Importance of Putting Repair Agreements in Writing

Question:

My buyer did a final walk through of the home and located several issues that need to be corrected.  The seller is saying she’ll fix the issues over the next couple of days, but she doesn’t want to put anything in writing.  What do you suggest?

Answer/Recommendation:

This scenario occurs more than many agents realize.  It is not uncommon for agents to wait until arriving at the closing table to discuss the final walk through, issues to be fixed in the home and the costs associated with the repairs.

(As a side note, it is highly recommended that agents perform the final walk through several days prior to closing to allow for sufficient time to negotiate any possible repairs prior to closing).

As a general rule, agents should get everything in writing and avoid verbal assurances as much as possible.

This general rule has practical as well as legal ramifications.

Practically, when you put things in writing there’s no confusion as to what obligations have been agreed upon.  Buyers, sellers, and agents are extremely busy and there are many moving parts during the closing process (i.e. once a contract has been executed up and until the actual closing itself).  While the parties to a contract might have the best of intentions to honor their word, sometimes they just forget what they say.  By putting it in writing, you remove the opportunity to forget.

Legally, the standard Agreement to purchase and sell mandates that any changes to the contract must be in writing.  According to lines 352 and 353 of the standard agreement to purchase and sell, “This Agreement constitutes the entire Agreement between the parties, and any other agreements not incorporated herein in writing are void and of no force and effect.”

Based on the foregoing language in lines 352 and 353, it is highly recommended that an Addendum be prepared listing each and every item that the seller is required to fix.  The Addendum should place a timeline on the repairs (i.e. 3, 5 or 7 days) and should be signed by all parties.

For any questions concerning this email, please contact rye@tutentitle.com.

H.L. “Rye” Tuten, III, is a Title Attorney/Real Estate Closing Attorney and Owner of Tuten Title & Escrow, LLC. Formerly assigned by RICE Insurance to defend real estate agents throughout Acadiana, much of his more than nine years’ litigation experience is with real estate concerns.