Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should
Most real estate brokers that I know got into the business because they love helping people. They are servant people at heart and really want to take great care of their clients.
However, the challenge that many brokers face is that they often find themselves between a rock and a hard place when a seller or buyer asks them to do something they really shouldn't be doing. On one hand they want to please their clients and take care of the issue because that is what they do best but on the other hand they may be agreeing to do something that could be completely out of their area of expertise.
If you find yourself facing this kind of dilemma, remember that you are a real estate professional. You aren't a landscaper, lawyer, roof cleaner, contractor, tile setter, painter and certainly not a house cleaner. But I am amazed at how many brokers find themselves doing these types of jobs for their clients and often, it is this goodwill that comes back to bite them later.
It is one thing to guide your client or point them in the right direction to get this kind of help but it is a completely different thing to actually do the work yourself. In fact, this kind of assistance can put both you and your client in a very bad position both legally and from a liability standpoint.
What if something happened while you were up on the roof cleaning it for the seller? Although any incident would be accidental let's say your cleaning brush fell off the roof and hit the neighbor child on the head. Despite this being an accident - it wasn't done maliciously or on purpose, it did create an injury to another person. I can assure you that the child's parents will come looking for someone to pay the medical bills that they may not have had insurance for. And even if the parents don't come after you, the homeowners' insurance most certainly will. Accidents happen all the time and you have no business being on any client's roof ever for any reason.
Although your intentions are good, the punishment for negligence that comes from working outside of your field of expertise is not usually merciful.
Here is another example that I hear agents often undertaking - offering legal advice that they are not qualified to dispense. When in doubt, ask your managing broker and/or your company's legal department. If your client asks a question that requires legal interpretation of a form, process, or precedent, don't be afraid to let your client know that you must consult with your legal superiors as their situation requires additional expertise. That is not a sign of weakness! This is how to provide top quality care to your clients.
Often the best thing you can do for you clients is to have strong professional boundaries. Yes, this requires you to say no to the chores they need done (although you should be solution-minded and provide them with the resources to get the job done) and don't provide legal advice you are not qualified to provide. Don't caught in the trap of feeling that you must do everything a client needs in the name of client care.
Smart agents know when to say no and when to redirect their clients focus to other professionals who can do the jobs you are not able to do for them.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.