Hawaii Randy's Real Estate Opinions: REALTORS® Point Out Red Flags, They Don’t Give All The Answers

REALTORS® Point Out Red Flags, They Don’t Give All The Answers

As a REALTOR® my primary job is to protect my client's interest.  It is not to practice law, give tax advice our give engineering opinions.  I am licensed to sell homes; I am not a Lawyer, a CPA, a Contractor or an Engineer of any type.  I can loose my license for practicing law and giving professional advice for something other than what I am licensed to do.

This is the hardest thing for many agents to remember.  I constantly hear agents make comments like this home has settling issues or you can knock out that wall and move it there.  I cringe when I hear agents make comments like that.  I have even heard them giving tax advice or legal advice.

Last week I showed a home that appeared to have possible settling issues.  Let me repeat the important part of that sentence: possible.  I saw cracking in walls and ceilings and windows that were out of square.  I also saw deck and stair cases pulling away from the walls.  If you asked me to make a bet, I would law a few bucks down on settling.  What did I tell my clients?  There may be a possible settling issue. (I also pointed to what I was looking at).  I then stated if they wish to purchase this home they should have it inspected by the appropriate professional to determine if it is a problem and if so what the needed remedies are.

Our job is to point out red flags and point them to the appropriate type of professional to get it properly addressed, not to give advice on the problem.  If a client has a tax issue or a potential tax issue, I recommend they speak to their tax professional.  If they need legal advice, you guessed it I recommend they speak to an appropriate attorney.  The big one, if they ask if they can knock out walls or make extensions, I recommend they get in touch with a licensed contractor to determine the feasibility and costs.

I know it is tempting for agents to give legal and tax advice, especially when they think they know the answer.  After all we all want to be loved by our clients and we want to be helpful.  I can only say one thing.  Don't Do It!

If you truly want to be helpful, point out the red flags, document it and recommend they seek professional advice.

 

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Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®

Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR

eXp Realty

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. 

www.HawaiiRandy.comOahu (Honolulu County) Property Search  Hawaii Military Relocations

Comment balloon 25 commentsRandy Prothero • July 23 2008 11:05PM

Comments

Excellent post, Randy.  I think too many people are uncomfortable with silence.... or perhaps they think by not giving an answer their professional reputation will somehow become slightly tarnished.  Bottom line... if it's not your area of expertise... close thy lips. 

Posted by Jesse & Kathy Clifton, Retired (Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS®) over 10 years ago

Jesse - I let clients know that by law I can not give those answers.  Most understand and respect that.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Randy - excellent advice.  I recommend that all buyers have a home inspection, even if there are no red flags.  I do point out the red flags as you say - and that is a good idea to document it - I am going to start doing that on a buyer pro/con list that I use sometimes.  Thanks.

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (ERA - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) over 10 years ago

Agreed... I doubt 99% of folks would give it a second thought... the 'loose lips' agent never stops to think about that though.  

Posted by Jesse & Kathy Clifton, Retired (Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS®) over 10 years ago

Virginia - I recommend to all of my buyers that they have professional home inspections.  To date all but one did.  They one exception had a relative who was a licensed contractor do it on a studio condo.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Jesse - They will think about it when it is too late.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

Randy, you are right. It is all about about managing risk exposure and serving our clients!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

Randy - No argument here.  As a broker, I am careful to teach this to our agents as well.  I have never had a mediation or threat of lawsuit in almost 12 years of real estate.  Great post!

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 10 years ago

Gary - That is true.

Jason - I have not had any either and I hope to keep it that way.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

We are the source of the source and that does help the client and protect us from lawsuits...

Your Friend in Charlottesville!

Posted by Charles McDonald, REALTOR®, Blogger, Principal Broker®, Owner (Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions) over 10 years ago

I won't do it...you have to be careful how much to cross over the line. I'll make suggestions but always suggest to hire a professional in that area.

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Randy, you are right!  Going beyond the bounds of our licenses can get us into trouble.  But staying too far on the other side of the line can, too.  It's a balancing act!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Charles - That we are.

Neal - That is what we are supposed to do.  If the client ops not to use a professional, the best bet is to send them a follow-up, so we have a paper trail that we made the appropriate recommendation.

Patricia - There is a certain amount of risk we all assume when doing business.  Going beyond your license is not the kind of risk anyone should take on.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Randy, One of my favorite lines is from the movie "Michael". "That's not my area"!! I have a team of people on my side that can answer questions, do inspections and make repairs if necesary. I don't need to know too much. I just need to know who to call.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) about 10 years ago

Randy - I tell my clients I'm not qualified to answer that question, but I can direct you to someone who is.  They don't expect me to have all the answers but they do like to know I can direct them to a licensed specialist.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) about 10 years ago

Randy, right on the money.  I totally agree.  I do mortgages and that is what I talk to my Borrowers about.  When the conversation starts to get into the Realtor, Attorney, Accountant, Appraiser, etc end of things I direct them to those professionals.  The wrong advice can be very costly in many ways.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) about 10 years ago

B.B. - Knowing who to call is critical.

Norma - I let them know that by law I am not allow to give that advice.

George - It sure can.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

I agree and I really get disturbed if an inspector or insurance agent attempts to play expert real estate.

Posted by Trey Thurmond, College Station , Texas Homes (BCR Realtors) about 10 years ago

Trey - I agree, that gets under my skin also.  What is worse is the hairdresser who knows what their home is worth.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Randy, I just came from Pat Kennedy's  Active Rain Week In Review: August 20th - 26th I can certainly see why your post was included. Our job is to recognize the red flags. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) about 10 years ago

Margaret - I have to remind myself.  It is so easy to give opinions where we shouldn't.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Great information, never be afraid to say I don't know but let's get an expert to give us the answer.

Have A Great Day

Posted by Doris Freeman, Broker/Agent, Realtor, Madison-Gibson-Crockett (RE/MAX REALTY SOURCE) about 10 years ago

Doris - Even if I think I know and it is outside of my license, I still recommend getting a professional.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Randy, I definitely agree. Though sometimes I get a look like, "Well, what do I know?:-) I regularly utilize a home inspector that regularly reminds me of my training, licensing and limitations. I am no more a home inspector, surveyor, or contractor than I am an attorney.

Posted by M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk), Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS (NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time) about 10 years ago

Suzi - Sounds like a wise home inspector.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

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