Although I’ve been reading and reviewing one real estate book each week for over 25 years, I’ve never encountered such a unique book and CD-ROM as “The Complete Book of Real Estate Contracts” by attorney Mark Warda.

The book’s theme is to educate home buyers, sellers, and realty agents about the pros and cons of the typical clauses found in home purchase contracts. The book includes a CD-ROM so readers can “fill in the blanks” for their own home sale based on the book’s explanations.

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Although readers can use the home sales contracts found in the book and CD-ROM, it might be smart to use the forms used by local realty sales agents instead, because local forms won’t encounter seller and agent resistance.

However, the big value of this unusual book is the explanations of typical home sales contracts from the viewpoint of the parties. For example, the federally required lead-based-paint clause includes three options: (1) seller warrants the property is free of lead-based paint; (2) the home is sold “as is” with no warranty; or (3) the seller doesn’t know if there is lead-based paint but the buyer can have the home inspected if desired.

The book also includes a copy of the lead-based-paint disclosure booklet, which federal law requires to be given to home buyers (and tenants) of homes built before 1979 and the lead-based-paint disclosure form. This material is computer downloadable from the CD-ROM.

Author Mark Warda has been writing real estate books for many years. Most of them have been pretty good, but this is his best because it takes a confusing home sale issue — the sales contract — and makes it easily understandable for consumers.

Even if readers never use the purchase contract forms in the book and on the CD-ROM, reading the contract clause explanations will make buyers, sellers and agents better informed.

There are more than 200 clauses on the forms, most of which are explained in considerable detail. The forms are ready-to-use or they can be modified for the reader’s needs.

But don’t be misled by the book title. This is essentially a real estate contract book for house and condo buyers or sellers. There are many widely used real estate forms that are not included. However, it’s a start.

Hopefully Warda will use the same excellent format to expand this book and create similar books using other real estate forms such as lease-options, residential and commercial leases, among many others.

The book’s most valuable chapter, “Recommended Clauses,” explains 46 typical clauses that can be used in a home sales contract, depending on the situation. The next chapter, “Creative Clauses,” deals with how to handle typical home sales potential problems such as deposits, credits for repairs, even a clause distributing the sales proceeds (especially important in divorces), who will be present when the contract is presented to the seller, contingencies for sale of the buyer’s current home, and even tax-deferred exchanges.

Especially valuable throughout the book are the “buyer’s view” and “seller’s view” explanations of the contract clauses. The book’s superb graphic design makes for easy understanding of these concise summaries of what is important to each party.

Chapter topics include, “Preparing Your Own Contract”; “Using an Attorney”; “The Buyer’s Position”; “The Seller’s Position”; “Federal and Local Laws”; “Unfair Contracts”; “Basic Clauses”; “The Art of Negotiating”; “Signing the Contract”; “Backing Out of the Deal”; “Rescuing the Deal”; “The Closing”; and “After the Closing.” The superb appendix includes copies of the forms, which are also on the CD-ROM.

This very unusual real estate book is extremely important for home buyers, sellers and their real estate agents so they understand the implications of the many clauses in typical home sales contracts. On my scale of one to 10, this unique book rates a solid 10.

“The Complete Book of Real Estate Contracts,” by attorney Mark Warda (Sphinx-Sourcebooks Publishing, Naperville, IL), 2005, $18.95, 161 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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