The Ever Expanding Real Estate Contract

For the first time in my career I looked at the massive pile of paper at the business end of my printer and said, “It’s official, I’m a one man ozone layer wrecking crew.” I may as well be fracking or strip mining and sign up for the Global Warmers Rod and Gun Club.

It’s now been twelve glorious years of adventure packed real estate and I’ve watched contracts grow from maybe eight or nine pages to whatever fantabulous number they end up at now. The last one I negotiated is hovering around forty-four pages and we’re not done collecting pages. That’s not even counting the condominium association documents or the lengthy home inspection report-slash-novel because home inspectors have to cover their rumps, too.

So, the unassuming buyers walked in at the home inspection knowing I’d have “a few addendums” for them to sign while they were there. They got an eye full of the stack that needed John Hancocked and they couldn’t believe it, either. The cost of doing business in our litigious society is the reams of paper we power through and the bucket of dead ink cartridges beside my printer with the split personality, aptly nicknamed Sybil.

There are officially more addendum pages than contract pages in a real estate transaction, at this point, and the contracts have never been bigger. Most are ten pages-ish. There are addendums for any and all fees, community development districts, mold, Chinese drywall, lead based paint, various local disclosures, special clauses, addendums scampi, fried addendums, coconut addendums … you get the picture.

Add that all to the sixteen thousand plus pounds of CO2 my car sprinkles around town each year. Yes, I did look it up out of curiosity: www.terrapass.com. I seriously wonder how big the carbon footprint is for the average real estate transaction these days.

For many consumers the average real estate transaction would involve a bank at one end of the transaction that will be losing the file from time to time or sending it through the shredder because someone used the wrong font. Now *those* carbon footprints have to be enormous. Bank of America must have a world class sized, collateral damage carbon footprint.

It sure wouldn’t hurt one bit if the lenders got with the program and inched toward paperless and actually recognized digital signatures. For crying out loud, you’ll let the public bank online with their collective trillions, if not quadrillions of dollars, but you won’t let them digitally sign a contract?

Back at square “get it done”, everyone involved in the negotiation gets to print out whatever needs executed, no matter where they’re located in the world, plus sign, fax and send back.

Maybe this hidden expense should now be disclosed on an addendum as a closing expense.

For example: In addition to title insurance, documentary stamps on deed, recording fees, loan origination fees and the like, you will spend an estimated $XXX dollars on paper, ink and, if you don’t have the capability to scan/email or fax, a dozen trips to the local Kinko’s plus whatever they charge to use their services. A rain forest may be negatively affected by your transaction, which is regrettable, but you may be minimizing your potential to end up in court PLUS we really, really, really have to make sure you don’t share DNA and/or are in cahoots with the seller of this short sale/toxic asset and we don’t make a poor business decision while we’re cleaning up the mess we created.

Welcome to bleeding edge technological real estate in 2011. Save your Office Max coupons. You’re probably going to need them. If you don’t need the coupons sent them to me; I need them.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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