When it comes time to the legality of home purchase contracts, assumptions can cause trouble. It’s best to have a clear understanding of a standard contract before you’re ready to enter into an agreement. That way, you can ensure that the contract states exactly what you expect rather than assuming all will go smoothly. Here are ten frequently asked questions answered as the law applies in the state of Ohio.

1. Does Ohio allow a three-day period to back out of a home purchase contract?

No. Once both parties have agreed to the terms of a contract and signed it, the contract is binding.

2. If a purchase contract does not include a closing date, is the contract void?

No. While it is best to include a closing date on the contract, the absence of a date will mean that a “reasonable time” is implied. Most homes close within a 30- to 45-day timeframe.

3. If a buyer makes a verbal offer on my home to my Realtor at the open house, is that offer binding?

No, but your Realtor is ethically bound to present you all offers, even if they are only verbal. To make the offer legally binding and enforceable, the offer needs to be in writing and signed.

4. If a home inspection reveals a defect, can the buyer back out of the contract or must he allow the seller to make the repair, if willing?

The answer depends on what the contract states. On a standard home purchase contract, there is a contingency option that the home must pass inspection. If this option was checkmarked on the contract, then a buyer is able to terminate the contract based on inspection findings. However, read the contract carefully as it dictates the outcome. If language was inserted that gives the seller the right to make repairs to prevent termination, then it is more difficult for the buyer to back out.

5. If a home does not appraise for the purchase price, can the buyer get out of the contract?

Yes, there is an appraisal contingency in the contract that states the buyer may terminate based on the inability of the house to appraise at or above the purchase price.

6. Can a seller refuse a buyer’s full price offer and counteroffer with a higher price?

Yes, the seller is not legally bound to accept a full price offer and is within right to counteroffer a different price.

7. In an MLS listing, the description lists all the appliances that stay with the home when purchased. When the sellers moved out, they took several of the appliances that were listed in MLS. The buyers claim they must get the appliances back, but the sellers say the contract did not state that those specific appliances stayed. Who is right?

The sellers are right in this instance. It is the purchase contract that is binding, not the MLS description. Any personal items such as free-standing appliances must be specifically written into the purchase contract for the sale of those items to be binding. Buyers and their Realtor must be sure to read all aspects of the contract to ensure which appliances are included with the real estate.

8. Is earnest money required to make an offer legally binding?

No, earnest money is not required in Ohio for a legally binding contract. Some earnest money is usually expected for a buyer to be taken seriously by the seller, but it is not a legal requirement.

9. If a buyer revokes an offer before the seller has responded, must it be in writing?

No, verbal revocation is acceptable prior to any acceptance of an offer. However, it is best to provide written notice for proof. Often times a simple email is used for this purpose.

10. Is a buyer legally entitled to a walk-through of the property before closing?

No, Ohio law does not provide this legal right, however the standard Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors Purchase Contract includes a clause that gives the buyer the right to do a walk-through of the property within 48 hours of the closing.

Resource: Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors

Real Estate Term of the Week

Revocation: In real estate, revocation is the right of the person making the purchase offer to take back the offer at any time before the other party has accepted the offer.

Platinum Service Realty