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Lay All The Cards On The Table

An important concept that I want you to clearly understand, is that your job is to lay all the cards out on the table for your clients. Don't leave any skeletons hidden in the closet. Tell them about all the different aspects and realities of their investment, both good and bad, of what we've discussed plus any that you learn from your own experiences. If all the cards are laid out, then the client can make an intelligent and educated decision about their real estate purchase. Don't make any decisions for the client. It's their money and their future, so let them decide. Your job is to just give the client the facts and your objective opinions, both good and bad. (I've said that so many times by now I'm turning blue in the face. I just want to make sure you don't forget it.)

If all the cards are laid out, then the client can make an intelligent and educated decision about their real estate purchase. Don't make any decisions for the client. It's their money and their future, so let them decide.

If you're not sure about telling your client something, then just ask yourself: "Is this something that can affect the market value of the subject property?"  and "If I were the person buying this house or condo, would I want someone to inform me about this or not? " and "Would I feel this is something that I would want to know about?"

If you, or any third parties, try to make the decisions for the client, then you're not helping them out. It's similar to a person going to a doctor for a routine physical. If the doctor finds a problem condition from the test results, he should tell the patient what he found and the possible treatments. The doctor should then let the patient choose what action or treatment to take. Now the doctor is the professional and an expert in the field of medicine. Therefore, he should provide the patient with some objective advice and alternatives. With the doctor's advice and alternatives, the patient can then make an intelligent and educated decision on their own.

However, what would happen if the doctor decided, on his own, to not tell the patient about the problem condition? Let's say the doctor just rationalized in his own mind that the patient didn't need to know about the problem condition. Perhaps the doctor felt that the condition might go away on its own over time. Maybe the doctor would think that if he told the patient, he would only worry the patient unnecessarily. Does that doctor have a right to make a decision like that with someone else's life? Or should that doctor lay all of the cards out on the table for the patient to decide? You tell me. I think the doctor should let the patient decide. When a doctor doesn't inform a patient properly about their health condition, it brings to mind the old saying, "Doctors bury their mistakes." Unfortunately, I've seen first hand experiences where some doctors buried their mistakes. A doctor shouldn't filter out anything that the client should know. And neither should a home inspector, a home seller, a Realtor, an attorney, a bank appraiser, nor anyone else. Unfortunately, often people do filter out information that someone has a right to know about.

Tony Fasanella was one of my instructors for the State appraisal course called "The Standards of Professional Practice." Tony constantly stated that the key to honest, ethical and professional conduct was disclosure, disclosure, disclosure of all aspects. This meant that you don't hide anything from the client, nor do anything that will give someone a false impression or lead them to a wrong conclusion. That includes what you say verbally and what you put in the written report.

I feel bad about creating headaches for the seller or Realtor when I detect problem conditions during an inspection or appraisal. I like to help people, not make their life more difficult (unless they're dishonest). But it's not my fault when I find problems with a house during an inspection or appraisal. The way I look at it is that I didn't create the problems - I only identified he problems which my client has a right to know about. So don't feel guilty about creating headaches for anyone if you're telling the truth. Your job is not to kill real estate deals, it's to identify all the negative and positive aspects of a house. Even though you don't create the negative aspects, the sellers and Realtors still get angry at you. They look at you like you're an idiot merely because they're ignorant to the facts.

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