Even though a verbal offer to purchase is enforceable under the Law, you should nevertheless formalize it in writing. On this point, the rules of ethics of “l’Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ)”, the auto regulating body overseeing real-estate brokerage in Quebec, are clear: every real-estate broker shall document, in writing, the wishes of the parties to conclude a real-estate transaction in a transaction in which he is acting as a broker.
It is in reality a preliminary contract which precedes a transaction and the offer to purchase should be drafted with precision as it will contain all the terms and conditions of the sale. The conditions describe the obligations of the vendor and of the purchaser. They will be repeated in the terms and conditions of the deed of sale. You should accordingly draft the offer to purchase with great care.
The said offer to purchase may provide for conditions precedent, which are binding upon the vendor for a certain period of time, to allow you to analyze the information and documents received. A condition precedent gives you the possibility of withdrawing from a transaction, if the information obtained is not to your entire satisfaction. Any deposit given should then be returned and you should not be responsible for any damage, not even a fixed amount stipulated in lieu of damages.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW! The preparation of an offer to purchase is a crucial step of the transaction. It is important to master the intricacies of the subject and to be assisted by a real-estate broker or a notary. He will fill with you the various sections of the offer to purchase (promise to purchase) and will give you the necessary advice before it is signed and presented to the vendor.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND: In order to insure the protection of the public, the OACIQ has prepared, for properties under the divided co-ownership regime, a mandatory form of a promise to purchase.
WARNING! In view of the legal consequences of an offer to purchase, consulting a notary with experience in co-ownership law will be very useful. He will be able to review the offer to purchase and to give you needed advice.