If you have selling real estate for any period of time you have seen contracts that just make you scratch your head. Sometimes you see simple errors such as missing signatures, wrong addresses and misspelled names. Other times you see outright scary stuff.
When I write contracts I live by a simple rule that a wise instructor once taught me. If you write anything in the contract that takes more than a sentence or two you are practicing law.
A couple of months ago I had a run in with a broker-owner who gave me the craziest counter-offer I had ever seen. He put four paragraphs of truly bizarre language in the special provisions that talked about the source, type, etc. of my client's funds. He also included language that my clients would make up any difference between the appraisal and the sell price. The funniest part was this was property had been on the market much longer than the norm.
I spoke to the agent and let him know that I am recommending that my clients reject this counter - offer because of his language. He then preceded to council me on how to speak to my clients and I need to tell my clients that there are times they just need to take a chance. I thanked him for his input and let him know that the only way they would sign it was when Waikiki gets a blizzard. I also shared with him the following:
- Me: I have never seen any language like that before in a contract.
- Seller's Agent: That is standard language!
- Me: I not only have never seen this language before, but I past this contract around to several very experience agents. Not one had ever seen anything like it and not one would allow their client to sign it.
- Seller's Agent: You are telling me you have never seen this type of language?!
- Me: (Thinking it was time to cut this off) I have never seen this in an accepted offer! This is how I see it. You have a seller who is motivated; I have a qualified buyer who wants to buy this home. You just have to answer one question. Are willing to step out of the way and let this sale happen?
He did and the sale closed. I have since received referrals from my buyer's who love the home.
Many real estate companies are coming out with their company addendums. I received an offer on a home I was selling that included a company addendum from a new real estate company I had not heard of.
- I read their addendum.
- I made copies and past it around the agents and brokers in my office.
Boy did we get a laugh. It was three pages long. It went line item by line item of the DROA with their definitions of what each part of the DROA meant. It wasn't bad enough that the three pages were trying to change the meaning of the contract provisions. That alone would have been enough to kill it. It was worse than that. Apparently who ever drew this up document had English as a second language and didn't know how to use spell or grammar check. It had more typos and grammatical errors than you could count. We countered the offer to remove the addendum and otherwise accept their offer. It was accepted and we closed on that property.
There were a couple of common elements in these two transactions.
- In both cases real estate agents attempted to practice law.
- Neither were lawyers and neither had a clue about what they were doing.
And as you may have guessed I had to do a lot of extra work in those transactions.
I am sure you have good examples of messy contracts you have seen in the course of your travels.
Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®
Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR
Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"
Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers. His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area. His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.
Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors. To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents.