Balance Customs with Courtesies in Real Estate Practices 

Kay Wilson-Bolton

February 15, 2018

It is no secret that just about everything we do takes place quickly — or it is designed to.

One outstanding example is found in how we get real estate documents signed. Some years ago, electronic signing made its debut. No longer did we need to meet face to face. What we sacrificed was the personal connection and the ability to explain documents clients are asked to sign. This is particularly true of seller’s disclosures. There are many reasons why an agent should sit with their client, if possible, and help them complete these documents.  If the client is a distance away, even a phone call would be helpful.

While the question on a disclosure generally is, “Are you aware?”, many clients are quick to simply answer “no.”  But, when it comes to the question of neighborhood noises and nuisance, it is helpful to think through possible scenarios. Does the neighborhood have a teenage in a band that practices loudly four days a week after school? Are there barking dogs? Do neighbors rent out rooms in their house generating numerous cars on the street in front of the client’s house? Is the fence on their property line, or on the neighbor’s. Is there a recorded easement to use a driveway or was it a casual agreement?

There is now a trick question on our standards forms and that is “are there any plumbing fixtures which are non-compliant with regard to updated efficiency guidelines?”  That answer is more often than not a “yes”. And, it’s really easy to miss a particular signature at the very top of page 3.

Talking it out gets a better disclosure and that produces a better future for everyone.

The real change began when the fax machine allowed us to transmit documents across town without getting in our cars. It was back then when Realtors ceased meeting as the clients’ house to present offers and discuss the merits and details. The real advocacy of real estate sales died a sudden death.

As we move even closer to wordless communication with email and texting, the challenges magnify because many of us have given up land lines and rely on cell phones. Many of us keep our phones on 24/7 for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it remains the only point of contact in an emergency.

That needs to be remembered when a sudden thought occurs in the middle of the night and we want to hurl a message into space, thinking it will arrive in the morning. We know it lands in an instant and should remember it will awaken the recipient.

Exceptional courtesy is to keep texting and emails to the hours of “Do Not Call” — not before 8 am and not after 9 pm. Getting a text about a termite report at 2 am is not helpful. If you aren’t really awake, it is tempting to text back, “Thank you” and of course as you doze off, comes another one stating, “You are welcome.”

Common courtesy should be to limit bad news to daytime so the processing factors are more manageable. What prompted this column of hearing from a client that their agent in another city sent a text at 10:15 pm to report their seller had accepted another offer.

I encouraged the client to tell their agent to save news like that til morning. She admitted that there was little sleep that night. Further frustrating was their inability to do anything to combat their situation.

The days of a kinder and gentler business environment can be reinstated but we have to work at it using the new rules of communication. This is true of our world in general. Our best roles in life are to be patient, helpful, accommodating, encouraging and forgiving. I’m going to start on that again tomorrow and send a text to myself right now to remind me! 

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a broker associate with Century 21 Troop and has been serving Ventura County homeowners since 1976.  She can be reached at 805.3340.5025. Her blog is