By Kay Wilson-Bolton
President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®
July 29, 2000
This topic provides a fair amount of discussion material when it comes to real estate transactions and the involvement of an attorney.
Most REALTORS® would promote the notion that attorneys are not grounded in the practical, day-to-day grind of the getting the transaction done. There is the real world of real estate and the perfect world of contracts.
Some argue that anyone could break a contract no matter how well it is written. Others also correctly argue that a well-written contract minimizes the impact and the effects of a breach.
Both statements are true. Contracts were designed to help people remember their promises, but as the relationships change during a contract period and become tainted or life’s changes wrap an agreement into a new twist, contract interpretation can raise its sometimes-ugly head.
For example, a property owner has an opportunity to obtain a new job on the east coast. She selects a REALTOR® to assist her with the sale of her home. The REALTOR® quickly finds buyers who begin the selling process of their condo on the beach which is sold to first-time buyers who, after obtaining loan approval, give thirty day notice to the landlord who rents the unit immediately.
This sounds like the dream transaction until the first seller discovers the job offer on the east coast has been withdrawn. While they are disappointed, they report to their REALTOR® that they no longer wish to sell their home.
“Oh, oh”, says the REALTOR®, “we may have a problem. You did not list your home subject to your job transfer. The people buying yours have already sold theirs to people who given notice to their landlord and their apartment has been rented.”
The REALTOR® should have protected the client by adding a contingency clause into the listing agreement. However, the client is also responsible for using good judgment and thinking ahead.
A basic rule about when to involve an attorney is when the signer of a contract does not understand the terms and conditions. Another rule would be when things begin to not feel just right.
With mutual respect, REALTORS® and attorneys can work hand in hand to benefit their mutual clients.
The Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® offers the opportunity for mediation between REALTORS® and their clients. The public also has the option of filings complaints against REALTOR® members directly with the Association.
However, real estate agents who are not REALTOR® members cannot be taken to task in this arena. Your only option is the courts or the Department of Real Estate.
When selecting an agent, be sure to ask if he or she is a REALTOR® . There are benefits for everyone.
Kay Wilson-Bolton is president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS®. For more information, contact Kay Runnion, Interim CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com