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Jim Valentine: Leaving a trail

By Jim Valentine

The good old days of shaking hands on a deal and calling it good are long gone. In fact, they are so far gone that a simple written contract isn’t sufficient any more to keep you out of potential legal trouble. Not that you’ve done anything wrong, but there are people floating around these days that look for opportunities to glean unjust riches from accusing without merit. Because of this real estate agents like to have a trail of written documentation to support their understandings and memorialize their communication.

When a real estate transaction starts to get legs there is a lot going on. Many representations are made by all parties. The seller and their agent are touting their property. The buyer’s agent is providing a lot of information to the buyer and the buyer is telling their agent what they want and what they can do. It all sounds good in the beginning when everybody is excited about bringing things together to fulfill their wishes, but, just like a marriage, things can go south quickly when the honeymoon is over.

Because of this you will find agents using text and email communications more often than phone calls. Not only is it convenient, but it leaves a trail in case there is a question later of what was said, represented, agreed to, or understood along the way. It is important for all parties, really, buyer, seller and agent, to have the archive of the transaction communication in case something does come up that was unexpected, or was not represented correctly.

When communicating it is important to understand, especially in a sales negotiation setting, that both sides see things from a different perspective. One might say something meaning one thing that is hard and interpreted as meaning quite another. With that in mind, the availability of a communication archive can be important to keeping harmony in the process. Sometimes reviewing an email, or even the contract, reveals that it was read in haste originally with a certain mindset. A review without the initial emotional stress can show an entirely different meaning than that which was first understood. It isn’t always emotion or stress that leads to the misinterpretation, it can be busy people skimming the page and missing the point.

If someone is looking to “snooker” you they may try to put down a series of improper memos of a communication. Read your texts and emails carefully and if something isn’t correct be sure to get communication out immediately correcting the error. While everybody may have verbally agreed and clearly understood what was being agreed to, that could be hard to prove at a future point in time against a written statement to the contrary. Make sure your virtual trail is a correct one.

Having a good “paper” trail is a good thing. Remember to text or email your decisions, statements, thoughts, understandings to your agent or client and keep those communications on file. It will expedite your communication process, especially in these busy times, and will protect you in the event of a change of reality of the situation in the future. Unfortunately, there are people that use their computer for ill gotten gains these days and real estate is an easy target because of the values involved. Deals with family and friends are especially fraught with peril because of the high trust level. Desperate people do desperate things and when it comes to money the desperation level can soar quickly. In your real estate dealings keep it in writing and keep a log of the sequence of events. It is the first step in your defense and can forestall legal action at the beginning if they realize you are well documented.

We learned to “Trust but verify!” from a recent leader of our country. For your real estate endeavors, “Trust but document!” for your protection and that of your family.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your Real Estate needs… Experience is Priceless!  Jim Valentine, RE/MAX Realty Affiliates, 775-781-3704.   dpwtigers@hotmail.com