As is the case with any other notable asset transfer, some kind of sale agreement is needed to outline the terms associated with the transfer of residential property from one party to another.

This is where a purchase agreement comes into play. It will typically capture the essential terms and conditions that govern the sale including the agreed-upon sales price, parties involved, closing date, etc.

While there is most certainly more information out there, the details below will give you a solid framework if you hope to purchase real estate in California.

California Residential Purchase Agreement

Put simply, a California residential purchase agreement includes all the details of conditions and terms surrounding the purchase of real estate.

In many cases, a prospective buyer (or a designated agent) will present the document to the seller as an offer. The seller can then choose to accept the terms that have been laid out or may alternatively choose to negotiate them, after which the deal will be signed and accepted.

Who Is It for?

Just about any kind of residential property sale can be guided by a purchase agreement. This covers both newly built homes and those that are previously owned. In the case of newly built ones, the expectation is that the contract's closing date would come after the closing date of the contract.

The following parties will typically use this agreement for the sale of real property:

  1. A person conducting a private sale
  2. Family members completing a sale transaction
  3. A real estate agent representing a client
  4. A seller who is financing the buyer's purchase

Recommended Elements

Realistically, this kind of sale agreement may be filled out in different ways. However, some key pieces of information are recommended as a part of the agreement.

Property Description

This speaks to the legal description of the property. Typically, a county clerk recorder's office can provide this.

There will be an inclusion of the state of the property, furniture and fixtures included, etc. Legal disclosure notice requirements should also be met.

For example, if certain contaminants may affect the property or if it is located within two miles of an airport, California law requires that information be disclosed.

Party Details

The full details of the parties involved should be present including names, phone numbers, and addresses. Note that provisions can be made for multiple buyers and sellers.

Purchase Price, Deposit Due Date, and Other Sale Details

This is where the sale details are established. What is the total purchase price of the home? Where will the deposit be held and when is it due? How much should the said deposit be? Is financing required? What's the cost of the loan?


There are often conditions that guide a real estate transaction, which may be rooted in financing approval or other terms. The idea here is that the conditions must be fully met before the closing date or the contract may be canceled.

For title insurance purposes, there may be a requirement for a new land survey. If not, a buyer can simply have the seller provide a written notice indicating a lack of awareness of any changes since the last survey was completed.

Final Details

This is mostly surrounding the closing date. Will the buyer own the property at this time or will there first be a lease?

Usually, the offer and closing dates are spaced out to allow for addressing of conditions.

Grievance Measures

This element speaks to measures put in place if there should be any conflict between the parties. Arbitration or mediation may be used.

Wrapping Up

A seller and a prospective buyer need to establish an agreement for a real estate purchase to take place. A purchase agreement takes care of this. Bear in mind that in California, a Transfer Disclosure Statement is also required, which is simply a statement of issues that may pose a risk to the buyer or may affect the home's value.

For access to purchase agreements and other California real estate forms, check out Doorloop's catalog here!


Is a California Seller Allowed to Cancel a Real Estate Contract?

Yes, provided the cancellation is allowed for in the contract or the conditions established were not met.

When Does a California Residential Purchase Agreement Become Effective?

The effective date of the contract is whenever both parties agree to the terms and execute it.

What Does "Earnest Money Deposit" Mean?

An earnest money deposit is a sum often required by the buyer to be held in a trust until the termination or closing of the agreement.

What Should Be in a Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement?

If there are hazards such as floods, fire, or seismic activity that the real property for sale is prone to, these should be included.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!