Real Estate Disclosures: Brokers, Agents and Sellers

This is such a bone of contention with me that it’s hard not to stay level-headed when other professionals can’t seem to understand the concept of “disclosure” and believe it’s limited in it’s capacity to only work when it’s advantageous for them, which it never is.  Do I get a bit sensitive about it, you bet.  Why: At best, it’s unprofessional.  At worst:  it can be litigious and why would anyone “knowingly” put themselves and/or their broker in that position.  From the minute you step into your first real estate class to training from your broker and everywhere in between, it’s so imperious that we know why, by law, we need to disclose aspects of a property to a prospective buyer.  If it isn’t protected by law, such as any of the protected classes, then you doggone need to be disclosing it.   Sellers sometimes don’t want to disclose a condition of their property for fear it will drive the buyer away.  Or the cost to overcome the problem is cost prohibitive and they imagine so many “worse case scenarios” that they find they can’t think of a better alternative.  Others, unfortunately, just feel that it’s up to the buyer to discover on their own and if they don’t use their own “due diligence” well then, shame on them.  They believe “buyer beware” is the line that’s drawn in the sand.  Well, I believe there’s no justification for dishonesty and it should never come between a seller that wants to sell and a buyer that wants to buy.  If a seller knows of something that materially affects their property that is not readily observable to a buyer, that is failure to disclose. Same goes for their agent or broker.  Unfortunately I’ve discovered that not all sellers are honest and those that aren’t have learned that even though they don’t want to disclose, it is the real estate agent’s/broker’s obligation to alert any interested party of “facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property which are known or accessible only to him and also knows that such facts are not known to, or within the reach of the diligent attention and observation of the buyer,” and their duty to disclose these facts to the buyer.  The same goes for the disclosure of liens.  A case in California recently reflected on a buyer that entered into a contract for sale of a home for $749,000.  At that time, the buyers had no knowledge either from the seller or the real estate broker that there was over $1.1 million in loans that encumbered the home.  So sad that the buyers ended up selling their home to pay for the new subject property, only to discover at that time, that it was, in fact, a short sale.  Yikes!  That’s the time you grab the nearest bottle of scotch and let it do it’s trick.  Or head to the gym.  Or Press on.  Kudos to the buyers for moving forward and not stopping until they were satisfied.  The sale was never completed because the lien holders refused to approve its shortage of $351,000.  Here is the final from the courts: The broker’s duty was to disclose the liens in time for the buyers to decide whether to enter the transaction, the court explained, and it is not standard or reasonable in California for a buyer to conduct a title search before entering into a contract to buy a home.  In addition, the court explained, a title search reveals only the liens and their amount at the time they were recorded, not the current balances owed on the liens, so that would not have uncovered the true magnitude of the liens’ impediment to the sellers’ ability to transfer the property.  Furthermore, even if the buyer had some reason to know about the liens, that would not — in the court’s opinion — necessarily have eliminated the brokers from being liable to the buyers for the nondisclosure.  The court clarified: “the rule we articulate in this case is simply that when a real estate agent or broker is aware of the Binary Options Broker Reviews and that the amount of existing monetary liens and encumbrances exceeds the sales price of a residential property, so as to require either the cooperation of the lender in a short sale or the ability of the seller to put a substantial amount of cash into the escrow in order to obtain the release of the monetary liens and encumbrances affecting title, the agent or broker has a duty to disclose this state of affairs to the buyer, so that the buyer can inquire further and evaluate whether to risk entering into a transaction with a substantial risk of failure.”  Accordingly, the trial court’s dismissal of the matter was overturned and the case was sent back to the lower court for the case to proceed.  Inman News, Nov 25, 2010. So, will I get calls/emails from other agents in my town:  probably, a small percentage.  Will I get harassed by them in public:  again, most likely.  However, if you poll active, successful real estate agents in this town, I’d put myself out on the limb and say that at least 95% of them will agree with me on this.  There’s no excuse for withholding valuable information about a property you represent, whether the seller does or doesn’t disclose it him/herself.  It’s your obligation.  Keeping high standards and ethics has always driven me to be the best I can be in whatever field I’ve chosen and I’m certainly not wavering on it now. For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Fun, sun and sand snowman on the Paradise Coast, Florida

As we are gearing up for another great season in sunny Naples, Florida, there’s an abundance of activities I wanted to share with you.  So, get your calendars out and ready, set, GO!

Paradise Coast Naples Marco Island Everglades

Plan an Affordable Cool Season Getaway to Florida’s Paradise Coast

Great values, fantastic shopping and festive holiday celebrations entice travelers to visit Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades

Naples, Fla.– (November 22, 2010) –Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades –the Paradise Coast – turns up the heat with exciting events, beautiful beaches, wonderful wildlife, fine dining, shopping and culture during the area’s value season. Through December, visitors can find exceptional deals on hotel accommodations with rates as low as one third to one half of what they are in the peak winter season of January through April. In addition, travelers can take advantage of lower greens fees, mild fall weather and some of the smallest crowds of the year. Plan your next Paradise Coast getaway with the following offers and activities.

For additional savings, pick up the Paradise Coast V.I.P. – Values in Paradise card now through December 15, 2010. The program, typically offered between May and December, has been so popular that it is being upgraded and expanded to become a year round promotion starting in January 2011.  It offers visitors thousands of dollars in savings at participating restaurants, attractions, tours, shops and more.  Some of the savings for 2010 include attraction discounts, buy-one-get-one-free or half-off offers and other great discounts and deals.  The V.I.P. card is free to all visitors, can be used immediately upon arrival and is easily found at area visitor center locations: the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (relocating in December to the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Tamiami Trail in the heart of downtown Naples), the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, the Greater Eastern Collier County Visitor Center in Immokalee and the Everglades Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.

DECEMBER HAPPENINGS

Resort Hotel Milestone

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, which helped transform Naples into a major destination for luxury, family and business travel, is celebrating its 25th birthday on Dec. 4. To mark this great milestone and silver anniversary, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is launching an exclusive “25 Silver Rooms” offer through its online and phone booking channels. For 25 nights beginning Nov. 28 and ending Dec. 22, 25 coastal view guest rooms at the beach resort will be available at a very special rate of $125/night. In addition, the Ritz-Carlton, Naples will host a holiday concert on Dec. 4 featuring Grammy®-nominated musician, TV personality and radio show host John Tesh, who will perform holiday classics, his own collection of original tunes and will certainly entertain the crowd with useful “intelligence,” in the beach resort’s grand Vanderbilt Ballroom. Concert doors open at 7:15 p.m. and show time is at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets to John Tesh in Concert at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, call the resort’s Leisure Reservations line directly at (239) 598-6644. Concert packages do not include resort accommodations; however special anniversary pricing is available, starting at $225/night.

Signature Events and Openings:

Spending the Holidays on the Paradise Coast:
Gaze at festive boats as they cruise along Naples Bay during the 2010 Marine Industries Christmas Boat Parade on Dec. 11 from 6 – 8 p.m. Awards will be given out to the boat with the best sail, best power vessel and best commercial vessel. This event is free to the public.

From Dec. 8-13, the Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, will host the Shark Shootout, a special PGA Tour-sanctioned charity tournament hosted by Greg Norman. Come out to watch 12 two-man teams consisting of the top PGA TOUR players. Tickets start at $25 for tournament daily grounds passes to $110 for admission to the week event. Proceeds benefit the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Florida.

Celebrate with the animals at the Naples Zoo’s 12 Days of Wild Holiday Fun. From December 13th through 24th Naples Zoo will deliver gifts to the animals. Zoo guests will watch lions claw into beautifully wrapped presents with their favorite foods inside, lemurs nibble treats off a Christmas tree, and see many other animals enjoying delicacies made especially for each of their tastes. Admission to the 12 Days of Wild Holiday Fun is included in ticket price of $19.95.  Be sure to visit http://www.napleszoo.com/ for coupons and remember that gift certificate tickets to the zoo are available at discounted prices.

Enjoy some fun in downtown Naples during Thursdays on Third when the courtyards and plazas of Third Street South come alive with the musical sounds of jazz, rock, folk, or some other style, all with a holiday focus during December. Relax and listen or if the spirit moves ‘as it always does’, dance until you can dance no more. Holiday entertainment continues with Snowfest on Dec. 4, an annual event that turns the Paradise Coast into a winter wonderland. Snowfest features 70 tons of snow, a sled mountain, ice skating rink, full scale carnival, hands-on art & crafts, food, pony rides, petting zoo and pictures with Santa. Admission is $1 per person and free for children 3 and younger.

Join the twinkling procession of boats as they make their way down Venetian Bay for the Village Boat Parade on Dec. 9. The evening includes live entertainment and an unwrapped gift drive to help spread holiday cheer. All toys donated benefit The Guadalupe Center of Immokalee’s Holiday Gift Shop.

Get into the holiday spirit a couple of weeks early, and on Dec. 11 come and see the Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade from 6-8 p.m. Watch the annual holiday lighted boat parade from Naples City Dock or the waterfront restaurants lining the Naples Waterfront area around Naples Bay.

Watch the clear night sky light up with the New Year’s Eve Fireworks. Find a spot anywhere along Naples Beach for the annual fireworks display, blasting off from Naples Pier. This event is free.

It’s not too late to start planning for January and February’s top events –

Make a resolution to start the New Year with something beautiful around your wrist, on your wall and upon your table, purchased from one of the 260 national artists at the 15th Annual Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Show Jan. 1 -2. This free, juried holiday show, held in the heart of Downtown Naples, offers upscale shops and restaurants to enjoy before and after visiting the artists’ booths.

Connect with wildlife during the Southwest Florida Nature Festival, Jan. 14-16. This three-day festival celebrates the local coastal environment through more than 30 guided field trips to over 20 wildlife hot spots around Southwest Florida, on-the-water adventures plus on-site activities at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Admission is $15 for a weekend pass ($10 per day, $5 for 12 & under).

Tantalize your taste buds at the Everglades Seafood Festival on Feb. 4-6 offering three days of live music, carnival rides, arts, crafts, and incredible food! The Everglades Seafood Festival offers something for all tastes and fun for all ages. Over 100 vendors offer a wide variety of great seafood, refreshments, midway, and hand-made arts and crafts. This event is free.

Immerse yourself into art and culture at the Naples National Art Show,Feb. 26-27. Ranked as the ninth best art festival in the nation by Sunshine Artist magazine, this juried show features 275 national artists drawing around 25,000 visitors. Festival activities will include musical performances on the park’s band shell, and numerous food vendors. Admission is $5 to benefit youth art education programs.

YEAR ROUND

Clean Beaches on the Paradise Coast

Beaches in Naples, Marco Island and the Gulf Coast Everglades are clean and pristine and were not EVER impacted by the Gulf oil spill. No oil ever reached Southwest Florida and none was ever forecast to come close to this area. See conditions for yourself via live Web cams on the Paradise Coast Beach Conditions Web page, along with detailed information about area beaches, weather and more.  Also check out the Web video page for an episode of the new video series Adventures in Paradise, featuring local chef Fabrizio Aielli of Sea Salt Naples using clear and clean Gulf of Mexico seawater to cook a delicious linguine and Florida blue crab sauce dish.

For more information on visiting Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – The Paradise Coast and a free visitors guide, call 1-800-688-3600 or visit the area’s official visitor information Web site at www.paradisecoast.com.

For further information or  questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.