If It’s Not In Writing, It Doesn’t Exist

We have all heard the saying, but what does it mean for your clients? Let me illustrate by telling you the story of Antonio. After Antonio’s offer on a condo in Lake View was accepted, the seller offered to throw in the $1,500 gas grill on the balcony for no additional cost. At the time, the seller did not want the trouble of moving it. Both agents agreed over the phone to the arrangement, but they did not tell the attorneys, and nothing about the inclusion of the grill was put in writing. Antonio’s agent was familiar with his counterpart, and Antonio trusted that the seller’s agent had everything covered with the seller. However, when Antonio went on his final walk through, the morning of closing, he discovered that the seller had changed his mind and taken the grill. Antonio was understandably upset, because it was going to cost $1,500 to replace the grill, and he had already promised to grill for his friends who agreed to help him move. Alas, there was nothing Antonio’s attorney could do about the missing grill, because the agreement was not in writing!

The moral of the story is that no matter how much you trust the other agent, any agreement that is not reduced to writing is generally unenforceable! It is crucial to reduce any agreements to writing. Otherwise, your client is at the mercy of the other side’s kindness, which is a bad place to be. Although the seller’s agent apologized up and down for the seller’s change of heart, it was little consolation for Antonio and his agent, and it is unlikely that Antonio will use this agent in the future. The best practice is to make sure you let your client’s attorney know about anything that the parties agree to post-contract, so that the attorney can put it in writing.

I am always happy to answer your questions about this and any other topic.  Please feel free to email me at patrick@loftus-law.com or call me at 773-632-8330.  As always, I am honored by your referrals.

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