Just Put Your Initials Here, Sir!

by | Apr 22, 2016 | Legal Tips

Buyer makes an offer to the seller. Seller adds a material term to the contract in his own hand-writing.  Seller initials the addition and sends the contract back to the buyer. Buyer scratches the additional term and initials the deletion. Contract is then sent to all parties as a ratified contract.

At closing, the seller asks “how about the term I wrote in the contract.”  The buyer retorts, “I deleted it  . . . see my initials.” Seller then replies “yeah, but I never agreed to the deletion. Where are my initials?”  The closing attorney looks at the contract and says that the contract he has shows a term scratched out with two sets of initials. The seller then shows the closing attorney the different versions of the contract.  It is now clear that there should have been three initials; the seller’s when the term was added, the buyer’s when it was scratched out, and the seller’s again when it was approved as scratched out.  The parties at this point did not have a meeting of the minds on a material term as the seller never initialed the scratch out. The seller claims he won’t sale without the term and buyer says fine he won’t buy it with it.  Now we have a stand off. The resolution was the broker paid for the term out of the commission.  Should the broker have done so? Unfortunately, Yes. Here is why.

South Carolina Code §40-57-135(D) says the agent must ensure that all of the changes or modifications made during negotiations are in writing and initialed and dated by both parties before proceeding with the transaction. In the example above, both parties did not initial and date the scratched out term. Please be sure that all changes are initialed by both parties and that the initials are dated as well. You do not want to pay for an item in the contract because initials were missed.

Historical Fact- Laurel Street takes it name from the cherry laurel or mountain laurel both of which are indigenous to South Carolina. Laurel Street is one of the original streets in the 1786 plan of Columbia which makes it one of the oldest streets in Columbia.

Photo by Dirk Duckhorn

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