Written by Samuel Doncaster. Published in the Arizona Journal of Real Estate and Business.
I feel a ton of empathy for salespeople who find themselves stuck in the middle of a buyer-seller disclosure dispute. The situation is inherently stressful. It creates tension with referral partners. And agents who handle it poorly risk dissatisfied clients and bad reviews. At the very least, even if the salesperson did everything right, it risks becoming a time sink. In fact, I once handled a disclosure case another lawyer referred to me. Initially, the clients contacted their agent for help with the problem. The agents exchanged emails on the subject, but the clients couldn’t reach an agreement. Eventually, the agent told our common clients that she couldn’t do anything more. So, they contacted a lawyer they know socially, and he referred them to me.
I was delighted to help these clients. I also told them that, in my opinion, their case would be much simpler to win because the agent protected them in the transaction. Despite my positive words about the agent, the clients expressed concern that the agent had “abandoned” them, simply by failing to litigate the disclosure dispute as a trial lawyer would. Here’s how to avoid that problem and turn it into an opportunity for referrals.
Salespeople can give their clients a TON of value
The golden rule of referrals is to give value. You may have heard Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, say: “Givers gain.” That’s true. Here’s how to give your clients value when dealing with disclosure issues:
1. Help them organize their files. You’ve already given them the key documents in their case. But clients often don’t know what’s important. So, give your clients professional help in preparing a file to share with a lawyer. Include the following:
- Full AAR contract with all amendments or addenda.
- All inspection reports.
- Any appraisal reports.
- Estimates to repair non-disclosed conditions, if available.
- Title policy, including schedule B. (This is not always necessary, but some non-disclosures involve issues related to title.)
- Any prior correspondence related to the disclosure dispute.
If your client has this organized and ready to go, it’ll give their lawyer a head-start on the case. You’ll be saving the clients substantially on legal fees.
2. Give them a warm introduction to a good lawyer. This is huge, especially for disclosure disputes. They’re some of the scariest issues a client will deal with. But your client will feel a huge relief if someone they already know and trust helps them take the next steps. Some of the best realtors I know will actually be on the line and make the initial scheduling call with their clients. They professionally explain the problem. And the client feels safe with a professional hand-off. Realtors who do this are going above and beyond for their clients, and the clients know it. They know someone was in their corner. Clients who get this quality of service refer.
3. Check in on them later. After the introduction, call the client to check in. Ask how the case is going. Ask whether there’s anything you can do to help. Offer to talk to their lawyer about the case if they want. Show your client you’re still providing service after the sale. These three simple steps turn your client’s disclosure problem into an opportunity. You get to show how much you care. You get to be the hero who comes in with the right resource at the right time. That doesn’t just avoid client relations problems. It impresses the client. Clients who receive this level of white-glove treatment don’t just thank their agents. They become raving fans. They give referrals.
Samuel Doncaster is a trial lawyer who is very active in real estate fraud cases. He helps people get their money back when they’ve been cheated in real estate deals. If you or somebody you know needs help with a disclosure issue, you can set an appointment by calling (602) 427-4437 for a strategy session. That strategy session comes with a risk free, 100% money-back, written guarantee.