Let's get down to some serious business!

Congratulations! You have reached another mile-stone — someone has made you an offer! Do not accept or dismiss an offer before carefully considering its worth.

•   In Canada, legal documents cannot be signed on Sunday or on statutory holidays.

•   A time limit of at least twenty-four hours should be imposed on the offer. This gives you time to think it over.

•   Beware of buyers who want an immediate agreement — the deal probably works in their favour.

•   Similarly, do not provide people with more than forty-eight hours to return the offer. If they ask for more time there is a chance that they want to tie up the property while they negotiate with someone else. In the meantime you cannot consider another offer, even if it is better than the first unless you have built in an escape clause in your agreement to purchase form. An escape clause could read: "The vendor shall have the right to continue showing the property, and if they receive another offer which they are prepared to accept, they may notify the purchaser and give the purchaser twenty-four hours to waive the condition or else the agreement shall be treated as at an end."

•   You should not negotiate with more than one party at the same time without all parties being aware of the situation. Their offers should be presented together (see "How to encourage and deal with multiple offers" later in this chapter).

•   Go over the terms of the offer carefully with everyone involved and take it to your lawyer.

•  Remember to complete four copies of the "agreement to purchase" forms and distribute one to each lawyer, one to the purchaser and keep one for yourself, the seller. Each copy must be signed and dated by all parties to the contract as photocopies of signatures are not acceptable. Any changes to the original offer must be initialled by all parties involved.

•   If any of the parties involved in the transacton cannot be present during the final negotiations, a proxy can act for them. On closing, the lawyers will include the necessary adjustments in the documents.