What to say when you’re getting grilled over real estate

What should you say when you’re at a BBQ, an open house, or the local coffee shop and people grill you for real estate information?

When they know you’re a REALTOR® people can’t help but want to ask you questions and tell you about themselves. And, naturally you want to help them. Yet since the new Rules came into effect, many members are not entirely comfortable with how to handle informal situations – whether around people you know or the general public.

It may feel awkward talking with people while in the back of your mind, you’re worried that you may have to whip out a four-page form or stop talking to that person altogether.

Paul Cowhig, FVREB’s Professional Standards Advisor, suggests that you handle it like other professionals. If a doctor or a lawyer is at the neighbourhood barbeque, they’ll talk generally about medicine or law, but if asked for specifics like diagnosing tennis elbow or advising on will provisions, they’ll suggest you contact them at their office. You can do the same thing.

Paul also suggests that when and if you need to talk DORTS in an informal setting, make it crystal clear that reading and signing the disclosure form does not obligate them in any way, and that it simply acknowledges that they have read and understood the contents.

Signs and scripts

Meanwhile, some offices have taken to composing signage or scripts to break the ice with people around the disclosure issue. One that came across our desk last week and seems to be making the rounds is a one-pager written for the consumer at open houses that contains the following points:

  • Don’t share personal information with the Realtor including financials, or motivations or needs for selling/buying.
  • Only provide this kind of information to a real estate professional who is providing agency representation for you.
  • The Realtor at the open house is happy to answer general questions about that specific property.
  • If you would like more information or to have a more serious conversation regarding this property, real estate in general or getting representation, the Realtor is obliged to disclose that she/he is:
    • acting on behalf of the seller and loyal to their needs, and
    • has a fiduciary duty to disclose to the seller any confidential information you provide.

The last section reads:  “If you would like to proceed to have a more substantial conversation about this property or another, I must disclose to you the type of representation I can offer by completing a Disclosure of Representation in Trading Services Form.  This document will explain to you the difference between being represented or unrepresented in a real estate transaction.”

Overall, it’s a fairly full explanation. However, some may feel it’s too long and repeats information that is already provided in the DORTS.

Alternatively you could insert something shorter at the top of a feature sheet or alongside the listing printout, or pinned at the door of an open house.

Here’s a shorter alternative

“You may not know that the Real Estate Council of BC recently revised the rules that govern the way Realtors and real estate brokerages are allowed to do business with the public. These rules were introduced to bring more openness and clarity about how real estate agency representation works.

So, while I am happy to answer any general questions you have about this property, please be aware that I am here representing the interests of my client to sell their property.

As a representative of the seller I am obligated to share with them any personal information or financial situation you tell me about yourself that could potentially benefit my client.

To that end, I ask that you protect your interests by not disclosing personal and financial information to me before you fully understand the potential consequences of doing so.”

Whatever words or tools you adopt that makes your conversations go more smoothly is worth using as long as you are comfortable with the form and content. Not everyone will react positively to the DORTS form because it is four pages and asks for signatures. But if introduced as a caution that is for their own protection, it should be easier to work with.

Do you have any script suggestions? Send them our way by emailing communications@fvreb.bc.ca.