Your home is probably the most expensive purchase you will make in your lifetime. Because the amounts are high, the stakes are also high. Both for the buyer and the seller.
The purchase contract is therefore a very important document. After all, it determines what rights the parties get and which obligations they assume. Yet this agreement does not always get the attention it deserves (and should get!).
In an issue I dealt with in late 2021, this turned out to have far-reaching consequences for the buyers involved.
The preliminary contract of sale is, in principle, indeed final
In this context, it is first of all important to remember that the preliminary purchase contract, contrary to what many people think, is in principle final and (therefore) binding. The term “provisional” only means that the buyer, provided it concerns a private individual, still has a statutory cooling-off period of three days, as well as that in many cases the buyer stipulates a reservation of financing or building inspection. Outside these cases, however, the buyer, like the seller, is unconditionally bound by the purchase agreement.
A model is a first step, but can offer a false sense of security
The associations of real estate agents NVM, Vastgoedpro and VBO have developed a model purchase agreement together with the Consumers’ Associations Consumentenbond and Vereniging Eigen Huis (VEH). This model is often used.
In itself, this is a fine model. It is easily accessible, relatively easy to read and the rights and obligations are relatively evenly distributed. However, it should be kept in mind that this is a standard model. In the first place, this means that it must be “filled in.” With the filling in of the document, however, rights and obligations can be created and/or (re)distributed.
In addition, the parties are free to make adjustments and/or changes to the model. This possibility is often used. Passages are crossed out and/or articles are added. Lately – increasingly – an age clause is added, in which the buyer waives guarantees in view of the age of the property.
In themselves, these adjustments or changes can be well explained and (even) justified. And as long as both parties agree on it, this is not a problem. However, it is important that the parties are well aware of what they are (ultimately) committing themselves to. If the agreement is signed too indiscriminately, because the good model has been used anyway, the model only provides false security. This can lead to unpleasant and far-reaching consequences afterwards.
The broker is an advocate, for his client!
As a rule, the selling party is assisted by a sales broker. Many buyers also use a buying real estate agent, although the percentage is not as high as for sellers. Some buyers think they don’t need to use a real estate agent because the seller already has one. While it is true that it is not mandatory to use a broker, some of those buyers misunderstand that the sales agent is biased. This is because he acts for the seller and takes (little to) no account of the buyer’s interests. After all, the seller is his client and pays his bill. It is therefore not wise for buyers to “blindly” rely on the interpretation that the selling broker gives to the agreement. Instead, the buyer is wise to check carefully and critically whether the agreement actually states what was agreed with the seller.
Do you have questions about the purchase agreement of your house? Or would you like to have it checked just to be sure? Our lawyers have a lot of experience with this and would be happy to discuss what they could do for you.