Real estate agency and brokerage in Georgia. TOO MUCH of a good thing?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Richard Weisser Realty

Real estate agency and brokerage in Georgia. TOO MUCH of a good thing by Richard WeisserThe role of the real estate agent and broker in a Georgia real estate transaction is often misconstrued.

One of the services that I offer is expert testimony regarding the actions of agents and brokers in real estate transactions that result in lawsuits.

In most situations, the first call from the lawyer pretty much puts an end to the potential case. For some reason, there is a common public perception, even amongst those in the legal realm, that agents and brokers have a lot more responsibilities in a transaction than they actually do.

In Georgia our duties obligations to our clients MUST be clearly stated in writing and agreed to by both broker and client. In most cases these duties are VERY limited.

Oddly enough, many agents and brokers get into trouble by doing TOO MUCH! They go beyond the scope of there agency agreement and in doing so potentially expose themselves to indefensible litigation.

Of course they mean well. They really want to help. And in many cases they do help their clients with their wealth of experience and knowledge.

But when things go awry, the blame games begin. What was once regarded as good advice is now the basis of a claim for damages.

Brokers must have clear policies and procedures in place and enforce them.

When in doubt, agents should consult with their qualifying broker. Brokers should consult with an attorney.

 

Disclaimer: The above represents the opinion of a Georgia Real Estate Broker and not an attorney. Also speak to attorney when seeking legal advice.

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Rainmaker
1,002,006
June Piper-Brandon
Long & Foster Hampden - Baltimore, MD
Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time

Richard, Excellent advice and Lenn is right, it applies not just in Georgia.  The contract of sale very clearly states that the agent is just the messenger- not responsible for the performance of the contract and that if the client wants to know anything about anything they need to consult an expert and that the agent is not an expert.  Policies and Procedures are in place for a reason and some of the larger better run companies train and supervise their agents well but many do not. 

Jul 15, 2014 11:58 PM #3
Rainmaker
3,978,839
William Feela
WHISPERING PINES REALTY - North Branch, MN
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Great advice.  I know many times it would be quicker and faster to give the answer...but legally, you are put in the hot seat if something goes wrong.

Jul 16, 2014 12:00 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,938,655
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

The truth, the whole truth and well you know about nothing but the truth. You may be seated... now isn't it true that in real estate listing, twisting and selling that blah blah. Paid by the hour as a hired expert is no bad to shake up the day, try something Perry Mason Court TV like.

Jul 16, 2014 12:13 AM #5
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Richard- that should be the value that the brokers brings to the table!  We should be able to depend upon the broker to maintain standards.

Jul 16, 2014 12:21 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,067,144
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

My first broker was very" litigation-shy" and drummed it into us to be careful what we say and do.  If in doubt, say nothing until you check.

Jul 16, 2014 01:09 AM #7
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Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

I cringe when agents tell me they are "inspecting the slab" for a buyer. Heck even providing comps to an appraiser to "boost" value makes me raise an eyebrow.

Jul 16, 2014 01:33 AM #8
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Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Yes, I have a fairly lengthy P&P in place and not only do all my agents have to read and sign it, we review it annually.  If it's not in writing, we don't do it.

Jul 16, 2014 03:37 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,558,046
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

And when I try to go over the Sale Agreement (contract) with my clients, they fall asleep.  Well, good thing they have me as their fiduciary, since I know what I'm doing.  A lot of agents do not.  BTW, the COE might also come into play, no?

Jul 16, 2014 04:15 AM #10
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Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Richard absolutely the broker must have a strong and well spelled out policy and procedures in place. I also believe that brokers have a responsibility to continually up level their agents awareness, understanding and knowledge of all the laws, regulations and contracts. Agency is a sticky wicket and many agents have no idea of how deep a hole they can get themselves into - fast. That's where a good broker can make a huge difference.

Jul 16, 2014 04:49 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,335,453
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

There are many times in a real estate transaction when Realtors and loan officers know more about a situation than the attorneys.

Jul 16, 2014 08:05 AM #12
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Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

John...

Back at ya!

Lenn...

In GA a signed P&P is required, but as you say, many brokers skimp here and regret later!

June...

Brokers need to monitor agents activities, especially when they seem to stray from the signed agreement!

Bill...

And you ALWAYS get blamed!

Andy...

And let the poor agent do the stuff that they are supposed to do!

Jul 16, 2014 10:23 AM #13
Rainmaker
908,388
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

It would be great to see you, Richard, on "Real Estate Court tv." A new, next career?

Jul 16, 2014 02:52 PM #14
Rainmaker
2,742,195
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Too many cooks in the kitchen maybe

Jul 16, 2014 04:07 PM #15
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Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

Kathy...

It's important to maintain some level of competence!

Margaret...

I think that's a good way of looking at it!

Doug...

Now that's an idea for a blog post!

Tammy...

Of course you do because you do everything correctly because you are a great broker!

Carla...

Interestingly enough in GA we are not fiduciaries under law, and law trumps the C.O.E.

Anna...

Truer words were never spoken!

Jeff...

They can provide information, but should not make recomendations.

Pamela...

Now that's a great idea. HGTV are you listening?

Laura...

Maybe!

Jul 16, 2014 09:17 PM #16
Rainmaker
2,434,768
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Yes to this post...It is wise to know what you do and what you don't do and keep all channels open and operational in case of a meltdown....I have worked out many a problem while it was in the teeny tiny stage...way before it became or could become court food...thank you

Jul 17, 2014 12:24 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,523,577
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

Richard, thanks for the great advice, agency laws in Florida and Virginia, the two states I sold real estate couldn't be more different.

Jul 17, 2014 12:32 AM #18
Rainmaker
592,740
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

Very true. I read a blog this morning about how she has painted, pulled weeds, moved furniture, etc etc. We used to do a lot of those things, but liability has eliminated most of the 'good neighbor' assistance.

Taking extra pictures (which the blog was about) is easy to do, but some of the other things she mentioned were things we did in the 80s and early 90s to help get it SOLD. (All legal at the time.)

Jul 17, 2014 01:39 AM #19
Rainer
482,868
Chandler Real Estate Liz Harris, MBA
Liz Harris Realty - Chandler, AZ
#ChandlerRealEstateAgent

Great post today, was a pleasure reading it.  Look forward to your next one.  Liz in Chandler

Jul 17, 2014 01:08 PM #20
Rainmaker
225,155
Mark Neighbor
A O Home Solutions - Sell House Georgia - Buy House Georgia - McDonough, GA
Sell House Fast In Georgia

Good post, good information. Looking forward to the next one. Sometimes the Attorney needs to get involved early and save a headache later. Most of the time common sense helps and remembering people are not all the same and everything from personality to attitiude gets in the way at times.

Jul 17, 2014 10:45 PM #21
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Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Great post Richard,

It reminds me of a case I heard in one broker's class...

It seems that before closing on a home, the same day the buyers agent and the client had a final inspection of the house and the client complained about the low flow shower on the master bath...not enough water pressure. 

The buyer agent eager for his commission ,was not going to lose it for a little problem like that...so he told his buyer...

"Don't worry about it, I'll fix it myself after closing!" 

So, after closing he went to Home Depot,. purchased a $5 shower head and went back to the house to replace the one that he perceived to be clogged with sediments and with a new shower head.. thought all the problems will be solved.

New shower head installed...

still low flow..

His client, now the homeowner reminded home of what he promised ...

He was going to fix it...it wasn't fixed yet...

a little investigation and the problem was the pipes...bad initial installation configuration, walls had to be ripped to install new plumbing to solve the problem. .at thousands of dollars of cost

Agent was asked to fix it ...he said that he only promised to replace the shower head...and the client contended that he promised to fix the problem...and the problem was not fixed..

Months later, after a difficult battle with the licensing commission, insurances and broker's involvement....

the agent over promised...

and he was asked to pay!

all from a $5 shower head...and a promise

 

Jul 18, 2014 12:51 AM #22
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