One of the most common clauses buyers utilize when submitting an offer to purchase real estate is the “right to inspect.” Based on the number of calls to the Florida Realtors Legal Hotline, this also is one of the most misunderstood clauses – and one that could have serious consequences for buyers and sellers if it is not interpreted and enforced correctly.
In the “As Is” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase approved by Florida Realtors® and The Florida Bar – the purchase contract most commonly used by members – the right to inspect clause contains the language “in the Buyer’s sole discretion.” This phrase is intended to mean that a buyer may cancel the purchase contract at any time during the inspection period for any reason. Occasionally, Realtors confuse this language. They interpret it to mean a buyer is required to discover a defect in the property or structure and only then is entitled to cancel. This is incorrect.
A buyer may terminate the contract by delivering written notice to the seller for any reason, even something as minor as the color of paint in a bedroom. However, to be binding, the notification has to be made prior to the expiration of the inspection period.
Another issue that is often misunderstood is the process for renegotiating a contract before enacting the right to terminate.
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