Buyer Beware – Panama Real Estate Information At A Premium!

Because real estate is a relatively new industry for the Republic of Panama, buyers are experiencing both the prizes and pitfalls of entering a market ahead of the curve. Prices are low, demand is high, and certain currencies are very strong which makes Panama a convenient investment hub. But getting in early can be a double-edged sword for many, considering the distribution of good, quality information is very much suppressed.

The dissemination of information dilutes power…information is a beacon, a cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent, depending on who wields it and how. – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics

Freakonomics talks about this phenomenon and the rise of the internet as a way of giving regular Joe-Shmoe the opportunity to the ability to examine real estate in depth, thus shifting information to the hands of people who have it, into the hands of those who don’t. In Panama though, there are few, if any internet resources that collect or divulge this kind of information: in some cases because it’s too difficult, in other cases because it would make the owner of the information significantly less powerful.

Outside of website owners and real estate agents, even so-called experts depend on the fact that you don’t have the information that they do. Luckily, in these cases, oftentimes the information has a price tag that you can pay for to acquire like my $99 eBook, The Panama Real Estate Report.

In Panama, the real estate agent is king. They are not only the possessors and the hoarders of valuable information such as market prices, trends, and buying power: they are also oftentimes so busy with an excess of potential buyers chomping at the bit, that they can quite easily afford to kick you (the persistent and inquisitive one) to the curb, simply because you take more time and energy to attend to. They are the almighty beholders of information (albeit information they’ve acquired through experience) and they’ll be very selective in how they relinquish that stronghold to little old you.

It’s a shitty situation to be in as a buyer: You want desperately to be provided with fair and honest information as you are accustomed to so you can make the right investment choice, but you realize logically that the agent could make more money faster probably skipping to another, easier sell. The stars have aligned and they are simply not conducive to buyer research and analysis.

Because Panama has nothing close to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), information is rarely shared about properties between developers, agents and buyers. Against what anyone will tell you, there is no efficient distribution of information in Panama and it’s very difficult to gather comparison data unless you’re doing all the gathering yourself (which will take a lot of time, money, and misery). This is all reinforced by a poor overall real estate infrastructure (trivial legal repercussions, unorganized public records, incompetent public officials).

What do real estate agents, the beholder of the gold, want to sell you in Panama? In order to synthesize the information you receive from your real estate agent, it can be useful to take into account where they make the biggest (and immediate) paycheck. Real estate agents in Panama collect commissions percentages just like agents elsewhere, but it is the time table by which they receive their commissions that’s worth noting.

Pre-Construction: Most Panama real estate agencies only get paid for pre-construction sales when the developer has gotten paid. Meaning, if a pre-construction condo won’t be finished for two years and the payment plan is staggered, the agency won’t get paid for a while (which means your agent won’t either). Some agencies experience enough cash flow that they’re able to pay agents on the up front, and there are even some developers who pay commissions full and up front. Many though, do not.

Raw Land and Re-sales: Land, existing condos, homes, or commercial property are preferable to agents because they get paid right away (as opposed to waiting for a developer to finish a unit). It would be advantageous therefore, for the agent to push these sorts of transactions and accordingly get paid quicker.

I don’t know about you, but if I was an agent, I would much prefer to be paid all at once, and thus portray the more favorable investment as superior. Understanding this is half the battle. Inquire about how your agencies commissions are setup to know how to interpret the agent’s advice.

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” – Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis

Before you make your investment, try to shed as much sunlight as you can. Meet as many people and read as much information as humanly possible. Become a consumer of everything related to your real estate area of interest. Panama real estate is not like the industry you’re used to at home. You’ll rarely find agencies sharing property listings, you’ll often see developers changing their minds mid-project, and comparing different investments can be an act akin to crocheting a sweater for a mosquito.

As the Panama real estate market grows, the line between the experts and the buyers will begin to blur. Information will slowly but surely seep into the hands of the public, but until it does, and until this serious information asymmetry dissolves, buyers should certainly beware.

Dual Nature – Using Your Facebook Profile to Sell Your Real Estate

Some people find that it’s most expedient to create a new Facebook profile for selling their real estate. However, if you already have friends and family that are also contacts, you might want to just go with the profile they already have friended. In any case, setting up a Facebook profile to further your real estate business is easy, but requires some thought.

Unfortunately, Facebook is not yet to the point where you can automatically designate specific posts or applications as not-to-be shared. If you have your Wall open to the public or your News Feed, you may want to ensure that everything posted is client-friendly. This may mean censoring both your and your friends’ contributions to your Facebook profile.

Setting the Privacy controls on your Facebook account will help you make this a dual account for both clients and friends. Depending on the nature of your contacts, you may want to designate certain areas as “certain friends only” and similarly restrict who can contact you certain ways.

Deciding whether or not you want to open your entire profile to the world depends on how accessible you want to be. You can always request a client as a friend or give them your Facebook contact info to request you. However, if you want people to be able to access your real estate information on Facebook, it could be a good business move to judiciously open up a few key parts of your profile to the public.

Your basic information is probably something you should keep to a select group of friends. Your clients don’t need preconceived notions about you based on what they can read about your sexual preferences, your religion, or your political views. Unless you are aiming to sell real estate only to persons of a certain religion, noting that you are a passionate follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may cause people to pass you by, even if you aren’t actively proselytizing to them.

Your profile pictures are a good one to leave open, but make sure they are professional and simple. Don’t post pictures of your family or your dog or your wood tick farm. Your clients like to be able to see a clear photo of you, so they can recognize you. It’s okay to have a photo or two of your family in a different album (some people like to have a feeling of connection with their realtor) but don’t overdo it.

Applications are a hard one. Consider not adding too many frivolous ones. If you absolutely must have some, place them at the very bottom of your Facebook page, where only the determined ever go. And, whatever you do, don’t use them to contact clients with. Attacking someone with your zombie is generally not a good way to convey a professional impression. Applications can also work for you if you install a few good real estate-related ones, so take some time to check them out.

Your Wall may best be hidden. Many spammers will use the Wall to place ads or phishing scams. Also, if your friends are using your Wall, it doesn’t make for a professional impression if they’re posting things like “U R so hawt! Wanna see U soon, sweetcakez!” Use your own discretion. Remember that clients can always use the Message function to send you private messages into your Inbox.

Keep an eye on your photo albums and keep your personal ones to selected friends lists. The real estate albums you will, of course, wish to keep open to the public. Make sure every photo is properly tagged and given some kind of information. A link to the listing your actual website is good, but including as much information as possible can make a photo a better tool to get people to your website.

The Search function can be modified to show as much or as little information as you want. Since you are using this profile as a business tool, you will probably want people to be able to contact you. Set the Search Visibility to Everyone, create a public search listing and allow people to find information about you and send you messages.

Your News Feed and Mini-Feed you should keep open. Every time you change something on your profile, it will be noted and is a great way to let people know what you’re doing with your real estate without actually annoying them with direct messages. This can be modified to show people certain actions and hide certain actions. Play around with the Facebook Privacy controls to find the best combination. This is where you can hide updates to personal information that clients need not see.

Use the Privacy Applications section to restrict views of anything else you don’t want people to see. It’s up to you to consider whether they would benefit from knowing which groups you belong to or events you’ve been invited to.

Look at your Facebook profile from a client’s view. Block everything that could leave them with a negative impression, but leave enough that they get a definite idea of your approach to your business. Facebook is an incredibly fast-growing social networking site which is enhanced by its easy-to-use, professional-looking layout. It definitely can be a valuable tool when used to enhance a professional image.

How to Become a Famous Real Estate Agent

So, you have taken the classes and you have now become a real estate agent. Or, you already are a real estate agent. Now that you are, or already are, a real estate agent, how do you become a famous real estate agent?

Before getting into the specifics of becoming famous, you need to sit back, kick up your feet and decide on your niche. Your niche will be the springboard from which you launch your campaign to become famous. Is the luxury market your thing, or maybe being a buyer's agent is more your cup-of-tea. You need to decide where your strengths lie and then you'll be able to better focus your energy and hone your expertise.

Once you have defined your niche, you are ready to proceed with the thing that will make you famous in your niche.

It has been said of late that 80 percent of house hunting begins on the Internet. If you are to become a famous real estate agent, you must become Internet savvy. Most major brokers nowadays provide a website for their agents. It would be a good idea if you sought out training to make your website stand out from the rest.

In addition, obtain an inexpensive web domain from one of the online providers like GoDaddy. You can name it some creative name that will make people find you and help them remember it when they need to get in contact with you.

Branding is the key to standing out from the rest. You must have a brand that makes people remember you. You'll want to link your branded domain name to your website with your broker to direct people to your listings and information. Also, find ways to use your brand to make it something that sticks in people heads. Association is a common method human beings use to retain memory. Associate your expertise or name with something related to real estate that people will remember. You want your brand to stand out from the rest.

Along with providing a web address for each agent, some brokers even provide training for their agents to learn how to set up their websites to make them individual and stand out. You'll want to either attend training or hire someone to develop your website for you.

Either way, you'll want to get your website up and running with splashy graphics and links that lead people to useful information. Make sure you insert a quality picture of yourself. Sales have been lost due to an amateur picture.

YouTube is a website where you can post videos you've created of useful real estate information. Along with posting it on your blog, some information you might want to consider teaching about on video is the rebate first-time homeowners can receive due to the approval of the federal stimulus package. Information like that is considered very valuable and would be visited many times over if you provided a professional presentation of it.

You'll need a blog on your website that provides useful information for potential homeowners, along with enabling readers to comment on your website. Comments are sometimes quite useful in finding out what your audience is really interested in. Provide links to helpful and needful information and provide stellar aesthetics to create interest in your website. Along with the blog, make sure you actually create blog posts on a regular basis that are of great importance to your audience. This will create interest and keep them coming back for more. Establish a RSS feed to enable readers to subscribe easily to your blog. If you do not know what that is, the webmaster you hire can create it for you.

You'll also want to consider signing up for several social networks, like Active Rain, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, LinkedIn and others. Make sure you include your website link on your profile of all social networking sites of which you become a member, along with your branded name.

While creating a stunning website, you'll want to discover and decide how you will distribute your listings via the web. You want your clients to be wowed at your ability to expose their listings.

The last thing you'll want to take care of is a means to determine your return on investment (ROI). You need a good method to track your marketing and advertising expenditures, so that you will know what your ROI is. Make sure you include a counter on your website that tracks unique visits to your site, along with some way to analyze the traffic your site receives in order to improve results.

Now that you've found your niche, become Internet savvy, have your website up and running and are experiencing some notoriety, make sure to keep track of how your clients found you. Ask them. Also, ask them if they have seen your website.

As you continue to promote yourself aggressively with electronic media, you will eventually become what you've always dreamed of – a famous real estate agent!

Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and Now

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent's office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location will likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of ​​the property's value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of "Denver real estate" returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use "agent" and "broker" to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper's real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; However, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only available in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market information sites. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Agents

Despite the flood of real estate information on the Internet, most properties are still sold directly through real estate agents listing properties in the local MLS or CIE. However, those property listings do not stay local anymore. By its nature, the Internet is a global marketplace and local MLS and CIE listings are normally disseminated for display on many different Web sites. For example, many go to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Web site, http://www.realtor.com , and to the local real estate agent's Web site. In addition, the listing may be displayed on the Web site of a local newspaper. In essence, the Internet is just another form of marketing offered by today's real estate agent, but it has a much broader reach than the old print advertising.

In addition to Internet marketing, listing agents may also help the seller establish a price, hold open houses, keep the seller informed of interested buyers and offers, negotiate the contract and help with closing. When an agent provides all of these services it is referred to as being a full service listing arrangement. While full service listing arrangements are the most common type of listing arrangement, they are not the only option anymore.

Changes in the technology behind the real estate business have caused many agents to change the way they do business. In large part, this is due to the instant access most consumers now have to property listings and other real estate information. In addition, the Internet and other technologies have automated much of the marketing and initial searching process for real estate. For example, consumers can view properties online and make inquires via email. Brokers can use automated programs to send listings to consumers that match their property criteria. So, some agents now limit the services they offer and change their fees accordingly. An agent may offer to advertise the property in the MLS but only provide limited additional services. In the future, some real estate agents may offer services in more of an ala carte fashion.

Because of the volume of real estate information on the Internet, when people hire a real estate agent today they should look at the particular services offered by the agent and the depth of their experience and knowledge in the relevant property sector. It is no longer just about access to property listing information. Buyers and sellers historically found agents by referrals from friends and family. The Internet now provides ways to directly find qualified agents or to research the biography of an agent referred to you offline. One such site, AgentWorld.com, is quickly becoming the LinkedIn or Facebook for real estate agents. On this site an agent can personalize their profile, start a blog, post photos and videos and even create a link to their web site for free. Once unique content is added to their profile page the search engines notice!

Some have argued that the Internet makes REALTORS and the MLS less relevant. We believe this will be false in the long run. It may change the role of the agent but will make knowledgeable, qualified, and professional REALTORS more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of real estate agents has risen significantly in recent years. No wonder, the Internet has made local real estate a global business. Besides, Internet or not, the simple fact remains that the purchase of real property is the largest single purchase most people make in their life (or, for many investors, the largest multiple purchases over a lifetime) and they want expert help. As for the MLS, it remains the most reliable source of real estate listing and sold information available and continues to enable efficient marketing of properties. So, what is the function of all the online real estate information?

Online real estate information is a great research tool for buyers and sellers and a marketing tool for sellers. When used properly, buyers can save time by quickly researching properties and, ultimately, make better investment decisions. Sellers can efficiently research the market and make informed decisions about hiring an agent and marketing their properties online. The next step is to know where to look online for some of the best resources.
Internet Strategies

In the sections that follow, we provide strategies and tips on how to use the Internet to locate properties for sale and research information relevant to your decision to purchase the property. There are many real estate Web sites from which to choose and although we do not mean to endorse any particular Web site, we have found the ones listed here to be good resources in most cases or to be so popular that they need mention. One way to test a Web site's accuracy is to search for information about a property you already own.

Finding Real Estate for Sale

Despite the widely available access to real estate listings, many believe that MLS databases continue to offer the most complete and accurate source of real estate information. Most MLSs now distribute content to other Web sites (primarily operated by real estate agents). An excellent starting point for MLS originated content is the national NAR Web site, realtor.com, which is also the most popular web site for searching real estate listings. Virtually all local and regional MLSs have an agreement with realtor.com to display much of their active listing inventory.

Some local and regional MLS systems also have a publicly accessible Web site. However, to get complete information you will most likely still need to find a qualified local REALTOR. Many local real estate agents will also provide their customers (via email) new listings that are input into the MLS that match their predefined criteria. This can be very helpful to a busy buyer.

There are also many Web sites that display both real estate agent listed and for-sale-by-owner properties. Some of the more popular Web sites include zillow.com and trulia.com. These sites offer other services too. For example, zillow.com is best known for its instantaneous property valuation function and trulia.com for providing historical information. Another source of properties for sale is the state, regional, and local Web sites associated with brokerage companies; for example, remax.com or prudential.com. Search engines like yahoo.com and classified advertising sites like craigslist.com also have a large number of active real estate listings.

One key difference between these sites is how much information you can access anonymously. For example, at trulia.com you can shop anonymously up to a point but then you will need to click through to the agent's Web site for more information. Many new real estate search engines allow you to sift through listings without having to fill out a form. The best strategy is to browse a few of the sites listed above to find geographic areas or price ranges that are interesting. Once you get serious about a property, then that is the time to find a qualified REALTOR of your choice to conduct a complete search in the local MLS.

It also never hurts to search the old-fashioned way by driving through the neighborhoods that interest you. There is no substitute for physically, not virtually, walking the block when you are making a serious investment decision. In this sense, real estate is still a very local business and standing in front of the property can lead to a much different decision than viewing a Web page printout.

Valuing Real Estate

As we mentioned, one of the most popular real estate tools is zillow.com's instant property valuation. Just type in an address and in and you get a property value. It even charts the price ups and downs, and shows the last date sold (including price) and the property taxes. There are other sites that provide similar tools such as housevalues.com and homegain.com. Unfortunately, many people use these estimated values ​​alone to justify sales prices, offers and counteroffers. However, these are only rough estimates based on a formula that incorporates the local county sales information. These estimates can swing wildly over a short period of time and do not appear to always track actual market changes, which are normally more gradual. In addition, these estimates do not automatically take into account property remodels or renovations or other property specific or local changes. This is not to say these sites are not useful. In fact, they are great starting points and can provide a good ball-park value in many cases.

When it comes to getting a more accurate value for a particular property, there are other strategies that are more trustworthy. One is to go directly to your county's Web site. More often than not the county assessor's area of ​​the web site provides sales and tax information for all properties in the county. If you want to research a particular property or compare sales prices of comparable properties, the local assessor's sites are really helpful. When you visit a county's Web site you are getting information straight from the source. Most counties today publish property information on their Web sites. Many times you cannot only see the price a previous owner paid, but the assessed value, property taxes, and maps. Some county assessors are now adding a market and property valuation tools too.

Given the importance of valuation to investing, we are also going to remind you of the two most important (non-Internet) valuation methods: real estate agents and appraisers. Working with a local REALTOR is an accurate and efficient way to get value information for a property. While one of the primary purposes of the MLS is to market the active property listings of its members, the system also collects sales information for those listings. REALTOR members can pull this sales information and produce comparable market analyzes (sometimes called CMAs) that provide an excellent snapshot of a particular property's value for the market in a particular area.

Finally, the most accurate way to value a property is by having a certified appraiser produce an appraisal. An appraiser will typically review both the sold information in the MLS system as well as county information and then analyze the information to produce a valuation for the property based on one or more approved methods of valuation. These methods of valuation can include a comparison of similar properties adjusted for differences between the properties, determine the cost to replace the property, or, with an income producing property, determine a value based on the income generated from the property.

The Neighborhood

There are many ways the Internet can help you get the scoop on a particular neighborhood. For example, census data can be found at census.gov. You can also check out the neighborhood scoop at sites like outside.in or review local blogs. A blog is a Web site where people discuss topics by posting and responding to messages. Start by looking at placeblogger.com and kcnn.org/citymediasites.com for a directory of blogs. Trulia.com has a "Heat Map" that shows how hot or cold each neighborhood is based on prices, sales, or popularity among the sites users.

Schools

When it comes to selling residential property or rental properties that cater to families, the quality of the area school district makes a huge difference. There are many Web sites devoted to school information. Check out greatschools.net or schoolmatters.com. Most local school districts also have their own Web site. These sites contain a variety of information about the public schools and the school district, including its district demographics, test scores, and parent reviews.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

A recent addition to the Internet boom in real estate information is Web sites that let real estate agents market their expertise and local knowledge by displaying their professional profiles and socially networking with blogs. You can search to find an agent with a particular expertise, geographic area of ​​specialization, or an agent offering specific services. The web site AgentWorld.com lets users quickly and easily find an agent with the right expertise using keyword searches and clean and simple agent profiles. AgentWorld.com also enables agents to post personalized blogs, photos and videos to help consumers find the best agent for their needs. Plus, many agent profiles include a direct link to the agent's web site where you will likely find the local MLS listings.

Maps and Other Tools

The Internet has made mapping and locating properties much easier. To get an aerial view or satellite image of a property or neighborhood, go to maps.live.com or maps.google.com or visit walkscore.com to see how walk-able a particular property is. These sites can give you an idea of ​​the neighborhood characteristics and the types of entertainment, restaurants, and other facilities that are within walking distance of the property. Maps.Live.com provides a view at an angle so you can see the sides of houses and Maps.Google even gives you a 360 degree street-level view for certain neighborhoods. If you have not tried one of these satellite map Web sites, you really should if only for amusement.

Final Thoughts on Internet Strategies

The Internet is a very effective research and marketing tool for real estate investors but is not a replacement for a knowledgeable experienced real estate professional. The Internet can save you time and money by enabling quick and easy property research and marketing options. Sites like AgentWorld.com also help you efficiently find a REALTOR who fits your buying or selling needs.

Always remember, when it comes to Internet strategies for real estate: More knowledge is better. You need to use the Internet to build your knowledge base on a target property or to find a real estate agent with expertise you need. However, the big caution here is that the Internet should not replace human judgment and perspective, expert advice or physical due diligence-keys to successful investing.

The Duty Of Confidentiality In Real Estate

In any Listing Agreement there is a point in time when the agency relationship ends.

A Listing Agreement, as it is widely known, is none other than a contract between the rightful titleholder of an interest in land (the ‘Principal’) and a duly licensed real estate firm (the ‘Agent’), whereby the firm stipulates and agrees to find a Buyer within a specified timeframe who is ready, willing and able to purchase the interest in land that is the subject matter of the contract while acting within the realm of the authority that the Principal confers onto the Agent, and wherein furthermore the titleholder stipulates and agrees to pay a commission should the licensee ever be successful in finding such Buyer.

As in all contracts, there is implied in a Listing Agreement an element which is commonly know at law as an ‘implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings’. This covenant is a general assumption of the law that the parties to the contract – in this case the titleholder and the licensed real estate firm – will deal fairly with each other and that they will not cause each other to suffer damages by either breaking their words or otherwise breach their respective and mutual contractual obligations, express and implied. A breach of this implied covenant gives rise to liability both in contract law and, depending on the circumstances, in tort as well.

Due to the particular nature of a Listing Agreement, the Courts have long since ruled that during the term of the agency relationship there is implied in the contract a second element that arises out of the many duties and responsibilities of the Agent towards the Principal: a duty of confidentiality, which obligates an Agent acting exclusively for a Seller or for a Buyer, or a Dual Agent acting for both parties under the provisions of a Limited Dual Agency Agreement, to keep confidential certain information provided by the Principal. Like for the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings, a breach of this duty of confidentiality gives rise to liability both in contract law and, depending on the circumstances, in tort as well.

Pursuant to a recent decision of the Real Estate Council of British Columbia (http://www.recbc.ca/) , the regulatory body empowered with the mandate to protect the interest of the public in matters involving Real Estate, a question now arises as to whether or not the duty of confidentiality extends beyond the expiration or otherwise termination of the Listing Agreement.

In a recent case the Real Estate Council reprimanded two licensees and a real estate firm for breaching a continuing duty of confidentiality, which the Real Estate Council found was owing to the Seller of a property. In this case the subject property was listed for sale for over two years. During the term of the Listing Agreement the price of the property was reduced on two occasions. This notwithstanding, the property ultimately did not sell and the listing expired.

Following the expiration of the listing the Seller entered into three separate ‘fee agreements’ with the real estate firm. On all three occasions the Seller declined agency representation, and the firm was identified as ‘Buyer’s Agent’ in these fee agreements. A party commenced a lawsuit as against the Seller, which was related to the subject property.

The lawyer acting for the Plaintiff approached the real estate firm and requested that they provide Affidavits containing information about the listing of the property. This lawyer made it very clear that if the firm did not provide the Affidavits voluntarily, he would either subpoena the firm and the licensees as witnesses to give evidence before the Judge, or he would obtain a Court Order pursuant to the Rules Of Court compelling the firm to give such evidence. The real estate firm, believing there was no other choice in the matter, promptly complied by providing the requested Affidavits.

As a direct and proximate result, the Seller filed a complaint with the Real Estate Council maintaining that the information contained in the Affidavits was ‘confidential’ and that the firm had breached a duty of confidentiality owing to the Seller. As it turned out, the Affidavits were never used in the court proceedings.

The real estate brokerage, on the other hand, took the position that any duty of confidentiality arising from the agency relationship ended with the expiration of the Listing Agreement. The firm argued, moreover, that even if there was a duty of continuing confidentiality such duty would not preclude or otherwise limit the evidence that the real estate brokerage would be compelled to give under a subpoena or in a process under the Rules Of Court. And, finally, the realty company pointed out that there is no such thing as a realtor-client privilege, and that in the instant circumstances the Seller could not have prevented the firm from giving evidence in the lawsuit.

The Real Estate Council did not accept the line of defence and maintained that there exists a continuing duty of confidentiality, which extends after the expiration of the Listing Agreement. Council ruled that by providing the Affidavits both the brokerage and the two licensee had breached this duty.

The attorney-client privilege is a legal concept that protects communications between a client and the attorney and keeps those communications confidential. There are limitations to the attorney-client privilege, like for instance the fact that the privilege protects the confidential communication but not the underlying information. For instance, if a client has previously disclosed confidential information to a third party who is not an attorney, and then gives the same information to an attorney, the attorney-client privilege will still protect the communication to the attorney, but will not protect the information provided to the third party.

Because of this, an analogy can be drawn in the case of a realtor-client privilege during the existence of a Listing Agreement, whereby confidential information is disclosed to a third party such as a Real Estate Board for publication under the terms of a Multiple Listings Service agreement, but not before such information is disclosed to the real estate brokerage. In this instance the privilege theoretically would protect the confidential communication as well as the underlying information.

And as to whether or not the duty of confidentiality extends past the termination of a Listing Agreement is still a matter of open debate, again in the case of an attorney-client privilege there is ample legal authority to support the position that such privilege does in fact extend indefinitely, so that arguably an analogy can be inferred as well respecting the duration of the duty of confidentiality that the Agent owes the Seller, to the extent that such duty extends indefinitely.

This, in a synopsis, seems to be the position taken by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia in this matter.

Clearly, whether the duty of confidentiality that stems out of a Listing Agreement survives the termination of the contract is problematic to the Real Estate profession in terms of practical applications. If, for instance, a listing with Brokerage A expires and the Seller re-lists with Brokerage B, if there is a continuing duty of confidentiality on the part of Brokerage A, in the absence of express consent on the part of the Seller a Realtor of Brokerage A could not act as a Buyer’s Agent for the purchase of the Seller’s property, if this was re-listed by Brokerage B. All of which, therefore, would fly right in the face of all the rules of professional cooperation between real estate firms and their representatives. In fact, this process could potentially destabilize the entire foundation of the Multiple Listings Service system.

In the absence of specific guidelines, until this entire matter is clarified perhaps the best course of action for real estate firms and licensees when requested by a lawyer to provide information that is confidential, is to respond that the brokerage will seek to obtain the necessary consent from the client and, if that consent is not forthcoming, that the lawyer will have to take the necessary legal steps to compel the disclosure of such information.

Simple Geography Of Aurora Illinois – Real Estate Information For Home Buyers

The City of Aurora, Illinois has many different areas that are perfect for home buyers of all types. It’s this great selection in the types, styles and prices of homes in Aurora that make it a great location for real estate. In Aurora, IL buyers can find representative examples of almost every major home style from Queen Anne to Neo Classical as well as any size or type of home from studio condos up to estates.

Perhaps one of the best features of the Aurora area is the extreme value that many of its homes present. While the average price of a home in the united states hovers currently around $250,000, homes in Aurora currently average around $230,000 and many can be found under this price point. If you are a home buyer shopping in Aurora for your next home, it’s important to understand the layout of the city to aid you in your search.

Aurora Illinois is divided into two main areas – the east side and west side, both separated by the Fox River which is located right in the center of the city. Both areas feature historic districts and homes on the National Register of Historic Places. Well-known residential historic districts in Aurora include the Palace, Tanner, Riddle Highlands and Near Westside Historic Districts on the west side and the Near Eastside Historic District on the east side of the city. The middle of the city itself is dominated by the Fox River and includes the business district of the City of Aurora. This is centered on Stolp Island as well as along both banks of the river.

The west side of Aurora has several well-known areas including the Aurora University area centered around the institution of the same name. The west side also serves as the beginning of the Randall Road Corridor that leads north into some of the region’s biggest shopping districts. The far west side of the city is dominated by new home communities and also includes the Orchard Valley Golf Course as well as several hiking and biking trails including the Virgil Gilman Trail and part of the Illinois Prairie Path. School District 129 and West Aurora High School is the primary school district for the west side as well as the majority of zip code 60506.

The east side of Aurora is almost double the size of the west side and is usually divided into the “near” east side closer to the center of the city and the “far” east side closer to the Fox Valley Mall. The “near” east side is almost entirely made up of zip code 60505 whereas the “far” east side contains some of 60505 and the majority of 60502, 60503 and 60504 zip codes. The entire east side includes several well-known areas including Pigeon Hill, Oakhurst, Stonebridge as well as several large townhome and condominium complexes. The east side of Aurora is made of largely residential areas including several new home developments and active adult communities. It is also home to the Stonebridge Country Club as well as School Districts 131 and 204.

The downtown area of the City of Aurora consists primarily of business districts including those on Stolp Island and both the near east and west banks of the Fox River. If you are seeking commercial real estate, this area includes many options for all types of industry. The area features great local transportation avenues including a METRA station on the near east side as well as convenient access to the Regan Tollway.

Understanding real estate in Aurora usually requires the help of a local real estate expert. You can find great deals and great homes in all areas of Aurora, but helping buyers know where to look is an important part of what your local Realtor can assist with. Because of the the great selection of price ranges and styles of homes, helping buyers narrow down their choices based upon their requirements is an extremely important service. If you are just beginning your search for a home in Aurora, it’s advised that you contact your local real estate professional for information on how to begin.

How Smart Buyers Use the "Mobile Real Estate Information Center", AKA "Realtor Open House"

There are many benefits to opening a house for sale on a Sunday afternoon. It saves having to make an appointment to see it, and it makes it convenient for everybody in the family to come together to tour properties. The seller benefits by having more people see the house in one afternoon instead of individual appointments. Most of the time however, visitors dismiss the help offered by the Realtor hosting the Open House and are reluctant to provide any information or ask any questions.

When visiting my Open House, do not be shy! ask questions and listen carefully, the information you need to make an informed decision is right there in front of you! I am the “Mobile Real Estate Information Center” and I am here for a reason: I want to give you all the information you need to help you purchase a home, maybe even this one.

I know this house very well, I know when it was built, how long it is been on the market, what type of inspections are available, what type of work is needed, why the seller is moving. I also know the neighborhood well, ask me about proximity to schools, shopping centers, public transportation, demographics, theaters, I also know exactly how far is the library or the post office for example.

Before the Open House I print and bring with me a CMA (Comparative market Analysis) of the property so not only can I show how this house compares to others in the same area, but also what other houses have sold recently in the proximity. If this particular house is too big or too small, I have a list of other homes available for sale, I can share some addresses with you right there and then.

I might even have valuable and timely “inside information” of homes about to come on the market, bank owned or foreclosed properties that I know are going to be listed soon. This information is potentially profitable for you Mr./Ms. home buyer… Just talk to me!

Even though I am not a loan officer, I know what the prevailing interest rates are and can quickly calculate your monthly mortgage payments with taxes and insurance, I can give you an idea of what your closing costs would be, I can even pre-qualify you on the spot! If I know what type of financing you need, I can tell you what type of documents you will need to get ready.

I am NOT just a Door Greeter, I can talk to you about investment properties, I can tell you some of the biggest tax consequences and/or benefits of owning a residence or an investment property. I can highlight to you the benefits of a tax deferred 1031 exchange and much more.

For me being at an Open House is like bringing my real estate office out on a road trip… Who benefits the most from my experience? Those who dare to talk to me about their real estate goals and dreams, you can pick my brain, I am committed to stay on that house for 4 hours so take your time!

Studies have shown that people are far more relaxed and willing to communicate with others on a weekend, they are more autonomous, they have time to slow down. Do not rush through the Open House, slow down and take full advantage of my 25+ years of experience and knowledge, it is all there for the taking! If you are not in my area, call me and tell me where you want to go, I will then put you in contact with the most active professional Realtor in that area… for FREE!