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Should you Read Everything you Sign?

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Even if you read every single page of every document you sign during a real estate transaction, will you  understand it? retain it? Bottom line: Should you read everything? Haven’t we been advised – by parents, teachers, lawyers – to “always” read it before we sign it? There are so many documents you are now “required” to sign, it is almost impossible to take this well-meaning advice. 

Throughout a normal residential real estate transaction, a buyer and seller sign approximately 200 pages: +/- depending on the type of transaction and the location of the property. There is the listing contract, the buyer agency contract, the offer – all inclusive of terms, disclosures & the intent of all parties, the offer which becomes a contract plus the addendums throughout indicating additional negotiations & obligations. There is the loan application and lending disclosure process. Then there are all the documents which comprise the actual settlement – many of which are duplicates of documents already signed.

Maryland is such a consumer-protective state, they have buried you in disclosures which are often not-applicable to the property, at times contradictory and confusing, and more designed to protect the parties who prepared the documents than to assist you in making an informed decision.

 I will not be the one to tell you “Oh, you don’t have to read everything you sign!” But I will tell you – experience notwithstanding – a good Realtor, a good Loan Officer, a good Settlement/Title Agent will confidently and quickly paraphrase every paragraph of every page of every document you sign. Trust those that you have chosen to represent you and/or your transaction, as long as after you’ve met with your Realtor,  your Loan Officer, and completed Settlement, you  get up from the table with a concise & absolute understanding of your obligations.


Blog Provided by Maureen Nichols, Associate Broker

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