Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Raising CYA to an Art Form

I wrote an offer on a condominium in Columbia Heights that was a new condo conversion, and we had to use the contract boilerplate prescribed by the developer.  And there was this one paragraph that sort of laid out in some detail what should have been totally obvious to anyone making an offer:

  • This property is in an urban area.
  • There could be derelicts sitting on your stoop when you get home from a hard day at the office.
  • There might be a drug deal or two (or maybe more) taking place in the alley that you can see from your kitchen window.
  • Air quality could be funky at times.
  • There could be noise outside of the building.
  • There could be noise from your neighbors inside the building.
  • Your car could get broken into.
  • Your apartment could get broken into. 
  • You might get mugged.

These were not their exact words, but this was the gist of the clause. 

What amazed me was that the developer felt the need to state the obvious.

OK, Columbia Heights is still sort of an emerging neighborhood.  A decade or go, this area had a very high funk factor, but with the new subway station, the neighborhood has become increasingly gentrified.  But in any neighborhood in any city, you have to use common sense. 

Whether you are in Georgetown, Crestwood, Spring Valley or Chevy Chase, there are occasional bad guys on the streets, noisy neighbors and funky air quality - though perhaps no derelicts on the front porch.

But to me the clause was very much stating the obvious - the very obvious. 

And I had to ask, is this really necessary?  And I remembered that Washington does have an awful lot to lawyers!

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Comment balloon 30 commentsPatricia Kennedy • April 20 2011 11:01PM


Patricia, Talk about covering your rear.  That goes even beyond the covering.

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 9 years ago

CYA - Cover Your A..  or Call Your Attorney

Posted by Ryan Gale (Long and Foster Realtors) over 9 years ago

Pat:  The "disclosure" is made probably because somebody won a lawsuit claiming non-disclosure.   We've got some obvious "disclosures" and "advisories" in Sonoma County that crack me up such as this is farming country and you may encounter odors related to farming.   Really?????

Posted by Kirsten Lindquist, Realtor - Sonoma Wine Country (Pacific Union International) over 9 years ago

I guess this was TRUTH in disclosure.... wanting NO surprises.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 9 years ago


I once read about those funniest lawsuits i the US, and I can understand the need for someone to state things which are absolutely obvious.

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) over 9 years ago

I think I like your version bettr than I would have the actual wording!

Posted by Janna Scharf, Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene) over 9 years ago

Is that sorta like...caution hot coffee, don't spill it in your lap?


Posted by Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 9 years ago

We home inspectors, by necessity, become pretty proficient at this.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Hey, maybe that will hang this clause at the Smithsonian :)

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) over 9 years ago

Pat, you've got to be kidding!   Even if they're stating the obvious, what are they dtrying to do? - discourage buyers?

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) over 9 years ago

Pat -- oh, and by the way, the only homes that are ever foreclosed have had/or will have at one point  a mortgage....just thought you, as a new buyer, should initial here, here and yes, over here.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 over 9 years ago

Seems the builder got a new attorney and he wanted to make is presense felt. Bad things happen everywhere.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago


It sounded a bit like the REO bank counters - no liability for anything, now or in the future. Wonder if it would hold up in court if tested. It probably raised more eyebrows than saying nothing. Wonder how sales are? Aso wonder why he felt the attorney? Perhaps he's been burned before. Or there's something else going on. I am always a bit leary about conversions.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Hi Pat - As an attorney, I can tell you that that level of "disclosure" is just plain silly.  As for common sense, you really can't assume that everyone has it - they don't.  But I still think that a simple sentence that reminds the occupants that there is no security provided in the building would be sufficient.

Posted by Susan Neal, Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker (RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks) over 9 years ago

In a state like New Jersey, where lawyers seem to outnumber us common folk, this makes total sense to me.  Perhaps law suit happy New Jerseyan's have finally gotten to me! LOL  

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) over 9 years ago

LOL, yes, there are a lot of lawyers there. Can't stop laughing.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 9 years ago

Wow, that is truly an art form!  And with that kind of clause on a contract, people are buying?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Interesting and there is always something new to ponder.  This buyer will never be able to say "but you didn't tell me"  I hope the shower doesn't leak!

Posted by Miriam Bernstein, CRS over 9 years ago

Hmm Pat, sounds like a bad experience in the past necessitated this!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Whatever the clause was, I like your version better. Is there insurance for that?

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Central Maryland (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Hey, thank you all for your comments!  And yes, there is probably someone out there who sued someone who sold them a house or condo where the neighborhood derilick conveyed.  And I love the CYA = Call Your Lawyer!  That pretty much sums it all up!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pat - Wow, if I read that type of clause and the Buyer asked me about it.....I'm not sure how I would respond.  Maybe, like you said, it was stating the obvious.  So, 'What you see, is what you get'!

Posted by Denise Roberts, e-PRO, REALTOR - Specializing in Pinehurst, NC Area (New Colony Properties, LLC) over 9 years ago

Wow, not exactly Home Sweet Home is it?  Clause like that would scare me away..but then again I'm no city girl!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) over 9 years ago

Pat...with people losing value on the homes they sell...I am seeing more and more CYA paperwork...I guess everyone is scared of lawsuits now.

Posted by Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty, Florida Space Coast Homes (Waves Realty) over 9 years ago


That's a very interest approach to business.

Are they use a HUD agreement?

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 9 years ago

Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits... if the drug companies feel a need to 'announce' all of the possible side effects out loud on tv, what make you think the developer doesn't need to state the obvious as well!!!

Posted by Linda K. Mayer, Realtor, SRES, SoCAL, A REALTOR YOU CAN TRUST (License # 01767321) over 9 years ago

Interesting CYA! lol!

Posted by Kim & Kristine Halverson, Sisters, Realtors (Compass) over 9 years ago

That is nuts!!! I'm surprised they didn't state that you can get fat if you overeat at every meal. lol

Posted by Christina ONeal, Realtor - Ripon California (At Home Real Estate Group) over 9 years ago

Thank you for the post. Someday this might be standard disclosure when we sell a house.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 9 years ago

Now that is indeed interesting and with all those lawyers up in the DC know where I am going with this.

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago