Am I Allowed to Make Changes to a Standard Real Estate Contract?

Yes –Any real estate contract that is referred to as “standard” was drafted by somebody and for somebody. In most cases, the contract was purchased online or at an office supply store, or it was supplied by a member of the Realtors® Association, whose legal counsel drafted if for its members’ use. All real estate contracts can be negotiated, including a contract provided to you by a real estate agent/broker. In fact, contracts for the purchase or sale of a residential property are often negotiated. Perhaps more importantly, the failure to fully negotiate such contracts could effectively waive your rights to later complain about or sue over the contract terms.

That said, only you or your lawyer can make changes to the contract. A real estate agent or broker is not permitted to do so in Missouri.

Missouri law only permits real estate agents and brokers to fill in the blank spaces for the parties, write on the blank lines at your direction, and fill in property location and other necessary terms. Doing more than this may constitute the unauthorized law practice in violation of Missouri law. Agents and brokers are therefore unable to cross out any of the contract language, and substitute it for something else. They are also unable to substitute contracts in the event the “standard” forms are not appropriate for the particular deal, unless such forms are pre-approved by their own legal counsel. But you, the client, can do that with the help of your attorney.

Many people buying or selling a home will therefore hire a lawyer to help them review their contract, negotiate its terms and make changes that are more favorable to their position. Real estate contracts can be complicated, and it is highly advisable to hire a lawyer who is experienced in this area of the law.

Our firm has helped numerous clients negotiate many so-called “standard contracts,” or “standard terms,” including but not limited to: the type of inspections allowed, who pays for them; dates for deadlines, and what happens in the event closing is delayed.

If you are either purchasing or selling property, or are an agent or broker assisting someone, and would like to discuss obtaining or making changes to a contract, please feel free to call our office at 314.862.2237.

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