Always fill in the blanks

2013-11

A prospective purchaser appointed an estate agent to buy a flat.

The agent told the purchaser that the flat she intended to buy was very highly sought-after and persuaded her to sign a provisional agreement for sale and purchase, or PASP, in order to express to the owner her sincere interest in buying.

In the PASP, important terms – such as the names of the parties, property price and completion date – were left blank.

The purchaser signed the PASP as advised and gave a check to the agent for the deposit.

She instructed the agent to pay the deposit once the vendor signed the PASP – but stipulated that the completion date must not be less than 60 days from the date of the PASP as she would need time to apply for a mortgage.

However, as per the request of the vendor, the agent filled in a date that was only 40 days from the date of the PASP as the completion date of the transaction, without seeking the purchaser’s consent.

The purchaser later discovered it and decided to cancel the deal but this was rejected by the vendor.
She stopped the check and this led to litigation between the parties.

A PASP is a legally binding document, the terms of which should be mutually agreed by the parties of the transaction before its signing.

According to guidelines issued by the Estate Agents Authority, estate agents should refrain from asking their clients to sign a PASP with spaces providing for the essential terms of the transaction left blank.
A PASP that is not completed properly may easily give rise to disputes and complaints and may even affect the transaction.