Beware of the ‘Standard’ Contract!

I am often asked to review contracts for the sale of residential real estate–homes, condominiums, and cooperative units.  There are many forms of contracts in use, but beware of the contracts that are called “standard contracts.”  Just because a contract is printed, from a computer or otherwise, does not mean that its terms are required or applicable to your transaction.  Many times there are conflicting terms that can cause your contract to be unclear and to be unenforceable.  If you want to get the benefit of your bargain, do not be talked out of using a lawyer.  When real estate transactions involve thousands of dollars, having a lawyer involved–before you sign any contract–is the smart decision to make.


Based upon over forty years of experience as a real estate attorney, here are my suggestions regarding real estate contracts:


  • If you are selling, have a provision that makes the Buyer purchase the property “as is.” This means the burden is on the Buyer to conduct a due diligence and necessary inspections. However, sellers must disclose defects that they know about.
  • If you are buying, make sure to have the right to conduct complete inspections and then get those inspections done by skilled inspectors.
  • A real estate broker or salesperson is interested in making the deal close, so that they can get paid. Your attorney’s job is to see that the terms of your contract are the same as the deal that you intend. That is a BIG difference.


Contracts should contain the terms that exactly match your agreement.  Beware of the so-called “standard” contract; cross-out what you do not want and put in what you want.  Just because it is printed does not mean that it cannot be amended.  If you have questions or concerns about signing a real estate contract in the Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida area, call Kim Douglas Sherman, Esquire, at (954) 489-9500.  Please look at our qualifications set forth on our website. Remember that once you have signed the contract, you are bound by its terms.  Get a lawyer to review the contract before you sign.