What Is an Assignment Contract?
Assignment contracts are a vehicle used by real estate investors to transfer one party’s rights and obligations under an existing real estate contract to another party. Assignment contracts don’t involve transferring or selling the property directly like a purchase agreement. Instead, the buyer under the original purchase agreement (the assignor) assigns their rights and obligations under the purchase agreement to the assignee, sometimes for a profit. The assignee then becomes the buyer under the original real estate contract.
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When Is an Assignment Contract Used?
In one scenario, a type of real estate investor called a wholesaler contracts with the current owner(s) of a distressed property that may be unsellable to average homebuyers. The wholesaler creates a purchase agreement with that owner to buy their property. The wholesaler then finds an end buyer who wants to take possession of the property. The assignment contract is then created to transfer the wholesaler’s rights and obligations under the original purchase agreement to the end buyer.
Elements of an Assignment Contract
- Assignor: the real estate wholesaler. This is the person who is the buyer under the original purchase agreement and who is selling or transferring their rights and obligations under that contract.
- Assignee: the end buyer. This is the person who is purchasing or receiving the assignor’s rights and obligations under the original purchase agreement and who would ultimately pay the purchase price (plus any assignment fee agreed to in the assignment contract) and take possession of the property.
- Description or identification of contract being assigned: a description of the original purchase agreement being assigned. Oftentimes, the assignment contract will also attach the original purchase agreement or state that it has been provided to the assignee.
- Subject property information: the property address, legal description, or property identification number/parcel number for the property that is the subject of the original purchase agreement.
- Assignment earnest money amount: like with other types of real estate contracts, earnest money shows the assignee is a serious buyer. The money helps ensure that the assignee won’t back out of the deal for frivolous reasons.
- Assignee’s purchase amount: the amount the end buyer agrees to pay that fulfills or exceeds the original purchase agreement amount.
- Assignment fee: the amount of money the assignor will make for finding an end buyer. The assignment fee should be clearly set forth in the assignment contract.
- Name of the company holding escrow: the assignment contract will designate what company is holding escrow. This escrow company should match the escrow company listed in the original purchase agreement or you will need an amendment to the original purchase agreement or, in states where it is permissible, a split escrow.
- Closing date: the date by which the transaction should be finalized. This should correspond to the original purchase agreement’s closing date. If a different date is used, an amendment to the original purchase agreement may be required.
- How assignment earnest money is handled: should one party cancel the contract or fail to meet the contractual obligations, the earnest money may either be forfeited by the assignee or returned. In instances of a dispute between the parties, the third party holding escrow may release the assignment earnest money pursuant to the terms and conditions of the assignment contract.
Writing a comprehensive assignment contract is a vital part of several real estate investing strategies. If you’re new to creating these kinds of contracts, be sure to get some legal advice before moving forward. Once you have a solid assignment contract template in place, transactions using this contracting tool will run more smoothly.