Charging non-Realtors® to Access GAR Forms

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Have you heard the news that, beginning January 1, 2012, real estate licensees who are not Realtors® (not members of a Board or Association of Realtors®) will no longer have free access to GAR Forms? All agents affiliated with BHGRE Metro Brokers and CBC Metro Brokers are required to be Realtors and will have access to GAR Forms, but this will be a big change for some other companies that don’t require membership.

Once 2012 begins, non-Realtors® will have to pay a $199 annual licensing fee for access to GAR Forms. The GAR Forms will recognize the NRDS numbers of Realtors®. When non-Realtors® try to access the GAR Forms and cannot provide a NRDS number, they will be offered the opportunity to pay the annual licensing fee online. No fee payment, no GAR Forms access.

“GAR (Georgia Association of Realtors®) has always exclusively owned the copyright to the GAR Forms. The Forms were developed by GAR over the last 20 years through the hard work, dedication, and effort of the GAR Forms Committee working in conjunction with GAR legal counsel. Much time, effort and expense has gone into the creation of the Forms and continues to go into updating and improving the Forms each year,” according to Anne D. Gault, GAR President.

As an attempt to attract licensees, some brokerages allow their licensees to affiliate without becoming Realtors®. Therefore, the use of GAR Forms by non-Realtors®, who are not paying dues to GAR to support GAR Forms and other GAR services, has become controversial. Realtors® are simply no longer willing to share their very valuable work and intellectual property with “free-loading” nonmembers at no cost.

Why GAR Forms are the Best

This is not a blog about the benefits of being a Realtor®; that’s a whole other topic. This is a blog about the fact that GAR Forms are the best real estate forms available to Realtors® inGeorgiafor many reasons:

  • They are the ONLY forms written to specifically protect the interests of Realtors® while also being fair to the interests of clients and customers. Any agent who has dealt with contracts written by the buyer’s or seller’s attorney knows that those documents are NOT designed to protect the real estate licensees, and are, in fact, often very unfriendly to licensees.
  • GAR Forms have been successfully defended in court and, as such, the risk of court challenges to GAR Forms is less than with others.
  • GAR has a history of conducting defense of its forms in court when legal challenges have been brought.
  • GAR Forms are extremely comprehensive and include Forms for just about any real estate situation a Realtor® may be involved in.
  • GAR Forms have been prepared in conjunction with legal counsel working hand-in-hand with the GAR Forms Committee. Bear in mind that non-attorneys are not permitted to create legal documents and you will realize the importance of this.

GAR to Enforce Copyrights

Realtors® with rightful access to GAR Forms can anticipate several “situations” which may arise after January 1, 2012 when dealing with non-Realtors® who have not paid the GAR annual licensing fee. Realtors® should be on the lookout for:

  • 2011 and older GAR Forms being used after the 2012 Forms are made available.
  • Thinly-disguised versions of GAR Forms.
  • Non-Realtors® attempting to borrow a Realtor’s® NRDS number.

GAR President, Anne Gault has informed all Realtors that, “GAR recognizes that it may have to use legal means to enforce its valuable copyrights and is fully prepared to aggressively do so.” Any occurrence of the situations mentioned above should be reported to GAR (or a member of Broker Support if you are affiliated with Metro Brokers!).

What are some of the practical issues we will encounter after January 1?

Will each non-Realtor® company devise their own version of all the GAR Forms? How many different versions of a Purchase and Sale Agreement will a Realtor® potentially encounter, read and understand? Some non-Realtor® firms are already announcing that they will have non-GAR forms available for their agents to use. How they can accomplish this in such a short period of time without simply plagiarizing GAR forms and arrange for distribution of these documents will remain to be seen.

What if a non-GAR offer is received on our listing? Should we “counter” on a GAR Purchase and Sale in order to protect our client by using a document we are very familiar with and which protects our commission rights? How will a non-Realtor® representing or working with a buyer respond to that? Can we use a GAR Counteroffer to respond to a non-GAR offer? Will forms “turf wars” develop between Listing and Selling agents/brokerages?

What if a non-Realtor® claims to have a buyer interested in our listing and calls us asking that WE write the offer since he has no access to GAR Forms? Will Realtors® mention in their listing remarks, “Co-op commission is (some reduced amount) if Listing Agent writes the offer”?

Will Realtors® be responsible for reading and interpreting non-GAR documents for our clients and customers? Or will Realtors® suggest clients and customers seek legal counsel?

Let’s all take a deep breath……

Hopefully non-Realtors® will either decide to become Realtors® or to pay the GAR annual licensing fee in the interests of ease of access to and preparation of listings and contracts.

Otherwise, hopefully Realtors® and non-Realtors® will conduct themselves with their clients’ and customers’ interests in mind. Realtors® receiving non-GAR offers on their listings will need to take the time to completely read the offer, get clarifications from the non-GAR agent when needed and even invite the non-GAR agent to present his/her offer to the seller and provide answers about that offer.

Hopefully GAR-using Realtors® and non-GAR using non-Realtors®, when co-operating on a transaction, can agree whether to utilize GAR Forms (more work for the Realtor®) or the “other” forms (more work for both since the Realtor will be required to study and understand the “other” forms).

What should we do and NOT do?

Realtors® should never refuse to receive or refuse to present any written and signed offer, even if it’s written on a paper towel.

Realtors® should not disparage other licensees because they do not use GAR Forms.

Realtors® should not overlook violations of GAR’s copyright, but document them to their broker.

Realtors® should present all written and signed offers, even if the offer is on a suspected “bootleg” GAR Form (but do document the illegally-used GAR Forms to their broker).

Realtors® should be happy and proud to be Realtors®!

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33 Responses to “Charging non-Realtors® to Access GAR Forms”

  1. Susan Hicks Says:

    Thanks Ann for a great article. We were just discussing the special remarks issue in our Monday meeting. Timely advice for all of us.

  2. Pat Viohl Says:

    Wow! I had no idea this was going to happen. I certainly agree with the charge for non-Realtors to use the GAR forms, but it makes me nervous to think about trying to compare potential apples to oranges, non-GAR forms against GAR forms……

  3. Simah Benyamin Says:

    This is a great article; thank you Ann. Being a part of BHGRE Metro Brokers and being made aware of what is going on will help us to get through this too.

  4. Vicky Diffley Says:

    I think its great that Non-realtors have to pay for using GAR Forms. Too bad it wasn’t a higher fee!

    We used to have to read and understand New Construction Purchase and Sale agreements, because many builders used their own contracts. This won’t be any different if we start seeing other companies come up with their own contracts. Just a big headache!

  5. Dennis Doll Says:

    Thanks Ann. Once again we see the “value” of being with a firm like BHGRE Metro Brokers.

  6. Steve Adkins Says:

    I can see the need for Broker Support to hire more help come the first of the year. Hopefully there will be some clear cut guide lines on how to handle some of these “rogue” forms.

  7. giuliana1580 Says:

    Yeah!! this should have been done long time ago.

    • Mary Asberry Says:

      I agree. We have so many who have not earned the titled of realtor….with the cost of board dues, not paid for it either!

  8. Carol Waldrop Says:

    Good questions. One of the things I like about this job–it’s never boring! I anticipate getting hand-written offers on photocopied GAR Forms from an agent who I have no idea is a Realtor or not or whether they have paid licensing fees or not since we do not have access to a database that gives us that information. And yes, they will all be presented to our clients and responded to in a professional, cooperative manner.

  9. Laura Crockarell Says:

    I am so glad we as Realtors are taking action to prevent the freeloading. I fully expect there is already some “tricky business” being devised here in Coweta County to get around the $199 charge. It will be interesting to see what happens. Go GAR!!!

  10. Margaret Jackson Says:

    Thank you Ann for all of your hard work to keep us informed!

  11. Valerie McDonald Says:

    I have been amazed at who has chosen to go the non-board route. Sometimes within a company which has belonged to a board for years.
    I remember the days before the GAR contracts 7 having to very carefully read an offer & try to decide what another agent was trying to say.
    I suspect Broker Support will be very busy.

  12. Mark Slaughter Says:

    Excellent article, Ann! There are so many things that separate true professionals from the pack of others and here’s one more. I am proud to be a Realtor and part of BHGRE Metrobrokers for this kind of broker support.

  13. Jeannie Doole Says:

    Anne Gault just spoke at our Coweta WCR meeting last week and shared the great news! Yes, it is important to be a part of, and support GAR and our board! Progress in the making! Jeannie

  14. arthurharris Says:

    Great information Ann thanks for keeping us current, next year we have to be more cautious working with non-realtor agents.

  15. Philamenia Rivers Says:

    Thanks for the valuable info and insight to yet another venture of “Cheaters” in the business world..I struggle every year to pay my dues…if I have to pay then others should pay for access to the priviledges too. If not you are looking at more of us trying to get around paying..NOT

  16. Mary Asberry Says:

    Great article. Sounds like a class needs to be conducted real soon. How many agents will not get this update until they actually try to use GAR forms? (not counting BHGRE Metro Broker agents who are always informed) 🙂 Thanks Ann for keeping us updated!

  17. Linda Mock Says:

    Many thanks Ann for the heads up! This is going to be complicated indeed. I am so very grateful to be with a firm that requires Board membership, places value on education and staying current with the many changes in our Industry. Lets face it, the contract is the core of our deal, the verbiage in the Gar form is written to protect all parties and to cover all the “what if’s”. Real Estate today is simply not the same as in the past, and the Gar form has changed every year to stay abreast of those changes. I simply can’t imagine anyone attempting to orchestrate an agreement on an outdated form. Perhaps this will encourage those who do not place a priority on their career to step up to the plate of professionalism.

  18. Regina Boyd Says:

    Thank you for this article and for keeping us informed about all things Real Estate. I look forward to seeing how this is resolved.

  19. Gaile Johnson Says:

    All REALTORS are agents but not all agents are REALTORS. There is a difference! Can’t wait to see where this goes….

  20. Dan Jones Says:

    I think this is good for all Real Estate Agents since it will help identify one of the major benefits of being a REALTOR.

    These documents help the entire Real Estate Buying & Selling Process go smoother for everyone.

  21. Michael Scott Says:

    I attended the GAR meeting and voted for this new policy. My only question was why has it taken so long? For years I have paid my dues, given of my time to work in my board and GAR, as have many others, only to see those who did nothing benefit from our money and efforts.It is well past time for them to pay their fair share. Selling a license to use the GAR forms is no different than purchasing the copy of a software package like Office. Those that use it without the license are stealing form us. I hope that everyone will help to enforce this ploicy by reporting the unauthorized use of the GAR forms.

  22. Tom Beechler Says:

    I concur with everyone’s feelings regarding the use of GAR contracts by non-realtors.

    And here is another beef:

    We recently did a listing presentation. As always, we talked about the importance of using a Realtor. The customer said, please pull up Realtor.com. We did! The client then proceeded to ask if being a realtor is so important, why are non-realtors on the official site of the National Association of Realtor?

    Realtor.com: the main page say’s “Official site of the National Association of Realtors”. Well, why would the official site allow non-realtors to post their listings and better yet give them the opportunity to enhance their listings.

    I understand that that Move, Inc operates the domain for NAR, but am I missing something here?

    Talk about supporting Non-Realtors…

  23. Bridgette Freeman Says:

    Great information to spread! I agree with the above comments, GO GAR & GO REALTORS!

  24. Clara McAtee Says:

    Thank you Ann for keeping us on top of this issue. I agree that everyone needs to pay to use the forms that are a true “Value”, as it is expensive to create and keep up dated legal forms that protect all parties involved in the Real Estate transaction. However, ALL Real Estate Agents in the state of Georiga should be required to use STANDARDIZED forms . . . it shouldnt be an OPTION . . . will cause to many oppertunities for major issues to arise. What can be done to standardize forms use for the entire state???

    • Ann Bone Says:

      To standardize forms for the entire state would require some entity to step up and 1) develop them, 2) pay for all that development, 3) distribute them, 4) defend them and 5) constantly update them. This sounds like what GAR has already done. But complex legal documents don’t just appear for free.

      • clara Says:

        Thanks again Ann, . . . . no doubt nothing is FREE . . . and yes mam . .you are right . . . GAR has already done this . . . just a shame that everyone wont do the RIGHT thing and join a wonderful organization created to protect Realtors . . thier brokers and thier clients and customers. I feel blessed and fortunate to be a part of GAR, NAR and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers!!! I appreciate all everyone here at Metro Brokers does to advance us in this GREAT Profession!

  25. jeff Claeson Says:

    Ann thank you for the great information. Funny thing we were talking about this very subject at our Paulding Board of Directors Meeting. Its going to be an interesting first quarter in 2012.

  26. Luis Says:

    Ann, you used the word “hopefully” 3 times in the last section of your post. Sounds to me like you are “hoping” for this to work out.

    I would recommend we all start thinking of what we are going to do when those problems surely arise.

    When you think about it there is not much benefit to other agents not having access to GAR forms. Other than for the people that pay their dues feel like they are getting something out of it.

    • Ann Bone Says:

      I did say “hopefully” a few times, didn’t I?

      I didn’t mean that I hope it will work out. Offers and contracts WILL work out one way or another.

      What I meant was that “hopefully” the agents involved will be professional, mature and adult about dealing with this and not make this a problem for our clients and customers. We Realtors promise to put our clients and customer’s interests first. If that means negotiating a deal on a paper napkin, so be it.

      • clara Says:

        Amen . . . As Realtors we WILL do the RIGHT thing . . . and here at Metro Brokers you can count on being treated fair and have a extremely well trained agent . . . I am delighted with all I have learned in the two months I been a part of this amazing organization!! Thank You Ann, Dexter Dix, Kathy Steward . . . for all I have learned up to this point . . . and I do so look forward to all the other Brokers I will meet and have the pleasure of learning many new things from!!! Thank You Susan for pushing me until I cracked . . .lol!! And super thanks to MONA . . our Hamilton Mill super star!! ( P.S. You guy’s did such a great job with me so far that the other company I did my firt deal with has thier recruiter after me . . .lol . . I meet with her next week . . . just for the pleasure and experience of the interview!! ( But not to worry . . no one could pry me away from Metro Brokers . . . as I have never been more pleased and have a couple of HOPEFULLY big fish on my line already!! ) I plan on making a very long career here . . even if it is on a napkin . . .lol!! Have a great evening Ann!!!

  27. Luis Says:

    Ann, agree with your response.

    Did not mean my comment to be an editorial remark. What I meant is that we need to be proactive and figure out what we are going to when (not if) we encounter the scenarios that are sure to arise.

    The reality is that I can go right now and get a sales contract at Office Depot. Let’s say I am making an offer on your listing, the moment you receive my Office Depot contract you are going to turn around and use a GAR form instead. So in the end we end up using GAR form without me paying for it anyway. See my point?

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