A lot of agents will prefer that you sign a non-binding offer & acceptance document rather than proceeding straight to contract. The idea is for the important terms to be sketched out (price, due diligence, settlement date etc.) so that the contracts can then be prepared. You might be asked for a “holding deposit” and there are some issues with this. As always, before signing an offer & acceptance, even if it is expressed to be non-binding, get advice.