I attended GAR’s annual broker and manager meeting a few days ago. It’s the second annual meeting hosted by GAR and open to brokers and managers from every GAR member firm in the state. The intent is to give all the company leaders some insight into industry trends. Part of each meeting, though, is devoted to current lawsuits which affect or could affect Realtors in Georgia. A couple of them are pertinent to agents’ day to day dealings and will help us avoid future problems. Here’s one of the current cases…
A woman purchased a townhome in Atlanta, closed the sale and moved in. Several months after moving in she discovered waterlogged carpeting, falling sheetrock and other water-related issues. She also discovered a lot of mold. The buyer sued the Selling Broker and the Listing Broker for concealing the water and mold issues.
It turns out that a 20-page mold screening inspection report which revealed extensive water stains and mold throughout the home had been left in the property for prospective buyers to review but this buyer never looked at it. The report further explained that extensive mold remediation had been performed, thus no visual evidence of the prior problems existed at the time of contract, inspection and closing.
Fortunately for the Listing Broker, the Listing Agent had an email record showing that she had emailed the 20-page report to the Selling Agent. The Selling Agent had acknowledged receiving the email and the report. The Selling Agent had a Buyer Brokerage Agreement with the buyer, and thus, notice to the Selling Agent was notice to the buyer.
In court the buyer swore on a stack of Bibles that she had never been given the mold report. The Selling Agent swore on an equal stack of Bibles that she had handed the report to the buyer during a specific visit to the property. Which one is telling the truth?
PROBLEM: The Selling Agent couldn’t PROVE that she had delivered the mold report to the buyer. SOLUTION: Before handing a mold report, survey, termite inspection, home inspection report or ANY document to a customer or client, make a copy of the report, scan it, and email another copy to the intended recipient with a little note, “I know I already gave you this but wanted to give you another copy for safekeeping.” I would also suggest asking some type of question, “Are you going out of town this weekend?” etc. so that the recipient will reply and verify that he/she received your email.
Wow! It doesn’t matter what you DO, it only matters what you can PROVE you did.