Subject to Clauses and other knotty contract issues

by Paul Cowhig, Advisor, Professional Standards

This week I want to bring your attention to an article that real estate lawyer Bruce Wooley wrote for the Real Estate Council’s newsletter titled, Buyers’ Obligations and Subject Clauses.

It’s a fabulous article and also timely because buyers are feeling a little more in the driver’s seat these days. As licensees, it’s so critical that clients know exactly what they are getting into when they execute a contract.

Wooley’s article also reminded me of the different, and sometimes opposing, obligations we have as agents depending on who we represent in a transaction. For instance, if I was representing a buyer, I would draft a Contract of Purchase and Sale with certain factors in mind. Yet I may look at that same contract very differently if I was representing the seller.

Writing a Contract of Purchase and Sale is not a frivolous matter. It’s serious business. It’s part of our professional obligation to determine as best we can that a buyer is serious and not just “kicking tires.” We need to educate them on the obligation they are under when they write an offer. I know there is a tendency these days to have deposits paid only on subject removal in order to avoid the trouble of getting all parties to sign the release. But I worry that this sends a false message to the buyer that they can more “easily” get out of the deal if they don’t want to proceed.

Anyway, give this article a read. I’d be interested to hear your comments on this or on any other topic. Email me at or by calling 604-930-7606.