Title Insurance Blanket Exceptions Banned in Wisconsin

No risk to the insurer title policy. It’s a pretty good gig if you can get (away with) it, title insurance with a blanket exception costs the same as title insurance that might cover something.

Tom Larson, VP of Legal and Public Affairs for the Wisconsin Realtors Association reports in the August 2014 Edition of the Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine a ban on Blanket Exceptions in Title Insurance.

The kind of blanket exception we see in Title Insurance Policies effectively limit the liability of the Insurance Company and leave the property owners and lenders at risk. The blanket exception is vague enough to leave the coverage open to interpretation of the attorneys representing the title company and the folks who though they had insurance.

Read Tom Larson’s Article Keeping Them Honest.   The Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance issued a bulletin prohibiting the blanket exception practice.

Buyer Agency. The Purpose Is Not About Getting Paid

You’re a Wisconsin real estate licensee. What’s most important to you, (a) getting paid, or (b) being on the right side of the law? I know you said “B”, being on the right side of the law. That’s the reason we do buyer agency service right? No? What?

Somewhere along the way to providing buyer agency service the notion that buyer agency contracts are about getting paid took a hold of our industry and has not let go. I could be wrong, I sometimes am, but it seems that the purpose for Buyer Agency is inherent to the consumer demand that made Buyer Agency Service relevant. That demand came from two places: First, the buyer who wanted the licensee on their side for the insight the licensee could share for the buyer’s benefit, and second, the broker who wanted to fill the demand.

In the beginning, as far as  Wisconsin is concerned,  I put the beginning around 1990-91 when the first buyer agents appeared on the scene guns blazing to advocate on par with lawyers for their buyer clients. To be sure those first agents were all about getting it done for their buyer clients who they captured with a wide net of agency contracts, but taking no prisoners of sellers or their Realtors. The traditional industry responded the way traditionalist are prone to…they rose up to do battle with the Advocates. The generals rallied their troops, sides were taken, lines were drawn, and prisoners were few.  When it became clear that the Buyer Agents would not surrender the cry for help went up, “There Outta Be a LAW!” And one was made. (That’s what happened in Wisconsin where producing laws is a close second to producing cheese. In other states the Realtors cried “There Outta Be an Ethics Code”. Either way, there was a lot of crying) If the advocates would not surrender peacefully, then the law would eliminate licensee advocacy. The advocates could remain, but the behavior was now illegal or worse, unethical or both. Only lawyers could advocate  and that makes sense because they’re just better designed for such confrontational behavior. They are. It’s in there DNA. Without advocating as a reason to be, real estate licensees were offered “facilitating”. But facilitating didn’t sound like anything worth three, or four, or five, or six or seven percent of the purchase price and the industry rallied to remain “Agents”. In the end, the legislature gods gave us our unique brand of agency…and it was good, for about ten years.  Maybe I’m going deeper into this than I should, but the story was a good one…OK, back to the topic.

The purpose of the buyer agency relationship is not about getting paid, it’s all about being on the right side of the law so we can (1) do what we do best without unusual restrictions, (2) give the client a summary of services they can hold us accountable to, and (3) in the end earn our compensation.  If I’m effective at what I do, a person who has reason to trust me will want me contracted with them.  If I want to apply myself and my skills for a person, I will want to contract with them. If the first reason to have a contract is to satisfy my erroneous belief that the contract will give me a better than even chance of getting paid, my motive is way off base and this relationship is off to a rocky start.

I’m going to press the blue PUBLISH button now. If you have strong feelings, or mild ones, let me know. This is just my opinion, I’d like to hear yours.

Being Part of the Solution…Checking Motives

Have you ever caught yourself more than a little to eager for the conflict? If you haven’t, I admire you. It’s said that awareness is the beginning of change and when it comes to conflict resolution, changing from eager for the fight to ready for a resolution change is gonna do me good. My first awareness of my motive being out of bounds was to hear what my head is thinking. On my way to a meeting where conflict was brewing my mind was thinking of what I would say and none of what my mind was offering up as clever was conducive to resolution. It took until after the meeting for me to check my motives and recognize that I arrived at the meeting with too many fight’n words and too few resolution ideas and questions. Right motives to resolve opposed to being right is the higher ground where I want to live. Checking motives is a first thing not a last thing I need to do all the time to be a part of the solution. This is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing as a favorite coach of mine used to tell me back in the mid 1970’s.

Real estate professionals, at our best, are in the business of resolutions. Finding middle ground, asking questions, offering ideas, considering consequences, being a rational sounding board, suggesting avenues of approach, are constructive actions of the right motives. Asking questions is an under valued skill…questions that lead to resolution not conflict that is. On my shelf is a book that tells me the power of questions. Leading With Questions. They can cut through the fog, “What ideas do you have? What would you like me to hear? What would you like to hear from me? What happens if we…?” or they can cut to the bone, “Do you really believe? What are you trying to do? How can you say that? Are you for real?”  

Questions are part of the ingredients for resolution soup, another is statements. Finding the middle ground does not require giving away the farm.  To take the high road to the middle ground in a disagreement you may have to make some firm statements. Again, checking my motives will help me make that statement from a position of care for cooperation instead of threat to conflict. Best example that comes to mind is this one: “You’ll hear from our lawyer!” What’s my motive? Well for one, this is statement to incite fear. Just like, “I’m telling mom” or “Just wait till your father gets home!”. Look, lawyers have a place in solutions in the real estate transaction and while it’s open to debate, lawyers are human too so their motive matters too.  How we bring a higher legal mind into the discussion is important to the outcome. Here’s how a person of right motive raised the lawyer idea in a conversation with me and I felt the difference. “We’re making progress here. The details can be worked out from here with the help of a lawyer. I’ll ask (insert name here) to put some ideas in writing and how about you run them past your attorney? I liked that. It felt more like a cool mist on a potentially hot topic; the other way is lighter fluid on the flame. 

Next time you sense the heat rising, check your motives and resolve to be part of the resolution. You’ll know you have right motives when you’re mind is giving you right questions and smart solutions instead of accusative questions, and harsh statements. Wishing you the best. Change is gonna do us good.