(Much of this material is taken from our previous blog on why Buyers should pay attention to contract deadlines. To see that post, click here. The material here has been modified to apply more to Sellers and fit our title.)
Here’s a classic, though unfortunate scenario we experience occasionally:
A potential client has signed a contract to sell their home and they have some serious concerns about the repair requests they have received from the Buyers. They want to talk to a lawyer to discuss how to address this and their own responses on the Seller’s Disclosure before they or their agent sends over the response to the Inspection Notice, so they come in for a consultation. We turn to the part of the contract dealing with inspections and it says the parties had only ten (10) days from the submission of the Inspection Notice to negotiate a resolution on repair issues, and that day has past. Technically the contract has automatically terminated!
Not only can they not negotiate the inspection/repair issues now, they have zero leverage to negotiate those issues because the Buyers can just walk away and, if they have a quality agent, may have already psychologically moved onto a new house they are looking at. We break the news to them and review the rest of the contract to see if there is any other way to gain back that leverage but make clear it is unlikely at this point.
This is not a happy ending, and we hate to see this sort of thing happen, when it could have been avoided so easily.
Selling a home is, for most people, a stressful experience that might also entail moving the whole family, school district, acclimating to new neighbors and sometimes another state or even country. The contract is long and serious and deals with scenarios most people have never encountered before such as inspections, negotiating repairs, closing credits, appraisal and loan commitments, etc. Many of these items have deadlines attached to them and the harsh reality of missing those deadlines is that you are usually out of luck at that point.
Some real estate agents are good about putting together timelines for their clients that can help. At Home Sweet Legal®, we include such a timeline for our Deluxe Package clients. If you are not having a professional put together a timeline for you, it is worthwhile to do one yourself by going through the paragraphs that are tied to a deadline. It should help you have a smoother experience and avoid losing the rights given to you in the contract for failure to exercise them in time.
In our next blog post, we plan to explore, “Why Not to Rely on a Real Estate Agent to Answer Legal Questions” (#10 of the 15 Mistakes We See Home Sellers Make Most Often). We hope you find the information helpful.
If you would like to have your own lawyer to help you on your next home sale, just click here to sign up to be a client and pay nothing up front!