Real estate contracts are among the more complicated legal agreements that our buyers and sellers encounter. In this area, they range between 20 something pages if you are buying in Northern Virginia to over 40 pages for some properties in parts of Maryland. They are long, the print is not huge, the language is not exactly colloquial. And here, agents fill in the blanks of these pages and pages of boiler-plate.
And many (maybe most?) agents don't think twice before trying to explain and interpret their various provisions when clients have questions about what they are signing. And it isn't unusual for agents to re-write some of the provisions for clients who want to do something that isn't included in the boiler-plate.
Not so fast! Unless, of course, you are Brian Block, who is actually licenced to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where he is also licensed to sell real estate, you might be over-stepping your bounds!
I think a lot of us walk a fine line between doing our jobs as agents and the unauthorized practice of law, and once in a while, at least, most of us have crossed it. And I'm frequently appalled at how many agents have a basic misunderstanding of how the many provisios of the boiler-plate contracts interact, in spite of all of the continuing education centered on the subject
In some states, they don't use fill-in-the-blanks boiler-plate contracts. The agents find their clients houses and turn them over to lawyers who write and negotiate the agreements. While I'm used to the way we do it in the Washington area, with agents putting the contracts together and negotiating the price and terms, I often think that a law degree and membership in the local Bar Association might be the better way to go.
But then, a lot of my clients are lawyers. And it's getting easy for me to say, "You're the lawyer! You need to read this thing." And some of them actually do!