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By Kelly Leighton for PARJustListed

During a webinar back in mid-February, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® legal team offered a Legal Hotline webinar on some of the most head-shaking scenarios they’ve seen and heard. You can read about the webinar in full here, but for the topic of this article, we’re highlighting what was mentioned about standard forms.

“We have had calls where members want us to explain a form because they haven’t used it before,” said Associate Counsel Kacy Clouser. “That is not what we are there for. Deciding what form to use in a specific situation can be discussed, but we cannot teach you the details how to use a form in your transaction in a few minutes on the Legal Hotline.” This is a job best suited for your broker or manager, which also helps them keep tabs on the types of real estate activity going on in the office.

Clouser reminded members that nearly every form has guidelines available to learn how to use it.

“Make sure you are aware of the clauses and how they function,” said Clouser. “Don’t do what you always do, make sure you know what your client wants.”

If you need to draft language for a contract, Clouser advised working with brokerage counsel.

“We cannot interpret language we did not draft,” she said.

“The market has been crazy for the past three years. It made agents use different forms. If it has been a while since you have read a form, re-read and understand it before you send it to your clients,” added Clouser.

Speaking of forms, did you make sure to sign an agency contract with that buyer or seller?

“They are not your clients until they sign the contract,” said Chief Legal Officer Hank Lerner. “Without an agency contract with a buyer, they are not your client and you won’t have grounds to sue for a fee if they ultimately decide to use another broker.”

There are also stipulations in certain circumstances. Power of attorney, estates and divorces can all impact the ability of someone to sign a contract. “It can be tempting to sign up a client who assures you that they are ‘going to be’ authorized to sign as a POA, executor, or for some other reason in the future, but you should make sure you have something in writing, that says they’re able to sign in that role at the time of signing,” Lerner added. 

If you are thinking of switching brokerages, you better do some research to see what happens to your clients. “If an agent leaves a brokerage, whose client is it? How does your contract with the brokerage work? If you move brokerages and your client stays with the first brokerage, they are no longer your client. You may get paid for the transaction depending on your contract. You cannot work with clients who are signed with another brokerage,” Lerner said

Forms Education for Buyers and Sellers Available

The Greater Lehigh Valley Real Estate Academy is offering A Full Day of Buyer’s Forms and A Full Day of Seller’s Forms, both an expansion of the 3.5-hour continuing education classes previously offered. Students requested more than what the 3.5 hours could cover, so the classes have been expanded to 7 hours worth of education. The buyer’s forms class will now cover 35 forms and documents, while the seller’s forms class will cover 25 forms and documents. Check out the course calendar to find out when these forms classes will be held next!