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March 21, 2017  -  Stay Connected!
 
    

 
QUESTION:  I represent a seller of a home who accepted an offer from a buyer. Buyer has performed inspection and has had appraisal done. Seller calls me today and says they changed their mind and are moving back into the house and want to cancel the sale. I advised them to seek legal counsel. Buyer has been verbally notified. What is the process for me to terminate the contract? Seller has knowledge that they are in breach and may be responsible for damages. Please advise how to proceed.


ANSWER: Broker has done what she is obligated by the Agency Law to do. Broker has a duty to advise seller to seek the advice of an expert in matters that exceed the scope of broker's expertise. Sellers have indicated an intent to breach their purchase agreement with buyer. Seller will face legal liability as a result of that decision. Broker is not licensed to advise seller as to seller's legal liability and should not attempt to do so. Broker's advice to seller, to seek legal counsel, must be in writing so that broker can prove, later, that she gave the advice she was obligated to give.
 
Broker should await seller's instruction, following consultation with seller's legal counsel, as to how to terminate the purchase agreement. Maybe seller's lawyer will find a weakness in the agreement allowing seller to terminate without penalty. If not, then seller's lawyer will have to assist in the negotiations and/or documentation of whatever resolution seller and buyer achieve. This is obviously a difficult situation and broker is not licensed to handle it for seller. Broker is licensed to assist seller in entering a purchase agreement. Broker is not licensed to assist seller with the breach of a purchase agreement.

 

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 . Please tell us your NRDS number when you e-mail the Hotline with your question.



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Beware of telephone scams claiming to be Tech Helpline.
Please be careful of impostors claiming to be Tech Helpline representatives. As a Washington REALTOR® Member, you have access to the Tech Helpline at no charge.  For your security, please review this list of things that authentic Tech Helpline analysts will not do:
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Tech Helpline is based in the United States. We only call you back if you are a member of our service and left us a message requesting it. And for verification purposes, we may ask for your Realtor’s information. [Read more...]
 

 
 
Job Posting - Department of Licensing
The Real Estate Program within the Business & Professions Division is looking for a Real Estate & Home Inspector Programs Manager. [Read more...]
 

 
 
Use Your Smartphone to Track Expenses & Deductions
(Source: RISMedia) When people think of you and your brand do they think of your company name or do they think of you? I would imagine for a lot of you if you’re real estate professionals, if you’re small business owners, entrepreneurs, a lot of your brand has to do with your name. [Read more...]
 

 
 
5 Smart Reminders for Your Home Sellers
(Source: REALTORMag) Besides staging, sellers also should take a few more steps to ease the stress of their sale. Realtor.com® offers up some of the following often-overlooked tips: [Read more...]
 

Primary Mortgage Rates Survey
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APRIL 27TH - HILTON SEATTLE AIRPORT & CONFERENCE CENTER
The 2017 Washington REALTOR Business Symposium is proud to announce nationally recognized speaker Jackie Leavenworth will be spending the day with us and sharing her knowledge, energy, and passion for real estate. Jackie will present two of her most demanded classes: Negotiations: The Games People Play and It's a Price War to the Door. Lunch and parking included! [Get more info and register today.]
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
MAY 24TH - SEATTLE AIPORT MARRIOTT
The 2017 Washington REALTOR Legal Symposium is back and better than ever!  This event has outgrown our original venue so we've relocated to the Marriott Hotel across from the airport.  This event gathers leading real estate attorneys in Washington to share current legal issues affecting the industry & to help our members to stay out of trouble! This year, we have; Annie Fitzsimmons, Justin Haag, Lars Leste, Doug Tingvall, Chris Osborn, Jeannie Simpson, and Mark Schedler. [Get more info and register today.]
 

 
 
UPCOMING CLASSES
 

Real Estate Safety Matters
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 (9:00 AM to 12:00 PM) 3.5 CE Hours
Hood River Elks Club, Hood River, OR
 
Top Shelf Business Practices
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 (12:30 PM to 3:30 PM) 3.0 CE Hours
Hood River Elks Club, Hood River, OR
 
Current Issues in Residential WA Real Estate
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 (8:30 AM to 12:00 PM) 3.0 CE Hours
The Bellingham Golf & Country Club, Bellingham

NAR Code of Ethics - 3.0
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 (1:00 PM to 4:00 PM) 3.0 CE Hours
The Bellingham Golf & Country Club, Bellingham
 
Current Issues in Residential WA Real Estate
Thursday, March 30, 2017 (8:30 PM to 12:00 PM) 3.0 CE Hours
Yakima Association of Realtors, Yakima

Real Estate Safety Matters
Thursday, March 30, 2017 (1:00 PM to 4:00 PM) 3.5 CE Hours
Yakima Association of Realtors, Yakima

Statewide Forms - Full Day
Monday, April 3, 2017 (8:30 AM to 5:30 PM) 7.5 CE Hours
Silverdale Beach Hotel, Silverdale

 


 
 
QUESTION from 4/3/2016 - With the lack of inventory in many markets, we are seeing an increase in the number of agents traveling outside of their local market. This would seem to create a risk to clients and brokers alike.  Are there legal ramifications associated with this?  Is it lawful for listing broker to indicate in a listing that a broker who fails to show the property or otherwise participate in part of the typical buyer broker activities, will forfeit part of the selling office compensation?


  
ANSWER - The Agency Law requires all brokers to exercise reasonable skill and care with respect to all parties in the transaction, regardless of who broker represents.  The first question to be answered is whether broker can satisfy this standard of care when broker is working outside broker's local market.

The answer is probably different for different brokers and different markets.  There are some markets in the state that are heavy with local ordinances, disclosure requirements, critical area designations, flood plain rules and even unusual excise tax rules.  Every area offers inspectors and other vendors who specialize in the local market.   There are wide price variations in different areas around the state.  As in every local market, there are going to be neighborhoods with strengths and weaknesses about which buyers will want information.  How capable a broker is at providing reasonable skill and care outside the broker's local market will depend upon broker's ability to learn the unique elements of the local market in which broker is selling.  Some brokers will succeed and others will fail to provide the requisite skill and care required of a broker.

If a broker is not familiar with a local market, broker's buyer may be better served by broker referring buyer to a local broker.  Additionally, broker will avoid liability associated with broker's failure to provide brokerage services with reasonable skill and care.

Finally, it is not uncommon for listing brokers and sellers to establish criteria that buyer brokers must satisfy in order to earn the full selling office compensation offered by listing broker.  If listing broker intends to limit the compensation that a buyer's broker will receive if buyer's broker fails to participate in some aspect of typical buyer broker services, then listing broker must first obtain seller's consent to that limitation and listing broker must advertise that criteria in the MLS listing printout.  Broker should consult his own MLS to determine if there are any MLS rules unique to broker's MLS with respect to this issue.
 
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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. Please tell us your NRDS number when e-mail the Hotline with your question.