What's the right way to offer to purchase a short sale home in Arizona?
April 17, 2009 8:19 PM   Subscribe

What's the right way to offer to purchase a short sale home in Arizona?

I'm looking for some advice. I know that nobody is a lawyer, or at least not my lawyer, but any insight would be appreciated.

My situation is:

I found a real estate agent that was recommended by a friend of a friend. She's been great. I like her and trust her.

We've looked at a BUNCH of houses. A couple days ago I found one that I like, and I want to make an offer. It's a short sale. As is almost EVERYTHING we've seen. She gave me a copy of the contract she wants to submit to make the offer so I could look at it.

I have an attorney in the family, and he offered to help me wade through paperwork and make sure I wasn't making any mistakes. He's not a real estate attorney.

The contract that my real estate agent wants to use to submit the offer is a standard Arizona Association of Realtors purchase contract. It's 9 pages. My 'attorney' was a little uncomfortable with the contract. He's wondering why it's not a simple offer to purchase, similar to ones he's used in the past that he or someone else wrote that were simple 2 page contracts. This 9 page one is basically a purchase agreement, and seems to commit me to more that he thinks I should be committing to at this stage.

He is also concerned about a few clauses in the contract that specifically release the real estate broker from any liability for various things. He sees no reason this language should even exist in a contract between a buyer and seller. It's as if the real estate association (in benefit of real estate agents) mixed a release of liability contract into the purchase agreement.

I've searched on the net for what kind of purchase contract I should be submitting. I can only find info in two categories. Legal document web sites trying to sell me stuff (lots of these). And a few sparse mentions of the standard Arizona Association of Realtors contract that everybody uses, recognizes, and understands.

The last bit of info is, my real estate agent has told me that she believes that short sales are very hard to accomplish. They take a long time, months usually, and the banks are very difficult to deal with. She has suggested that if we alter the contract, it will at the very least prolong the process. And it will very possibly make the process less likely to succeed.

I've looked at a lot of houses. I like the one I found and want the best chance to get it.

Is it perfectly standard to use the AAR contract? if I went to a real estate attorney, would he give me something else (something better for me, and not necessarily written for and by real estate agents)? Or would he probably just tell me everybody uses that standard one, and just adds stuff to the Additional Terms and Conditions section?

Any other advice/thoughts?
posted by gummo to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Can you call the association itself on Monday? Ask them for a copy from their files, or if they won't, how you can authenticate the contract in your hands as a copy of their standard contract.

I've used standard contracts in the past in Oregon, and they were long and had a lot of what I thought was excess verbiage in them until I sat down with a real estate lawyer in Oregon who was a friend of a friend. He explained that all the areas that seemed fussy and complicated to me were put there by decisions made by the courts or opinions published by the state attorney general. In other words, they're not there so much to commit you as they are there to advise you of the implied commitments you were making per Oregon's laws and past interpretations thereof.
posted by SpecialK at 9:22 PM on April 17, 2009

Oh, and you're totally right to question when someone says, "it's standard, just sign it so we can get on with things." But sometimes it IS standard and you need to sign it so that she can get on with things.

Also, short sales go slow because there's resistance each step of the way from everyone on the seller's side. They have nothing to lose by dragging their feet and much to gain in most cases. And those where they do have something to gain are usually financially and emotionally so unpalatable that it's easy for avoidance behaviors to kick in.
posted by SpecialK at 9:25 PM on April 17, 2009

Your lawyer represents you and has no stake in this deal. The real estate agent has a stake. Listen to the lawyer.
posted by cotterpin at 5:41 AM on April 18, 2009

IANAL, but I recently made an offer on a home (not a short sale) in Arizona, and I signed a nine-page contract that I was told is standard, and which states across the top that everything pre-printed has been approved by the AAR. I do believe that the nine-pager is standard. If you have any doubts, please have your agent review each section with you. She should be able to explain exactly what she's asking you to agree to and why. Mine did this for me, and we did make some changes during the offer process.

My agent agreed that short sales tend to be slow and often fall through.

I have no idea whether a non-standard contract would raise red flags, but where you're dealing with not only a seller but also their lender (who's trying to get the most money possible), red flags are probably more likely to be raised.

In your position, I would ask my attorney what his specific concerns are. Frankly, the language in the contract I have in front of me isn't too arcane; look it over together, and see whether YOU feel satisfied that each clause is fair. If he doesn't typically deal with real estate, it's possible that he just doesn't have the experience in this area to understand why each clause is there. If he has specific concerns, then address those with your agent.
posted by emumimic at 6:17 PM on April 20, 2009

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