No one hears this question anymore, but there was a time when every wise cracking kid had an answer to this question, “What does your watch say?” Kid: “Nothin’. Ya gotta look at it.” Which reminds me, we used to look at our wrist watch often. Now we look for hours in a day at the screen on the device in our hand. Where are we headed?
Every agent who has ever come to me with a question on what options are available to solve a problem in a transaction knows the question I will ask back. “What does the contract say?” (I’m waiting for someone to respond with, “It says nothin’. Ya gotta read it.”) This evening I was reading Wisconsin court case decisions regarding real estate contracts. (There’s a sentence rarely uttered out loud.) With all of the work done by lawyers to make a case for their side, at the end of the day, the judge(s) refer to the words of the contract. They decide if the issue at question is the result of an ambiguity. They decide if a term is adequately defined, or commonly understood. After looking at the contract to see what it says, the judge decides. Knowing that the dispute we hope to avoid is decided by the terms of the contract, it makes sense we read the contract before deciding our options.