Real Estate Paperwork

Oh, the joys of paperwork.

At the dawning of the second decade of the 21st century we use more paper than ever in real estate transactions. In spite of electronic signatures, online transaction processing systems ( RELAY), and the demise of pre-printed forms, real estate transactions use more paper than ever. Part of it is documentation mania gone wild. Everybody needs a copy of everything. Counter-party signatures can double the paperwork if buyers or sellers are in separate locations when signing has to be done. Multiple iterations of contracts and counter offers proliferate and must be signed and printed and copied and shared.  Too many trees die for our ways, but I don’t see an answer on the horizon. Just more paper.

Transaction paperwork falls into some broad categories that will be discussed in more depth in later posts:

  • Disclosures – known facts the sellers have to share with buyers
  • Inspections – reports on physical aspect of the property prepared by professionals
  • Contracts – eight page agreement (for now) indicating price and terms
  • Agency – who represents who and what their duties are
  • Title – record of ownership, taxes, easements, etc. on the property
  • Contingencies –  scheduled removal of contract clauses for financing, inspections, and other due diligence
  • Loans – your financial and employment life plus signing big checks
  • Correspondence – a sea of emails and paper about the transaction

It’s going to get clearer to you what each of these represents as you dive into an actual transaction, but the series of posts I am writing should clarify some of the needed documents in advance. I’m going to be specific about Sonoma County and California real estate transactions. Your area will likely vary from these specifics.

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