely you need to go through a purchase agreement with the buyers and the listing contract with the sellers. Gee, they don't see them everyday...we do.

Aug 24, 2010 08:04 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Missy - yes you do, but some of them don't have the mind for it, or just don't want to listen right then.

Aug 24, 2010 09:00 AM
Tish Lloyd
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Wilmington, NC
Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches

Glelnn:  I'm with you -- I always paraphrase an explanation for each and every paragraph and some I read verbatim.  I do apologize in advance while explaining the importance of ensuring they understand the entire document and affording them the opportunity of consulting an attorney.  I'd "suggest" this as a very important reminder to all Rainers!

Aug 24, 2010 11:33 AM
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

Tish - I posted about Docusign a while back, and I now use it, but I fear that agents will be emailing a full set of docs to a buyer and they will sign them and send them back. They have the opprotunity to read them and see an attorney, but will they? So how many more misunderstandings will there be? Something to guard against.

Aug 24, 2010 01:27 PM