This is part of the Real Estate Contract Fundamentals Series. I’m not giving you legal advice – you’ve got to get that for yourself from a qualified attorney. To get a free copy of the Real Estate Purchase and Sale Agreement upon which this series is based, visit the Monster Purchase And Sale Agreement Download Page.
There’s a lot at stake when you write in the name of a “seller” on your real estate purchase and sale agreements. If you get it wrong, you could end up with a completely worthless contract. Or even worse, you could be the proud owner of a contract that only gives you a partial interest in the property you want to buy. So the stakes are high – you’ve got to get it right when specifying the identity of the seller in a real estate purchase and sale agreement.
So when you’re buying a piece of real estate, what do you write into the blank where the “seller’s” name should go?
That seems obvious: The owner of the property is the seller. But who is the owner?
It’s probably the person who originally bought the property. So that should be a safe bet, shouldn’t it?
Maybe not. Because there could be more than one owner listed on the deed. In that case, you’d better be sure to write in every person whose name appears on the deed as a “Seller” in your real estate purchase and sale agreement. Otherwise, you’ll end up buying yourself a partial interest in that property that may be effectively worthless.
So if you are sure to include the name of every person who is listed on the deed, then you’re covered for sure, right? Nope. Because some states give identical interest in a property to the legal owner and to the owner’s spouse. This means it can be a good idea to have the SPOUSE of the owner of the property sign your real estate contract as a “seller” also.
Clearly, identifying the seller isn’t as clear-cut as one might think. Generally speaking, a safe place to start is to use the name of the owner as it appears on the deed. Then, depending on the laws in your state, it might make sense to add the name of the spouse of whoever is the legal owner. As always, consult with your own attorney.
Next in this series we’ll examine the proper way to identify the property to be purchased. And here again, there are some twists in the road you may not expect.
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