Current Matters of Concern to LIBOR Members

Sep 10, 2019

Q. Can someone be the broker and the engineer on the same deal when he is the buyer's lawyer?

A. The Grievance Committee of the NYS Bar would be very unhappy with the attorney. Attorneys are generally not supposed to act as both broker and lawyer. His being the engineer as well adds a whole new dimension to his audacity. You, however, would not be the one to make the complaint. The buyer would be the party with standing, and, for all you know, the lawyer is the brother/son/father/cousin or any other close relative or a lifelong friend of the buyer and is actually giving all his skill and knowledge to the buyer for free! You just never know!

Q. I have a listing that is well priced, beautifully maintained and situated in a great neighborhood. Consequently, the house has many offers and the seller insists I continue to show until all the interest dies down. Several buyers have made offers over asking and the seller is still refusing to accept any of them. Now it looks as if we are in the middle of a bidding war. I am worried about the house appraising. What should I tell the seller?

A. Explain your concern about the appraisal, but remember, the seller and buyer are the ultimate decision makers as to the final value of the house. If a buyer believes it is worth what he is willing to pay, the seller's attorney can put a clause in the contract that states the transaction is not contingent upon the appraisal. If the buyer agrees, you have done a great job and the seller has maximized his investment. Only time will tell if the buyer' faith in the house's value was reasonable.

Q. Can a landlord in the city of New York refuse to accept a tenant on a program?

A. If the landlord does not own any properties larger than 5 family residences, and New York State does not add source of income to its protected classes, then the landlord had an exemption from the NYC source of income protection and can refuse a tenant on a program. If, however, the landlord has even a tiny interest in a property that has more than 5 units, he loses the exemption for all of his properties, no matter how many units they have,

Q. I am in the middle of a transaction with an agent who said she was a broker's agent, but keeps calling the buyer her client. When I questioned her on this, she said she just made a mistake, that he is her customer, but then she sent me some emails between her and the buyer and' in one he sent it to "Mom!" If he is her son, shouldn't she have told us and shouldn't she be a buyer's broker?

A. Yes! 

Q. A seller wants to give me a $2,000.00 bonus to thank me for selling her house! My broker said he is not sure I can take it! Can I?

A.  The seller may have to give the bonus to your broker and then your broker will give it to you. The Department of State says an agent may only be paid in a real estate transaction by the broker and may consider the bonus a direct payment by a seller to a salesperson and therefore a violation of license law. The broker can, however, give written permission for the seller to give the money to you directly and that should take care of any concerns the DOS may raise.

Q. I was contacted by a seller who wanted to put her house on the market because she is getting a divorce. The wife wants me to be the broker, but her husband wants someone else to have the listing. The other agent and I went outside to talk and thought we should suggest that we both list it. We offered to share the listing and told the sellers we would split the listing side of the commission and compensate the selling agent from the gross commission. So far things seem to be going well and the other agent and I have become friends. Everyone tells me divorcing sellers are a problem to work with, but we are not having any trouble. Are we doing something wrong?

A. It sounds to me as if you are doing everything right! 

Q. Does an attorney with a broker's license have to take 22 1/2 hours of continuing education in real estate every 2 years?

A. No, but he does have to take 24 hours of continuing legal education every 2 years.

Q. Can I show a house that has no homeowner's insurance?

A. You can, but you should disclose there is no insurance and, to protect yourself, you should have anyone who wants to go on the premises to sign a hold harmless agreeing not to hold you responsible if he or she gets hurt. Incidentally, just because the owner is not insured does not mean the owner is not still liable if anyone does get hurt.