Get It In Writing

For any agreement to be enforceable it is always best for it to be in writing.  Whether you are buying, selling, exchanging or leasing real estate, the agreements should absolutely be in written form.

The phrase “get it in writing” is not only good advice but it is also a warning when it comes to any Real Estate transaction.  There should be no ambiguity or room for disputes as the transaction moves forward. 

The real estate business makes use of many different types of contracts including listing agreements, leases, sales contracts and exchange agreements,  just to name a few.  Realtors understand the various contracts inside and out.  In the course of their business, a Realtor’s expertise in the use of contracts is critical to effectively carry out their responsibilities to sellers or buyers.

General business skills and the successful art of negotiation are tied closely to the use of contracts.  The proficient Realtor knows how to write a contract to ultimately attain their client’s needs and goals.  The way a contract is written originally may just be a starting point for negotiations.  Normally you do not initially ask for what you really want.  The use of contracts coupled with artful negotiation can help you to accomplish the end result that you want.  A written agreement is an important point of reference for both parties.  When you have a written agreement it will spell out the terms and conditions in advance and define the scope of the agreement.  Having a written understanding can prevent potential confusion.  Having everything in writing is critical so that after the initial offer, and potential counter-offers you have a clear understanding of what has been agreed upon.

If you were to try to negotiate verbally the words could be interpreted differently by each party.  You also run the risk of selective memory or temporary amnesia.  Generally the less negotiated verbally, the better.  You can undermine your strategy by talking too much.  Involving yourself in lengthy discussions is usually detrimental to your ultimate goal.

Get it in writing.  Make sure your Realtor is knowledgeable about contracts and experienced in the arts of presentation and negotiations.


This article was originally written for and appears in the San Francisco Examiner. Eric Ruxton and Larry Aikins are the owners of Terrace Realty Inc. and Terrace Associates Inc., in Redwood City. Terrace has been in business for 60 years and in addition to being an independent Brokerage Company, also owns and operates rental properties.