Wedding bell blues could affect sale
Julie Garton-Good, GRI

Q:We purchased a house from a real estate company where the seller signed the purchase agreement as "a single man." Now we find out that he is married and his wife should have signed the agreement as well. We don't even know if she wants to sell. What steps should we take to work this out, or would it be better if we just moved on to another property?

A:You probably won't know the answer to that question until after you've tried to remedy the situation. It might merely be a misunderstanding; but if the seller misrepresented that he was a single man, there could be much more to the story. Perhaps his wife didn't want to sell, and/or they are separated or in the middle of a divorce. Either way, if they hold joint title, she'll need to be part of the sale in order for it be legally binding.

If you really want to purchase the property, your first step would be to determine if the wife will agree to sell. That job should fall to the listing agent who took the listing. For proof of this, ask to see a copy of her signature on the purchase and sales agreement. While this won't guarantee that she'll complete the sale, it's a starting point that shows that she agrees to the terms and conditions of the sale.

Since you know that this is a problem, you'll want to monitor things closely, especially when you receive a preliminary title report prior to the close of the sale. In fact, you may want your attorney to review it to make sure there are no exceptions to her ownership interest or other glitches that could hurt your title and interest down the line.