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Ten Ways to Ensure a Smooth Sailing Real Estate Transaction
Keep written notes of all transactions
Many licensees and consumers keep notes on important discussions and events, however, not all do so. Written notes can help to refresh memories and document what actually happened if a dispute later arises. Written notes are generally more reliable than memory as memories often fade and events run together. Therefore, record important events and discussions.
Recommendations or requests should be made in writing
If you are a licensee who recommends an inspection for the buyer, put it in writing. If you are a consumer who has requested specific information from the licensee, put that in writing. Written documents are usually less misunderstood and easier to answer than oral requests.
Have the home inspected prior to purchase
A home inspection oftentimes locates real property defects prior to purchase. At the Real Estate Commission, we hear of countless cases where a consumer attempts to save two hundred dollars and buys a house with a problem which later costs the consumer several thousand dollars.
Return all phone calls and emails promptly
The Commission conducts settlement hearings in many cases where the licensee and consumer's primary difficulty is a lack of effective communication. Oftentimes, either the licensee or consumer becomes alienated because of what is perceived as a lack of communication. Many complaints can be prevented if the licensee and consumer both return all phone calls and emails.
Exercise caution when acting as a licensee-party
A high percentage of KREC disciplinary cases involve licensee activity while the licensee is acting as a buyer or seller. Our experience has shown these transactions often lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings for the consumer. Special efforts at disclosure, documentation, and communication should be considered when acting as licensee-party.
Treat others appropriately
The KREC has found that the seeds for a complaint are often sewn when someone's feelings are hurt. Many disputes, which may have worked out, result in complaints and lawsuits when someone treats another inappropriately. Remember this tip when dealing with both consumers and licensees.
Do not assume information or expertise
Occasionally licensees or consumers will assume certain information is true and communicate that information without specific confirmation. Some licensees occasionally answer questions which are beyond their level of expertise. Remember to not act beyond your level of knowledge or expertise.
Land-sale contracts should be properly utilized
The KREC sees a high number of cases in land-sale contract (also called contract for deed) transactions. The reasons for this are not completely clear, however, all parties should be aware of the potential for difficulty in this area.
Be aware of timing requirements for seller's disclosure forms
The KREC receives many complaints based upon delivery of the seller's disclosure form to the buyers at closing. Remember the form is designed to provide the buyers with information about the property so the form should be delivered at the appropriate time.
Discuss multiple-offer situations with your broker prior to listing a property and with the seller at the time of listing
Many calls to the KREC and KREC complaints arise in multiple-offer situations. An associate should be prepared for this situation before it happens and discuss the possibility with the broker prior to taking any listings and with the seller at the time of listing.