When you find a property that you want to buy, the seller’s agent will invite you to make a written offer. Agents usually write up offers based on your instructions to them. This generally works well when the offer is very straightforward, because the standard contract (known as the Offer and Acceptance or, simply O&A) is widely used and reasonably well understood by industry professionals.
However, if you are contemplating changes or additions to the standard provisions, such as special conditions, we strongly recommend you engage a lawyer to draft the contract. However, if that is impractical, at the very least you should seek legal advice on the real estate agent’s draft contract before you sign it.
There is no cooling off period
When the contract is formed, you will be bound by the terms set out in both the O&A and the General Conditions. If either party fails to honour his or her obligations, the other can enforce the contract through the courts or sue for compensation for breach of contract.
Before you sign an O&A, remember:
- The real estate agent’s duty is to act in the seller’s best interests – not yours.
- The agent is not a lawyer.
- It’s your offer, so you are perfectly entitled to write it up yourself, or take it away and obtain independent advice before you submit it to the agent.
- Cross out parts that you don’t like, even if they’re pre-printed.
- A verbal contract for the sale of land is not enforceable. Make sure the written contract contains all the terms and conditions you wish to include.
- You can generally withdraw your offer at any time before it is accepted by the seller.
- Consult our Legal Guide for a more detailed discussion of the O&A.