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Legal Stuff: READ THIS a post by your broker

A note on legal stuff – from Beverly Steiner-IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Hi Team!

I am sending you some important info here, that will help you stay in good standing legally with the buyers and sellers you are working with.  We are here to help and support you in your success always!  

Notes from Walnut Creeks Legal Update Meeting with DEAN HARPER and ADDITIONAL issues:


Anything you put into the MLS is relied upon as FACT.  Don’t guess on sq. ft. of the house, or use what someone believes is true and do not copy info from a previous listing by another agent.  On sq. ft. of the property: Get direct builder information or use the county records for sq. ft. If you are not sure of it, make sure to make that note in the MLS. Be sure that you know the answers that you put in MLS are absolute, or you note they came from a 3rd party, and you cannont verify them. If answers are not known, state that.

All reports and disclosures:

·      Our associates must read these reports and disclosures. If you know something was not disclosed, or question any of the disclosures because you know differently, or have heard something in the disclosure could be otherwise, you need to note that when you do your disclosure.

HOA minutes:

·      You need to get the FULL year’s minutes directly from the HOA for your clients: Make sure every month is accounted for.  Do not take them from the homeowner directly always from the HOA. At times the HOA will push back, but they really do have to supply them. They can charge a fee for the service. In the contract you will have already set up who is paying for the cost the HOA doc charges. BE SURE to review them as well to see if there are red flags that buyers should be aware of, and make sure those things are noted to the buyers of any property, whether your represent the buyer or the seller.  Also, make sure your clients reveiw the disclosure, and do not reley on you to do it for them. When everyone is aware of everything-they can decide what they want to do. When they find our after close of escrow, that right gets taken away, and lawsuits often happen.

Escrow Cordination and DocuSign:

·      You must review documents personally with your clients. The escrow coordination is to make sure everything gets initialed, collected and signed. Be sure not to just have documents emailed, without a personal discussion and review with your clients before they are asked to sign them. Do not get tempted to move so fast that you don’t do the important stuff.


·      The way DocuSign is structured, it just moves the client straight to the signature page-page by page, and doesn’t set it up for them to read or review, before they are taken to the signature or initial page.  AGAIN-VERY IMPORTANT: You must review all documents with your clients in detail before you request signatures.  IF you do this with them before the docuSign documents are sent, and everyone is in agreement, docuSign works well for signature purposes.

Contractors and Inspectors:

·      Make sure that all inspectors and contractors that you use, are licensed, and have E&O insurance. To Check on thier license for you, and your clients can go to:

·      Any verbal information and inspector provides or advises should be in writing from them. Often an inspector will speak with you verbally before writing a report. Please have them put what they are telling you in writing before you discuss it with your clients. This way there is no chance of misinterpretation. IF they tell you something, they do not put in writing, document it, and let the clients know so they can get the issue confirmed one way or another, if they wish.

·      We were thinking of getting an approved Inspector/contractor list started as an office, however we have been advised that we cannot do it, as it would expose us legally and it would be difficult to keep up with every party that our agents use. It’s a good idea to provide your client with options and let them chose who they want go with. Please make sure you confirm this with all of the contractors you commonly suggest to your clients, that they are licensed, and that they provide you with a copy of a current E&O policy.


·      Detailed, fact based disclosures must be made by the clients and the realtors. Do not take this lightly, and disclose facts so buyers can investigate. Do not disclose with your opinions.  Talk to management in your Market Center if you are confused about the difference.

     WORK DONE WHILE IN ESCROW: If any work is done after the sale the buyer must be advised of this in writing. At no time should the agent or the seller repair something on the property and not advise the buyer in writing.  Recent issue: Property is in escrow. Roof leaks. Agent pays for contractor to repair leak and does not advise buyer.  Escrow closes. Buyer wants to know why they were not made aware of the leak in the roof, nothing is in the disclosure that the roof leaked by agent or by the seller. Everything needs to be disclosed to buyers, no exceptions.

Contracts and Forms:

·      Please ONLY use CAR forms for your residential transactions. Do not add anything, or create your own additional forms, or agree to sign any additional form supplied to you for signature. If additional forms are presented that we don’t use, or an issue arises that is not addressed in the CAR contracts, please contract the office management about what actions to take. We are NOT attorneys, adding to and creating forms puts everyone in jeopardy, as this is not our area of expertise.

·      Use and EXPLAIN these CAR forms-Always use the following forms in addition to the others we have on our checklist for complete residential transactions-these are pointed out specifically by our attorney as forms we need to be sure we use:

o   Calif. Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions (Residential Sales)

o   Buyers Inspection Advisory

o   Sellers Property Questionnaire

Communication documentation:

·      Fully documented files help everyone when a challenge arises. Please upload your notes, emails and texts to the files. Everything you and your clients discuss, should be followed up with an email confirming what was discussed and agreed to.  The same goes with conversations you have with another agent in the transaction.  It will be a bit of additional work, but will save everyone involved when someone in the transaction insists you did not discuss an issue, and you know it was communicated.

·      When a client is unhappy please DO NOT DISAPPEAR ON THEM. When a client or customer doesn’t get help with their concerns quickly, they will become unhappier.  Even if it’s a call you don’t want to take or make, do it anyway, the sooner the better, and face the issue. Let us know right away if you don’t know what to do and we will help you.

The moment you discover that a client is disgruntled please let us know right away.

·      1.) We can help figure it out with you-often we can help you, help your client get the issue resolved amicably.

·      2.) If it is going to go to litigation or any other legal process is being discussed, we have to let our attorney know right away, and we must disclose the potential issue to our E&O carrier as soon as we become aware of it, in case it actually does go to litigation.

·      3.) It helps us to know what to expect: If we get a call about something, and we already know it’s coming and what has happened, we can more effectively handle the call. 

So you know, as your broker: If I personally get a direct call on something about one of our agents, I will always contact you first to see what happened from your perspective directly, before I make any comment about it to the party who contacts us. The same thing will be done by our market center staff works on any issue that needs to be resolved in either of our market centers. 

Most Common Complaints that go to attorneys: (and there are many more-these are just the most common)

·      Drainage Issues

·      Foundation Problems

·      Lack of Permit/Poor Construction

·      Neighborhood Conditions

·      Roof Problems

·      Easement Disputes

As part of our process to keep our agents and clients safe in every transaction, we have legal update meeting with our office attorney each year, in each office-those are mandatory that you attend. If we don’t document that you attended, we will be touch with you.  We also recommend in ADDITION to these meetings, you attend Shannon Jones legal updates held by the board, each and every time they are offered. These will keep you on the cutting edge of legal issues, and will give you a better chance of staying out of lawsuits against agents, that arise from an agent not handling something correctly.

Our goal is to keep our clients safe, and our agents out of legal harm, and that every transaction is a full WIN-WIN on for both the buyers and the sellers.

At times someone doesn’t believe it was a win for them. When we get that call, or that lawsuit gets delivered, we want to make sure we have files that are EXCELLENT showing that we handled everything exactly as should have been done.

Thanks all! Let our staff know if you need any help with anything. We have outstanding support in both our Walnut Creek and Danville Market Centers, so that you can always get the help you need.

I am so thrilled to be in business with all of you! This is going to be a GREAT year!

Beverly Steiner

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