On Active Rain I often answer questions asked by buyers and sellers, and sometimes I feel like I should take up a lantern like Diogenes of ancient Greece and go looking for the men and women who keep their word. Over and over again I see questions from buyers and sellers who are looking for a way out of a contractual obligation, just because they have changed their minds. I certainly understand that sometimes they may not be able to perform their part of the contract due to unavoidable problems, loss of a job, a death or illness, etc. And that is not what I am talking about here. However, time and again their decisions are because they have just changed their minds and decided not keep their part of the bargain.
In my own career, I have seen sellers who decided two days before closing that they would not sell their home. The poor buyers had invested in financing fees, a survey, an appraisal, two inspections, and a lot of time. They had also sold their home and had their belongs on a truck on the way to Zephyrhills. It boggles my mind how a seller can do this with no feelings of guilt. Sadly, they get away with it since many brokers are reluctant to sue for the commission that is rightly due them. Today I saw a couple who not only wanted to cancel the sale of their home to some buyers, but also wanted to cancel the purchase of another home from some sellers. That is a real double-whammy that could have legal implications and will certainly cause problems for the other parties in the two transactions. Now their reasons for doing this could be valid, but nevertheless, the problems that could result can be substantial.
In the Q & A section of Active Rain I see a lot of buyers who want to know how many days they have to cancel the contract they just signed. I feel like asking them, "If you were that unsure, why did you sign the agreement in the first place?" They have greatly inconvenienced the sellers and the agents involved in the transaction. The home has been kept off the market and other potential buyers have been turned away. The listing agent has cancelled ads that now will take a month before they can be republished. But that does not seem to matter to these buyers. It appears that today some people take their word and the word of others very lightly. A sad commentary on our society I think.
Most of my inspectors and handymen know that if the buyer does not pay them, I will take care of them. That is a trust I have developed with them. As a REALTOR I must be sure that my word is indeed my bond. If I say I will do something I need to follow through. I once had a poor buyer and I told her I would pay for the termite inspection if it turned out she could not buy the home. Usually these inspections cost no more than $50 in our area. When I got the bill my eyes popped out since she had chosen a company that charged $150! No matter though. I had told her I would take care of it and I did. My reputation and my word are two of the most important assets I have.
Happily, the vast majority of buyers and sellers still do fulfill their contractual obligations willingly. I have been very lucky in my career and have had few problems. But do take contracts seriously when you sign them. You are giving your written word that you will perform the terms of the agreement. Giving and keeping your word, whether written or verbal, should be a mark of honor that you do not want to tarnish.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida