Agents Who Don’t Read The Contract Are Committing ‘Malpractice’

Key Takeaways:

– Frances Katzen and Courtney Poulos discussed the importance of buyer representation in the real estate industry
– They highlighted the differences between New York and California in terms of how transactions are conducted
– Poulos emphasized the need for agents to fully understand and review every point of a contract before presenting it to a client
– Both agents stressed the importance of professionalism and integrity in the industry
– Poulos expressed concern about agents on social media who use misleading professional titles
– They also discussed the importance of setting expectations with clients and educating buyers about the value of representation
– Poulos suggested that the National Association of Realtors should run media campaigns to educate the public about buyer representation.

inman:

Frances Katzen and Courtney Poulos spoke with moderator Dana Cadena about the importance of buyer representation, challenges to professionalism in the industry and more during an ICNY panel on Thursday.

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One thing was certainly made clear during an Inman Connect New York panel on Thursday featuring Douglas Elliman’s Frances Katzen and ACME Real Estate’s Courtney Poulos — any agent on the opposite side of a transaction with either of the real estate powerhouses had better make sure their i’s are dotted and their t’s are crossed.

The real estate pros discussed with moderator Dana Cadena the differences between how transactions are conducted in New York (where Katzen is based) versus California (where Poulos is based), the importance of buyer representation, challenges to professionalism in the industry and more.

Courtney Poulos | ACME Real Estate

For instance, Katzen shared, in New York, agents aren’t allowed to speak to the home appraiser, whereas Poulos regularly prepares data to provide to the appraiser. Poulos also always prepares her own contracts, but Katzen shared that in New York, an attorney always prepares the contract for the agent.

Regardless of who prepares the contract, however, both agents agreed that if an agent has not fully reviewed and understood every point of the contract they’re presenting their client with, they’re doing something seriously wrong. Poulos lamented the unprofessional behavior she’s witnessed from agents.

“How do people get their licenses without reading every single word of the contract they’re sending off to the client?” she wondered, as the Connect audience cheered in agreement.

“If you aren’t completely 100 percent confident in what you’re understanding,” Poulos continued, “you are toast.”

Dana Cadena | Lifestyle International Realty

Cadena likened such behavior to a doctor not reading a prescription they give out to a patient.

“That’s malpractice,” Cadena said.

Contracts matter, Poulos argued, because you never know when a transaction might go the wrong way and the “ambulance chasers” come out to make accusations or file a lawsuit.

That’s why relationships within the industry are so important, too, Poulos continued, both inside and outside of one’s brokerage.

“It’s a fine line we walk,” she said. “Who you work with really matters. Who your broker is really matters.”

Katzen chimed in, “And who’s taking the heat when it doesn’t come together.”

“Tell the truth always,” Katzen added. “That’s the hardest thing — is to stay true to it when in close proximity to someone who may want to say something else.”

Extending professional themes to the world of social media, Poulos was baffled by agents she’s seen on Instagram who just “willy-nilly” give themselves made-up professional titles, which can be extremely misleading to the public.

Frances Katzen | Douglas Elliman

“Being a CEO of a company is a very high liability,” Poulos noted, arguing that it’s not just some word to be thrown around on social media.

“Be wary of the naked one offering you a shirt,” Cadena cautioned.

As the industry transitions into using buyer-broker agreements more widely, Poulos, who has been using buyer-broker agreements for years, said that it’s important for agents to set expectations from the get-go.

“You define your value in your first meeting,” she said. “I’m a professional and my time is valuable. We’re an exclusive agency. I only work with people who want to work with me, and they want to work with me because I know my shit.”

Katzen said that many buyers don’t realize just how important it is for them to have representation in a transaction and to be on the lookout for things the buyer may not realize they need to consider, like radon leaks. She said not having buyer representation was “a liability.”

Taking the topic one step further, Poulos argued that because it is so important, the National Association of Realtors should be doing media campaigns on the topic to educate the public.

“NAR should be doing ads about the value of representation as opposed to the logo of the Realtor association,” she said.

Katzen agreed, saying, “[Buyers] think you turn a key and make 6 percent, and there’s nothing further from the truth.”

“When the market’s not so healthy, that’s when you see,” Katzen added, the value of buyer agents with expertise.

Email Lillian Dickerson


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Property Chomp's Take:

Frances Katzen and Courtney Poulos, two real estate powerhouses, recently spoke at an Inman Connect New York panel about the importance of buyer representation and the challenges to professionalism in the industry. The discussion, moderated by Dana Cadena, shed light on the differences between real estate transactions in New York and California, as well as the need for agents to thoroughly review contracts and understand every point before presenting them to clients.

One key difference highlighted during the panel was the role of agents in speaking to home appraisers. In New York, agents are not allowed to communicate with appraisers, while in California, Poulos regularly prepares data to provide to the appraiser. Another difference mentioned was the preparation of contracts, with Poulos always preparing her own contracts in California, while in New York, an attorney is responsible for preparing the contract. However, both agents emphasized the need for agents to fully review and understand the contracts they present to clients.

The panel also touched upon the unprofessional behavior exhibited by some agents, with Poulos expressing her frustration at agents who do not read every word of the contracts they send to clients. The audience at the Connect event agreed with her sentiment, emphasizing the importance of agents being fully confident in their understanding of the contracts they handle.

Cadena compared such behavior to a doctor not reading a prescription before giving it to a patient, labeling it as malpractice. Poulos argued that contracts matter because a transaction can go wrong, leading to accusations and lawsuits. She stressed the importance of building relationships within the industry, both within and outside of one's brokerage.

The discussion also touched upon the role of social media in the industry, with Poulos expressing her bafflement at agents on Instagram who give themselves made-up professional titles. She warned that this can be misleading to the public and emphasized the need for agents to be truthful in their online presence.

Moving on to the topic of buyer-broker agreements, Poulos highlighted the importance of setting expectations from the beginning. She emphasized that agents should define their value in the first meeting, conveying their professionalism and expertise. Katzen added that many buyers do not realize the importance of having representation in a transaction and the potential risks of not having buyer representation.

Taking the importance of buyer representation one step further, Poulos argued that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) should be doing media campaigns to educate the public about the value of representation. She suggested that NAR should focus on promoting the value of representation rather than just displaying the Realtor association logo.

In conclusion, the panel discussion emphasized the importance of professionalism in the real estate industry, including thorough contract review, truthful online presence, and the value of buyer representation. The insights shared by Frances Katzen and Courtney Poulos provided valuable guidance for agents looking to excel in their careers and ensure the best possible outcomes for their clients.

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