We are seeing more and more contracts with improperly completed repair addenda. In some cases the addendum may not be enforceable while in other cases the addendum is vague and difficult to decipher the intent of the parties. I recall a closing a few years ago where the buyer’s agent circled several items on the inspection report and emailed the report to the listing agent asking that the seller sign the report. The seller signed the report but made no repairs. When the buyer’s agent raised the issue, the listing agent said, “Yes, we signed the report saying we saw it. Nowhere did we ever say we would repair it!”
The general rule on repair addenda is the addendum must be in writing and signed by both parties. While a text or email might be enforceable in certain cases, it is never good practice to accept text message or email messages as promises or agreements to make repairs. If the other party or real estate agent sends you a text stating that the party agrees but does not sign the repair addendum remind the real estate agent that the contract requires a written and signed addendum. If the repairs are disputed you do not want to be in an argument whether or not the text or email is enforceable. If you do, you may find yourself paying for the repairs. Always get the proper paperwork signed.
When you write the repair addendum be sure to cover all of the important issues that may later become contentious. Such issues would include: which repair company will make the repairs or who will pick the repair company, who is paying for the repairs and when will the repairs be completed. Simply attaching an inspection report and saying “Seller to make recommend repairs” is also not good practice. It leaves too many matters up for interpretation. Be clear and precise by listing out which repairs will be made and which treatments will be performed. After preparing the addendum reread the agreement and think of all the ways someone could misinterpret or get out of the agreement later. Then be sure to close all of those loopholes.
Remember, the Devil is the Details.
Interesting South Carolina Fact: While Georgia claims to be the Peach State, South Carolina is the nation’s leading peach producer and shipper east of the Mississippi River. How else can you explain the Peach Water Tower on I-85 in Gaffney?