Can a contract of sale be ratified by email?

Posted By @ May 9th 2012 1:15pm In: Real Estate Tips


Can a contract of sale be ratified by email?

photo of cover sheet for 3 D's course
This past week I taught a continuing education class on  the 3D’s of Real Estate - Disclosures, Duties & Diligence.

When we were talking about the Diligence, there was discussion about contracts.
During the discussion, we addressed several issues that are common pitfalls of agents when completing the contract form and in getting an offer ratified.

In my discussions, I stressed the importance of real estate professionals being careful, when completing the contract form, not to practice law.  

Also, I made the statement that when putting contingencies, one must be careful to use words that indicate what the situation really is.  For example,

a buyer would like for the seller to pay 3% of the sales price towards the buyer’s closing costs (sales price is $325,000)

the agent puts in the contract “seller to pay 3% of buyers closing costs”

now, if the closing costs are $10,500, this would mean that the seller would pay $315

this is not what the buyer intended

the buyer intended that the seller would pay $9,750

this is a huge difference

Another example:

young couple needs to have the approval of their parents for the contract

the agent puts in the contract “contingent upon the approval of the parents”

now, which parents?

approval by when?

My statement to the class was “you can never be too wordy when making your contingencies”.

Then I did not heed my own advice.  When asked during the class if an email could be used to ratify a contract, I answered “yes, it can”.

Now this was not a very wordy answer, was it?  My answer should have been:
“Yes, one can ratify a contract using email -- however, one must be careful that the email contains all of the terms for the contract.  In other words, one cannot simply email ‘I accept the contract’.  We would then be leaving it up to imagination as to what was being accepted.  The email should be very detailed outlining the terms of the contract that are being agreed upon.”

Again, I emphasize that if you must write contingencies for your offers, it is a great idea to have an attorney review them. This would seal the fact that you are not practicing law.

Real estate professionals in SC are allowed to complete the contract form by filling in the blanks -- we have not been given permission to re-write the contract form nor to write lengthy contingencies.

I have prepared an addendum that has many contingencies that one may need for an offer and have had the addendum approved by an attorney.  So, if you use the verbiage in the addendum A that I have, you should be safe as far as “practicing law” is concerned.

The writing of an offer for a client is a very serious job -- we, real estate professionals, have a very difficult and serious job --- but such a rewarding one, too. I don’t know about you, but I love my profession.

Mama Liz Signature with pink ribbon in middle

Comments (4)

Liz Loadholt says...
on 05/10/12

Thanks, Clara --

Liz Loadholt says...
on 05/10/12

Thanks, Boyd for your comment

Clara Hahn says...
on 05/10/12

Yes, can't be too careful. It is good for you to remind us ever so often so that we are aware of the pitfalls. Thanks

Boyd says...
on 05/10/12

Very informative post!

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