Letters: Written Is Always Better

Ethics notwithstanding, offers should be in writing, Florida practitioner says.

November 1, 2008

Why did columnist Bruce Aydt present such a "gray" opinion in his recent Ethics column "Enforceable Contracts: Put It on Paper" (September 2008, page 18)? If the buyer doesn’t write out the offer and provide a good-faith deposit, it is not a legitimate offer. In the two states where I have been licensed, real estate transactions are covered under the states’ statutes of frauds. That means that a real estate offer isn’t legal unless it is in writing with good faith consideration. What you suggest is that we should bounce offers off the sellers. It’s my practice to provide the seller with a legitimate offer. Otherwise. I am neglecting my responsibilities.

—William J. Burger, GRI, Realty Executives, Adamo & Associates. Seminole, Fla.

Ethics columnist Bruce Aydt responds:

The point of the article is that Standards of Practice 1-6 and 1-7 are broad and state simply that "offers and counteroffers" must be submitted. The Code does not limit submission of offers to written offers, although some state license laws may. Fraud statutes generally cover the enforceability of contracts for the sale of an interest in land and were designed to help resolve disputes by ensuring that a written document existed. They do not address the validity of oral offers. The concept of presenting oral offers means that clients are informed of all material matters about their property.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SIGN POLICE

I agree that evening open houses are a great vehicle for gaining new clients ("Shine With a Twilight Open House," September 2008, page 20). I do suggest that practitioners keep in mind that many municipalities don’t allow signage for open houses during the week, only on weekends. Other communities don’t allow any illumination on signs.

—Annette Akey, GRI, Illlinois Homes Realty Inc., Carol Stream, Ill.

SHORT SALE COMMISSION CRUNCH

I read Robert Freedman’s "Coming Up Short" on compensation issues surrounding short sales and want to thank you for writing a good article that addresses a very big problem. I have negotiated hundreds of short sales and am in the middle of about 75 at any one time, and I have lost a few commissions because of lenders cutting my commissions down at the last minute and buyer’s agents not being willing to decrease their expected commission.

—Cody Sperber, Sell Quick for Cash LLC, Phoenix

Clarification

Some of the information in the article, "Turn Customers into Cheerleaders," (October 2008, page 20) may have suggested that it is acceptable to reward people outside the real estate settlement service business for referrals. This is inaccurate. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act prohibits every payment, in whatever form that payment may take, to or from any person for the referral of a real estate settlement service, including real estate brokerage, mortgage, and title. You may solicit referrals at events such as customer appreciation luncheons or client parties. However, the invitation to these events may not be conditioned upon either past or future referrals. The law doesn’t prohibit acknowledging a referral with a thank you. However, if you add something of value to that thank you, or do anything extra for a person based upon the number of referrals received from that person, it becomes illegal.

CORRECTION

The caption accompanying "Success Story: On the Home Front" (September 2008, page 53) incorrectly identified the location of the base where the photo was taken. It was taken at Fort Hood, Texas.