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The Facts About Purchase and Sale Agreements: An Interview with Shari-Lynn Cuomo Shore of Wolf & Shore, LLC

By Shari-Lynn Cuomo Shore

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

Wolf & Shore, LLC is a general practice firm with a focus on family law, probate matters, estate planning, juvenile law and residential closings.

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

As silly as it sounds, people should know the most important thing about an agreement is reading it before you sign! Most agreements are largely boilerplate language and some of that may be confusing. However, you should always read it, then have your attorney look it over and explain any parts that may be confusing.

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?

A lawyer should prepare and/or review the purchase and sale agreement for your residential closing for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, to make sure the terms that the buyer and seller have agreed to are correctly memorialized. In addition to that, the contract needs to be thorough, cover warranty issues, explain what happens if the property doesn't close, etc.

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

Connecticut largely bases its closing practices on the customs of each individual county. In New Haven County, where my office is and where the majority of our closings take place, a real estate agent, broker or an attorney can draft the agreement. It is usually fine if the real estate agent or broker drafts an agreement, as they have a template and generally a list of components to include. However, a buyer or seller should always make sure that his or her attorney reviews the contract before they actually sign it. This is the stage where the lawyer can edit the document, answer the client's questions and/or incorporate unique language into the agreement if necessary.

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

Most people use a template to draft an agreement and the basis of it is usually fine. However, if you have special circumstances pertaining to your closing, such as unique terms, credits, home renovations, inspection issues, etc., that is when additional language should be included.

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

There can be a variety of unfavorable variations in purchase and sale agreements. Sometimes it's a mere typo that makes the legal description of the property being purchased inaccurate. More often, it does not accurately reflect personal property that the parties agreed would be included in the sale (i.e., furniture, appliances, etc.). Another variation we have found is something as simple as the closing location. It is customary to close at the buyer's attorney's office. In general, they will have more paperwork to do, should have access to their HUD software, etc., and that is why it is easier. Also, it is important that the parties, the bank and the attorneys can all be available on the closing date and that it is realistic based on the mortgage application process and other applicable factors.

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

The best advice I can give a potential buyer or seller is that you should have an attorney review your purchase and sale agreement before you sign it.

What's the best way for people to contact your firm?

You can contact Wolf & Shore, LLC either via phone at 203.745.3151 or via email at info@wolfandshorelaw.com.

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