By Lydia Blair
When you review contracts every day, spotting mistakes can become routine. The number one mistake that most escrow officers see on real estate contracts involves blank spaces.
To be clear – contracts should always be filled in completely. There should be nothing left blank.
I’m referring to the standard Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) contract. Ninety-nine percent of real estate contracts received by title agencies are written on one of the standard TREC contracts. These are created by TREC for use in real property transactions in our state. They are frequently reviewed and are updated every few years based on feedback, requests, and legal issues.
There is a valid reason for each paragraph and blank space on these contracts. There are dozens of blank spaces on the most popular TREC contract. They all should have something on them. Some paragraphs have an option to choose from two or more boxes to check. One of the choices should be selected.
Yet, we see smart people submit final contracts that leave too much ambiguity because they are not fully completed. Obviously, most folks ensure the contract contains the proper names, address, sales price, who is paying for what, etc. But often they leave some parts of the contract incomplete.
How do we know the intention of all parties when a space is left blank? Perhaps the blank space means zero dollars. Then it should have a zero written. Or maybe it is not applicable? It should show N/A. Maybe it was accidentally missed? Or was it intentionally ignored? Even dashes in the space helps us see that the parties didn’t intend to mean something else.
If a space is blank because buyer and seller are still negotiating, then the contract should not be executed yet. Once it is executed, any changes must be made with an addendum. Changes are not allowed on the finalized contract once it is executed.
The riskiest and most overlooked blank spaces typically found on contracts include: