We all learned in the very beginning of our career in license school the fiduciary duties. When and if you form an agency relationship, you owe the seller OLD CAR. You remember, obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, and reasonable care. I thought it might be time to take a look under the hood of that OLD CAR. Even put it up on the lift and take a look at the undercarriage.
It is essential to follow the Sellers instructions. You must also follow ethical, regulatory, and legal guidelines. A great example of this is DeWolfe v Hingham Center Realty. The seller indicated one use for the property might be a mix of commercial and residential. The agent made that zoning disclosure. The agent also added in the P&S that the buyer verifies the zoning for their use. That was not the legal zoning of the property. Unfortunately for the agent, the court ruled against the agent for misrepresentation. Make sure you and the seller STEER clear of untruthful statements. Document, Verify, and Disclose.
If I have heard it once from listing agents, I have heard it a Bazillion times, “I know it is overpriced, but….” Yes, even in this market, agents are listing overpriced properties. When you sign your name on that listing contract, you have agreed to sell that property at that agreed-upon price. What if that seller overheard you convincing someone to bring in a lower price offer. I am not sure they would agree with you that you are acting in their best interest. If you can’t ACCELERATE to their price, then don’t sign the listing agreement.
Most agents ask sellers why they are moving. The Smith’s reply “Because they are putting in a 100 lot subdivision across the street. But don’t tell anyone because that will lower the chances of us selling.” And during your due diligence, you discover the plans for the subdivision on file at the town hall. As you gather your paperwork, everyone you come in contact with is talking about the new subdivision. Did you know that Massachusetts law does not require the seller to make this disclosure? But your disclosure is critical. Remember, two standards of disclosure are what you know and what you have discovered. Talk to your seller about disclosure. Make sure they understand the importance of a smooth and precise transaction. Don’t let the CHECK ENGINE LIGHT come on by a lack of due diligence or disclosure.
Many things are often disclosed, and some things are never discussed. No, I am not talking about your last road trip with your teenagers. I am talking about a seller’s confidential information. But the decision is the sellers, never yours. A regular discussion with a seller is a great idea. Make sure you are on the same route when it comes to what answers and information to give a buyer or buyer’s agent. Don’t forget to document these conversations, and an email is an excellent tool for documentation. Be the high-quality AIR FILTER of confidential information.
Show me the money! As the paperwork in a transaction gets faster and faster, the money continues to move at a snail’s pace. The separate speed of money and contracts is becoming problematic. Make sure you are exchanging checks for contracts. Deposit money in a proper and maintained escrow account – immediately. Most important, do not take action inconsistent with the contract. Or other mutually agreed-upon instructions. Make sure your money policies are the ALL-WHEEL DRIVE forward for the transaction
There are a thousand ways to show a seller you care. Accommodate showings. Be available for showing request or, arrange coverage. Available for all showings – listing to contract (or sale if agreed upon). Even if you have an offer or find yourself on the other side of the county. Graciously accepting all offers from your fellow REALTORS. Without any of your terms or conditions. Being even-keeled and unemotional in the transaction and helping the seller to be so as well. Create a comprehensive listing in MLS. Take great pictures, gather detailed information, and document sources. Don’t become the ANTILOCK BRAKES in the transaction.
Also, remember much of these duties would be owed a seller customer as well. We owe the duties of accountability and reasonable care to all seller customers. And possibly confidentiality if agreed. We owe it to all consumers, to be honest, and fair. Most importantly, we have pledged to follow the Golden Rule with our fellow REALTORS. Do unto them as we would have done unto us.
Now it is time for your tune-up.
Article courtesy of Jody O’Brien, Distrupter Interrupter of The RE/Education Company