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How to avoid ethical and legal setbacks

To avoid legal and ethical issues, it is best to be transparent, honest and responsible.

Buying and selling a home is a complex transaction. It can also become a very emotional process. As an agent, it is your responsibility to make sure you are representing your clients, but also making sure to follow the laws that are put in place. Consider following some of these tips to avoid legal and ethical missteps.

Communicate and be responsive

This is important so that the client feels like they are in all the communications. Today there’s no excuse not to let your clients know what is going on with their offer. If you call them, consider following up with an email to be able to fold onto for your records. It is also important to respond to your client timely. Anything more than 24 hours can be seen as neglectful to a client and give them reason to pursue a grievance against you.

Do not give tax or legal advice

It is in your best interest to make sure that you refer all tax and legal questions to a professional or a lawyer. Taxes regulation and local law change so often, so it is important not to provide your client with incorrect information.

Be careful and thorough with disclosures

Agents need to be on the lookout to make sure there are no issues that can arise. If you’re working with the seller, you need to make sure that all problems are disclosed, even if they are not legally required. If you have the buyer, you should make sure all required disclosures are made. You should also try not to comment on a specific problem. You don’t want to put yourself into an awkward spot if an issue is bigger than you led them to believe.

Multiple offers

In the current marketing, multiple offers are becoming something to expect. It is imperative that you make sure that favoritism is not a factor in selecting a buyer. It is best to show just the numbers and leave out the buyer’s name, so there is not any assumption made. Another area that should be discussed is “buyer’s letters.” They should be avoided. They can easily get you in big trouble with fair housing laws. It is best to steer your buyers away from them, and your seller from accepting them.

Alway be direct

You need to make sure you’re realistic, and do not over price your client’s expectations. Lay out what to expect in different scenarios. If they want to price way over what the house could be worth, let them know that they will have less interest, and then suggest a price that is more inline with what houses are selling for. If you’re dealing with a buyer, you want to let them know that there will be a lot of competition and not give them false hope.

Fair housing laws

Always keep in mind that violations for fair housing are a big deal. If your seller is wanting to know about a potential buyer’s background, you need to let them know that you will not provide this information. If they continue to make the sale personal, it is in your best interest to walk away.

In the end, when it comes to the decision of the transaction, it should ultimately come from the client. If your decision is incorrect or they are unhappy with it, you open the possibility of a grievance can be opened against you.

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