Continuing our examination of Alabama License Law violations that result in disciplinary action, real estate agents making false promises to people buying or selling real property is very serious. Alabama License Law Section §34-27-36 (a) (4) states; “Making any false promises of a character likely to influence, persuade, or induce any person to enter into any contract or agreement. One should note that the above section deals entirely with violations that warrant disciplinary action.
It is also important to note that a real estate agent doesn’t necessarily have to make a statement in the form of a promise in order to violate this statute. Matter of fact, in my 42 years in real estate, I have never heard an agent make a “promise” to a prospective buyer, nor a seller. Does this mean that no one is guilty of violating this statute? Absolutely not. While training new sales agents I have heard many of them make statements that was influential to their clients, but they didn’t realize what they had done until it was pointed out to them.
Real estate agents have to stay on their toes the entire time they are in the presence of anyone buying or selling real estate. The consumer may not let it show but they pay close attention to everything an agent does; from the statements they make to bodily gestures. Let’s look at examples of both.
In a seller’s market when property is selling quickly, that is there is a lot of activity and sometimes there may be multiple offers on the same property, an agent must be very cautious. As an agent I might be telling the truth when I say, “If you like this property you might want to make an offer quickly, before someone else gets it.” This is not a promise but it is an inducement to get them to enter into a purchase agreement. Another example is a prospective buyer that ask the agent if they feel the property is overpriced or not and the agent doesn’t say anything but they roll their eyes, nod their head or shrug their shoulders. Could that influence a buyer? You bet it can, and it could be construed as a violation of the above statute.
What can a real estate agent say without worrying about breaking a law? In Alabama, Agency sets the parameters of what information can be disclosed and what has to be kept confidential. For the purpose of this writing let’s assume that the agent has an Agency agreement with the buyer. They have a fiduciary obligation to their client’s best financial interest, to tell them anything they know that would be helpful in making a decision whether to make an offer or not. However, the agent must deal only in factual data to support their advice to the buyer. An agent should never let their own personal desires influence their statements or body language. An agent’s primary responsibility is to protect the consumer and their best financial interest.
Consumers whether buying or selling, seldom know the laws real estate agents must honor. In most cases they aren’t aware of their legal rights unless an agent discloses them. This is why it is so important that an agent and the consumer have a quality consultation prior to actively looking at property. More times than not, the consumers are impatient and don’t want to have a consultation. They just want to go look at property and if the agent applies too much pressure to get the consultation, the consumer will move on to other agents until they find someone that will show them the property they wanted to see. Agents should insist because on a consultation because it is of vital interest to any buyer. Well, this is another topic for another day.
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.