In this video, our Polk County contract attorneys will talk about seven clauses of particular importance when reviewing the contract.
- Description and Purchase Price: These items may be self-explanatory, but it’s important to note under “description” anything other than the address of the house. Also, you’ll want to make sure what is legally described in the title document matches up with the contract. Under purchase price, you will have the agreed-upon purchase price (this may be different from the original after negotiations) and the amount of earnest money that will be deposited upon agreement of the contract.
- Real Estate Taxes and Special Assessment: Normally, the sellers must pay the real estate taxes attributed to the property for the year it was sold in, prorated to the date of the closing. So if you sell your house in April, you’ll be paying less in real estate taxes then if you sold your house in August. However, be sure to check the contract as sometimes there is the option for the seller to pay no taxes on the house during the transaction and instead transfer that burden to the buyer.
- Time is of the Essence and Fixtures Clause: It’s important to note if “Time is of the Essence” is indicated on a contract because if certain deadlines are not met on the buyers or sellers end it could be considered a breach of contract and a reason for either party to back out without repercussions. The Fixtures clause indicates anything other than the walls, doors, winders, floor, etc that are not part of the overall structure, that would be included in the sale of the house. This may include items like window treatments, a pool table, a piece of furniture, etc.
- Condition of the Property: This clause may include a number of sub-clauses, all centered around the condition of the property. The primary “condition of property” clause explains that—unless specified otherwise—the property will be kept in its current state until possession by the buyers and that all items will be in good working condition at the time of possession.
- Remedies of the Parties: This clause usually contains stipulations explaining what happens in the case that the buyers or sellers fail to perform their contractual obligations in a timely manner and to what degree the opposite party can respond.
- Residential Property Discloser Statement: Iowa law requires the sellers to fill out a form disclosing the conditions of the various parts and systems of the house, such as HVAC, plumbing, previous water damage, etc to their best of their knowledge. This protects the buyers from coming into a house and suddenly finding something that the sellers most likely knew about, but didn’t disclose, and it wasn’t found on the inspection report.
- Optional Provisions: Most real estate contracts in Iowa contain a number of optional provisions, which only apply if initialed by both parties. These include items such as purchase contingent on the sale of another property, buying the property “as is,” the seller’s right to continue to show the property while under contract, etc.