One of our most important jobs as agents is to identify red flags to our clients, document and follow up.
An attorney who taught a class I attended a couple of years ago said you can never completely avoid law suits, but you can minimize potential exposure.
When you spot a potential problem with a transaction, whether it is with the documents, the property itself, or anything else that may affect your client, you have a responsibility to notify your client and give a recommended course of action. In most cases the recommended course of action will be to seek professional help. Then always follow up later.
Never forget the three D's, document, document, and document. Your transaction file should have the original notification letter or entry in your phone or e-mail log and any supporting documents. There should also be a follow up letter reminding your client to seek the needed assistance for the remedy. Is your client required to follow up? Absolutely not!
What if your client doesn't follow up and something bad happens later? I know this may surprise you, but sometimes when things go bad clients and other agents may lie.
Possible Scenario #1
- Your attorney: Mr. Client did Agent-A inform you that there was a possible settling issue with the home?
- Client: No he never said a word.
- Your attorney: Mr. Client did you not receive this memo from Agent-A dated 1/10/05 telling you that the problem with the windows and doors not closing properly may be a possible indication of settling and he recommended you bring in a professional to have it checked out?
- Client: Um, well, I don't recall seeing that.
- Your attorney: Mr. Client do you remember this follow-up memo reminding you to seek a professional to inspect for possible settling? How about the phone call at 5:15pm on 1/13/06?
- Client: (tugging on his collar) well maybe.
- Your attorney: Then Mr. Client would you agree that Agent-A was consistently looking out for your interest in this matter and at all times conducted himself as a professional.
- Client: Well I guess
Possible Scenario #2
Client's attorney: Agent-A do you have any proof you ever informed Mr. Client of the need or his right to have the possible settling problem checked out by a professional?
- Agent A: I told him several times
- Client's attorney: I will ask again, do you have any proof?
- Agent A: Well not exactly
Imagine the attorney who looks at your records and sees the memo to the client identifying a possible red flag, your recommendation to you seek professional assistance, your phone logs, the e-mail messages, the follow up letters. That attorney will take one look at your file and in most cases recommend they leave you alone. You are obviously a professional.
Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®
Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR
Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"
Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers. His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area. His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.
Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors. To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents.