One of the first rules of real estate should be, “You’re a Realtor, not a lawyer.” Yet I don’t recall anyone making a point to say that.
Every Jurisdiction is Different
There are some states and jurisdictions that use licensed lawyers to negotiate the terms and conditions for their respective buyers and sellers. The Realtor is responsible for helping the buyer find the right place or helping the seller sale their property. Once the house is found, the client is handed over to a lawyer to write and negotiate the offer.
Other jurisdictions require the Realtor to write and negotiate the offer on behalf of their client.
If you are in a jurisdiction where you negotiate on behalf of your client, be careful to stay in your lane.
Know the Contract
You should know the contract inside and out. That may sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how many real estate agents don’t know what’s in the contract.
You know they don’t know the contract because when you’re in the middle of a transaction with them, they try to tell you incorrect information. They usually quote what was in the contract ten years ago about what your client can and can’t do.
When the agent doesn’t know the contract, it’s highly unlikely that their client will know the contract. Although buying and selling a house is a huge financial decision, it’s incredible how many people don’t read the contract.
Once the transaction starts heading south, then everyone starts reading. By then the damage has already been done.
Contracts are constantly revised. Make sure you stay on top of those changes. Thankfully, many jurisdictions require a course on contracts as part of their Continuing Education requirements.
Don’t Write Your Own Language
Virtually everything that can happen in a real estate transaction is covered in the contract or an accompanying Addendum. In my jurisdiction our Addenda covers everything from Sale of Home Contingency to Pre-Settlement Occupancy to delayed HVAC inspection.
Check with your Association to see if they have what you are looking for.
You are not a lawyer, so don’t try and write your own language. If the situation you are dealing with is so unique, talk to your broker and have them draft the language.
You May Be a Real Lawyer
There are many real estate agents who were lawyers in a past life. Although it may be tempting, don’t forget you are no longer allowed to practice law.
You are now a Realtor. You cannot give ANY legal advice.
The natural inclination of Realtors is to solve issues. It’s what we do.
However, when it comes to the contract, it’s important for us to step back and stay in our lane. If a client has a question or issue that is more complex than you are comfortable with, you need to refer them to a real estate attorney.
Gracefully let them know that you are unable to assist them and that they need to speak with an attorney. By doing so you save yourself from giving misinformation or misleading your client.
The Buck Stops Here
Remember, real estates are an easy target. When something goes wrong with the transaction or with the house, the finger gets pointed at us.
We are the most visable person in the transaction, therefore the easiest to blame.
It’s great to be helpful, but you don’t want to end up in court for giving inaccurate advice or worse, practicing law.
Are you tired of having difficult transactions?
Enjoy less stress by having smoother transactions by implementing these simple strategies today!
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