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How to Settle Purchase and Sale Disputes: An Interview with Ryan Butler of Butler & College, Attorneys at Law

By Ryan Butler

Tell us a little bit about your firm and the areas of law that you practice.

Butler & College is a law firm that focuses its practice mostly on Real Estate Transactions and Estate Planning. We have three attorneys and ten support staff spread across three offices located in Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley and Summerville. We strive to provide top notch customer service along with competent legal representation.

What are the most common purchase and sale disputes that you've handled for people in this area?

The most common dispute during a purchase/sale deals with Inspections and Repairs. Buyers usually negotiate for the ability to inspect the property prior to the purchase of the home. When the inspection shows repairs that need to be made, then the buyer and seller will have to negotiate how to handle the repairs.

What happens if the Seller refuses to repair the items requested by the Buyer?

The contract specifies all of this and most f it can be worked out amongst the parties. However, a Buyer asking for cosmetic repairs and a Seller refusing to repair those items or drop the sales price can kill a deal.

Can you explain what a breach of contract in a home purchase/sale is?

A contract for the purchase of a home is the same, legally, as any other contract. It is a promise for a promise?or a bargain for a bargain. The Buyer promises to pay money and the Seller promises to deliver a deed to their house once they receive the monies. Add onto that, the Buyer and Seller, within the contract, agree on other terms to assure the Buyer and/or Seller that they are getting what they bargained for. The Buyer will typically negotiate for inspections and repairs, if warranted. A breach of the contract is when one of the parties does not fulfill their end of the bargain. Some examples include: The Buyer doesn't have money to pay to the Seller; the Seller doesn't repair items that have been bargained for; or, either the Buyer/Seller decide that they no longer want to go through with the deal.

What are the basic legal steps involved in these types of disputes?

The first step is for the parties (buyer/seller/agents) to work out the issues amongst themselves. A lot of issues can be negotiated (for example, a Seller can drop the price of the home instead of paying for repairs to be done). If negotiations fall through, then it is best to seek the advice of an attorney. An attorney can give guidance to whether either party has a case against the other and whether that case is worth pursuing.

Is there anything a buyer or seller can do prior to the purchase and sale agreement to help avoid a dispute?

A. Read the Contract!
Know what the contract says, so that you know what you want and what is expected of you as a party to the contract.

B. Be Very Specific (in the Contract) as to What Each Party Wants!
If the Buyer wants the Refrigerator in the Kitchen to convey along with the property, then they need to state that in the contract. The language "Refrigerator Conveys" is not enough. The Seller could leave a small garage refrigerator and meet the requirements of the contract.

What advice would you give to homeowners who discover the seller intentionally misrepresented a major defect in their new house?

Seek the advice of an attorney right away. Misrepresentation will have to be proved. It is a relatively high burden to show that another had knowledge of a defect prior to the sale.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your firm?

We can be reached at our main number (843) 284-8676. Our website is: www.BandCLawFirm.com.

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