Terminology: “Sellers and Vendors”


The expressions “Vendors” and “Purchasers” in respect to the sale of real property have been used for centuries. In Ontario there were 3 sources of standard form agreements in Ontario, available from:

1) Dye & Durham,

2) Newsome and Gilbert, and

3) O’Brien’s.

All three made reference to vendors and purchasers.

The National Association of Realtors in the United States decided to introduce “Sellers” and “Buyers” into the mix. The switchover which took place in the 1990’s seemed to be based upon:

1) interference with copyrights,

2) the trend to plain language forms for all kinds of legal contracts, and

3) the development of software programs. In that regard, no one wanted to use the same words that others had already used, hence the popularity of “Sellers and Buyers”, which naturally have the exact same meaning.

The Vendors and Purchasers Act in Ontario applies to parties who are conveying property. That’s still the case. No changes have been made to that legislation. Its roots go back to English law in the 1860’s.

Lawsuits will commonly use vendor and purchaser rather than seller and buyer. The last big case which went to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2012 (Krawchuk v. Scherbak) referred to the parties as vendors and purchasers, even though the Agreement of Purchase and Sale was a standard form OREA document from 2004 using the terms sellers and buyers. 

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker


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