Imagine finding the perfect home. After weeks, maybe months, of searching, it’s just what you’ve been seeking. You get it under contract and have it inspected. After jumping through all the hoops for the mortgage, hiring movers, packing, and more, you’re ready to close. Then the seller decides they don’t want to sell it to you after all.

Wait, you say. They can’t do that. You would be right.

But what if they do it anyway? What options does a homebuyer have when a seller changes their mind? 

For the seller who changes their mind, there are consequences. For the would-be buyer, there are a couple of options.

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

March is a month for changes — in both the Texas weather and real estate contracts. Haven’t you heard? There are recent contract changes that became mandatory for use by agents on March 1, 2019. 

Don’t worry. You’re not the last to learn about these changes. Seems like very few agents are aware of them. They aren’t life changing, but they’re important when it comes to terminating a contract, getting a mortgage or the appraisal.

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) recently adopted these changes to the addendums that accompany real estate contracts. I think they’re a good thing because they help clarify issues and potential disputes.

Here is the short and simple version of these changes that are now mandatory if you’re using TREC contracts (which would be everyone I know):

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

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:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

One of the most common mistakes and needless expenses that home sellers encounter involves the survey section of their sales contract. Despite the bold type and plain English, there are often disputes and confusion about providing a survey.

The survey section is on page 2 of the standard TREC contract. Paragraph 6C specifically addresses who will provide a survey and when it is due. Note that there are 3 options on the contract regarding the survey. One – and only one – of these options should be checked before completing the contract. The most commonly checked option is paragraph 6C (1).

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