Disclosure Issues for River Cleanup

Since the EPA, GE and town settlement on the Rest of the River clean up of the Housatonic was announced, we have focused on the legal obligations for Realtors working in affected areas while representing home owners and prospective buyers.  Our previous article outlined the settlement facts as presented by those who participated in the settlement… and we shared maps and more details at the member meeting this week as well.  Those maps can be found in last week’s article (linked above) and online at the EPA’s site, www.epa.gov/ge-housatonic. On the EPA site, you can also find statements on why the participants agreed to the settlement (also requested at the meeting to try to help Realtors understand).  We are aware that there are groups working to overturn this settlement. Our #1 mission in this process as your REALTOR association is to make sure we are sharing the information you need to help make sound disclosure decisions.  You have legal duties to fulfill for both buyer and seller clients.

Thanks to our MAR Legal Team, we were able to share a brief for Realtors. “What the General Electric and Environmental Protection Agency Settlement Means for REALTORS®”  Unfortunately, off-site disclosure requirements are ambiguous.  The factsheet contains the guidelines found in the 1997 Supreme Judicial Court case, “Urman v. South Boston Savings Bank”.  All broker-owners  should speak to their agents about disclosure and office policy – as well as your seller clients in affected areas about what and how you will disclose.  Based on feedback at the meeting, we have placed a simple disclosure form on the agenda for the Contract & Forms Committee.

Please remember a few important rules for REALTORS –

  • Just the fact’s Ma’am – Only say what you know to be true.
  • You may represent both seller and buyer clients and you have fiduciary duties to them. What you say matters.
  • You have an obligation to talk to and take direction from your BROKER on this. It is not an agent’s decision to make, nor should it be made lightly due to the liability issues.