How many times have you heard that? When your agreement is in dispute, aren’t you glad you have it in writing, in the old black-and-white-with-everyone’s-John-Hancock-on-the-dotted-line?
You do have it in writing, right?
Recall from our previous discussion that a contract does not have to be in writing to be valid. Except, at least in Colorado, it does if it involves real estate.
A real estate contract is a lengthy document because it has to be. There are a lot of issues to be addressed in there. Everything from the full, legal description of the property; to the amount to be paid for it; to deciding how to prorate the final water bill; to awarding possession of the drapes is spelled out in technicolor detail — or it should be, lest anyone be surprised at closing.
Remember, I have a thing about surprises.
The real estate contract really is the basis of the transaction. Everything that pertains to the transaction is rooted in there somewhere, and a lot of people need to be able to rely on it being accurately represented. Lenders, for instance, need to know what kind of financing was agreed to, and how some of the costs are being split. The folks preparing the closing documents need to know how to prorate the settlement figures, and need to know when it’s all supposed to come together.
If there’s ever a question about what’s supposed to be happening in a transaction, the answer is always, “What does the contract say?” Note that the answer is not, “What does the buyer say?” or “What does the seller say?” The answer is not even, “What does the attorney say?” or — shocking, I know — “What does the realtor say?”
No, indeed, the important thing is what’s actually in the real estate contract. So important, in fact, that there’s a clause that says if a thing is not written in the contract, it, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. There’s no under-the-table, behind-the-back, winky-winky stuff going on. It’s in the real estate contract, or it’s not in the real estate transaction.
As I said, there are a lot of details in a real estate transaction. Each detail is important, so it’s not a good idea to pick out a handful of the “big” details and focus on them when making or receiving an offer on the sale of real estate. Read the entire real estate contract, and know what it says. Understand that it is a legal document, and, if you put your signature on it, you are saying that you agree to carry out every single item in the contract, exactly as it is written. If you don’t agree, don’t sign. Negotiate some more, or walk away.
In future posts, we’ll be looking at the various clauses in the Colorado real estate contracts. It’ll be riveting, so be sure to come back.
So what’s next? Take your pick.
Yeah. You should probably do at least one of those things right now.