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Legal updates from our Association Attorney

By Gary S. Mueller, Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® Attorney

Phone:  815-725-7300                        e-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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November, 2018

As I type this, all are preparing for Halloween, celebrating the end of professional baseball, and looking forward to a successful hockey season for our beloved Blackhawks.  Additionally, I cannot believe that we are welcoming November.  Hopefully, your business plan continues to afford you opportunities as the calendar year comes to a close.  As I will, from time to time, provide updates on matters that affect our industry, today's submittal is intended to provide such an update. 

Concerning the 7.0 Multi-Board Contract…the Committee hopes to complete its drafting next week (on Election Day). Thereafter, the Association Boards that have approved the contact in the past will be asked to confirm the 7.0 version of the contract. For Three Rivers, Debby Bell and I have been working with the Committee, voicing our local concerns when appropriate. I believe the draft that will be approved by the Committee will be a version that, once the training is completed, will be viewed as an improvement over the 6.1 Contract.  I am more than willing to come to any office to discuss the changes that have been made.  The hope is that, after a review by all Associations and Bar Associations, the 7.0 Contract will be “on the street” for the new year.  At worst, I would expect the 7.0 to be “on the street” by the end of February.  Once the Committee has its approved draft in a presentable format, I will present some of the major changes that affect our industry. As stated, I am confident that the 7.0 Contract will be viewed as an improvement over the 6.1 Contract. 

Concerning Wire Fraud…First, lest you think or imagine otherwise, Wire Fraud is NOT a hoax. It is legit.  It happens more frequently than you imagine. It even happens to people in our area. In a number of recent case holdings, courts have expanded the net of persons and parties responsible for the damages associated with wire fraud to include title companies, attorneys, agents, and lenders.  In many instances, no standard insurance policy protects those affected by wire fraud. There are now riders to many insurance policies that try to cover wire fraud situations, but those products are relatively new and unchallenged to date.  From the case law, it appears courts will address situations differently based in whether the email that provided the incorrect wire instructions was hacked or spoofed. Another point of analysis may be the level of protection on the computer/email----what the “sender” has done to protect emails, what address is used (a captivated email address like This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or non-captivated This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  All facets will be reviewed when a court is asked to assign liability to persons involved in the real estate transaction to determine culpability.  If an agent simply forwards a hacked email, he/she may now be successfully added to the stream of responsible parties.  Thus, I strongly recommend you add footers to all emails that indicate you will NOT be part of any communications concerning wires, that you NEVER will be a party to providing wiring instructions, and that you specifically, strictly, and directly inform your clients and any person to a transaction (other agent, other attorney, other buyer/seller, lender, title company) that you will NOT be doing anything with any wires.  Then, once you provide this clear directive to all involved in the deal, actually do what you indicate you are going to do----do NOT get involved in wiring funds.

The Market…though our local market may be different than many sections of the northern part of the state, lower inventory and rising interest rates may make the 4th quarter and 1st quarter of 2019 more challenging.  Continue to analyze your business model to ensure your efforts are best suited to the conditions presented.  Make sure to stay relevant.  I have been working with a slowly growing number of clients who rely on the internet to the exclusion of agents.  Make sure to continue to mold and grow to address the ever-changing market we all work to foster and secure. 

 

Thank you all for your hard work.  May you and those dear to you enjoy a very blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  On behalf of my firm, thank you for allowing us to work with you and on behalf of our mutual clients. 

Take care,

Gary