21 Tips for Writing Contracts

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By P.R. ‘Randy’ Cooney 
Publisher of the Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business


After having the privilege of teaching contract writing for the past twenty five years, I have been able to compile a list of pertinent items to consider when writing a contract on behalf of clients in purchasing or selling a property.  Below is my list. Since many situations can arise when writing contracts, I invite and encourage you to send your suggestions based on your experience in the preparation and procuring of legal documents. Please send your suggestions to randy@asreb.com.

1. Be precise, clear and specific.
2. Use short words instead of long words.
3. Avoid double negatives.
4. Check for conflicts.
5. Avoid “and/or”.
6. When in doubt always write it out.
7. Consider “What If” scenarios especially when writing contingencies.
8. Use the correct, legal name of all the parties.
9. Include model and serial numbers or pictures for any personal property being transferred.
10. Avoid similar words with very different meanings.  Example: elicit (to bring out) and Illicit (unlawful).
11. Eliminate words that have double meanings such as “execution,” “fine” and “case.”
12. Always recheck legal descriptions of property.
13. Write numbers as both words and numerals such as “ten (10)” to reduce the chance of errors.
14. When you write “including,” consider adding “but not limited to.”
15. Have all parties initial every page as evidence they had an opportunity to read it.
16. Collect all necessary signatures with dates.
17. Education happens when you read the fine print.  Experience happens when you don’t.
18. Very important:  “If you think it –ink it.”  So “If it’s worth thinkin, it’s worth inkin.”
19. The weakest ink is always stronger than someone’s mightiest memory.
20. Sleep on what you have written – review it with a fresh set of eyes the next day.
21. Write as if ALL twelve members of the jury have to agree to what was meant or intended.

Many more tips, strategies and real examples for writing or negotiating contracts will be presented at our annual Write It Right or Lose the Right Seminar. Join Arizona Department of Real Estate Commissioner Judy Lowe and the C.E.O. of Arizona Association of Realtors, Michelle Lind, Arizona Association of Realtor’s Lead Counsel, Scott Drucker and many distinguished Designated Brokers on September 26th, from 9:00am – 12:30pm at the Arizona School of Real Estate & Business, Scottsdale Campus.  This “Raise-the-Bar Seminar” will certainly assist real estate agents to better represent their buyers or sellers in the purchasing and selling of real property.


Randy Cooney is the Publisher for The Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business,the President of the Success Institute & a licensed Real Estate Broker. Randy can be reached at 480-946-7576 or randy@asreb.com. To advertise in our Journal, Arizona’s largest real estate publication, request a media kit via the ASREB website.