Many home buyers and sellers are not aware that there is a purchase agreement used in all transactions where a Realtor is involved. Known as the Hawaii Association of Realtors (HAR) purchase agreement, this agreement is utilized to legally close transactions between the buyer and the seller. Recently, the Hawaii Association of Realtors has made some changes to its purchase agreement that are meant to make it easier for buyers and sellers to understand. On the other hand, some of the changes are ones that could go unnoticed, resulting in major headaches during escrow. Therefore, it is a good idea to review these changes and gain a better understanding of what they mean.
Mortgage Application Contingency
The previous contract contained a mortgage application contingency stating that a pre-qualification letter must include a credit review, but this has been eliminated from the new contract. It has, however, added election boxes indicating whether income verification documents were reviewed during the pre-qualification process. This change was made to reflect the language that the mortgage industry has adopted. This new language specifies that the seller and the industry see the credit review and income verification as being a valuable part of the prequalification process and, therefore, does not do pre-approval letters anymore. Final approval has also been changed to be tied-in with closing rather than taking place within days after issuance of the conditional loan commitment letter.
A second walkthrough requirement was added to the agreement, with the walkthrough being required if repairs, cleaning and other similar projects were not completed within the closing timeline. This gives buyers the right to ensure the required items are complete prior to closing.
In an attempt to reduce the number of sellers who replace new appliances with older ones, the contract now contains a sentence stating that inclusion items cannot be a substitute.
One change involves photovoltaic systems, which are becoming increasingly more common in Hawaii homes. The new agreement contains a new paragraph creating a contingency for non-owned, or leased, photovoltaic systems. The guidelines now require the approval of the provider while also requiring the buyer’s review of the contract terms.
Language about climate change has been added to the agreement due to the additional risk of loss for homes related to rising tides.
Wire fraud has become one of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the United States, with the FBI receiving more than 300,000 complaints in 2017 with losses exceeding $1.4 billion. In the real estate/rental sector, more than 9,600 people were victims to wire fraud in 2017 with a loss of more than $56 million. New language added to the purchase agreement addresses issues related to wire fraud in an attempt to reduce the number of people who fall victim. Under the new guidelines, the brokerage is required to disclose the proper and safe steps for wire fraud prevention.
Other changes involve adding boxes to check in order to reduce timeline delays as well as boxes to help buyers and sellers understand certain terms, such as the difference between professional shampooing and professional cleaning.