Friday, June 5, 2015

Real Estate Brokers - DON'T Have Your Clients Sign the LIBOR Sales Agreement

Last evening, Lieb School taught a continuing education course, Estate Deals, at Newsday's Headquarters to over 100 real estate salespersons from the region.

Before the class began, I told the audience about a discussion happening right now between attorneys on the New York State Bar Association's Real Property Law Section's Listserv, called "Real Estate Binders". I advised of the conclusion of the attorneys about how terrible the results are for transacting parties when they sign Sales Agreements prepared by real estate brokers / salespersons who procured the transaction without having such an agreement drafted by a competent attorney. To my shock, many brokers thought I was wrong and they insisted to continue this practice of having their clients sign this one (1) page form contract.

After reading, I hope they will rethink their position because it is quite possible that transacting parties will end up being in a binding contract by way of this Sales Agreement, which is the furthest thing from their intended goal when working with a real estate broker and/or salesperson. The case of Pescatore v. Manniello addresses such a situation wherein the Appellate Division stated that the "agreement satisfied the statute of frauds, as it identified the parties to the subject real estate sales transaction, described the realty to be sold with reasonable particularity, and it stated the purchase price of the realty, the down payment called for as well as its due date, and the balance due upon closing. The agreement also provided for a closing date, and stated that the transaction was not subject to mortgage financing. The additional fact that the agreement stated that a more formal contract was to be signed does not render the purchase deposit agreement unenforceable".

Plus, a real estate salesperson owes their client duties of loyalty, accountability and the use of reasonable care so isn't the salesperson breaching those fiduciary duties to their client by having their client enter into a contract without knowledge of its binding effect and without advising them to utilize instead the twelve (12) page "RESIDENTIAL CONTRACT OF SALE Jointly Prepared by the Real Property Section of the New York State Bar Association, the New York State Land Title Association, the Committee on Real Property Law of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the Committee on Real Property Law of the New York County Lawyers' Association. (11/00)", which is supplemented by a tailored Rider by most attorneys in Downstate New York.

The Sales Agreement used by many on long island is hyperlinked.

As can be seen on the face of the agreement, it states: "THIS IS A LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE CONTRACT, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER WHETHER YOU WISH TO CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY PRIOR TO SIGNING THE SAME". Further, the Sales Agreement contains an attorney approval clause, but such clause is waived unless the Sales Agreement is disapproved by a party's attorney within "3 business days after full execution thereof". Wouldn't it be smarter to just fill out the form without having any party sign the agreement and send the information to an attorney to negotiate within a formal contract of sale?

It comes down to this: Do real estate salespersons care more about the best interest of their clients when creating a meeting of the minds or would they rather mislead the clients that it's a good idea to be in a terrible contract just so that the salesperson feels more secure about receiving a commission?

You decide.