Professional Pointers

Introducing Professional Pointers, an exciting weekly series from the WRA legal team. Each week, you'll find a pointer to enhance professionalism and success in your practice. 

September 20: Communication

Is a listing agent required to advise a buyer’s agent or a buyer of the seller’s action on the buyer's offer, showing it was presented as well as the seller’s response?

Yes. Under Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.13(4), written responses are to be given upon request by the other agent or party about the date and time of presentation and the date and time the proposal was rejected or expired. Standard of Practice 1-7 similarly provides the listing broker will provide, upon request, written affirmation to the cooperating broker that the offer was submitted.

Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.13(4) provides:  

Notification of action on written proposal. Licensees shall promptly inform their clients and customers whether the other party has accepted, rejected, or countered their written proposal. A licensee shall immediately provide a written statement to the other party's firm that includes the date and time when the written proposal was presented when such a statement is requested by the other party or the other party’s firm. A licensee shall immediately provide a written statement to the other party’s firm that includes the date and time when the written proposal was rejected or had expired without acceptance when such a statement is requested by the other party or the other party’s firm.

A professional licensee communicates the outcome to parties and agents waiting to know. Agents are obligated to let clients and customers know how the other party responded to their proposal if asked. Help them out so we all can be professional in the eyes of our clients and customers! 

September 13: Uncooperative Agents

If the other agent in the transaction is uncooperative, the professional agent steps in for the good of the parties and the transaction. 

As a real estate agent retained by the parties for the sale and purchase of real estate, a real estate professional takes action to address the issue the other agent is not. Browbeating the other agent with an avalanche of emails is a diversion from the goal and has little likelihood of changing the other agent’s behavior. The focus is the successful transaction. Nobody wants to feel they are working for free, but the parties want the transaction to close and will not be favorably impressed if the agents in the transaction are pointing fingers and playing the blame game.

Once the transaction is completed the professional may reach out to the other agent’s broker to express concern over what happened and move forward with complaints if needed. The uncooperative agent should not be left believing that other agents will always cover for them.

September 7: Unauthorized Access

Agents have been showing up with buyers without scheduling an appointment to see the property. It is believed they see in Showingtime or otherwise learn there is another showing scheduled at that time, and the agents just show up with a buyer without communicating with the listing agent or officially scheduling an appointment.

Piggyback or drop-in showings are an ethics and professionalism concern. If the seller did not authorize the drop-in showing, then the agent who brought the buyer or sent the buyer to another buyer’s showing appointment or facilitated this situation is permitting buyer access to a listed property on terms other than those authorized by the property owner. An agent showing up at another's scheduled showing appointment with the intention of showing the property is violating the REALTOR® Code of Ethics:

Standard of Practice 1-16: “REALTORS® shall not access or use, or permit or enable others to access or use, listed or managed property on terms or conditions other than those authorized by the owner or seller. (Adopted 1/12)”

Standard of Practice 3-9: “REALTORS® shall not provide access to listed property on terms other than those established by the owner or the listing broker. (Adopted 1/10)”

August 30: Courtesy and Communication

The communication and presentation of offers contributes to an overall impression of professionalism. Recent reports about listing brokers not presenting offers or not communicating with cooperating brokers and buyers about the seller’s response unfortunately do not reflect the high standards of REALTORS®

Some reminders about the applicable standards are in order. Much of this guidance is based on Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.13. 

  1. First of all, licensees must always promptly present all written proposals to their client or customer unless contrary to specific instructions.
    1. Licensees should not withhold offers from presentation simply because there are other offers waiting for the seller’s response. 

    A good choice when there are multiple buyers is the WB-46 Multiple Counter-Proposal, allowing the seller to negotiate simultaneously with more than one buyer. It is the seller’s decision — not the listing agent’s — about which offer or offers to entertain. 

    August 23: Competent Cooperation

    Be sure to read showing instructions and other MLS instructions — and then follow them — to avoid wasting time while others have to correct the situation. Be a cooperative professional and follow directions. If you don't understand, seek clarification before you proceed!

    A professional knows how to fill out forms correctly and completely. Don't make the other agent spend their time with corrections and counter-offers. Be a competent professional in the eyes of clients and customers. 

    If the listed property is a condominium or HOA property, courteously disclose the fees to buyers so the parties and their agents are not blindsided and can prepare properly for closing and beyond. Unhappy surprises do not enhance the reputation of real estate practitioners.

    August 16: Confidentiality Concerns

    An agent has a listing where the seller accepted an offer from a buyer. The seller ended up being underwater on their mortgage and was not able to provide clear title. The buyer's attorney is going to draft a document to return the earnest money but is asking for a copy of the listing contract. Can the listing firm provide the listing contract?

    The listing contract is a confidential document between the seller and the listing firm and should not be provided to anyone unless the seller and the firm both agree to provide it. Even if the seller gives permission, the firm should contact the firm's legal counsel to determine whether it is advisable to provide the firm's listing contract to the buyer's attorney.

    A professional licensee respects the confidentiality of others and thereby earns their trust and respect.

    August 9, 2021: Communication

    • Bad communication is a major pet peeve and does not win favor or cooperation.
    • If an email or text asks three or four specific questions, be sure to answer all the questions the first time around. Don’t make the other agent waste time chasing you down for the missing information. Promote efficiency, as a professional should.
    • It may not be pleasant to deliver bad news, but a professional has the courage and courtesy to call when there is bad news as well as the good and discuss the situation directly.
    • Delivering bad news or a negative response to an issue may lead to disagreement or a dispute, which everyone would prefer to avoid. But it comes as part of the job of a real estate professional. Radio silence will not make the issue go away and just contributes to the frustration on the other side.

    Be responsive. Be prompt. Be direct and efficient. Be professional.

    August 2, 2021: Objective Information

    Buyer clients are shopping for homes in a new city and want to know about the crime rates in different neighborhoods to help them make their homebuying decision. The agent explains what she has heard about criminal activity in the local news.

    A professional agent always avoids giving personal opinions about a community or neighborhood, even if asked. Instead, guide buyers to third-party resources to answer their questions about neighborhood-specific information such as demographics, schools and crime statistics. Allow buyers to research what is important to them and their families and reach their own decisions. This will help the professional avoid any potential steering claims or fair housing law violations.

    The professional real estate agent provides facts and reputable third-party sources of information; never their personal perceptions or opinions.

    July 26, 2021: Professional Communication

    Is a listing agent required to provide a buyer’s agent or a buyer, upon their request, with a copy of their rejected offer, showing it was rejected by the seller?

    Although it is wonderful when this documentation is provided to the buyer, the listing agent cannot compel the seller to document their rejection on the offer. An agent is, however, required to provide a written statement indicating when an offer was presented if requested by the buyer or the agent working with the buyer. Additionally, if requested by the agent working with the buyer or the buyer, the listing agent shall provide a written statement indicating when the offer was rejected or expired without acceptance.

    The mark of a professional is to go beyond what is required by law and voluntarily let buyers know what has happened to their offer. A professional agent promptly communicates with others and does not leave buyers and their agents waiting in suspense. No agent wants to be put in the position of trying to give an answer to a frustrated buyer when they have no idea what has happened.

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