Tag Archives: consumer protection

Danger Will Robinson

Just because things are a little slow in the Transaction Department at Real Estate Central these days, I don’t want any of you to think the REC is slacking off.  Don’t worry. We’re right on top of it.

Trust me.   Even when we aren’t crazy-busy fueling all those forces that drive the engine of the economy in our ongoing effort to spread money around the planet and grease the wheels of international finance, we’ve still got plenty of other things on our to-do list.

Not the least of which is our duty to protect and serve YOU – the huge backlog of clients sitting in our tickler files, who may or may not actually end up buying or selling something someday in the (hopefully) not to distant future. It’s a solemn charge we take very…well…solemnly. Specially in these solemn times!

But protect against what? Simple. Against everything.  Every single thing you can possibly imagine. The premise?  If  someone can think it…then surely we must all need protection from it.

But protect how? By warning everyone of course.  By sounding the clarion call. By disclosing to Buyers what Sellers do and mostly do not know about their own properties. And in turn disclosing to Buyers, the ever-growing list of worrisome issues they might want to obsess about. The great compendium of woe orbiting around in the grey area of space somewhere between what is said and what remains unsaid.

So whether or not we happen to be Agents with a whole lot of “closure” going on these days, we remain resolute in our role as Agents making sure a whole lot of “disclosure” is going on in the ongoing paper-jam of a paper-chase that is Real Estate.

As proof, I’m proud to announce:  This winter! Coming to a disclosure package near you!  A long-awaited chip off the old boilerplate.  A big, bold WARNING about the impending scourge of BEDBUGS  poised to sweep over our psyches!   Following in the faded footsteps of other Ghosts of Disclosure Past still buried deep in the bulging escrow files of today!  Radon gas! Asbestos! Lead-based paint! Toxic mold! Bedbugs is an idea whose time has come. Bedbugs are ready to take their place in the pantheon.

Surprisingly, it isn’t California surfing the wave of popularity on this particular urban legend.  It is New York, where a once-nascent epidemic of bedbugs has suddenly gone from hot topic to targeted legislation.  This quote from one of our popular REC newsfeeds:

In a recent condo sale on the Upper West Side, Louise Phillips Forbes, of Halstead Property, represented a seller and spent about six days hunting down bedbug history, or the lack thereof, to help seal the deal. The buyer asked about bedbugs and was not satisfied just knowing that the seller knew of no bedbugs in the building.  The building had recently switched managing agents, so Ms. Forbes had to get statements from both agents, and she also checked with three members of the condo board, none of whom knew of any bedbug problems.

And this:

Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, Democrat from the Upper West Side, said she planned to introduce a separate disclosure law for co-ops and condos next year. “I think it’s great if people are voluntarily disclosing the information already,” she said. “Since this is such an epidemic, the more transparency the better.”

If New York is doing it, can California resist the temptation to add Bedbugs to its Ten Most Wanted List of Dangerous Disclosures?  We’ve got a reputation to uphold.  We’re the State most likely to over-amp on any and all forms of consumer protection that raise their well-meaning heads to bite us in the ass.  We also have to preserve our status as the State voted Most Likely to Succeed in having everyone sue everyone else for something.  All that protecting requires a steady stream of victims.

So, even though a whole lot of properties aren’t selling right now,  Buyers, Sellers,  Looky-Loos … you want us on that wall.  You need us on that wall!  Standing guard.  Offering the cloak of protection from everything under the sun (Check the UV Ray  Disclosure.)

At the end of the day, at the end of the long process of home-buying. when you are finally settled into your new home and lay your head down on your soft pillow of dreams… we at Real Estate Central want you to be able to sleep tight, knowing that the bedbugs won’t bite. Not on our watch.

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The Rochambeau Game

God Bless Real Estate. Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat of day, nor gloom of lead- based paint, electromagnetic frequencies, radon gas, agricultural spraying, underground storage tanks, black mold or any nearby methamphetamine labs that may be lurking , shall stay us Realtors from our appointed rounds.

Our sacred mission? That most basic of biological imperatives – survival. You know…saving humanity. And since we humans require such a significant amount of idiot-proofing to insulate us from our own strange natures, survival in this case also means: Saving Ourselves from Ourselves.

It’s a scary world out there. Ensuring the safety of mankind and the huge roof lying over its head is a difficult job. But someone’s gotta do it.

So here we are. Hard at work on the Herculean task of protecting everyone from everyone else and their cousins. And from everything and every other possible thing that anyone could conceivably conjure up in their wildest dreams and/or worst nightmares.

Someday we’ll actually have a complete compendium of all the what-if’s that could hurt, damage or otherwise disappoint people in their new homes. Of course, even when we pull that list together, we still aren’t going to guarantee that you won’t get hit by a bus while crossing the street or struck by lightning while watching Jeopardy during the next big storm. You’ll have to consult your local priest, shaman, bartender, attorney or other suitable expert for greater accuracy regarding those specific matters.

But we Realtors can do the next best thing. We can warn you. And warn you again. And then warn you some more. Until eventually you either get scared to death and run away screaming as fast as you can in the opposite direction from buying a home. Or…you proceed forward both forewarned and forearmed with the knowledge that something terrible could happen at any time. Big terrible. Or little terrible. Terrible-ridiculous. Or terrible-sublime. Or…you just become numb and numb-er to the whole process and succumb to the mindless tide of acquiescence that clouds the vision and makes the brain feel dumb and dumber.

In the great Rochambeau game of real estate we try to leave no stone unturned or rock uncovered by paper. Paper is the talisman we use to ward off the eventual consequences of all the potential evils that could happen to people living in glass houses. Paper is the most powerful device we can use to demonstrate our desire to save mankind and to actually save ourselves (me) from ourselves (you).

Think I’m kidding? Your honor, I want to draw your attention to Estate’s evidence C.A.R. Form SBSA Revised 4/07, Otherwise known as the Statewide Buyers and Sellers Advisory, Page 4 of 10, Item #18, which reads and I quote:

Errant Golf Balls: Buyer and Seller are advised that if the Property is located adjacent to or near a golf course there is a possibility that golf balls may damage the Property or injure persons or pets on it. Additionally persons playing golf may enter the Property to retrieve errant golf balls or for other purposes. Broker recommends that Buyer investigate this possibility during Buyer’s inspection contingency period. Brokers do not have expertise in this area.

Realty truly is funnier than fiction sometimes. The fatal flaw in all our exacting efforts to disclose and encourage due diligence and real active investigation? Human nature. The more paper that people are presented with, the less they read. The quicker they fall asleep. Thus we keep shooting ourselves in the foot and the number of lawsuits in real estate keeps increasing in direct proportion to the stumbling attempts we make to jam consumer protection down everyone’s throat in lieu of common sense.

There, I’ve finished my written Agent Disclosure for this Saturday. I’ve done my small part to save ourselves from ourselves. Sign Here and Press Hard to acknowledge your receipt.

Meanwhile, I’m off to my appointed round – a 12:30 tee time – while you move forward, forewarned and forearmed, in the purchase of your new home. If it happens to be on a golf course, I promise to yell fore before my next huge slice flies off the fairway and lands in the middle of the guacamole dip resting on your future back patio. Today’s golf game is certainly going to prove once and for all that “brokers do not have expertise in this area.”

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