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At least as many changes to laws have been made in the real estate area. The new Wisconsin Residential Offer to Purchase (home purchase agreement, for example, is now nine pages—years ago it was two. “They just keep putting more stuff in,” Ungrodt said. “They think, ‘Let’s make it better.’”
Sellers often do not realize that they are making representations concerning the property, Ungrodt said. Buyers often treat the contract merely as an “option,” thinking that they can decide not to purchase and all they can lose is the earnest money. “If they breach the contract, they can be liable for substantial damages... A contract is a contract.”
He added, “If a real estate broker is involved, the real estate broker will explain the document and its consequences to the client—usually the seller. Where people get into trouble is when they ‘fill out the form’ themselves. They have usually gotten more or less than they bargained for.”
The point is clear—for life’s important transactions, consult an attorney. Clients have been doing that for a long time at the Fremont Street office of Ungrodt, who said he plans to continue practicing for a number of years.
“Much of a lawyer’s time is drudgery, but when you can help someone—usually in a relatively small amount oftime— that makes it all worthwhile,” he said.