Generally in the practice of residential real estate, the REALTORS® act as scriveners for the parties and fill in the pre-printed blanks on current SC forms.
The advantage of using current SCR standard forms is that REALTORS® are usually trained and familiar with the pre-printed language in the current SCR forms. Therefore, the REALTORS® can quickly view received SCR forms and focus their attention on the information written into the blanks (e.g., purchase price, deadlines, checkboxes).
Sometimes, non-SCR forms are used in some SC real estate transactions. Sometimes, builders, lawyers, consumers, FSBO sellers, and even some brokers use non-SCR forms.
Based on studies that indicate the 22,000 SC REALTORS® perform 85% of the real estate business in SC, a significant number of 2019 SC residential transactions likely occurred on the 2019 SCR310.
The danger of editing the pre-printed language in SCR forms or using an obsolete SCR form is:
(1) the REALTOR® realizes a change to the current pre-printed language has been made and therefore must focus their attention on every word and punctuation mark in the form to ensure they know all the changes and all the terms of the transaction. This is time-consuming without being productive.
(2) the REALTOR® does not realize the presented form does not conform to the current pre-printed language and therefore the REALTOR® and the party believes they are agreeing to the known current pre-printed language when they are initialing/signing different language. This misunderstanding can lead to contractual disputes which can lead to a failed closing or legal actions.
I am using the word "editing" to mean changing the pre-printed language with a word processing system in a change that is not obvious to cursory viewing of the document. Based on conversations with REALTORS®, this type of editing is not common.
Many times, the party will direct the REALTOR® to "strikethrough" some pre-printed language which is then initialed and dated to be obvious to the other party. Based on conversations with REALTORS®, this is fairly common.
The SCR310 form recommends that parties obtain legal counsel prior to signing/agreeing. Legal counsel can review the SCR310 form or any form and suggests changes, edits, and negotiations.
REALTORS® seeking changes to the pre-printed language of SCR forms can send suggestions to the SCR lawyers and SCR forms committee. The change proposals are usually discussed during the year with the decided changes usually going into effect each January.
REALTOR® ethics provide guidance to REALTORS® on forms:
REALTORS®, for the protection of all parties, shall assure whenever possible that all agreements related to real estate transactions including, but not limited to, listing and representation agreements, purchase contracts, and leases are in writing in clear and understandable language expressing the specific terms, conditions, obligations and commitments of the parties. A copy of each agreement shall be furnished to each party to such agreements upon their signing or initialing.
REALTORS® shall not engage in activities that constitute the unauthorized practice of law and shall recommend that legal counsel be obtained when the interest of any party to the transaction requires it.
Posted by: Byron King on 12/5/19 (This information is only accurate as of 12/5/19. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 12/5/19 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at screaltors.org)