Contract Blunders and Craziness

Real Estate Broker Owner with Island Style Realty Inc. RB-19250

GavelIf you have selling real estate for any period of time you have seen contracts that just make you scratch your head.  Sometimes you see simple errors such as missing signatures, wrong addresses and misspelled names.  Other times you see outright scary stuff.

When I write contracts I live by a simple rule that a wise instructor once taught me.  If you write anything in the contract that takes more than a sentence or two you are practicing law.

A couple of months ago I had a run in with a broker-owner who gave me the craziest counter-offer I had ever seen.  He put four paragraphs of truly bizarre language in the special provisions that talked about the source, type, etc. of my client's funds.  He also included language that my clients would make up any difference between the appraisal and the sell price.  The funniest part was this was property had been on the market much longer than the norm.

I spoke to the agent and let him know that I am recommending that my clients reject this counter - offer because of his language.  He then preceded to council me on how to speak to my clients and I need to tell my clients that there are times they just need to take a chance.  I thanked him for his input and let him know that the only way they would sign it was when Waikiki gets a blizzard.  I also shared with him the following:

  • Me: I have never seen any language like that before in a contract.
  • Seller's Agent: That is standard language!
  • Me:  I not only have never seen this language before, but I past this contract around to several very experience agents.  Not one had ever seen anything like it and not one would allow their client to sign it.
  • Seller's Agent: You are telling me you have never seen this type of language?!
  • Me: (Thinking it was time to cut this off) I have never seen this in an accepted offer!  This is how I see it.  You have a seller who is motivated; I have a qualified buyer who wants to buy this home.  You just have to answer one question.  Are willing to step out of the way and let this sale happen?

He did and the sale closed.  I have since received referrals from my buyer's who love the home.

Many real estate companies are coming out with their company addendums.  I received an offer on a home I was selling that included a company addendum from a new real estate company I had not heard of. 

  • I read their addendum.
  • I made copies and past it around the agents and brokers in my office. 

Boy did we get a laugh.  It was three pages long.  It went line item by line item of the DROA with their definitions of what each part of the DROA meant.  It wasn't bad enough that the three pages were trying to change the meaning of the contract provisions.   That alone would have been enough to kill it.  It was worse than that.  Apparently who ever drew this up document had English as a second language and didn't know how to use spell or grammar check.  It had more typos and grammatical errors than you could count.  We countered the offer to remove the addendum and otherwise accept their offer.  It was accepted and we closed on that property.  

There were a couple of common elements in these two transactions. 

  • In both cases real estate agents attempted to practice law.
  • Neither were lawyers and neither had a clue about what they were doing.

And as you may have guessed I had to do a lot of extra work in those transactions.

I am sure you have good examples of messy contracts you have seen in the course of your travels.


Posted by



Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®

Principal Broker, ABR, AHWD, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR

Island Style Realty Inc.

Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"

Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers.  His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area.

Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors.  To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents. 

www.HawaiiRandy.comOahu (Honolulu County) Property Search  Hawaii Military Relocations


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Comments 32 New Comment

Chris Tesch
College Station, Texas Real Estate
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station
That is a scary thought in Arizona.  I know TX attorneys that are agents as well and they are some of the most "get in the way of the deal" people you would ever want to see.  Half the time the language is obscure.  (If the party of the first part engages the party of the second part...WAIT...who's on first?) I try to keep my contracts as clean as possible. 
November 29, 2006 11:07 AM
Geno Petro

My stock, top 2 retorts are: "I purposely didnt go to law school so I purposely wouldn't become a lawyer."

And there's my all time favorite from the 'Watergate' era:

"To the best of my knowledge, at that point in time, I don't recall..."

I strongly advise my Sellers to embrace two key words (concepts) when preparing to list a property: Disclaimer and Disclosure...what you know and what you dont know. Oh, and
that 'neatness counts!'


November 29, 2006 11:25 AM
Randy Prothero
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
Island Style Realty Inc.

Doug - You are bringing back bad memories.

Chichi - Dead silence, don't that make you feel like you are dealing with a pro.

Suzanne - That is scary!  In Hawaii my broker's license allows me to perform escrow services.  I am a Realtor, not an idiot; I won't try doing an escrow under any condition.

Chris - Attorneys can complicate going to the bathroom.  Having them in the middle of a residential sale is too scary to think about.

Geno - I tell my clients spill your guts.  If in doubt disclose it and have the other side sign off on it.  They can never come back later on the issue it is now off the table.

November 29, 2006 12:27 PM
Jay Beckingham
American Eagle Mortgage Co.

occasionally i will get a contract where the closing date is before the mortgage commitment date. i use to try to explain to the agent involved why this was incorrect but i must admit that i have now given up.

usually there are 2 agents involved. i've often wondered how the listing agent explained this to the seller? 

June 26, 2007 01:29 PM
Randy Prothero
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
Island Style Realty Inc.
Jay - I have sen them where the dates make no sense at all including several offers that the offer was expired before they sent it to me.
June 26, 2007 04:01 PM

Randy Prothero

Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645
Ask me for a free valuation of your Oahu Home.
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