Attorneys Stephen Korshak and Lee Karina Dani

What makes a residential real estate contract enforceable?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Residential Real Estate |

If you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, you understand that real estate can be complicated business. You have to smooth out a wide spectrum of details before finally moving into or letting go of your home. For example, suppose you’ve already found the perfect buyer or seller; you still have to work on the contract.

When it comes to residential real estate, ensuring that a contract is not just a piece of paper but a legally binding agreement is crucial. The enforceability of a real estate contract is influenced by various elements that need careful consideration.

Clear and definite terms

One of the fundamental concerns that contribute to the enforceability of a residential real estate contract is the clarity of its terms. The contract must articulate the specifics of the agreement, leaving no room for ambiguity. This includes details about:

  • The property
  • The parties involved
  • Purchase price
  • Payment terms
  • Any contingencies

Clear and definite terms not only establish a common understanding between a buyer and seller, they also serve as a reference point in case of disputes. Ambiguous language can lead to misunderstandings and legal complications, potentially jeopardizing the enforceability of the contract.

Offer and acceptance

A valid real estate contract requires a clear offer from one party and an unambiguous acceptance from the other. This element, often referred to as the “meeting of the minds,” is critical in establishing mutual consent between the buyer and seller.

An offer should outline the terms and conditions under which the buyer is willing to purchase the property, while the acceptance must be unequivocal, expressing agreement with the terms presented. Any modifications to the offer should be communicated and accepted by both parties to help maintain the contract’s enforceability.


Consideration, typically in the form of money, is a vital element that makes a residential real estate contract legally binding. It signifies that there is something of value exchanged between the buyer and seller. This can solidify the seriousness and intent behind the agreement.

Consideration can be the earnest money deposit made by the buyer, demonstrating their commitment to the transaction. Without valid consideration, a contract may be deemed unenforceable, as it lacks a necessary element to make it legally binding.

The enforceability of a residential real estate contract hinges on a careful consideration of various elements. Clear and definite terms, a well-defined offer and acceptance and valid consideration are the pillars that support a robust and legally binding agreement. By understanding and incorporating these elements, you stand a chance to enhance the enforceability of your real estate contracts and pave the way for a smooth and successful transaction.