Sign Here, Please Your man on the legal corner is frequently asked whether the omission of a signature is fatal, potentially fatal, or just a flesh wound (any Monty Python fans?). This question usually arises out of two basic fact patterns: In the typical first scenario the agent (and usually the client) writes and signs… Continue reading Signatures

Show Me the Money

Show Me The Money, (or I Won’t Show You The Property) You love being a Realtor, do you not? And since it is a calling, a passion, and a labor of love, does that mean that one is obligated to work for free or for less than one thinks one is worth? Frequently, I am… Continue reading Show Me the Money


Shhhh. Don’t Tell Anyone. Promise? Does a listing agent violate her duty to a seller by disclosing in the MLS or the contract that the seller’s ability to perform is dependent “on the consent or approval of any third party”? Virginia law requires (absent a written agreement to the contrary) a listing agent to “maintain… Continue reading Shhh

Releases and Termination

UNFORTUNATE ENDS We all hope that a real estate contract terminates with a successful closing and performance by all parties concerned. After all, that is how you earn your living. Unfortunately, however, contracts can end in a variety of non‐successful, non‐paying, ways. A contract may terminate early according to its own terms. Home inspection rejection… Continue reading Releases and Termination

Powers of Attorney

POWER OF ME Naturally, your man on the legal corner would like you to think that the term power of attorney refers to the author, but I recognize your first thought probably is of the document. To that thought we then turn. A power of attorney is a written document authorizing a person to act… Continue reading Powers of Attorney

Permit Me

Permit Me, If You Will, To Inspect; or, A Brief History of the Universe Let us consider for a moment the universe of problems we experience between buyers and sellers. Surely that universe would consist in large part of the undiscovered‐and‐ undisclosed dark matter of condition problems unknown to everyone, but I would like to… Continue reading Permit Me

Party Time

PARTY TIME No, your man on the legal corner is not referring to the upcoming holiday season, nor am I suggesting that we do not socialize enough. Who wants to socialize with a lawyer anyway? Rather, I would like to focus on parties to listing agreements. The REIN listing agreement presumes that you are obtaining… Continue reading Party Time

Para 13 and Waiver

Paragraph 13 Problems Recently I conducted REIN contract training for a couple of different brokerage firms. In the process of discussing provisions and answering questions I learned there is disagreement among agents, brokers and firms (even between offices in the same firm) regarding the interpretation of an aspect of ¶ 13 of the REIN contract,… Continue reading Para 13 and Waiver

Packet Disclosure

The Quest for the Packet Truth Your man on the legal corner recently went on a pilgrimage seeking the truth about Association Packet Disclosures. My first encounter along the road of enlightenment was with an agent copying an old association packet she had stashed away from 1979 to deliver to a buyer. What, pray tell,… Continue reading Packet Disclosure

Ordinary People

Your man on the legal corner, oft accused of making obscure, funny, clever references (at least I find them to be such), is not referring to the movie, nor am I suggesting we have dinner at that fine dining establishment in Gloucester. Rather, I want to talk about the duty you owe to your clients.… Continue reading Ordinary People

Now You’ve Done It

You are in trouble, with a capital T, in VPAR City! You messed up, done the wrong thing, chose the wrong path, forgot the rules or didn’t understand them, and generally have managed to make everyone in your professional world hate you: your broker, your client, and the other agent. Even your dog hates you.… Continue reading Now You’ve Done It

Not My Problem

Your man on the corner frequently hears agents and buyers say that lender’s title insurance protects a buyer to the extent of the loan. This is particularly true, they say, when there is little or no equity in the property. Nothing could be further from the truth. A lender’s title insurance policy affords a buyer… Continue reading Not My Problem

Mirror Mirror

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest attorney of them all? Ok, don’t answer that. Consider instead: Seller writes and signs an offer. Offer contains a provision requiring purchaser to make an earnest money deposit. Upon presentation, purchaser crosses out the earnest money provision, signs the offer, and returns the contract. The attorney… Continue reading Mirror Mirror

Material Changes

The times they are a‐changin’. Of course, that Bob Dylan song spoke to social unrest and change in the 60’s,but things also are constantly changin’ in the fast‐paced world of real estate transactions. When is an agent obligated to disclose transactional change? There are two particular sources of such a duty of which I want… Continue reading Material Changes


In My Judgment Lawyers frequently notify agents that a judgment has shown up in the title search and will impede or prevent closing. Why is that? A judgment is a judicial declaration – an order if you will ‐‐ that someone owes money to someone else. That order (judgment) may be docketed (recorded) in the… Continue reading Judgements