Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: May 2, 2012

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A contract is a legally binding document spelling out the key issues of the sale.

It includes some of the same things as the binder, but exactly identifies the following:

(1) the exact property being sold (boundaries, dwellings etc.)

(2) the purchase price

(3) any mortgage contingencies

(4) the proposed closing date

(5) the names of the parties

It also spells out what items the seller agrees to leave in the house. Things like doorknobs, ceiling lights, awnings and window shades are considered “fixtures”, and are generally included in the sale. Built in furniture, like bookcases that are attached to the walls are generally included as well. Appliances must be named in order to be part of the sale. Both parties must sign the contract in order for it to be legally binding.