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There’s a lot of information in the Florida real estate contract but there’s several points that your Realtor should know like the back of their hand. Here’s my top three things that I think catch most buyers and sellers off guard if their Realtor hasn’t prepared them for it.

Financing and Escrow
First, what is escrow? It’s the money a buyer deposits as earnest money and a sign of good faith to show the seller they are interested in purchasing their property. It should always be considered as money the buyer has at risk, if they are unable to perform.

Just in the past year, I’ve had two escrow disputes, both of which I was able to successfully secure the buyer’s escrow money for my sellers (side note: one of the buyers was also acting as their own representative as a buyer/licensed Realtor). In the contract there are time frames regarding financing and your escrow. Typically, you have 30 days to provide a final loan approval, if you don’t provide it in that time frame, and you don’t cancel or ask for an extension, after three days of the deadline, the loan is deemed to be approved and the contingency is waived. There’s only three reasons to get around this: 1. the property doesn’t appraise 2. Property related conditions, such as wood rot needing to be fixed in order for lender to finance or 3. Seller default.

Of course not all deals are the same and I’m met with a new scenario every single day, so it’s best to check with your Realtor if you have a particular contract question and with an attorney if you have a specific legal question.

What stays with the house?
I thought the washer and dryer stayed! Nope. The washer and dryer are considered personal property here in Florida. You’ll need to specifically request them. But, all the rods, drapes, window coverings and light fixtures stay unless they are excluded. In addition, ALL refrigerators are included. The contract is written that the refrigerator(s), range(s), dishwasher(s) and ceiling fan(s) all convey. So if you have a garage fridge, it stays. A garage deep freezer doesn’t stay. Do you have a wine fridge? It stays as it would fall under the category of refrigerator(s).

What condition should the home be left in?
Realtors should really help to manage buyer and seller expectations in this category. If you have an as-is contract, the seller is only required to maintain the property in the condition you saw it in and they are required to keep up with the lawn, shrubs and pool. They’re not required to turn it over in “broom-swept” condition like the as-is contract used to say. The seller is not required to do a deep clean. Nail holes are part of ordinary wear and tear. Now, if you have a massive TV mounted to the wall and removing it will leave gaping holes, talk to your Realtor and dialogue about it with the other party BEFORE removing it. This is always a sticking point and the contract isn’t clear on it at all, so it’s best to discuss it, or put your request as a contract term for all parties to agree to. Maybe leaving the TV mount will actually be a welcomed thing for the buyer. But if you remove it and leave holes, the holes weren’t visibly seen to the buyer before and an argument could be made that it’s not in the same condition as when the contract was made, and no one wants to deal with unhappy customers at closing.

Communication is always key, so before assuming, contact your Realtor and they can help you navigate whatever issue is at hand. If you don’t have a Realtor, you have me and you can contact me anytime or connect with me on social.