Hi Tina. While the sales agreement (signed by all parties) is legally binding, it is much easier for a buyer to get out of the agreement than it is for the seller. Since the seller knows the property already, the seller does not have the right to cancel unless the buyer does not perform under the terms of the contract. A buyer, on the other hand, can usually cancel the agreement at any time during the inspection period and be entitled to receive the deposit money back. I would say that the laws are clearly designed to protect buyers from buying a house that has has defects that the buyer is not willing to accept. Writing up a good solid offer for a buyer is an art and should not be left to a layperson. That's why I believe that buyers who do not use the services of an agent take a big chance and may very well find out later that they are not adequately protected.
The real estate sales agreement can run ten or more pages. It details the rights and obligations of the buyer and the seller. It clearly identifies the property, the principals (buyer and seller) , the consideration (sales price), the time lines (dates) . Ask your Realtor to let you read a blank or sample copy so that you can become familiar with the form before you actually write a real offer.