Creating a ‘For Sale by Owner’ contract in Florida can be done alone or with the help of a real estate lawyer. FSBO contracts are not just about selling the property, but also protecting you from liability. In this guide, we’ll run down how to create your FSBO contract and what to include:
What is a ‘For Sale by Owner’ Contract?
A ‘For Sale by Owner’ contract, or ‘FSBO contracts’, is a type of purchase contract for property sold by the owner, and not a real estate agent.
The document is legally binding and outlines the terms and conditions that all parties must meet to complete the sale and transfer of the property. It also details how you can protect your legal rights and includes contingencies.
Sell-by-owner arrangements can help the seller save around 6% on real estate commission but come with the risk of the sale falling through due to a lack of contract knowledge.
How Do I List for Sale by Owner in Florida?
To sell your home ‘For Sale by Owner’ in Florida, you must take on all the listing agent’s responsibilities. While you can save money on real estate commissions, it’s advised that you hire a Florida real estate lawyer to help you with the contract and other legal matters.
How to Draft a For Sale By Owner Contract?
In a regular property sale, the seller’s real estate agent takes care of drafting and drawing up contracts. However, if you’re selling alone to save on commission, you have a couple of different options:
Draft the Contract Yourself
There is no legal requirement to be assisted when drafting a For Sale by Owner contract in Florida. You can take it on alone, although it’s not advised.
There are many DIY FSBO contracts online, but as there is no ‘one size fits all’ document, you may find yourself with invalid or inappropriate documents.
Buyers are also often put off by contracts that aren’t drafted by professionals, as the lack of legal assistance opens the doors to mistakes and legal disputes.
Use a Real Estate Lawyer
Your best option to create a ‘For Sale by Owner’ contract in Florida is to use a real estate attorney. Although you will face some minor expenses, they will be far less than a real estate agent or the consequences of a legal dispute if you make a mistake yourself.
Florida real estate lawyers are also experts in contractual law and provide far more protection and depth for contingencies than real estate agents – so you have more space to back out of the deal if needed.
If you want to save time, money and stress, use a real estate lawyer.
You Can’t Use The Buyer’s Agent in Florida
In Florida, using the buyer’s real estate agent is not legal. These are called ‘Dual Agents’ and may be suggested to you by the buyer, despite it being prohibited in Florida.
What’s Included in a For Sale by Owner Contract In Florida?
FSBO contracts in Florida should include the following:
- Contract Title:
- The summary of the FSBO document’s purpose. For example, “Purchase Agreement for Real Estate”.
- Date the contract.
- Details of Seller and Buyer: Full names, marital status and contact information.
- Contract Date: The date of execution
- Property Details:
- Lists the property’s address.
- Exact legal description from the deed.
- Everything included with the sale (such as furnishings, appliances and coverings).
- Any other necessary information.
- Payment terms:
- The full purchase price and deduction of earnest money.
- Payment type and due date. 7
- Use precise language to outline what is required in cash and what the bank or mortgage company will provide.
- Real Estate Taxes: Detail who pays real estate taxes and how. Make it clear and precise.
- Contingencies: Detailed conditions of what should happen in specified circumstances, such as:
- Pest control
- Home inspection
- Mortgage funding
- And the necessary conditions that can justify the contract being withdrawn.
- Details on how contingencies can invalidate the contract.
- Closing Date: Detail closing with:
- Closing location (Bank, real estate attorney’s office or title company)
- Date and time of sale
- Closing costs and who should pay them
- Signature Space: Space to sign names and signatures.
- Property Disclosures: Discloses all material facts, such as:
- Restrictions or easements
- Defects or hazards required by federal or state law
What Is Required?
For a For Sale By Owner contract in Florida to be enforceable, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Legal Purpose: The contract must have a legal purpose, such as the ‘Purchase Agreement for Real Estate’.
- Competence: Both parties must be competent to understand the contract. Such as neither being minors, under the influence of drugs or alcohol and mentally of sound mind. If one side is not competent, the contract may be invalidated.
- Consideration: There must be an exchange of something of value, such as payment. If not, it will be considered a gift. To gift a property to someone is an entirely different topic, which should be discussed with a real estate lawyer.
- Offer and Acceptance: It must detail the purchase offer and acceptance of the offer.
- ‘Good Faith’: Both sides must agree on the same terms and be willing to create the contract, and have no intention of frauding or deceiving each other.
- Mutual Consent: Both parties must sign the agreement of their own free will, and not under pressure
What Contingencies Do I Need to Include?
Contingency clauses are lifelines for when things go wrong in FSBO sales. It’s highly advised that you let a Florida real estate lawyer draft these on your behalf, as you will likely overlook potential clauses if you don’t have contractual expertise. However, here are the main contingencies every real estate contract should include:
Appraisal contingencies allow the contract to be released if there isn’t one or more independent appraisals.
If the buyer is unable to pay entirely in cash, a loan contingency may allow them time to secure a loan. However, this will itself have a deadline that must be met, or the contract can be released.
Inspections are critical in any real estate purchase, despite the savings available if skipped. Inspection contingencies give buyers the chance to request repairs and maintenance for issues revealed in inspections.
They can also protect sellers from having to make further repairs after the inspection release is signed.
The seller can be protected if the buyer doesn’t sign a release of contingencies within the specified time period. The buyer must move forward if all contingencies are released.
Contact a Florida Real Estate Contract Lawyer
If you need legal assistance with any area of real estate, including the drafting of a For Sale By Owner Contract, then our Florida real estate contract lawyers can help.
Our St Petersburg and Riverview real estate attorneys at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. will review your circumstances and ensure your transaction goes smoothly.