A good agent offers more than just fast talk

Agents turn information into knowledge to guide buyers and sellers through the process


Ron Rossi Real Estate Attorney with Rossi, Hamerslough, Reischl & Chuck

Ron Rossi Real Estate Attorney with Rossi, Hamerslough, Reischl & Chuck

Rapid change in information services and Internet technology is having a major impact on real estate transactions, and the effect will be even more pronounced use it.

In the past, agents maintained almost total control over the market because the key information was privately controlled by the real estate office and the Multiple Listing Service. But the Internet is making it possible for everyone to have access to this information. For example the National Association of Realtors website contains more than 1 million properties. Microsoft is developing a site, and there are others coming online as well.

But what good is information without someone who could provide the know-how to effectively use it? Doug Tobin, president of the San Jose Real Estate Board says, “For real estate professionals to succeed in the next decade, they must add value to the transaction by providing more service than just finding the home or even selling the home.” By turning information into knowledge, agents need special training to guide buyers and sellers through the laws, contracts, inspections and legal disclosures required.

Real estate is becoming more complex every day. Recent California laws and court cases, as well as cases in other states, have redefined and expanded the responsibility of the real estate agent. Just disclosing facts about house is no longer sufficient. An agent must discuss the ramifications of disclosures and provide the client advice and counsel regarding all decisions being made during the transaction.

Agents need to step up to this new responsibility by investing in their future through legal education classes, legal training tapes, periodicals and books on real estate and the law. Doesn’t it make sense that buyers and sellers will want to work with agents who understand and take the time to explain the multi-page purchase contract to their client before they sign it? Or helping their client by pointing out the 10 biggest reasons that transactions fall apart, the things a seller can do to reduce the chance of being sued for non-disclosure, how to present a contract in a multiple offer situation so that the buyer gets the house, or the other situations that only education, experience and training can provide?

My recent experience with two different clients and their agents says it best.

One told me, “We couldn’t have done this without our agent. Their skill and knowledge focused so much. They explain each step in the transaction, they managed the changing events, anticipated problems, kept us informed and, most of all, kept us out of trouble.”

The second person said, “We thought our agent was fine, but it was a disaster. We never really understood what we were signing. They did not explain the ramifications of any the decisions we are making. And, when problems arose, they didn’t seem to know what to do. We would not use them again.”

Both agents were with well-known companies and had about the same number of years experience. But obviously the first agent had taken the time to learn the trade, while the second agent, although experienced, to ask to find out which agents show their commitment to excellence by keeping up with the ever-changing business?

Ask the agent when he or she last attended live classes on real estate contracts, disclosures, condominium or planned unit development law, toxics and natural hazards. How many tape programs do they own teaching them these same ideas and techniques? How many attorney-led legal updates had they intended in the last year? Do they have an attorney available for advice?

Real estate is very expensive and agents are paid well for their services. Make sure you get your money’s worth by finding that agent who has the knowledge you need to make the real estate transaction trouble free.

Ron Rossi is a San Jose attorney. Write him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, California 95190.