Beware of legal pitfalls

The topic of whether to list your home with a Realtor or not is a very important one and the subject of much debate. There are good arguments to be made on both sides of this question.

I now do real estate internet marketing full time, but by way of background, I have formerly been a licensed Realtor and I also have a law degree and am therefore a non-licensed lawyer. So perhaps I have a unique ability to address the question of whether or not a Realtor can be used to guide homeowners through the legal documents in the home selling process.

I have read numerous articles on written by Realtors explaining why home sellers need Realtors, and one of the reasons they cite is the assistance with legal forms, documents and issues. They caution home sellers not to do FSBO because of the legal pitfalls.

I rather wish that these Realtors would look at other of their services in choosing which ones to promote to home sellers. This is because I have found that many Realtors make changes to real estate legal documents on a regular basis. I also find them talking to buyers and sellers about legal matters affecting the home purchase and sale.

In both cases Realtors are engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. That is, they are giving legal advice or amending legal documents without being licensed attorneys.

My word of advice to all home sellers and most home buyers is to separately engage your own real estate attorney. It may cost only a few hundred dollars to have a legal expert look everything over and guide you through the process.

Do not list your house with a Realtor in order to obtain help with legal matters or legal documents.

In choosing whether to list or go FSBO I would look primarily at the cost of their marketing services, compared to what marketing services you can get elsewhere at a lower cost.

Make sure the Realtors justify their commissions by providing real estate marketing services, not legal services.