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The Facts About Purchase and Sale Agreements: An Interview Jeremy Martin of Harrell & Martin, P.A.

By Jeremy Martin

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Harrell & Martin, P.A., is a full service real estate firm serving all of South Carolina. Our motto is "Whatever is most convenient for the client". We have the capability to handle both residential and commercial real estate transactions. In addition to closings, we also offer a wide variety of legal services tied to real estate. From drafting covenants and restrictions for neighborhoods, to preparing easements, we can handle all aspects tied to real property in South Carolina, including foreclosures and quiet title actions.

Is there something that most people don't know about purchase and sale agreements that they should know?

The South Carolina Board of Realtors contract has a very mechanical due diligence period concerning inspections that is time sensitive. If you don't meet the time frames regarding repairs, you lose the right to negotiate.

Can you briefly explain the main reasons why it's important to have a lawyer prepare and/or review a residential purchase and sale agreement?

Any time you have a document that has legal ramifications, you want a legal professional to prepare, or at least review, the document prior to execution. You need to know exactly what you are going to be legally responsible for beforehand so that there are no unnecessary surprises, which is where most litigation occurs.

What is the state law regarding working with an attorney at this stage?

Anytime you sign a mortgage in the State of South Carolina, you have to have an attorney present to explain the legal ramifications of you signing the document. The purchaser or borrower in a real estate transaction has the absolute right to choose their own closing attorney, unless its specified in the Contract of Sale who the closing attorney will be.

How reliable is it when a standard "fill in the blank" type of form is used for the agreement?

Not reliable at all. When you download a form off the internet, you are not even sure its appropriate or legal for use in the State of South Carolina. Even a fill in the blank form should be reviewed by an attorney licensed to practice law in South Carolina.

What are some of the most common unfavorable variations/items you've found in purchase and sale agreements?

Which party is responsible for paying for the different inspections, home warranty ect. Also, the South Carolina Board of Realtors recently changed their standard contract to include certain personal property items (ex. Window blinds, curtain rods) ect., that have caused a couple of problems when these items were removed prior to closing. Again, you want to make sure you have read and understood the terms of the contract prior to executing.

Do you have any advice for potential home buyers or sellers before they sign the agreement?

Read it. Speak with your real estate agent or an attorney if you have questions or need clarification. Remember, only licensed attorneys are allowed to give a legal opinion, and if someone besides an attorney is giving you legal advice on the contents of a contract, it's the unauthorized practice of law.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

With technology these days, we can be reached by phone, email, facsimile, and we have a website.

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