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28 Jan 2017
Ambiguous real estate contracts can turn into a nightmare for a buyer like you. Real estate contracts are an important part of buying a home, and normally your Realtor drafts your real estate contracts. These are binding agreements, and if your Realtor doesn’t draft clean documents that are unambiguous, you could end up with a nightmare. I know this, because I was a real estate attorney for 20 years. Now I’m a buyer’s agent for people moving to Sequim. During all these years, I’ve seen hundreds of ambiguous contracts, clauses, addendums, as well as ambiguous letters and emails, and I’m talking about communications from other Realtors. I can testify to the importance of articulate and unambiguous contracts and communications. Words have meaning, especially in real estate contracts, but sometimes words can be misleading, as in this photo.
Real estate transactions have gotten exceedingly complicated over the decades I’ve been in the business. A purchase and sale agreement was only two legal sized pages when I started, but today I would say the shortest agreement is 14 pages. The legalese is far beyond most buyer’s understanding.
But that’s not the problem. The problem for you as a buyer is ambiguities in the communications between the Realtors and others involved in your transaction. I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I have received an email from a Realtor on the other end of a transaction that is embarrassingly ambiguous. Look, not everyone is good with the English language, right? We all know that, but have you considered how deleterious an ambiguity can be in your real estate contracts? Being sloppy with English is okay in a casual conversation, but not in a binding contract.
How many times have people ended up in a dispute because the buyer thought something was going to happen, but the seller had an entirely different idea? These misunderstandings can be minor or major, but in either event, they can be a nightmare. How do such things happen? Poor communications between the Realtors.
The articulate use of the English language is essential when you are buying a home. It is important to express your intent as a buyer in your real estate contracts concisely and without ambiguity. It is vital that your Realtor know what to say and what not to say (or write). After 40 years in real estate, I’m going to estimate that 70% of all Realtors in the U.S. do not communicate clearly throughout the entire length of a real estate transaction on all issues. Frankly, I think that percentage is probably much higher. Most buyers get lucky, and if nothing bad happens, then no one ever knows the difference.
You don’t have to hire me as your buyer’s agent, but I hope you do. I work very heard to earn your business, so interview me, meet with me, talk to me. Find out for yourself.
I don’t practice real estate hoping, guessing, or by using ambiguous language. I don’t do ambiguities. I protect my buyers. Trust me, you do not want ambiguities in your real estate contracts.
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