In North Carolina, the purchase contract is the most important document in any real estate sale. It must reflect the entire agreement between the buyer and seller. This brochure examines issues arising during contract negotiations in residential real estate sales transactions. In particular, it focuses on "offer" and "acceptance": the process by which a buyer and seller create a binding legal contract. This process typically begins when a prospective buyer makes an offer. Then, the seller either accepts it, rejects it, or rejects it and makes a counteroffer. Then the buyer has the same options (i.e., accept, reject without making a counteroffer, or reject with a counteroffer). When one party accepts the other party's offer or counteroffer, including communicating that acceptance to the offering party, a purchase contract is created.
Any misunderstandings concerning offer and acceptance can result in serious legal and financial consequences for the buyer and seller. Therefore, it is imperative that you carefully read and understand the entire purchase contract and that you consult an attorney if you do not understand any issues regarding it before you enter into a binding contract.
The questions raised in this publication are of special concern to real estate purchasers. Consequently, they are posed from the standpoint of the purchaser.