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Want to Make an Offer? Put it on Paper.

SELG Written Offer“What do I need to do to make an offer on this property?” is a question I love to hear. I have never sold a piece of land without first having received an offer, so this is a great first step toward a closing! Generally I respond with, let’s draw up the contract so we can present it to the seller. Sometimes a prospective purchaser will want to just present a verbal offer, but our company policy is to get the offer in writing.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by an adjoining owner of a property we have for sale, and he wanted to make an offer. The prospect emailed me an initial offer, not on a contract, but with the price and terms he wanted to offer the seller. Against my customary procedures, I passed that offer along to my seller client. We negotiated back and forth via email and phone, still not on a contract, until we reached an acceptable agreement. I drafted the purchase agreement and sent it to the purchaser for him to sign. After sleeping on it for a day, the buyer informed me that he was not going to move forward with the purchase. Understandably my seller was very upset with the buyer, and with me. I blew it. I didn’t do what I normally do, and it cost my client. I apologized and told him he could fire me, but he was gracious and we have moved forward.

Here are a few reasons why getting the offer in writing is a good idea for everyone involved:

  1. A written offer makes it clear what all of the terms are going to be. With any given land deal there can be many small details that need to be addressed specifically. Putting an offer on paper eliminates mistaken assumptions that either party may have regarding the transaction
  2. Written offers bind all parties to the contract. The word “contract” means “to draw together“. Once   everyone agrees to the terms and sign the contract, everyone is bound by the purchase agreement. If roadblocks come up before closing, or if one party one party starts to waver, then the contract is there to remind everyone what they agreed to. Real estate contracts are legally binding documents, and should not be entered into carelessly. It is possible that if a party to the contract does not honor their obligations that they may be open to a lawsuit for specific performance or other damages.
  3. Written offers convey a sense of seriousness that a verbal offer does not. A written offer shows the seller that they are likely dealing with a thoughtful and business-like individual. Verbal offers often carry very little weight with a seller, and buyers can put themselves at a disadvantage by not taking a little extra time to pen their this offer.

This article does not address all of the issues associated with making an offer on a piece of rural real estate, but hopefully it shows a few reasons why making an offer in writing increases your chances of a successful transaction.

Written by: Jonathan GoodeAccredited Land Consultant (ALC) with Southeastern Land Group is a licensed land broker in Alabama and Mississippi

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