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Plain English Forms – REINZ Agreement for Buying and Selling Real Estate

Posted on: June 29th, 2009 | Filed in Real Estate Industry News

REINZ have drafted new forms for the sale and purchase of real estate in New Zealand. I recently attended a seminar in Thames where Tim Jones of Glaister Ennor presented and explained the new agreements to local real estate agents and salespeople. Anyone who is already familiar with the current forms for sale and purchase, will appreciate that they are NOT written in plain English. Aside from the actual content, the design and layout is not conducive to faxing. By the time an offer has gone back and forth a few times through the facsimile machine, the agreement is barely legible – fortunately more and more people have access to email, as a scanned agreement maintains far more of its original clarity.

At this stage the new forms include the following three:

REINZ Agreement for buying and selling real estate by

  1. Private Treaty
  2. Tender
  3. Auction

There is also a supporting ‘REINZ Book of Standard Clauses’ which is to be appended to the others.

The forms follow the plain English principles in both text, and in the design and layout.

The head drafter, Barry Gunson, a Barrister from Hamilton, had a number of legal specialists in property law peer review his drafting. Feedback and comment was also actively sought from real estate agents and salespeople. Furthermore, the Chairperson and Executive members of the Property Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society have also reviewed and commented on the drafts.

The Write Group was engaged as the plain English specialists, and Optimal Usability advised on layout and design to complement the principles of plain English.

In the June 2009 RE Journal, Christine Le Cren, CEO of REINZ commented:

“The result (about 50 drafts later) is that we have not compromised the law. We have preserved the integrity of the law. But, we have written the law and contractual terms and conditions in plain English. And, we have followed plain English principles in both the text, and in the design and layout. “

The language and terminology is certainly quite different as is the clause structure and warnings when compared to the older 8th edition of the real estate agreement.

The new REINZ forms will be available for use from 1 July 2009; sellers will have a choice of using either the new or the old forms, and buyers must accept the seller’s choice.

If your salesperson assumes on your behalf that you want to use the old form, ask why. It may be that they aren’t yet familiar with the new forms. Certainly ensure you see each form side by side so that you can make an informed decision. If you are the seller, ask for a copy of the new form when you list your property which will ensure you have plenty of time to familiarise yourself with it.

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Article Discussion

  1. Sharon
    Tim was in town for the Nelson seminar this am. I believe they are a great move forward.
    Tim also touched on the fact that where possible he would encourage us to use electronic communication like email over fax. Considering the Section B part of the agreement is approx. 26 pages long, it does make sense to use email over fax. There will be exceptions, perhaps someone in a very remote location, but if they have a fax, then typically they’d have a phone line, so email should still be avail. anyway.

  2. I’ve heard that it’s a case of ‘hold the phone’on these while the Law Societies scrap it out. In this world of greed the current Sale & Purchase Agreement dafted by the REINZ & Auckalnd Law District Society is favoured by the ALDC because they get a massive amount of money from the copyright on it. The new Agreement is drawn up by NZ Law District Society & REINZ, so I believe that until this is orted out everything is on hold. Solicitors v Solicitors…how long will this take. Greed v Common sense.

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