Please take notice of the Paragraph 21 notice that is about notices and that many people fail to notice. Call it a notice, a notification, disclosure … whatever. Just don’t ignore it.
Paragraph 21 of the Texas residential real estate contract reads:
“All notices from one party to the other must be in writing and are effective when mailed to, hand-delivered at, or transmitted by fax or electronic transmission as follows:”
There is space to add the buyer and seller names, addresses, phone, fax, and email.
This all-important paragraph is often neglected or overlooked to the detriment of all parties. I’d estimate about a third of residential contracts do not have contact information for both buyer and seller in this paragraph when they are submitted to the title company. That’s a lot of potential problems.
So, what’s the big deal? Why do the buyer and seller need to disclose their email addresses and phone numbers to each other and the title company? Should their agent protect their privacy by withholding this information? So glad you asked.
Receiving Information From Title Company
Without your contact in this provision of the contract, how do you think the title company is going to send you information? If you don’t give us your email, phone or address, we have no way of contacting you.
But an even more significant consequence is that this paragraph states that notices are not effective unless sent in writing as specified in Paragraph 21. If the paragraph is blank, that’s an issue when one party wants to notify the other party of a change, request, termination, demand, etc.
How could a buyer legally notify the seller of an objection? How could information be communicated to a buyer about issues with the property? The provisions of the contract specify that the title documents be delivered per the address shown in paragraph 21. There is no requirement to deliver them elsewhere.
Sometimes the Realtor will insert their own email address and phone number in the contact notice. Everyone with a copy of the contract already has the agent’s information on the last page. If the only contact in paragraph 21 is the agent’s address, then documents will be sent only to the agent. It is then incumbent on the agent to deliver information to their client.
Timely Response is Important
There are many instances in a transaction in which a buyer or seller has a defined amount of time to respond when information is delivered. The clock starts ticking on that response time when a notice is delivered per the information in Paragraph 21.
If I were the agent, I wouldn’t want the additional obligation for delivering documents. If the agent wants to be included in all notices, they simply add cc: and their contact in Paragraph 21.
Even the most enthusiastic contract reader can lose focus by the time they get to Page 7 and Paragraph 21 of their contract. But sit up and take notice. You want to ensure you receive all notices and that you have the means to deliver notices to the other party as well. Always fill in the blanks in Paragraph 21 and make sure the other side of your deal does too.
The opinions expressed are of the individual author for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney for any particular issue or problem.
Lydia Blair (formerly Lydia Player) was a successful Realtor for 10 years before jumping to the title side of the business in 2015. Prior to selling real estate, she bought, remodeled and sold homes (before house flipping was an expression). She’s been through the real estate closing process countless times as either a buyer, a seller, a Realtor, and an Escrow Officer. As an Escrow Officer for Allegiance Title at Preston Center, she likes solving problems and cutting through red tape. The most fun part of her job is handing people keys or a check.