Submitted by admin on Fri, 08/15/2008 - 15:08
My wife and I are shopping for a house, and we're having a clash of personalities. I admit I'm a bit conservative about these things, but I think we should have an attorney look at any Offers we want to make before we sign. My wife says the Offer forms used by realtors are all the same and that we should save our money for more important things. How can I convince her to see things my way? -- Dan, Framingham
It's nice to hear from a fellow worrier, Dan, especially since, in this case, your concern is well-founded. While I'm sure your wife's adventurous ways were quite appealing during your courtship, you're married now, and it's time for her to behave responsibly and wear sensible shoes. Your wife may read this answer and accuse me of trying to drum up business for attorneys in Massachusetts, but, unfortunately, there is no "standard form" that buyers or sellers can rely on to protect their interests. There are many forms out there, with a variety of terms, some favoring buyers, and some favoring sellers. One thing all these forms have in common is that they are binding contracts, unless they state otherwise. So you are wise to be wary.
You and your wife need to make sure your interests are protected with regard to such issues as the home inspections, deposits, damages for breach of the contract, etc. For example, as a buyer, you do not want an inspection clause that requires you to go forward with the purchase as long as the house is "free of significant structural defects which the seller declines to remedy." NO. You want a clause that allows you to void the contract and get your deposits back if YOU are not satisfied with the results of the inspection. With thousands of dollars on the line and tensions running high, who the heck wants to argue—or litigate—about what constitutes a "significant" structural defect? Ideally, you should have an attorney review each and every Offer before you sign, but if your wife insists on living on the edge, perhaps a compromise is in order.
Why don't you find an attorney you are both comfortable with and have him or her review the first Offer you are considering, before you deliver it to the seller. Your attorney can explain what the various terms of the Offer mean and give you some guidance regarding the terms of any future Offers you may make (if your first Offer is rejected). Of course, when it comes time to for a Purchase and Sale Agreement, a much more complicated contract, you should definitely have the document reviewed by your attorney.
For more information or to post a question, visit our MA Real Estate Law Discussion Forum.