By Kay Wilson-Bolton
December 15, 2005
In our present techo-savvy market, complimented by a real estate market marked by a touch of frenzy, buyers are expected to act quickly to complete their purchase out of fear that the home will be lost to another buyer, or interest rates are about to take a jump.
Or, maybe there’s just a one-hour time frame between soccer games to get the offer written and signed.
It is common in this world of technology for REALTORS® and clients to email and fax documents back and forth without the opportunity for a face-to-face discussion of the details.
It’s not surprising that most buyers don’t have a clear understanding of their offer to purchase. Many buyers will sign documents before reading them and not realize that, upon signature of the seller, the document becomes a legally binding contract.
The purchase offer, or contract, is generally clear about what price is being offered, but it also includes other terms and conditions like contingencies, termite reports and clearances along with possession dates and interest rates.
A major consideration and one that deserves a fair amount of discussion is that the contract provides the mechanism for resolving disputes should they arise. A failed step in this category could be disastrous in the event of a major dispute down the road.
The document requires more than casual reading and begs the attention of a REALTOR® who can explain the paragraphs and the details.
Changes require agreement by both parties, and if a buyer fails to address an important item in the initial contract, the opportunity to have it included may be lost.
Buying a home is an emotional experience. It’s difficult for most buyers to focus on the contract details when they are distracted by the next appointment and the problems of the day.
Many REALTORS® will provide a copy of the purchase contract to their buyers and sellers in advance of receiving or writing an offer, and highlight the 10 or 12 key points.
Reading through the document will help buyers be prepared for signing the real one when the time comes. If the contract is written in time sensitive situations buyers can react better to signing a document they have read and understood.
There is an irony in our industry in that REALTORS® are not supposed to practice law. However, we are required to know the law and explain it. If you feel your REALTOR® is not explaining the clauses, contingencies and conditions to your satisfaction, you should seek independent legal advice from an attorney who understands real estate practices as well as the law.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is the owner of CENTURY 21 Buena Vista and brings a regional perspective to local issues. She can be reached at 340.5025.