Publish with flaws or stop the presses?
Admitting we errored and getting it right before releasing flawed work would be easy if making excuses wasn’t easier. Consequences compounded is the unpleasant outcome of choosing easy. The Wisconsin Residential Offer to Purchase, WB-11 released in the fall of 2019 and made mandatory effective January 1, 2020, was known to be flawed before it was released. Resistance to requests to delay the release surprised me. Resistance to suggested changes frustrated me. I’m grateful that the people in charge came around and made the necessary changes.
Professionals who participated in the writing and review process caught the problems created by a solution to a problem that didn’t exist. The committees in charge of developing the forms received unsolicited suggestions for corrections. Requests to hold implementation until changes could be made found no support in the WRA legal department. I saved the email replies I received from WRA staff legal folks. I use them as examples to remind me of what condescension feels to the recipient.
Garbage in, garbage out is as accurate as it is simple. When a committee’s purpose is to generate a product, the level of quality and precision is secondary. Standardization is the primary intent of the State produced real estate transaction forms. Around the committee tables, we hear people talk about adding provisions that could eliminate the need for individual companies crafting their version of ideas that look good at the moment. Some contingencies were explicitly added to reduce a variety of company authored contingencies. The FIRPTA contingency inserted into the January 1, 2020 version of the WB-11 required each company to make their unique modification to fix the committee’s problem. If the public was better served by leaving them exposed to the unnecessary risks that the brokers may or may not fix, it’s a mystery to me.
The new WB-11 we began using on August 1, 2020, corrects the errors. Because there are a variety of solutions still floating around that introduced into the offer process to fix the problem, we now have a compounded problem that will take time and expense to fix. By leaving the solution to the firms who each solved the problem in their unique ways, we will live with the stray voltage of so many addenda that do not match the terms of the Offer. And when addenda conditions don’t match the current version of the State approved offer documents, validity issues arise.
Home sellers and buyers who prefer to have enforceable contracts will be wise to work with lawyers and licensees who know where the problems lurk and how to make them go away. You can find out what the agent who wants your business knows about the Offer documents by asking them to explain the different sections and quizzing them on their own company addenda. If the agent knows where the flaws are and have solutions, they probably know how to make the Offer work for you. If they don’t, they’re just checking boxes and filling in blanks.