Broker Liability for Misrepresentation

Cases and Lessons from Wisconsin Courts provided by the WRA in the October 2016 issue of The Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine could keep you out of harms way.  Intentional fraud is one way to be found liable but deception is not required to be liable.  Being negligent  or failing the expectation of strict responsibility (A licensee is expected to know better or the law was specific in my obligation and I failed to be responsible) will put us on the wrong side of liability just as well.

If it hasn’t happened yet, it will happen where an owner balks at disclosing and asks you for your advice on disclosure.  Case Study #1 in the feature article makes it clear and simple—Disclosure is the way to go.  Case Study #2 we see too much of. As-is is no protection for seller or brokers. There  is no way to wash hands of liability for saying take it as is when an adverse fact is known.

The WRA legal division has a finger on the pulse of Wisconsin real estate law issues. Take time to read their Cases and adopt their advice. Maybe share the Case Studies with your clients.  You will never regret disclosure.

When is the best time to sell in Madison?

WRA Home Sales Graph Without looking at the graphics, in what month do you think home sale closing activity bottoms out in Wisconsin? What month is peak? Are you surprised? What do you think are the reasons for the rise and slide of home sales in Wisconsin? What do you think Florida sales closing data looks like?   This is California’s data.  Imagine that, the three areas of the country have similar peaks and valleys.

People buy and sell homes when they’re ready. Obviously more people are ready to put their homes on the market in the spring even in states where four seasons is only a hotel chain. In Madison we have to agree, looking for a home is more enjoyable weather wise when we’re not slipping and sliding over ice and up to our knees in snow. Of course with high demand and relatively low inventories early spring to July packs a competitive punch to the spirit of home buyers.

So we know the best time to be on the market is April and May…2016. What now? It’s October 2016 and turning back the clock is still a future fantasy. We live in a real estate reality world. The best time to put a home on the market is always, when you are ready. And there is much more to consider to determine your readiness than how the flowers have grown. An orderly real estate process is more likely when the parties are prepared financially and emotionally. Regardless of the weather, there are market conditions that make fall and winter a fine time to put a home up for sale. Consider how battered and bruised buyers were in the spring, those who came in second, third,…sixth on homes in your neighborhood are educated and reluctant to come in any less than first on the next great home in your neighborhood. Fewer buyers have fewer homes to choose from in October through January. Sure the competition is down, but remember who the buyers are—many of them are more inspired today than they were in the spring. The new buyers in the market are looking at sales price data from June 2016…their spring counterparts were looking at sales price data from June 2015. Guess what happened from June to June? Prices went up. You may not need competition to push price up because the evidence is there to support your asking price….that wasn’t the case 5 months ago.

Put your home on the market when you are ready and be prepared to negotiate with people who know what it’s like to miss out on a great home in their preferred neighborhood.

 

 

 

Wisconsin Real Estate Clauses

Paint by number art has its own exhibit in the Smithsonian. I’m not surprised that people could make art by staying within the lines with the right paint color of paint corresponding with its number on the paper.  Because I could do neither, I suspect patience and careful attention to detail were attributes those who can possess. Of course there is a museum for paint by numbers. When things are done well they’re worth keeping to admire.

Writing effective real estate clauses in our contracts is what we are all  licensed to do. It’s a license to participate even if we never proved we had the talent.  Wisconsin real estate licensees have an outstanding resource to “paint by numbers” when crafting real estate clauses. It’s the Wisconsin Real Estate Clauses book. The UW  Law School and WRA attorneys Debra Conrad, Cori  Lamont, and Tracy Rucka  are the legal minds who wrote the book so we can craft the terms that work.

There is no shortcut for being careful and deliberate. There is no shortcut for knowing what the terms mean. The Wisconsin Real Estate Clause book isn’t a shortcut to a craft. It is a manual of well crafted terms and sentence structure we all can read, analyze, understand, and learn to replicate. For $25.00 members are prudent to have this resource and wise to read and use.

 

 

Let’s End “Now is the best time…”

Google lists 200,000,000 entries under Now is the best time to sell a house. Ten seconds later in six-tenths of a second she gave me 63,300,000 results for Now is the best time to buy a house.   Why are there a quarter of a billion persuasive cases made for this being the best time to sell AND to buy? Probably because millions of people think it is the best time for them to manipulate other people into doing something that benefits the manipulator for sure.  “Now is the best time” is an opinion and it’s cliche. The more it’s used (and it’s used a lot in advertising) the less it resonates. But “Now is the best…” is worse than dull, it’s possibly not true.

We can agree the best and worst of times are subjective. What’s good for me may not be good for you. Sure it’s possible a great number of analytical factors favor a buyer or a seller at any time, but those facts may be secondary to anything that matters more to a decision maker. If I want to keep my family together, even though the facts point to a “seller’s market”, today might be the best time available to me to make a commitment on a house.

How about this, instead of going the easy route of manipulation by spreading fear of loss of opportunity, property, time we let go of “Now is the best…”. Instead, can we let the 263,000,000 other folks trip over themselves trying to control people and we be the voice of reason?  Is this a good time to buy or sell real estate? I don’t know. It depends on you. What’s important to you?