2012 is license renewal year for Realtors® in Alabama and each agent must complete 15 hours of Continuing Education which is required by the Alabama Real Estate Commission. I have been holding CE classes all across the state and have noticed so many agents experiencing difficulties with the delicate balance between our RECAD requirements and having a meaningful conversation when contacting a prospective buyer for the first time. Since I encourage classroom participation, I have heard some of the most experienced, most successful real estate role play their RECAD process. I am shocked at their omission of the most important information we can share. Omitting this type information could affect the financial wellbeing for someone buying real estate in Alabama. Sharing this type information would definitely qualify as having a meaningful conversation. I’m sure you have already figured out that I am referring to the fact that Alabama is a Caveat Emptor state. For those outside the boundaries of Alabama, I will explain the importance of this statutory law.
Buying real estate in Alabama is different than almost all other states.
To my knowledge, Alabama, Arkansas, and Virginia are the only remaining Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) states. Simply stated, this law places all the responsibility on the buyer to thoroughly investigate a property to determine any problematic defects prior to closing on the transaction. Should a buyer not have the proper inspections performed, and doesn’t thoroughly investigate every potential deficiency, and then some damaging defect arises after closing, the buyer has no legal recourse. Mr. Charles Sowell, the senior legal counsel for the Alabama Real Estate Commission relates it to buying a used car; once you’ve bought it, it belongs to you. This sounds really scary but it’s not that bad. Real estate agents have been trained and educated on potential problem areas and if they represent you when buying a property, can recommend the proper inspection to be performed to alleviate a potential surprise.
By who are you represented?
Buying consumers have been asking who represents them for years. The seller’s best financial interest has always been represented by Realtors, but who is looking out for the buyer’s best financial interest. Since Alabama is a Caveat Emptor state, it is most important to anyone buying real estate, to have someone represent their best interest. In 1996, the Real Estate Consumer’s Agency and Disclosure Act (RECAD) became law. This law mandates real estate agents to disclose the various ways both buyer’s and seller’s can be represented by a brokerage firm. Without off track on another topic, let’s just surmise that you are either represented or you’re not represented. Don’t you think this is very important information that consumer’s need to know?
Meaningful conversations help establish relationships.
When I was actively listing and selling real estate, the first thing out of my mouth when talking to a prospect for the first time was to explain how buying real estate in Alabama is so different than other states. Since the later years of my selling career was in coastal Alabama, specializing in resort properties, most of my prospects lived in some other state. Many times when I disclose our Caveat Emptor law and the affects it could have on them, they questioned why other Realtors® had not told them about it. My response would be, “I can’t answer for the people you have dealt with, but I can show you documented proof that the law exist, and how it can affect you.” I would then RECAD them by telling them the various agency relationships our brokerage could offer them to insure their best financial interests were represented. Would you not say that the consumer and I had a meaningful conversation? You bet we did. It was very important to the consumer, and the consumer showed his appreciation by hiring me to represent his family in the buying process.
By having this meaningful conversation, I projected an air of professionalism they didn’t see in other agents they had worked with. It demonstrated that I work within the legal framework in our state, and it made them question the honesty of the other agents. My straight forward conversation dealing with state laws that affect them, showed my sincere interest in their best financial interests; which in turn demonstrated integrity.
Big mistakes some agents make
I have listened to many agents have their initial conversation with a prospective buyer. For the most part, the first thing they said to the prospect was, “exactly what are you looking for?” The conversation was all about the property and nothing dealing with the buyer as an individual. There was no personal interest in buyer, his family, nor his family’s best financial interest. People buy from agents they have a relationship with. How can one establish a relationship with someone when all they talk about is a few selected properties? When calling a prospect for the first time, I generally begin my conversation by saying something like, “getting to know you is important to me so if you don’t mind let’s just talk for a couple minutes and then I share some very important information with you.” I then begin gathering information about their family, needs, and desires. My next step is to inform them about Caveat Emptor, their need to be represented, and share the agency relationships I can provide. This conversation will last less than five minutes, but it is a meaningful conversation that provides me information to establish a lasting relationship.
Do you have specific questions you’d like to ask?
Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to www.AlabamaRealEstateInstitute.com and view previous articles.