The forms below were developed on a volunteer basis because of wide-spread interest in the Greenville (SC) real estate community in simplifying and de-mystifying the process of buying and selling residential real estate, and in having a contract that is unbiased and fair to both buyers and sellers.
I have had extensive experience in developing contracts like this over 32 years of practice. For example, I developed lengthy and detailed “form” contracts for Michelin to use for construction projects; I developed complex “installation and integration” contracts for Enterprise Computer Systems; and I developed multiple contracts and related documents for AGFA Diagnostic Imaging (formerly Sterling Diagnostic Imaging). I have also developed tens if not hundreds of “one-off” contracts and advised clients on many many more. In addition, I have litigated many contractual disputes. The latter experience, perhaps more than any other, focuses the mind on where contracts go wrong — ambiguity and lack of clarity.
I have been willing to put in the work necessary to develop these contracts (more than 200 hours of volunteer time at this point – seriously) because I consider the process of purchasing or selling a home the one of the most fraught and anxiety-producing experiences most people will ever go through. It is my hope to create a contract that will reduce that anxiety at least a little bit. It is my hope to create a contract that is, as much as humanly possible within the limits of reasonable space, unambiguous and clear. It is my hope to create a contract that a reasonably motivated person (whether involved in real estate or not) can read and understand and know what is expected and when.
The process of developing this contract began when a client (my wife!!) asked me to review a new proposed form contract and explain it to her staff. I found the form highly unsatisfactory from a legal perspective and an open invitation to disputes and litigation. I could not understand the form myself, much less explain it to her staff. I could not imagine how “regular” people would navigate it or how a judge would deal with it when faced with a dispute. I brought my concerns to her and others in the real estate community, to the local association, the state association, and ultimately to the Real Estate Commission. I felt very strongly that the people of South Carolina deserved much better.
Ultimately, it became clear to me that, while almost everyone seemed to recognize the problem, no one was willing to spend the money necessary to develop a proper form. (I was most emphatically not trying to get that job!) It also became clear to me that the cost of developing a proper form would probably be far beyond the scope of what any of these entities could likely envision. So, this kind of thing being in my “wheel-house,” I offered to do it for free. That may sound stupid, but attorneys regularly take on pro bono projects. And a project that could literally benefit almost everyone in South Carolina actually made me fairly excited.
I began the project just as I would any contract-drafting project for any client, by finding subject-area experts who were willing to dig in and guide me. Here, I found five realtors and brokers who had collectively handled roughly 50,000 transactions either directly or in a supervisory capacity for buyers and sellers over more than 125 years. Under their direction, I created more than 30 “formal” drafts, of which they carefully reviewed and critiqued at least 15-20. We met at least that many times, for hours each time. Each of them probably put in at least 20-40 hours (for no recognition or compensation). And, as noted above, I myself put in well over 200 hours. At my billing rate, that would be over $100,000 of work. No local association could afford that.
Even this group, as experienced as it was, wanted input from other realtors. So, in the latter stages, we sent the contract to another 15-20 agents and brokers who agreed to read it closely. We then worked through their comments and made more revisions. I also felt the need to get input from other attorneys and managed to persuade two real estate lawyers (one residential and one commercial) and a litigator to review the document carefully. Again, they did this at no charge.
The end result is what you find below. Already in Greenville, the contract has been adopted as the recommended form by Berkshire-Hathaway, AugustaRoad.com Realty, and Joy Realty, and the list is growing. There are also many agents in other companies that prefer and are using the form.
The form, of course, can probably still be improved. We invite you to send suggestions to comments@SCREFormsLLC.com or to me directly at William@HerlongLaw.com. Please do not send questions or requests for advice, legal or otherwise. Those should be directed to your broker or attorney. To be blunt, I am not seeking and will not accept any legal work relating to this contract! This has been a pro bono project for me from start to finish. Indeed, I hope that soon the burden of maintaining this contract will be taken on by the local realtors association and I can avoid further involvement.
With all that said, here are the forms. Anyone can use them, subject only to the license below.
Simplified Contract (fillable fields) (IMPORTANT — DO NOT FILL-IN ONLINE – DOWNLOAD FIRST)
Form NRR – Notice of Requested Repairs (fillable fields) (Important — DO NOT FILL-IN ONLINE – DOWNLOAD FIRST)
License. SC RE Forms LLC is the owner of these forms and has registered its copyright in the contract in order to prevent unauthorized changes and alterations. You are granted a non-exclusive royalty-free license to use this document, revocable only if you modify the form or the substance of any provision other than as allowed below or if you otherwise violate this license. You are authorized to add the information and make option selections identified on the SUMMARY TERM SHEET. Further, as required for any particular transaction, but not generally, you may add to or strike through any terms hereof. If you are a broker or association of realtors you are authorized to post this document in any online repository for access by your agents or members so long as you do not change the document or charge for access. In addition, you are authorized to create an online version coded to allow users to fill in the blanks and make option selections and then email or print out and also to use this form with DocuSign, HelloSign, zipForm, and equivalent programs and platforms, in every case so long as you do not change the substance or charge for access. You may not otherwise modify this document or create any derivative work. Use of any of these forms confirms your agreement and understanding (i) that neither SC RE Forms LLC nor its counsel or other counsel who have reviewed these forms is your attorney, (ii) that they have no attorney-client relationship with you, and (iii) that they have not provided you any advice or warranty concerning such documents or their use.
Very truly yours,
William D. Herlong, The Herlong Law Firm, LLC