By: Austin Smallwood, SCR Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs
In times such as these it is more important that REALTORS® do what they do best and that’s get deals done. Now more than ever is a time to distinguish yourself by keeping in mind Articles 1 and 13 of the Code of Ethics. Article 1 requires that you treat all parties honestly while still promoting the best interests of your client.
Things are sure to change over the coming days and weeks so be honest with your clients and other parties as to where things stand. Extraordinary times can call for extraordinary measures, but those do not include you attempting to practice law. Reminder the unauthorized practice of law is a felony in the State of South Carolina. Unauthorized practice of law could include but is not limited to the following actions: drafting addendums targeted at handling COVID-19 issues, pulling contract language or addendums from the internet without having them reviewed by counsel, and offering commentary on anything that requires a legal opinion such as legality of terms, whether a contract is still valid, and whether or not a party is in default.
If negotiating a contract for sale in the coming days or weeks here are five tips to give your client the best chance of success.
- Give yourself plenty of time in the contract when it comes to deadlines related to earnest money, financing, and repairs. Remember you can always beat a deadline but missing a deadline could cause issues.
- Use the Due Diligence repair option if your buyer or seller is nervous about the current state of affairs and wants more flexibility should conditions change.
- Stress that your client or customer seek legal advice before signing the contract and let their attorney explain all the legal complexities that could result from a change in circumstances.
- Conduct all communication with parties, brokers, and attorneys in writing when possible. If you communicate with them over the phone follow up with an email recapping the conversation. It’s more important than ever that all parties are communicating and are on the same page.
- If during the transaction a problem presents itself, try your best to work it out with the other agent. With court proceedings cancelled through May 1st, court dockets are going to be backed up even more than usual when the crisis subsides. The parties can either handle their dispute in the moment or it could be months or a year before they get a court date. Also any agreements, extensions, or addendum should be put in writing as soon as possible and a copy should be furnished to all parties.