Q: I am a resident of New Jersey and I’m purchasing a new construction condo in South Carolina.
The builder is getting ready to mail out the contract and says I have 10 days to get the signed contract back to him or else I lose the right to purchase my unit.
I have been waiting for this construction to begin for nearly a year. Since that time the price has gone up $27,000 from the original price in the reservation agreement. I would like to know if I am entitled by law to more than 10 days to study this contract as it is an out-of-state transaction for me.
A: Whether you are a resident of the state or are from Alaska or half-way around the world may not matter. Your seller has the right to draft the initial contract and require that you return it signed within a certain time period. And you should know that there are some laws that allow purchasers in new developments to sign contracts and thereafter cancel the deal within a certain number of days.
What you should do now is hire a real estate attorney who has loads of experience with new construction contracts. The attorney should review the contract and negotiate any changes with the builder. Your attorney may be able to determine if the proper disclosures from the seller have been given to you an whether you have an opportunity to cancel the deal after you sign it.
Builder/developer contracts tend to be one-sided, and as a buyer you may not be aware of all the issues that could creep up in a new construction deal. I’m not saying your builder will be open to making many changes to the contract, but your attorney should review it carefully, inform you of the risks you are taking and the warranties you are receiving and try to add language that will balance the agreement.
Keep in mind, however, that a New Jersey attorney may not be aware of all the customs and laws regarding real property in South Carolina. Your other option is to hire a real estate attorney in South Carolina to review the contract.
Once you have an attorney, he or she can negotiate with the builder’s attorney. If you need an extension beyond that, your attorney can request one. Hopefully the builder will be agreeable, especially if his attorneys have multiple contracts to review all at once.
Good luck with your new home.
Published: Dec 19, 2005