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October 02, 2018 • Stay Connected!
         


QUESTION:  I have sellers selling a Seattle home which is next door to a vacant lot which the sellers intend to maintain as a garden. They are exceedingly concerned about who will buy their house and who their neighbors will be, since they live adjacent to the vacant lot and will have frequent and close contact with the new buyers. They want to interview prospective buyers and I have advised against this and also said that I would not recommend it. They are aware of fair housing laws, but I am very concerned about them being too involved with the buyer selection process. Do you think it would be appropriate to ask buyer brokers to present offers directly to sellers and advise sellers to limit all questions about buyers, letting listing broker (me) field any questions? I am trying to head off what I anticipate could be a thorny situation. Any advice on how to handle would be greatly appreciated.



ANSWER:   Broker's concern is well placed and not over-stated. This is an extremely dangerous desire expressed by seller, so much so that listing broker should consider carefully, with the assistance of her managing broker, whether this is a listing that she wants to take. If listing broker and seller proceed, broker should advise seller to work with seller's legal counsel to establish a mechanism for achieving seller's desire to "screen" potential buyers. If seller is truly aware of the Fair Housing Act and recognizes the difficulty posed by seller's request, then seller should be willing to work with legal counsel to avoid what could be enormous liability for even an inadvertent violation of the Fair Housing Act. If nothing else, perhaps seller's lawyer can impress upon seller what a bad idea this is. If seller insists, then perhaps seller's lawyer can assist seller in reviewing the offers and take listing broker out of the loop altogether. It does not seem, to the Hotline lawyer, that alerting buyer brokers to seller's desire to "pick" the buyer will be a good idea. That simply raises the specter of a Fair Housing Violation even if seller ends up selecting the buyer based only on price and terms of buyer offers. Finally, if seller persists with this request and if broker moves forward with listing the property, then broker and DB may want to consult the firm's legal counsel for assistance in developing an approach. If it turns out that seller selects a buyer based on a justifiable business reason, without reflection on any potential Fair Housing issues, then everyone can breathe a sigh of relief and move on. But, if it turns out that seller's "selection" of a buyer cannot be justified based on the Fair Housing Act, then listing broker and firm need an exit strategy. Broker and firm simply cannot participate in any transaction where seller, even potentially, violates the Fair Housing Act ... even if seller works with seller's legal counsel in the process. Broker and firm should also recall that if the firm enters a listing agreement with seller and then seller, by violating the Fair Housing Act, deprives firm (and broker) of compensation for listing services, then firm (and broker) will have a claim for damages, against seller, based on the Fair Housing Act. Broker's concern is abundantly justified and broker should not move forward without consulting her managing broker and perhaps, broker and managing broker together, consulting the firm's legal counsel.
 

 

The Legal Hotline Lawyer does not represent Washington REALTORS or its members. To browse through our database of past Q & A's, visit www.warealtor.org. Attorney Annie Fitzsimmons writes the Legal Hotline Question and Answer of the Week. Please submit questions to legalhotline@warealtor.org or leave a message at 800.562.6027. Please include your NRDS number.



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Save This Info For Your Next Crisis
You're probably not in crisis mode right now, with a printer failing or a virus crashing your computer. However, keep this # 866.610.8939 somewhere you can easily access (we recommend your phone contacts) so that when you are in crisis mode, you can contact your tech support free of charge and get the help you need quickly. The Tech Helpline is a member benefit offering support for hardware, software, networking, and digital devices. There is no charge to use the service - you'll just need your NRDS # 89672068.
 
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Primary Mortgage Rates Survey
(updated every Thursday)  Source:  Freddie Mac
 
  September 27, 2018       30-yr FRM  15-Yr FRM  5/1-Yr ARM
 Average Rates  4.72%  4.16%  3.97%
 Fees & Points  0.5
 0.5
 0.3
 Margin  N/A  N/A  2.76



  September 20, 2018       30-yr FRM  15-Yr FRM  5/1-Yr ARM
 Average Rates  4.65%  4.11%  3.92%
 Fees & Points  0.5
 0.5
 0.4
 Margin  N/A  N/A  2.76



  September 13, 2018       30-yr FRM  15-Yr FRM  5/1-Yr ARM
 Average Rates  4.60%  4.06%  3.93%
 Fees & Points  0.5
 0.5
 0.3
 Margin  N/A  N/A  2.77



  September 6, 2018       30-yr FRM  15-Yr FRM  5/1-Yr ARM
 Average Rates  4.54%  3.99%  3.93%
 Fees & Points  0.5
 0.4
 0.3
 Margin  N/A  N/A  2.77



 
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