This week at Cheshire & Co I was almost encouraged to don my roller skates like Fred and Ginger and waltz through the centre of Pontnewydd, embracing my inner Gershwin. The prompt for such a spectacle was not vying for that final place on Strictly Come Prancing, but dealing with a vendor’s interpretation of what exactly constitutes a contract. For those of you who missed the Judge Look-at-me Rynder lecture:
For a valid contract, the basic elements that need to exist are:
(a) Agreement (comprising offer and acceptance). Mutual assent of the parties is the basis of an agreement.
(b) Consideration: This is the value given by the parties for the promise that is being made. Usually consideration takes the form of money, property or services.
(c) Intention to create legal relation: Both parties to the agreement would need to have intention to create legal relations once the offer has been accepted.
(d) Capacity: If the parties do no enter into the agreement willingly, the agreement could be regarded as invalid.
Got that? Because I will be asking questions later.
We took a call from a vendor telling us to take their house off the market because after 5 weeks with us, they were going elsewhere. When asked why, we were told that we had not sent them a contract. Having pointed out the time and date that it was emailed, we were told, “Well, I haven’t seen it”. We further informed the vendor of the time and date that we received a read receipt and were given the answer, “Well, it wasn’t me”. There was little point in asking whether they had considered their computer security or whether they had entered their Jack Russell for Britain’s Got Talent or had offered his services to GCHQ or the Pentagon.
In such situations, one has to ask what is the value of keeping such a client, who has used one of the oldest-and most easily refuted- ‘reasons’ for wanting to go because they have had their head turned by another agent. As the Gershwin song said, “Let’s call the whole thing off”.
So are contracts actually worth anything? Yes, they are, not least because The Property Ombudsman and Trading Standards decree that we must have them. What should be noted, is that they do not have to be signed, but evidence must be produced to show that they were produced and sent. Take note Mr Jack Russell.
In other property news involving the big boys in the badlands of SW1-where I can assure they will have the vendor sign the contract, preferably in the blood of their first-born, before even considering doing anything- it is reported that ‘open house’ events are on the decline. Alex Newell of Hanover Private House is quoted as saying that there are not enough, “ultra high net worth client individuals who want to mingle with the competition” Daily Mail 11 August 2016 Very Marie Antoinette. Dear old Alex did helpfully point out that for houses in the £250,000 to £1.5 million price range, there was still merit in opening the door to the plebeian masses. Thanks, Alex, I get a lot of £1million plus properties in Varteg.
My humour did improve when I saw a job advert for one of Wales’ high-end estate agents whose corporate mantra is to not list properties for less than £500,000 and have a “quality team of professional and very experienced experts”. Of course they do, as we all do. No one is going to have a team of rubbish, unprofessional idiots who haven’t a clue what they are talking about. Then again…What did rather dent the validity of their claim of how quite brilliant and experienced they are, was that the job being advertised for that of a sales’ negotiator finished with the line, “would suit a school leaver”. Who let that one go to press?