Finding the Balance

In many ways, the key to success is finding the proper balance. This applies to virtually every aspect of our lives. The search for balance generally involves a tension between two or more competing interests, such as work/play, spending/saving, and self/others.

The successful person finds a way to properly balance competing tensions in a manner which maximizes the benefits of both interests. In some ways, it is very similar to the sensation of leaning back in your chair, trying to find that perfect place where you do not fall forward or backward.

For real estate brokers and agents, finding the balance is essential in many ways. Perhaps the most difficult relates to the tension between efforts to market property on the one hand and efforts to limit ones risk for a lawsuit on the other hand.

By way of example, for marketing purposes it would be wonderful to describe every property as if it was the most perfect home on the planet. Such a description would certainly increase the likelihood that the property would sell, and sell for a desirable price. At the same time, a representation of this nature would likely leave the agent and seller open to substantial legal exposure. Specifically, each and every aspect of the property which did not meet up to this grandiose representation would be an appropriate basis for a successful lawsuit.

On the other hand, if an agent restricted all of the comments regarding a property to every conceivable problem, the prospects for selling that property at a fair market price would be severely hampered. In this event, the representations and disclosures would scare away most, if not all, prospective buyers. This, in turn, would result in a very unhappy seller and a very hungry agent.

While the foregoing may be an exaggerated example of the extremes, hopefully the point is not lost. The key to success, is striking the proper balance between overstating the attributes of a property and overstating the problems of a property. On a broader level, it is important to balance the needs that accompany the efforts to market a property with the need to avoid the risk of a lawsuit.

There is a spectrum of possibilities when it comes to finding the appropriate balance between marketing and risk avoidance. Where any individual chooses to lay their hat on this spectrum is a very personal choice - although one should always seek the input of other interested parties (i.e., broker, clients, co-workers, etc.). What is critical is that the person has sufficient information to make an informed choice.

It is the goal of this column to provide readers with the necessary information, on a monthly basis, to assist them with their efforts to make an informed choice. Having seen more than a thousand lawsuits against real estate brokers and agents over the past ten years, there will be a temptation to suggest a preference toward risk avoidance. At the same time, there will be a conscious effort to consider the pressures which confront real estate professionals on a daily basis. With an eye on both sides of the equation, hopefully this column will provide some balance to the choices available to the readers.

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