Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

May, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

I want to see why some agents use SFAR forms for the contract instead of the CAR forms. What is the Pros and Cons? Please help!

Asked by May, San Francisco, CA Sat Nov 23, 2013

Help the community by answering this question:


The SFAR contract is specific to SF customs. It is the contract put out by our association, so it's the form that agents know. There is actually a second version of the SFAR contract through CAR (the California Association of Realtors) which is really a version of the CAR contract.

The CAR contract is more generic and requires the users to fill in more check boxes for who will pay for who, who is responsible for what, etc.... Miss one box and there are lots of questions and potential problems. Most agents who work in SF, don't know the form well, so there is more opportunity for mistakes.

Hope that answers your question.


Eric Castongia
BRE 01188380
Zephyr Real Estate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 26, 2013
The simple answer is most San Francisco agents are more familiar with the San Francisco contract than the CAR contract. Many agents in the city have little experience using the CAR contract. In fact it's not unusual to see a listing agent specifically request that offers be made on the San Francisco contract form. The San Francisco contract form became the customary form to use years ago. When I represent a buyer the last thing I want to do is annoy the listing agent by using a contract form they're not familiar with. And I want the listing agent to be comfortable with the contract form so we minimize the chance for misunderstandings during the transaction (see the current BART labor negotiations as an example).

Over the years both contract forms have been updated and improved and continue to be updated on a regular basis. My personal opinion is that the San Francisco contract is less convoluted and easier to comprehend than the CAR contract. It's shorter (7 vs. 8 pages) and, as an example, you don't have to look in two different sections to understand your inspection contingency.

It's also true that there is language in the San Francisco contract (that's not in the CAR contract) dealing with San Francisco-specific issues such as TIC and multi-unit property purchases.

John Oldfield
BRE# 01292184
415-762-9608 office/voicemail/fax
415-816-4742 Mobile
Web- http://www.boldsf.com
Blog- http://www.boldsf.blogspot.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 23, 2013
a contract to be used in the purchase and sale of real estate is the standardized form drafted by Counsel (attorneys), & while any specifically crafted contract will suffice to achieve a sale in a real estate transaction ( even store bought contracts), those prepared by the Trade Organization, CAR, SFAR, are intended for members of those trade associations. san Francisco has peculiarities which are specifically addressed in the San Francisco version of the contract, and thus the reason for that specific form. all contract to sign for Realtors (or those that sell and buy real estate) must meet the basic elements to a valid contract, in the realtors are not qualified (lawyers) to another draft or interpret lawful agreements, just fill them out (correctly, hopefully - rookies tend to forge ahead willy nilly with disregard to these salient points).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 23, 2013
The CAR form is universal to California and most agents are familiar with CAR. SFAR or other regional contracts are usually only available to members of that board and they must be familiar with that contract. It may have language specific to conditions in SF and surrounding area. Some local agents do not know the difference, so be sure that you talk with your agent and have them go over the contract you are using.

Some contracts will include conditions which need to addressed before closing, some will make agents a party to the contract, etc. The CAR contract was written my a larger member audience, it is an AS-IS contract, agents are not a party to the contract (which they are not a party to the contract), etc.

The biggest difference is not all agents are familiar with local contracts, but all agents should be familiar with CAR as it was the only acceptable contract for the last few years in Short Sales and Bank Owned Properties.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 23, 2013
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