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Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights 2011

Page history last edited by RealEstateCafe 10 years, 9 months ago

1. Right of information access without limitation.
No consumer should be denied access to information sources just because that individual is not a real estate professional or because the real estate professional attempts to use membership in a trade association or a listing service as a condition of “representation”. To the extent information may be available, its access should not be denied except to lawfully protect the adverse party only.


2. Right not to be coerced into using products or service providers.
No consumer should be forced, without the consumer’s full informed consent, into using any particular service or product. Consumers should especially be cautioned where the real estate professional may, by office policy, be required to act as a dual representative or shift services without the consumer’s full informed consent. Consumers have the right NOT to use real estate brokerage services and to “self-represent” if so determined by the consumer.

3. Right to be respected as an individual.
Consumers of real estate services vary as to particular real estate needs. There should be no difference in the way an individual is treated by a real estate professional especially if that individual chooses not to be represented or chooses to use a real estate professional whose services offered may be different in custom or practice from other real estate professionals.

4. Right to a full disclosure of all material facts known.
Selective information, especially material facts, given to induce a buyer or seller into a real estate transaction is wrong. Consumers should not be denied access to quality information that is known, nor prohibited in diligently pursuing such information.

5. Right to have advance, competent legal advice.
Access to legal advice in advance of pursuing a real estate transaction is critical to the consumer because it better establishes “preventive” safeguards while possibly avoiding legal pitfalls that may otherwise be cost prohibitive for the consumer.

6. Right to legal remedies for wrongful actions.
Service providers or others, who knowingly attempt to coerce consumers into transactions that could prove harmful to the consumer, must bear the risks of such harm to the consumer including possible punitive claims. Requiring the consumer to waive any right to sue others should never be a condition of completing a real estate transaction.

7. Right to protect confidential information.
Consumers participating in real estate transactions should have the right to declare their intention that transaction information not be disseminated to others, except as may be required by law. Consumers must understand that listing services and brokerage companies cannot impose disclosure of information requirements on the parties to a real estate transaction.

8. Right of access to alternative service providers.
A real estate transaction involves multiple parties other than buyers and sellers. Consumers have a right to expect service providers, without compromise or limitation, to be loyal, to protect the interests of individual consumers only and to act in all ways as a “true fiduciary”. To the extent, such loyalty is not offered or is compromised or limited in anyway, or if the service provider’s loyalty is required to be given the adverse party, such disclosure should be made in advance of the service provider selection by the consumer.

9. Right for an advance disclosure of all fees and to pay for services based on the value of the service received.
Typically fees paid in a real estate transaction for services provided (mortgage, inspections, brokerage, etc.) are based on custom and historical practices and generally not reflective of true service value. Consumers of real estate services have the right to negotiate for specific fees based on the actual services provided and to know all the fees that are to be earned by the service providers even if the consumer does not pay those fees directly. Fee for services allows the payment for the value of the actual service delivered.

10. Right of security for all electronic transactions, communications and information seeking.
When using electronic methods to conduct real estate transactions, including negotiations and the payment for services, the consumer has the right to secure transmissions to protect the consumer’s financial interests and ability to negotiate without other parties having access to that information. To the extent such transmissions cannot be kept secure, the consumer has the right to know the risks this may cause to the transaction in advance.

11. Ability to obtain or review filed public records dealing with property owners as an estate or in a divorce proceeding.

On occasion, certain property owners may be engaged in ongoing or concluded divorce proceeds; or the property may be in an estate proceeding.  Generally, these proceedings are a matter of “public record” and are available for viewing by possible consumers of real estate services.  Of importance for either matter is reviewing property appraisals for both situations, as well as other details of an estate, especially the possible division of the specific property by an heir or heirs.  Estate proceedings may be dependent upon the number of heirs involved in the possible settlement.  Divorce matters often create more difficult negotiations due to emotional conflicts, and lack of certain agreements, especially relating to the timely sale of the property.

12. Preliminary title report review.

In advance of initiating negotiations for a buyer prospect, the real estate professional may want to contact a title company or other resource to determine what filed documents my exist for the property being purchased.  Obtaining this information may better help the buyer prospect understand the financial obligations of the seller.

13. Kiss and tell (spill).

Often real estate listing agents are hesitant to reveal confidential information about their seller clients.  Making a direct question of the agent as to why the seller has chosen to sell, may result in a non-reply on the basis the listing agent may be defensive in not disclosing such information.  However, in the alternative, when the buyer’s agent, instead, speaks graciously and kindly toward the listing agent, and compliments that agent and the seller, typically the listing agent’s defenses may be lowered.  Then, by expressing strong positives about the house and the seller’s maintenance of it, with a concluding question of: “why on earth would the seller ever want to sell this house?” will generally result in the listing agent providing a free flow of critical information as to the seller’s selling motivations.

14. The woman is the target buyer.

Statistically (non authoritative), 90% of women, in a couple’s situation, generally make the final home buying decision.  Buyer agents know to keep this critical information as confidential as possible from the listing agent, so as not to disadvantage the negotiations for the buyer.  Sellers and their listing agents should make every effort to ascertain which of the two buyers seems the most interested.  The greater the known buyer motivations, generally the better the deal sellers are likely to make.

15. Environmental issues; concerns, costs, and safety.

Ask any real estate professional about his or her experiences in have critical environmental inspections conducted on properties being purchased either on behalf of the buyer or for information by the seller.  Most either won’t address the issue, or just have no experience dealing with these matters.  Clearly, environmental investigations greatly increase the risk of contract termination (or failure).  In most cases, real estate professionals are not seeking ways to terminate a transaction, so don’t expect much in the way of a real estate person’s recommendation for these very important investigations.  However, nearly every property, regardless of age, is at risk for some type of adverse environmental condition.  Most can be remedied, although such to do so in some situations cost can be excessive.  Yet, these issues dominate health and safety concerns, and any informed home buyer should not avoid making these important inspections.  If the real estate professional is not aware of these types of inspections, the consumer should seek professionals experienced in these matters.

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