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Is it illegal for my realtor to describe the differences between the standard and "as is" forms?

I'm new to buying in Florida. My realtor sent the "standard" and "As Is" forms to me. I asked her for help understanding the forms, and just helping me understand the Florida buying process in general. She said that describing what the difference in forms is and when one might use them is considered legal advise and she could loose her license if she does that.
     I read another zillow thread where a broker was saying that one's realtor is the right person to go to for help understand the difference between those forms.
To me it sounds really strange that my realtor won't help. Mind you; I haven't asked her to tell me which one I should use. I just am asking for general help understanding what is the best time or circumstance to use the "as is" vs standard form. And, I understand that the "as is" is more for short sale and foreclosure. But, I've also read that you can use it for a standard sale. I have questions about that, but I'd like to get opinions as to whether my agent is correct or not first.

thanks for any assistance,


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December 16 2013 - Gainesville
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Profile picture for user5107471
Hey Mark,
     that's what I was looking for. Thanks very much for the
excellent info. It makes perfect sense what you've said.


Jeff
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December 17 2013

You would use a standard contract if there are repair issues you want fixed by the seller.  There is no set amount or percentage for repair costs.  It depends on the home.  Is it a low price fixer-upper or a high priced luxury?  Does it appear to need lots of work or only a few items?  Are you going to live in it yourself or rent it out or flip it?  Is a price reduction more important and you repair it yourself or getting the seller to do it before closing more important?  A rule of thumb is about 1.50% of the purchase price but definitely go higher if the home is in bad condition.  But not too high or the seller will reject your offer.  Be prepared to negotiate in most cases between repairs and price.  I have had many cases of a $5,000 price reduction on a $150,000 home (3.0%) because that was easier for the seller to do. 
If you are financing it, the lender might require specific repairs before closing so if you see major items than you should use the standard contract.  You should not do repairs before the closing as the home is not yours yet and all kinds of things can go wrong, so the seller should be put on the spot to do lender required repairs.
I only use long time experienced inspectors and they all look for the same things, big and small.  I insist on pictures of everything broken and everything in good use in the report so there is no arguments at closing over what was what and what was there.  Everyone has different ideas of what is important so my inspectors test even "small" items.  Realize that any inspection is only good for that particular day and time.  If there is a long time between inspection and closing other items can go wrong.  And an inspection can't predict the future and what might break after closing, especially if it is an old home with old items.

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December 17 2013
Profile picture for user5107471
Thanks Mark,
       then I guess the last thing I need to know is why I would want to use a standard contract in Florida? I suppose the answer is that the seller has to fix problems identified in the inspections. But, I wondered if someone could give me an idea of what is typical that the seller and buyer decide upon as the maximum amount that the seller will pay to fix identified problems? Is there some rule of thumb or percentage? I realize there will be exceptions to the rule.
      I also know from experience that each inspector can come up with almost an entirely different list of things wrong in a house. Of course there will be obvious things that everybody would catch. But, I wondered if this kind of contract might sort of promote unscrupulous behavior where inspectors are concerned. I mean from rubber stamping to being overly critical.
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December 17 2013

I am a Realtor- Broker in Gainesville, Florida.  You can use an AS-IS contract for a regular sale and it's used quite often for regular sales.  Almost all short sales and foreclosures are advertised as AS-IS only.  When you use it for a regular sale it gives you the opportunity to back out from not liking the inspection results for any reason.  The seller cannot back over an inspection issue.  You can ask them to fix it and if they refuse the onus is on you as the buyer to accept it as it is or cancel the contract.  Make sure you do cancel within the specified time period you wrote in the contract or you will lose your depositif you don't close the deal.
Mark Cohen, Broker - Agent, Eyemark Realty, Gainesville, Florida

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December 17 2013
Profile picture for user5107471
I'm actually on the same page as everybody else. I only wanted my realtor to explain the differences to me. I'm more than happy to make the decisions about what to put in the forms.
Maybe Joseph is right; maybe my agent is just not too swift.

What if a seller who is not selling his house "as is" and I decided to make an offer on it using the "as is" form. I know that I can back out within the inspection period for any reason at all or no reason. But, can the seller do the same? I know the seller is not obligated to fix anything at all in an as is contract, but is the seller allowed to back out like the buyer is?




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December 17 2013
In Florida, a knowledgable broker or agent will explain in detail every contract form, page, paragraph, rider, or addendum to you.  Part of your due diligence is to understand what you are agreeing to and signing.
However, you have to make up your own mind about which type of contract to use and what to put in the blanks and which boxes to check.  The agent can't tell you what you should do.

It is considered practicing law if the agent changes the wording in a standard contract and rewrites it.  Explaining what it means is legal.  There is an Additional Items area where you can write in extra things you want addressed by the seller. 

If you have questions about the meanings and possible consequences, consult a real estate attorney.
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December 17 2013
Let's hear from a Florida agent; there are differences in some states.
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December 16 2013
Profile picture for user5107471
Thanks Joseph,
      I am beginning to understand the differences, but now I see there are two "AS IS" forms. Seems one is FAR and the other FAR/BAR and the only difference being the interpretation of how days are counted? Is that whether weekends are included, like working days?
      It seems to me that an "AS IS" contract initiated by the seller is identical to how Georgia real estate works. If the seller has not stated that the property is AS IS, in Florida, it seems that is a positive thing in that it possibly speaks to the good condition of the home and also whether the seller would entertain fixing some problems that might pop up in the inspection. In Georgia, if I put an offer in, I can cancel for any reason whatsoever during the inspection period. I kind of like that out. After all, you're not going to jump into a contract for the purpose of cancelling and wasting everybody's time, but it does give you the time to think it over and possibly recognize some gotchas that you didn't think of before. Seems the Florida AS IS works the same only if the property was not put up for sale "AS IS" to begin with...if that makes sense.
      So, I might initially think that "AS IS" is something I'd like, but I don't fully understand the standard form to compare the differences. Seems both the seller and buyer must come to an agreement on a maximum dollar figure that the seller must put forth in the event that problems are found in the inspection. If that is correct, I have no feeling for what is normal and proper to ask for or agree upon. And, if a standard form is used, is there any legal way out of it for either party? Let's say that during the inspection period I find a couple things wrong and the agreed upon $ figure would cover those items but I still wanted out for some reason. Would I only loose my good faith deposit, or could the seller sue? I'm assuming s/he could sue if they wanted to go to all the trouble and they would surely have reason to do so since they would have lost that sales time and could have sold to someone else. It might sound like I make it a habit of putting in offers and cancelling, but that's not so. I just want to understand the legal process here. I might be more comfortable in the long run just doing an AS IS and renegotiating if something major popped up in the inspection. Thanks again and sorry I'm so verbose. There seems to be no way to control that.  :-)
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December 16 2013
Joseph hit the nail on the head. 

         "Explaining to you the differences in the forms and why they are used is well within the
          scope of the agent.  Advising you whether signing either form is correct for you 
          is probably out side the scope of the agent." 
Here in KY Realtors are expected to explain the differences between forms. Advice always has to come from a lawyer though. 
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December 16 2013
Explaining to you the differences in the forms and why they are used is well within the scope of the agent.  Advising you whether signing either form is correct for you is probably out side the scope of the agent.

I suspect this agent does not know what these forms mean and when they should be used, which is why they are not explaining them to you.  I would ask to speak with the agent manger or broker.

If you at least understand what the form is used for and why it would be required for your contract you can make an intelligent decision as to whether you agree to the verbiage and usage.  If you cannot understand the wording or need to know if legally binding yourself to the terms is best for you, find an attorney.
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December 16 2013
 
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