Consumers are at risk with added statutory requirements
I have always found it curious that area agents feel a need to be licensed in three state jurisdictions (Maryland, DC, and Virginia) as if there is never enough business in any one area. I get the idea that it potentially helps them make more money. But are they putting their clients at risk?
Being a competent real estate agent requires more than just a license. It also requires more than an understanding of the neighborhood housing market nuances. A competent agent knows the jurisdiction and local statutory requirements where they are doing business. They should also be knowledgeable of and use the latest contracts and disclosures.
It’s more than a full-time job to be a local expert; it involves following sales trends, knowing the latest home listings, and keeping up with specific statutory requirements. It’s very difficult (maybe almost impossible) to be a local expert in more than one county, let alone three states! And as more legal, zoning, and disclosure requirements for buyers and sellers become enacted in each state and county – there is a growing risk to consumers from incompetent agents.
For example, the statewide requirement of licensees to ensure home improvement contractor referrals are licensed is a consumer protection that many are unaware. The requirement ensures that consumers can go to the MHIC if the work is faulty and/or there are issues with a licensed contractor. If your agent unwittingly recommends an unlicensed contractor for home inspection repairs, (besides any potential action against the licensee), a home buyer could demand you make additional repairs and/or obtain certification from a licensed contractor that repairs were completed properly.
And effective October 1st, Maryland is altering its agency law again. Among the requirements, agents conducting an open house must conspicuously post a notice from the Maryland Real Estate Commission. The notice (sounding like Miranda Rights) states that any information provided to the open house agent is not considered confidential and buyers are “entitled” to representation. What would your reaction be if your agent was unaware of this and the buyer is now seeking to void your contract because they were not given their “Real Estate Miranda Rights?”
Recent home seller requirements in Montgomery County are further example where you could be at risk if your agent is unaware of the local statutory requirements and ordinances (such as utility costs and radon test requirements). Non-compliance and/or non-disclosure could possibly result in a fine. And of course any future ordinances (such as a sign ban) furthers the risk. Who knows? Maybe the County Council will devise a local registry of agents doing business in the county to promote real estate agent competency and protect consumers.
Do yourself a favor and hire a competent real estate agent who is not only aware of sales trends and neighborhood values, but the local practices and regulations as well.
Increasing statewide and local regulation is making local real estate sales a specialized endeavor. And as a home buyer or seller, you should bear this in mind when hiring a real estate agent. If you’re not being advised properly as a home seller, you’re at risk of non-compliance with statutes, regulations, and/or ordinances – which has potential for fines and a contract dispute. If you’re not being advised properly as a home buyer, you’re at risk of missing specific local disclosures and notices that could affect you financially and/or physically as a home owner.
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX All Pro in Rockville, MD. You can access more information at www.DanKrell.com.