Monday, November 15, 2010

You Have the Right to Remain Silent.. Anything You Say..."

Anyone who has ever watched a crime show on TV can finish that sentence. We all know about Miranda rights when someone gets arrested. Hopefully, no one reading this blog will ever have to hear those words but there is a good chance that you or someone you know will at some point talk to a real estate agent or broker about buying or selling a home.

If you are like most people, you don’t think about “rights” or “relationships” when you contact a real estate agent; you just want information about a property or a town or about financing. The agent will ask questions about where you live, where you work, when you need to move, how much money you make, your source for financing, how much you want to spend on a property… all kinds of personal and financial information that you would want to have kept confidential; and certainly not shared when you want to win a negotiation.

Now this is not legal advice (you need a lawyer for that), just a heads up for buyers and sellers that in Massachusetts whenever a consumer asks a real estate licensee to discuss a particular property, the licensee must disclose in writing whose interests the licensees represent, the buyer or the seller, or both. Without such a warning consumers can make tactical mistakes in negotiating the best possible deal, such as disclosing their bottom line price to a real estate licensee who is actually the seller's representative..."anything you say can and will be used agains you..." How about a seller asking for advice about pricing their property; what if that agent represents a buyer who may have an interest... who does that agent work for?

A recent investigation by Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Professional Licensure shows real estate licensees regularly fail to disclose whose interests they represent. Investigators found 94 percent of licensees checked were not in compliance in Boston. Pairs of investigators from the Division of Professional Licensure, posing as consumers, visited 200 real estate offices throughout Massachusetts and found that in only 12 instances, or 6 percent of the time, real estate licensees properly disclosed to consumers whose interests they represent.

Have you contacted a real estate agent lately…did they provide the Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure form for you to sign?

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