I have never met Chris Warren, but I already like the guy. Why? Because he is the first estate agent I have encountered who seems prepared to treat consumers as they should be treated – with honesty and respect.
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I come down heavily on those who resort to illegal, improper and unethical behaviour in the real estate industry. (There is certainly a regular supply of blog material generated by such people!) So when someone like Chris Warren emerges, it is important that his example is given publicity.
The Role Of The Estate Agent
Let’s have a look at what Chris Warren is telling consumers:
Most importantly, Chris Warren says,
Real estate agents are NOT valuers!
But he goes even further, advising vendors and purchasers alike of the need for pre-contract legal advice.
Chris Warren’s advertisement sets out 4 important points:
- “Obtain an independent valuation from a registered valuer. Please remember your real estate agent is a marketer and negotiator on your behalf, not a valuer.”
- “Buyers will want a building and pest inspection before they can proceed with a contract and if they find any problems, can withdraw from the contract or ask you to reduce the price if they find anything amiss. To avoid this why not arrange your own building and pest inspections before going to the market? That way any potential problems can be addressed before they become an issue.”
- “If you have made any improvements to your property ensure you have the correct council approvals in place.”
- “Whether you are a buyer or seller, get your solicitor to look over the contracts before you sign.”
Now, these 4 points are not as simple as they may seem. They actually suggest a fundamental change in the way estate agents behave.
NOTE: Chris Warren’s approach actually requires the unqualified estate agent to relinquish crucial roles, and return them to the experts from whom they have been stealthily stolen over the decades since the first real estate legislation was introduced.
Most real estate agents play 3 roles:
1. Valuer (“Appraisals” and “Market Assessments” are just different terms for “Valuation”)
2. Commission salesman (The estate agent wins a percentage of the property upon a sale)
3. Legal adviser (The estate agent takes control of the contract, and “advises” both parties)
Separation Of Powers
The political concept of “separation of powers” provides a useful analogy: A fairer political system is possible where the executive, thelegislature and the judiciary are in separate hands, rather than all 3 being concentrated in the hands of one dictator.
So it is in real estate.
Where the estate agent stands to win a huge commission on a sale, he should not be permitted to influence the chances of a sale by establishing the sale price. Valuations should be left to the professional valuer.
Similarly, the estate agent should not be permitted to formulate the rules under which the vendor and purchaser will conduct the sale, and determine the circumstances under which it can be cancelled or ended.Contracts should be handled by the parties’ legal representatives.
As I have stated on many previous occasions, negotiation is not the role of the estate agent. Rather, negotiation is the role of the parties’ respective legal representatives.
While Chris Warren is of the view that negotiation is part of his role, there is a strong difference between the way most estate agents “negotiate” and what Chris Warren proposes. I see Chris Warren’s negotiations as the development of a proposal, without either party being pressured to sign a final contract. This is evident in the final of his four points, where he advises that both vendors and purchasers should present the contract to their lawyer before signing.
Any problems arising during the development of the proposed deal, can still be dealt with before the contract is finalised. Thus, an unfair, vague or otherwise problematic contract can be tidied up through final negotiations, conducted through the parties’ lawyers, before either party is bound.
The estate agent no longer has control over the final, formal negotiations.
As far as I am aware, Chris Warren is the only estate agent in Australia who actually promotes separation of the roles of salesperson, valuerand legal adviser as being factors that will “…guarantee that you get the best possible price and a stress free selling process.”.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see other estate agents follow Chris Warren’s example.