Ask a Principal Broker: Understand What You Are Signing
By Catherine Fisher, Managing Principal Broker with Town & Country Realty
Today many things are possible online – from the convenience of your phone you can do all of your banking, you can pay with a credit card, you can Facebook and Instagram, and you can even sign contracts through a program such as Dotloop or Docusign. But is signing via your phone, or even through email, a good idea? The answer, like all other things involving internet-based activity, is that sometimes it is a good idea and sometimes it is not. Online signing is definitely convenient, but it can also be dangerous. Protect yourself by making sure you know and understand what you are signing because by signing the contract, both parties agree to specific obligations, responsibilities and disclosures.
So, what are you agreeing to when you sign the residential sale contract? Decades ago, the contract was short and concise. Today, the standard residential real estate sale agreement is 11 pages – and that is without any additional addenda which modify and add to the basic contract when there are situations such as a well, septic system, woodstove, historic designation, a attached rental, homeowner’s association and much more. Potentially, the contract could have more than 15 or 20 pages when the offer is first made – that’s a lot of agreements!
A few (remember – there are MANY others) of the most important provisions are:
*The Buyer agrees to perform all lender related actions, such as applying for the loan, ordering the appraisal, and signing required documents, in a specific timeline and without delay.
* The Seller agrees to maintain the property through closing and install state required smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
* Both parties agree to a specific timeline during which all inspections will be completed, and repairs will be negotiated
* Most importantly, both parties are bound by the contract and agree to move forward to the closing to the best of their own abilities – this means that unless one party terminates based upon a contingency, there is no backing out!
So, if you are not sure what you are about to sign,
• First, take the time to read it. That may require printing the contract out or at the least looking at it on a full computer monitor.
• Second, ask your Broker questions about what it means. Your Broker should be able to review with you what each paragraph means and what you are agreeing to. However, Brokers are not attorneys so if you have legal questions, contact your attorney directly. If you need an attorney recommendation, your Broker can provide that.
There is a financial risk of breaking a signed contract – buyers can lose their earnest money and Sellers can be sued! Not fully understanding what you are committing to by signing the real estate sales agreement can cost you not only financially, but also could cost you the opportunity to buy or sell!
To have all your real estate related questions answered, call Town & Country Realty today at 541-757-1781 or 541-924-5616. At Town & Country Realty we have been providing the place you love to come home to since 1951!