Specific Legal Description Not Required in Purchase Contract

Question: We have a small commercial brokerage firm in Phoenix. Common brokerage practice in most commercial brokerage firms is not to state a legal description in the purchase contract. Instead, the address and the parcel number are specified, and an exhibit to the purchase contract says “legal description to be inserted by title company.” The reason is that no commercial broker wants to take the risk of inserting in the purchase contract an erroneous legal description, which can be complex and more than two pages. Is a specific legal description required in the purchase contract under Arizona law?

Answer: No. The purchase contract only needs to reasonably identify the property being conveyed in order for there to be a “meeting of the minds” between the seller and the buyer. The Assessor’s parcel number and address is generally sufficient. Even if there is a legal description in the purchase contract, the escrow company may require a different legal description in the conveyance deed.

Notes: The Arizona Association of Realtors Commercial Contract, line 7, even has a box to check if the legal description will be provided by the escrow company.

The name “McCune Mansion” by itself may be a sufficient description in the purchase contract to reasonably identify this well-known Paradise Valley landmark as the property being conveyed in the purchase contract.

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