How to Write a Home Sales Contract

Any sale of real property, such as a home or land, must be in writing and meet certain other legal requirements before the contract is legally valid. Whether you are buying or selling a home, you want to make sure that the real estate sales contract is legally valid to protect yourself and your interests. If the contract proves to be invalid or defective, your legal recourse may be limited or forfeited.

Expressly include essential terms such as the purchase price, the name and address of the seller, the name and address of the buyer and a description of the land. The description should clearly describe the house's features and it's location so someone reading the contract could identify the property. Listing the physical address is not enough by itself for a description. For example, you might also include that it is two-story house with a blue roof and the second house on the left from the north entrance. It is also recommended you check with the Deed Recorder's Office where the property sits for a legal description of the property for comparison.

Add any terms negotiated between you and the other party as part of the sale. If any term is left out of the written contract, it is unenforceable. For example, if the seller agrees to repaint all the walls white before he moves out, but this term is not in the contract, the buyer has no recourse if the seller fails to paint the walls.

Identify what kind of deed is being conveyed in the contract. Most commonly, houses are sold with a general warranty deed but in special situations, a quit claim deed may be used instead. Also be sure you understand the differences of each deed and the consequences of using one over the other.

Identify which party is paying for title insurance, homeowners insurance during the interim sale period and whatever costs are associated with the same. For example, was there an inspection? If so, identify who is responsible for paying the inspection fees.

Sign and date the contract and make sure the other party signs and dates the contract. While witnesses are not required, they are highly recommended.


  • Failure to meet any of these requirements does not automatically invalidate the sale or contract if two of the following have occurred: there has been full or partial payment, the buyer has taken possession or the buyer has made value improvements to the land.