Get it in Writing

Welcome back to our special – “The Offer.” Filled with cutting-edge strategies, tactics and techniques for buying and selling in the Spring Market of 2018!

And we’re going to wrap up this hour of the show with one of the most important parts of any real estate transaction. Four words, that will protect you every time, whether you’re the buyer, or the seller. And those words are?

Get it – in writing.

I can’t stress how important that is. No matter which side of the transaction you’re on, everything you agree to, every penny involved in the deal, every date on the calendar and every ‘what-if’ scenario – has to be right there in the contract – in writing.

I mention this – because if you’ve ever bought or sold a house, you know – there’s a lot of talk. And that’s great. The seller’s side talks about what a wonderful house it is. The buyer’s side talks about changing that bedroom into an office. And all of that’s fine.

But when the talk turns to substantive issues, that cost time, or money, get it in writing.


The buyer asks, ‘Can you leave the curtains and shades behind?’ And the seller says, ‘Oh sure, no problem.’ Get it in writing. Otherwise, if that buyer does the final walk-through and there’s not a curtain, shade, or mini blind anywhere – well, too bad. Nothing they can do. But! If they get it in writing? Those window treatments have to be there. And if they’re not? The seller will have to pay – to get replacements.

That holds true of every part of the transaction. Everything has to be in writing. Fact is, it’s the law. Real Estate Contracts must be in writing. If they’re not – and they’re just verbal? They’re not enforceable.

Your REALTOR® will walk you through all of that. They’ll help you work out every detail in every paragraph, making sure that everything you want is in there.

Now sure, there will be negotiation with the other side. You’ll win some, you’ll lose some. But you’ll agree – in writing – to the result of those negotiations. No promises, no handshake deals, no grey areas – everything is in writing. So that – whether you’re the buyer or seller – when you put the pen to paper, and sign that contract – you will know exactly what’s in it. And by your signature, you are legally agreeing to everything in that contract. OK? So the contract is ratified, you’re on your way to closing, and everything is in writing. Good.

But – that’s not the end of the story.

Because, quite often, after you have a ratified contract – and you’re on your way to closing, things happens. And somebody asks – for a change.

Sounds simple enough. But I always advised my clients against changes. The way I put it? ‘Don’t wake – the sleeping baby! Just let it go to closing, and don’t change a thing.’

Why? Well, as I said, if someone wants to make a change – it has to be in writing. For instance, the buyer might want to change the financing, or the amount of the down payment. They’ll have to make those changes, and send them over to the seller’s side. Now you might just call them ‘a few changes,’ but legally? That, my friend, is a certified – counter-offer. And in the eyes of the law? It is a brand new offer.

So the seller? They can either accept it, or ignore it, or – because it’s legally a brand new offer? They can reject it! And walk away from the deal. They’re out! And you are no longer under contract to buy that house.

So you see? Getting everything in writing protects you. But it can also come back and bite you – if you’re not careful.

So when it comes to making that offer – talk it over very carefully, with your REALTOR®. They’ll take you through every paragraph, and make sure your best interests are represented in every part of it. And that everything you need – from the biggest details – to the smallest – is right there, in writing.

And once both sides agree to all of it – and you have a fully-signed, ratified contract – congratulations. You’re on your way to the settlement table.

But just remember – try not – to wake the sleeping baby.

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