Zen and the Art of Multiple Offers

Teacher, must a contract be signed and delivered in order to be binding? No, it must be signed, but it need not be delivered. But I am confused, I thought an offer could be withdrawn until the seller had delivered a signed contract. That is because you have lost your center and forgotten life is… Continue reading Zen and the Art of Multiple Offers


YODA ON MEGAN’S LAW Just participated in a Night Court, I have. Much debate, dissension, and desire to kill to Jedi lawyers, there was. Good thing I had my light saber, it was. Anyway, compiled some of my wisdom for you, I have. From the Dark Side of the Force: SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP)∙ A developer… Continue reading Yoda

Whose House Is It Anyway?

Sales are subject to existing leases. And in fact, sales can be subject to oral leases. That is why a seller signs an affidavit at settlement saying there are no such leases and that no one else is in possession of the property at closing. It is also why the standard contract obligates the seller… Continue reading Whose House Is It Anyway?

Walking Away

Walking Away, or You Can Have My Deposit All too often, buyers think they can simply walk away from a contract and all they have at risk is their deposit; and, worse, real estate agents often think the same. Nothing could be more wrong. In a recent case a buyer looked for an out of… Continue reading Walking Away

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability may be defined as the liability one suffers for the act or acts of another. In the real estate agent context, vicarious liability concerns itself with whether a broker or firm is liable for the acts of its agents. And under traditional tort principles, as you were taught in your real estate class,… Continue reading Vicarious Liability

Urban Legends

My favorite current urban legend is the one where it is said that Bill Gates has a chain e‐ mail tracing program, and if you forward the chain email Bill will pay you $1,000. Sorry folks, not true. There is one rule of your profession that has, in my opinion, reached near urban legend status,… Continue reading Urban Legends

Two Termites

A TALE OF TWO TERMITES It was the best of houses, it was the worst of houses. It was the age of disclosure, it was the age of seller diversion. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of inspection incredulity it was the spring of a good market, coming from the winter… Continue reading Two Termites

Title 101 Problems

Title Problems 101 Simple Judgment Liens Seller has numerous judgments docketed as liens against his property. Seller filed bankruptcy and had the judgments discharged. Doesn’t the bankruptcy also discharge the judgment liens so that the property can be sold free and clear of them? No, not unless special attention was paid to them in the… Continue reading Title 101 Problems

The Unauthorized Practice of Law

A Real Estate Agent’s Guide To The Unauthorized Practice of Law Part 1, Background As I hang out on the legal corner I frequently hear agents, usually more experienced ones, chastise their younger colleagues not to give legal advice lest they find themselves pursued by the practice of law police. And as a member of… Continue reading The Unauthorized Practice of Law

The Midnight Ride

The Midnight Ride of Flood Zone Fear Listen my agents and you shall hear, Of the disclosure you must make before buyers are near; Virginia’s law on this is bright and clear Listing agents must disclose material adverse facts (front or rear) To what, you ask, do those facts appertain? Condition of the land says… Continue reading The Midnight Ride

Termination and Release

ENTROPY, TERMINATION AND RELEASE Entropy is a principle of thermodynamics that says (really, really, paraphrasing) that in a closed system things always go from a complicated state to an uncomplicated state over time. Naturally, the practice of residential real estate brokerage violates this law of science because it is inevitable that it gets more, rather… Continue reading Termination and Release

Sword and Shield 30 Days

THE SWORD AND THE SHIELD THE THIRTY DAYS WAR I have seen an increasing number of agents misconstrue the REIN Standard Purchase Agreement’s provision concerning termination thirty days after the specified closing date. Specifically, this clause is being interpreted by some to mean that a party automatically has thirty days after the specified date in… Continue reading Sword and Shield 30 Days

Specific Performance

Everyone recognizes that a buyer and seller can sue each other – after mediation of course – in the event of a breach of contract. Buyers have a special breach of contract remedy though, called “specific performance.” That is, a court can order a seller to specifically perform the contract, which means that the court… Continue reading Specific Performance

Sills & Settlement

There have been a number of significant changes to the REIN contract. As part of the Association’s efforts to disseminate and highlight those changes, I thought I’d take this opportunity to review two of them again (and to be clear, these are not the only ones, even in these sections). Previously, with respect to termite… Continue reading Sills & Settlement

Sixth Sense

I seem to be seeing my share of dead people these days in real estate transactions. Naturally, when a seller dies during the pendency of a real estate contract the question asked is whether the contract is still enforceable. In 1835 the Virginia Supreme Court answered this question, in the case of Moore's Adm'rs v.… Continue reading Sixth Sense