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Eliminating Buyer and Seller Lawsuits

The power of three little words: I don’t know.

(Mountain Lakes, NJ, November 30, 2017) — If you want to keep your agents out of court, teach them the value of these three words:

"I don’t know."

Gov Hutchinson, vice president and assistant general counsel of the California Association of Realtors, notes that clients ask agents all sorts of questions about properties. What’s the square footage? Is that a low-flow toilet? Is that roof leaking?

Agents make a mistake when they give an authoritative answer about topics outside their area of expertise, Hutchinson says.

Realtors are experts on buying and selling homes. They’re not plumbers, roofers, electricians, or experts in any other areas. So they should be more willing to say, "I don’t know."

Consider the 2016 case of an agent showing an oceanfront home. The buyer asked, "What’s that funny smell?"

The agent should have said, simply, "I don’t know." Instead, the agent said, "that’s just sea air."

The deal closed, and the pungent aroma of "sea air" proved to be a ruptured underground septic tank. The buyer sued the Realtor and won a $250,000 judgment. "If the Realtor had said, ‘I don’t know what that smell is, let’s hire a contractor to check it out,’ that Realtor would be $250,000 richer," Hutchinson says.

In the December issue of Real Estate Broker’s Insider Hutchinson offers additional tips for staying out of court.

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