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If I had a dollar for every time I've declined to answer a question because someone somewhere might interpret the answer as legal advice, I could go buy a nice ocean-front condo in Ocean City, Maryland.
The interesting thing about this is that my answer might be a whole lot more practical and save my clients a lot of money.
Case in point...
Mr. Buyer: I signed the seller's counter-offer; how can they accept another offer?
Ms. Margaret: I could share my opinion with you, Mr. Buyer, but I hesitate doing so because that might be interpreted as legal advice.
Mr. Buyer: Okay... Hello, Mr. Attorney, I have a question...
Mr. Attorney: It could be argued that you have a contract. ($$$, please.) I could write a letter to the seller threatening a law suit that will tie up the title so they can't sell the property to anyone else. ($$$, please.) Then I could prepare a law suit so they see we're serious. ($$$, please.) If I actually file the lawsuit, it will cost you ($$$, please). Of course, if it goes to court...
By the way, if you claim you have a contract, you need to complete loan application ($$$) and inspections ($$$) in a timely manner, per your "contract," even though you may not win and get the house. Etc., Etc., Etc.
This pretty much describes the scenario experienced by one of my clients last year. Finally, I couldn't stand to watch them hemorrhage money to the attorney, any more, and I offered this practical (not legal) advice:
Ms. Margaret: Let's set aside the legal question and leave it unanswered rather than wait months for this matter to make it through the lengthy legal process, at great cost to you. Meanwhile, you're not accomplishing your goal of moving to a one-level home... there are others on the market.
Let me find another home for you that might suit your needs even better than the first one. I'm sure you'd rather put your money towards buying and fixing up your new home than paying legal fees toward a home you may not get in the end.
Problem solved! Six weeks later, my clients closed on a well-maintained home (not a flipper, as the first one had been) in a much nicer neighborhood. The second home was located in the zip code where they had lived for over 20 years, so they didn't have to change doctors, place of worship, or even shopping and dining venues.
No, it wasn't a sinister attorney... he was just doing what I couldn't: he provided my clients with legal advice.
Next time a client asks me a question that could be interpreted as asking for legal advice, I'll share this story. Sometimes, the answer is not as important as maintaining the focus and just finding the right house.
Copyright 2006-13. Margaret Woda. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Information contained in this post is deemed reliable on the date of publication, but it is not guaranteed and it is subject to change without notice.
Margaret Woda, REALTOR & Associate Broker Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., 2191 Defense Hwy., Crofton, MD 21114 Direct: (410) 451-6245 or click on EMAIL
Real Estate and community information for home buyers and sellers, military transferees, and rookie agents in the greater Crofton area, including Bowie, Davidsonville, Fort Meade, Gambrills, Odenton, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.