In Research Mode...Holding Ourselves to the Higher Standard

Real Estate Broker/Owner with MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC NC# 218097

Private Eye microsoftBuyers may not realize it, but Sellers do not have a duty to disclose material facts about their property…however, REALTORS do. At least they have a duty to disclose material facts that they know about or might be expected to know about.

That means research. There is probably a huge segment of the population who believe that REALTORS write up Listing Agreements all willy-nilly, take a few lousy photographs, put a sign in the yard and wait for the phone to ring. Sure, we all know there are some REALTORS who do business that way, but not at MoonDancer Realty. For one, the Office Manager would never stand for it and for the other…we just aren’t built that way.

Again, I say…that means research. We’re getting ready to list a couple of properties that the Sellers honestly don’t know much about and that happens a lot. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission however, is of the opinion that the public has a reasonable expectation that licensed agents should make an attempt to research things having to do with zoning, water sources, sewage sources, rough idea of property lines and general condition issues among other things.

So, today we are in research mode. Since our fiduciary responsibilities are to our sellers and possibly our buyers that means that in order to do the best job possible for them, we’d better learn as much about the property as possible. I’ll be visiting Jackson County’s Department of Environmental Health to learn as much about the septic system and shared well as I can, the Jackson County Planning Department to see if the property can be divided and sold as two parcels and the Jackson County Clerk of Court and Register of Deeds to fill in as many blank spaces in the history as possible.

No willy-nilly here. Real estate should be a very intentional business and much as I’d enjoy attending today’s AR webinar about social media…or walking about the Town of Dillsboro with camera in hand…or reading blogs …or enjoying a three martini lunch (okay, maybe not so much that one), we’ll be doing our utmost to have the best information possible about a listing we’ll be taking the responsibility for marketing and selling…and that means research and lots of it.

We learned early on…do your research upfront, disclose EVERYTHING you can and you eliminate a lot of hassle, headaches and heartaches later.

REALTORS are held to a higher standard than their Sellers and should be. They have a duty to disclose all material facts that they know or can be reasonably expected to know…it’s a public service we take seriously.

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Mike & Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

Thank you for the refreshing post.

Up until now, most agents blogs say "I don't do it","I won't do it, "not my job", "too much liability" etc.

The reality is that if you are truely going to represent a buyer or a seller, IT IS YOUR JOB TO INVESTIGATE...despite the liability.

Good job for putting your clients best interest above your own!

Eve in Orlando

Apr 19, 2012 09:15 AM #11
Mike Cooper
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro

Mona, I see why you don't cross the office manager.  Good for you all for during a first class job.  It's a breath of fresh air.  

Apr 19, 2012 09:27 AM #12
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

It's so sad tehat all agents/brokers and firms don't function with this same attitude and practice.  Not only does it do justice for your seller client, but is ultimately helpful to then entire process.

Apr 19, 2012 11:29 AM #13
Yvonne Schnee
Keller Williams Realty Moorestown - Lumberton, NJ

Sienna does a great job running the office! I agree with the comments posted by Mike & Eve above. Love hearing How to get the job done rather than complaining. Refreshing, informative & well written post. Thank you!


Apr 19, 2012 11:52 AM #14
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL - (561) 716-7824 - CRS, ABR, GRI

Mona,  Tammy said it so well.  I've run into that same problem from illegal room additions to not knowing the rules and regs of a community.  I applaud you for a job well done.

Apr 19, 2012 11:55 AM #15
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Mona, I work in three jurisdictions (DC, MD and VA) and each has its own ground rules for disclosure.  Whatever laws we think might allow our sellers or ourselves to keep known defects, my policy is discloure, disclosure, disclosure. 

Apr 19, 2012 11:57 AM #16
Leslie G. Rojohn
MoonDancer Realty - Sylva, NC
GRI, ABR ~ MoonDancer Realty

The office manager is a task master, but we wouldn't have it any other way.  We could just throw a bunch of garbage into our ads and on MLS and hope someone else will sort it all out as the process plays out, but what in the heck do we get paid for if not for our knowledge and integrity.

Apr 19, 2012 12:16 PM #17
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Roger, I think the first time I try a martini...I'd want it to be with you.

Sheila, the Officer Manager insists on things getting done the right way.

Sue, thanks for the mashing ;-).  Good catch for Robin on the encroachment.

Belinda, there was no way I could make the webinar...I was disappointed but you are first.

Eve, maybe I'll catch the next Rain Camp.  Thanks for your words.

Mike, breathe deep...all we like is fresh air.

Tammy, as you know if you don't attend to the details early on you could be quite sorry later.

Yvonne, stay tuned and you might catch a complaining rant here once in a while!

Elyse, thanks for the nod.

Pat, disclose is the only thing that makes sense.

Leslie, you are the most ethical person I know when it comes to the marketing of the listings.

Apr 19, 2012 01:03 PM #18
Pacita Dimacali
Alain Pinel - Oakland, CA
Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA


When in doubt, disclose, disclose, disclose

Our standard disclaimer is "deemed reliable but not guaranteed" so it's up to the buyer to "trust, but verify"


Apr 19, 2012 01:28 PM #19
Anthony Daniels
Coldwell Banker - San Francisco, CA
SF Bay Area REO Specialist

Even under daily adversity, we should always take the high road.

Good post.

Apr 19, 2012 03:39 PM #20
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Pacita, yes.  Every purchase screams Due Diligence and verify, verify, verify.

Anthony, there is daily adversity, isn't there.  Thanks.

Apr 19, 2012 09:07 PM #21
Joni Bailey
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties - Huntsville, TX
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®

In Texas, sellers are required to disclose material facts that they know. The problem is, sometimes they have no idea. Is the lot they want to sell large enough for a septic system? Maybe, maybe not. The only way to know for sure is to hire a licensed sanitarian to verify it. The cost is about $150.00. Personally, I would not purchase a lot without that report. If the seller does not have that report and will not pay for it. We are quick to let buyers know that they should verify with a registered sanitarian that the lot qualifies for a septic system, what kind, and how much it will cost. All septic systems are not equal. Some can be over in the 10's of thousands +. YIKES  GREAT post!!

Apr 19, 2012 10:12 PM #22
Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Luxury Prop Specialist Realty Associates

Sellers are required to disclose material facts, at least here in Florida they are. We have them fill out a form. We do not help them. They sign it. 

Remember, behind every form there is a lawyer waiting to meet you. 

Apr 19, 2012 10:42 PM #23
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Allen, thank you.

Erv, we do not fill out the form. The sellers fill out the form but they can elect to check either to disclose something or to check the "no representation" box.  If they check that box and the licensed agent knows there is a material fact, we must disclose it.

Apr 19, 2012 10:45 PM #24
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Joni, thanks. It's always interesting to see how things are done across the country.

Apr 19, 2012 10:47 PM #25
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Mona, this is the way it should be when taking a listing. When in doubt disclose.

Apr 19, 2012 11:25 PM #26
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Sellers are requires to disclose "known" material facts, but hard to prove knowledge of what the seller should know.  So we do our due diligene as the buyers agents and recomment the inspections, etc.  If you are listing you are certainly working for your sellers in that regard, Mona

Apr 20, 2012 03:13 AM #27
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Michael, with your specialty in commercial real estate, I guess you've really gotten comfortable with disclosure.

Carla, like you I really enjoy being a buyer's agent but when I am a seller's agent...I'm 100% advocating for them.

Apr 20, 2012 12:50 PM #28
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

In our state, Sellers must disclose, and even the banks have to sign a disclosure statement which I think is weird.

Apr 20, 2012 10:24 PM #29
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Ron, what happens if it is an absentee seller?  Someone who may never have lived in the house?  Is there an opportunity for them to sign "no representation" on your disclosure?  Wonder what kind of disclosure the lender is signing?  Some sort of good faith estimate type thing?  Yes, if they are disclosing something about the house...that is weird.

Apr 20, 2012 11:13 PM #30
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GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.
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