An assignment clause (AC) is an important part of many contracts, especially for real estate. In this article we discuss:
- What is an Assignment Clause? (with Example)
- Anti-Assignment Clauses (with Example)
- Non-Assignment Clauses
- Important Considerations
- How Assets America® Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Assignment Clause?
An AC is part of a contract governing the sale of a property and other transactions. It deals with questions regarding the assignment of the property in the purchase agreement. The thrust of the assignment clause is that the buyer can rent, lease, repair, sell, or assign the property.
To “assign” simply means to hand off the benefits and obligations of a contract from one party to another. In short, it’s the transfer of contractual rights.
Explicitly, an AC expresses the liabilities surrounding the assignment from the assignor to the assignee. The real estate contract assignment clause can take on two different forms, depending on the contract author:
- The AC states that the assignor makes no representations or warranties about the property or the agreement. This makes the assignment “AS IS.”
- The assignee won’t hold the assignor at fault. It protects the assignor from damages, liabilities, costs, claims, or other expenses stemming from the agreement.
The contract’s assignment clause states the “buyer and/or assigns.” In this clause, “assigns” is a noun that means assignees. It refers to anyone you choose to receive your property rights.
The assignment provision establishes the fact that the buyer (who is the assignor) can assign the property to an assignee. Upon assignment, the assignee becomes the new buyer.
The AC conveys to the assignee both the AC’s property rights and the AC’s contract obligations. After an assignment, the assignor is out of the picture.
What is a Lease Assignment?
Assignment Clause Example
This is an example of a real estate contract assignment clause:
“The Buyer reserves the right to assign this contract in whole or in part to any third party without further notice to the Seller; said assignment not to relieve the Buyer from his or her obligation to complete the terms and conditions of this contract should be assigning default.”
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An assignment provision is a separate clause that states the assignee’s acceptance of the contract assignment.
Assignment Provision Example
Here is an example of an assignment provision:
“Investor, as Assignee, hereby accepts the above and foregoing Assignment of Contract dated XXXX, XX, 20XX by and between Assignor and ____________________ (seller) and agrees to assume all of the obligations and perform all of the duties of Assignor under the Contract.”
Anti-Assignment Clauses & Non-Assignment Clauses
An anti-assignment clause prevents either party from assigning a contract without the permission of the other party. It typically does so by prohibiting payment for the assignment. A non-assignment clause is another name for an anti-assignment clause.
Anti-Assignment Clause Example
This is an anti-assignment clause example from the AIA Standard Form of Agreement:
”The Party 1 and Party 2, respectively, bind themselves, their partners, successors, assigns, and legal representatives to the other party to this Agreement and to the partners, successors, assigns, and legal representatives of such other party with respect to all covenants of this Agreement. Neither Party 1 nor Party 2 shall assign this Agreement without the written consent of the other.”
Important Considerations for Assignment Contracts
The presence of an AC triggers several important considerations.
In essence, the assignor is a broker that brings together a buyer and seller. As such, the assignor collects a fee for this service. Naturally, the assignor doesn’t incur the normal expenses of a buyer.
Rather, the new buyer assumes those expenses. In reality, the assignment fee replaces the fee the realtor or broker would charge in a normal transaction. Frequently, the assignment fee is less than a regular brokerage fee.
For example, compare a 2% assignment fee compared to a 6% brokerage fee. That’s a savings of $200,000 on a $5 million purchase price. Wholesalers are professionals who earn a living through assignments.
Frequently, the assignor will require that the assignee deposit the fee into escrow. Typically, the fee is not refundable, even if the assignee backs out of the deal after signing the assignment provision. In some cases, the assignee will fork over the fee directly to the assignor.
Just because the contract contains an AC does not obligate the buyer to assign the contract. The buyer remains the buyer unless it chooses to exercise the AC, at which point it becomes the assignor. It is up to the buyer to decide whether to go through with the purchase or assign the contract.
Nonetheless, the AC signals the seller of your possible intent to assign the purchase contract to someone else. For one thing, the seller might object if you try to assign the property without an AC.
You can have serious problems at closing if you show up with a surprise assignee. In fact, you could jeopardize the entire deal.
Another thing to consider is whether the buyer’s desire for an AC in the contract will frighten the seller. Perhaps the seller is very picky about the type of buyer to whom it will sell.
Or perhaps the seller has heard horror stories, real or fake, about assignments. Whatever the reason, the real estate contract assignment clause might put a possible deal in jeopardy.
Chain of Title
If you assign a property before the closing, you will not be in the chain of title. Obviously, this differs from the case in which you sell the property five minutes after buying it.
In the latter case, your name will appear in the chain of title twice, once as the buyer and again as the seller. In addition, the latter case would involve two sets of closing costs, whereas there would only one be for the assignment case. This includes back-to-back (or double) closings.
Assignment might not be enforceable in all situations, such as when:
- State law or public policy prohibits it.
- The contract prohibits it.
- The assignment significantly changes the expectations of the seller. Those expectations can include decreasing the value of the property or increasing the risk of default.
Also note that REO (real estate owned) properties, HUD properties, and listed properties usually don’t permit assignment contracts. An REO property is real estate owned by a bank after foreclosure. Typically, these require a 90-day period before a property can be resold.
How Assets America Can Help
The AC is a portion of a purchase agreement. When a purchase involves a commercial property requiring a loan of $10 million or greater, Assets America® can arrange your financing.
We can finance wholesalers who decide to go through with a purchase. Alternatively, we can finance assignees as well. In either case, we offer expedient, professional financing and many supporting services. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What rights can you assign despite a contract clause expressly prohibiting assignment?
Normally, a prohibition against assignment does not curb the right to receive payments due. However, circumstances may cause the opposite outcome. Additionally, prohibition doesn’t prevent the right to money that the contract specifies is due.
What is the purpose of an assignment of rents clause in a deed of trust and who benefits?
The assignment of rents clause is a provision in a mortgage or deed of trust. It gives the lender the right to collect rents from mortgaged properties if the borrower defaults. All incomes and rents from a secured property flow to the lender and offset the outstanding debt. Clearly, this benefits the lender.
What is in assignment clause in a health insurance contract?
Commonly, health insurance policies contain assignment of benefits (AOB) clauses. These clauses allow the insurer to pay benefits directly to health care providers instead of the patient. In some cases, the provider has the patient sign an assignment agreement that accomplishes the same outcome. The provider submits the AOB agreement along with the insurance claim.
What does “assignment clause” mean for liability insurance?
The clause would allow the assignment of proceeds from a liability award payable to a third party. However, the insured must consent to the clause or else it isn’t binding. This restriction applies only before a loss. After a first party loss, the insurer’s consent no longer matters.