The New Changes in the 2014 California Residential Purchase Contract

As of November 24th, new changes and additions to our real estate contract will be taking place.  This is one of the most significant series of changes, and the largest amount, in many years.  So if you're a buyer or a seller of a condo, house, duplex, three- or four-unit residential property and you open escrow on November 24th or later, you will be using the new form associated with the California Association of REALTORS.  You don't want to be like the little koala and caught unaware of the changes.

Without going into specific detail that would be reviewed completely if you were actively engaged in an offer or a transaction, here is a general summary of some items that would be encountered:

The contract has expanded by two more pages, making a total of 10 pages.

If you're a condo owner, you will automatically be required to pay up front and deposit funds into escrow for the legally required homeowner association documents given to to the buyer.

The parties can no longer spend the entire escrow period submitting their instructions to escrow, but now must submit within 5 days of opening escrow.

The buyer deposit default language now addresses an electronic fund transfer when submitting funds to escrow.  Checks are still acceptable, but the EFTs are now much more common and direct.

Credits given back to the buyer from the seller must now be disclosed to the buyer's lender and cannot exceed the amount allowed by the buyer's lender.

Termite repairs are now considered just that -- a repair to be requested and negotiated between the buyer and seller when other buyer repairs are requested during the buyer investigation period.

The buyer loan contingency default period has been extended from 17 to 21 days.

There are additional forms added to the transaction not previously used, i.e., if the seller stays even just 3 days past the close of escrow, there is now a separate seller leaseback form used to cover that time period.

If you are contemplating buying or selling a property, you should know that the Residential Purchase Contract should be reviewed with consideration.  The ease of digital signatures and emailing of documents has allowed for less face-to-face time with an agent, while the transactional requirements have grown more explicit and careful.  So while convenience is wonderful, not being aware of what you're signing is undesirable. Unless the transaction must be conducted at a great distance between client and agent, personal contact during escrow probably ensures a clearer explanation of documents.

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