Charlottesville Lawyer – New law to increase paperwork for real estate agents
BY BILL FREEHLING
Starting July 1, prospective customers will need to sign a written agreement with a Realtor representing them in the search before they look at a property or receive other services. The agreement will spell out the nature of the business relationship with the Realtor and how long it lasts.
The change will affect all brokerage agreements, whether residential, commercial or property management.
Traditionally, these agreements have been done informally. The Virginia General Assembly passed the law in 2011 in order to protect Realtors and their customers. It wasn’t scheduled to take effect until this summer.
Stacey Ricks, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Association of Realtors, said people already sign such up-front agreements for most other professional services. She pointed out that it’s not an exclusive lifetime agreement just to see a property or two, but it will ensure that “everyone’s on the same page” before the Realtor provides any services and that “every aspect of your relationship is clear from the beginning.”
“These simple formalities will help protect you and your Realtor alike by ensuring that every aspect of the relationship is transparent and understandable,” Ricks wrote in an email.
Still, some Realtors aren’t thrilled about the change. There is concern that some, particularly longtime Realtors unaccustomed to these formal written agreements, will not follow the new rules, and that customers will balk at signing anything up front.
“It is a pretty big shift,” said Kim McClellan, government affairs director for the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors.
Also starting July 1, Realtors representing both a seller and a buyer on a transaction will have to get a signed document from the buyer pointing out that the Realtor has a legal and ethical duty to the seller.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
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