Think you’re getting paid? If you are using Weissman Law, you might not be!
In most of the United States, clerks from title companies perform the tedious task of flipping pages over on to themselves into a big pile. In the State of Georgia, this requires a lawyer. And not a “mini lawyer”, but an actual full-fledged Bar accredited lawyer. Why?
Our Country graduates hundreds of newly minted lawyers every day. These privileged kids need a safe harbor for jobs. You think first-year law students ever dream of careers in real estate closing? No, but it’s a job that pays for the massive student loans they carry to be a part of our elite class.
I mention all this as a prelude to a huge problem on the horizon. As a real estate agent, if you think your closing attorney has your back—you are DEAD wrong! Remember, lawyers set the rules. And because of their rules, the way we conduct real estate in Georgia overwhelmingly favors the real estate broker. An agent’s work, worth or value are never even considered.
Problems arise when one Broker is less than honest. As a matter of fact, because of their own rules, Atlanta lawyers can be easily manipulated by those gaming the system. Basically, they get tangled up in their own legal double-talk.
For example, did you know Selling agents working deals that were “Quiet Listings” are guaranteed NOTHING in terms of compensation! Nada. Zip. Zilch. Even if they have “signed” documentation stating they are due a commission, it can be taken away by the Listing Broker at will. All the way up until the day of closing.
Wynd Realty recently had an agent who worked months with a Buyer on a Quiet Listing. Two days AFTER the closing, I had to inform the agent they wouldn’t be getting any of the $22,500 they were expecting. Their commission had been taken from them by the Listing Broker. The closing attorney, working from rules they created in concert with the Broker community, is permanently “forced” to side with the Broker. “Their delicate hands are tied”. The only solution agents are given; you guessed it, hire more lawyers!
Quiet Listings aren’t going away. If anything, they will only become more commonplace. Quiet Listings are NOT advertised anywhere. There is no published compensation. And because of this, the Listing Broker can do anything they want. There are no rules. They are 100% in charge and the Buyer’s agent isn’t aware of just how vulnerable they actually are.
I am being told the solution is simple.
In a traditional sales cycle, agents are trained not to introduce the “Instructions to the Closing Attorney” form until AFTER the contract is signed. Its seen as tacky to have agents arguing over the Seller’s money, in front of the Seller, before any contract has ever been signed. Besides the compensation is advertised in the Listing. And herein lies the hole in the business model created by lawyers. In Quiet Listings, compensation is never made public. That means compensation must be agreed upon, in writing, before the sales process begins. If you ever find a Listing Agent hesitating or offering to sign the compensation forms later, know this: they very well may be ripping you off.
An agent can have a signed, notarized compensation form blessed by the Pope, but unless it was signed “prior” to discussing the contract, it’s worthless!
Aren’t lawyers supposed to protect the defenseless? Adorable. In general, I find the younger generation of agents far too trusting of their elder peers. Real estate is hard enough to begin with. And with Atlanta being one of the Country’s only open markets, it can be brutal.
The traditional real estate format features Buyer and Seller agents working together in a professional, respectful manner. That’s nice, and the way it should be. But Quiet Listings aren’t that at all! So please be careful. Beware. It’s the wild west out there.
Also know the “easy” solution presented here comes from an attorney I do NOT trust. But it’s the only solution I have been given. If you rely on it, beware the rules are subject to change without any notification. Rules can be subject to change, if that change is actually trying to use the rules. Pretty slick, isn’t it.
So, who has the back of the Buyer’s agent? I honestly don’t know. But I can assure you, it’s not our legal community.
A sad postscript to the above commission “problem”: watching VP-level corporate lawyers of a national chain bully an agent into taking considerably less than what they were due has to rate as the worst day I have ever had in real estate. Truly heartbreaking. I get the dog-eat-dog aspect of it—but gimme a break!
It’s bullying, plain and simple. The lawyers saw it coming and did nothing to stop it. Then folding like a cheap suit, they watched as an agent got mugged. Don’t let it happen to you.