In an extremely litigious society, real estate professionals are not immune from litigation and ethical violation complaints. Cover Your Agency (CYA) is instilled in Real Estate 101 and should be in your yellow sticky note wherever visible.
Covering your A is not just about disclosing known material facts and other information that will affect the consumer or clients' decision-making process.
It is also reminds you to keep your mouth shut and refrain from making false statements or offering information beyond your scope or area of expertise.
The critical component of CYA is paper trail. If you want to protect yourself from devouring alligators later, it is necessary to document....document...document. Verbal communication can't be validated or authenticated unless it is taped or recorded.
Keep your enemies close but your friends closer. No, we are not in a tactical guerilla warfare here. But you can never tell who, someday, can cause you trouble no matter how diligent, honest, assiduous and fair you are in your conduct of business.
burden of proof rests in the hands of the complainant. The respondent,
on the other hand, should be able to defend himself. In our business,
emails, texts and anything in writing are proofs of existence and
Some things that could escalate as a problem if you don't pay due diligence in protecting yourself:
1) Price Reduction or Increase: Don't forget to get an email or text authorization while waiting for the official signed addedum before you make the change.
2) Counter Offer: Verbal counter offers are normal when both parties are in the middle of a negotiation to reach a mutual agreement. Again, get something in writing.
3) Showing Instructions: No showing on Sundays, after 5 P.M., Holidays, lunch time, before 10 A.M., when the baby is sleeping, etc. Whatever the lawful instruction is, have it in writing.
4) Change in Status: If the seller requested to put the status temporary off the market, have an addendum signed.
5) Additional Service Provided: If you are to provide extra services like staging, cleaning services, etc., and expect to get compensation for this, you still need explicit terms in writing to get paid and to protect yourself by engaging in activities outside of the listing agreement,
6) Representation Agreement: Who would want to render services for free? In establising the procuring cause, a buyer representation agreement, although it may not be foolproof to solidify the position as the procuring cause, is paramount and crucial in imposing the right to compensation. Get it signed.
7) Communication with other agents: As much as possible, correspond via email or texts with problem and notorious realtors and any other realtor. Even after a phone conversation, send an email to validate and substantiate the verbal conversation.
There will come a time when your paper trail will become your best friends.