This section is from the book "Practical Real Estate Methods For Broker, Operator & Owner", by Thirty Experts. Also available from Amazon: Practical Real Estate Methods for Broker, Operator, Owner.
Henry F. Miller
The most important paper in a transaction relating to the sale of real estate, is the contract specifying the agreement of the parties, and setting forth the terms of the sale. While, of course, the deed which is delivered, consummates the sale, nevertheless, the rights of the parties are practically fixed and determined by the contract which they have previously entered into, and for that reason, the deed, although it is the formal and final instrument, which transfers the title, really follows and is controlled by the contract of sale.
Sometimes, where there are no complications, and no special clauses to be drawn, the drawing of a contract is a very simple matter, and, under such circumstances, real estate agents and brokers who have gained familiarity with the requirements of such a contract, are able to draw them successfully. Loosely drawn contracts, however, often lead to litigation or loss, and in view of the importance of accurately defining all the essential particulars, it is prudent that the preparation of such papers should be left to lawyers.
Contracts for the sale of real estate are required, by statute, to be in writing, and to be signed by the vendor, or the lawfully authorized agent of the vendor; otherwise they are void, even though a part payment be made on account. No special form of contract is prescribed by law, but it is essential that the writing must embody the agreement of the parties.
The contract may consist of several letters, or writings. No seal is necessary. It is not necessary that the contract should be acknowledged, and, from the standpoint of the vendor, it is better that it should not be acknowledged, since, without an acknowledgment, or proof, it cannot be recorded. A recorded contract, when it is not fulfilled, is liable to embarrass the vendor.