Are Option Agreements Legal?

Posted on October 10, 2011 by

Real Estate Option AgreementsIn a column I wrote two weeks ago, I made the point that Options are the most powerful and underused documents in real estate.  After the column ran, I got a call from a long-time realtor.  He had some questions about Option Agreements and offered to buy me a cup of coffee.  I said yes because, as you may know, I love free coffee… and a doughnut!

The first question he asked was, “Are Options legal?”  I answered, “Yep, they’re very legal.  In fact, did you know that most Georgia Association of Realtors’ Purchase and Sale Agreements (aka The GAR forms) begin life as Option Agreements?”

He gave me a very skeptical you’ve-lost-your-mind look.  After he pulled out one of his GAR forms, I had him turn to Page Three and look at item 11-A-1.  It read: Contract is an Option Contract.  You could have pushed him over with a feather.

After that, he said, “I’ve heard the terms Option Agreement and Lease/Option a lot.  Can you explain how an Option works?”

I used the following example – which is a deal Kim and I recently did – to demonstrate one of the ways an Option can be used to make an impossible deal possible.   

About a year ago, Kim and I bought a $150,000 property for about $65,000.  While we hosted an open house, a very nice couple stopped in.  The couple loved our property, but could only qualify for a $120,000 mortgage.

For most sellers, this deal would be dead, right?  But not if you have the Option tool in your deal-structuring toolbox! 

Here’s our agreement: 1) We sold the couple the property for $120,000…$30,000 below market value.  (You’re probably thinking that this was pretty stupid of us, right? Just remember: Stupid is as stupid does!)  2) At the closing, Kim and I netted a $50,000 profit – Cha-Ching!  3) Because the couple was buying at way below market, they agreed to pay all closing costs – Sweet!  4) For $10, the buyers sold us a Purchase Option.  This gave us the option to buy the property back at any time within the next 12 years at a purchase price of $120,000 – the same price as the couple’s purchase price.  5) We recorded our Option and secured it to the property using a Security Deed.

One more thing to add: We also agreed that if/when we exercise our Option, we’d turn around and immediately sell the property.  Anything the property sells for above $150,000 – the property’s fair-market value at the time the couple purchased – we’d split 50/50 with the couple.

Was this a Win-Win deal?  You tell me.  The couple was able to buy a nice home, in a wonderful neighborhood, at a price they could afford.  We were able to quickly sell the property, make a nice chunk of change, and because of the Option, have the opportunity to make a lot more money further down the line.     

Think about this: We can buy this house back at a purchase price of $120,000 at any time between now and 2022.  Sure, property values are down today, but don’t you think there’s a good chance that by 2022, this property will be worth more – and probably a good bit more – than $120,000?

We L-O-V-E Option Agreements because they can help you make the impossible deals possible!

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

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  1. jean pizzoferrato says:

    I met you at the last Atanta REIA meeting –I think it was October. You gave me your card so I could call you to attend one of your meetings.

    I just moved to Atlanta in September so I am interested in starting to invest in the Atlanta.

    Would you send me info about your next meeting.

    If you want to call me my home phone number is 770-842-0707.

    Thank you

    Jean Pizzoferrato

    P,S. I joined the Atlanta REIA at that meeting, so I am a member.

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