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Is There a Moral Obligation to a Realtor?

The question today came from a gentleman who asked whether he had a moral obligation to work with a Realtor who had emailed him and talked to him on the phone about some properties. This gentleman clearly is a man of integrity, and it’s honorable that he would have a sense of loyalty to a Realtor. Loyalty is good. Honor is good. But does a buyer (or seller) have a moral obligation to work with a Realtor when he would prefer working with another Realtor? In other words, at what point does a client have a moral obligation to work with a Realtor? How much must a Realtor do to earn that moral obligation?

Moral Obligation

Moral Obligation

A moral obligation does not exist just because someone emails and talks to you, or because they do some research, or even because they show you a few homes. None of that creates a moral obligation. A true moral obligation could be created when someone saves your life, or when someone does something so big that it changes the course of your life in a positive way. In less dramatic ways that moral obligation can be created at some point in a relationship, but where is that point with a Realtor?

If you have not signed a Buyer’s Agency Agreement with a Realtor, you have no contractual obligation. [Never sign a Buyer’s Agency Agreement.] That’s the law. Judges have also ruled that just talking, emailing, or driving around and looking at houses does not create a binding agency relationship. At the core of the legal analysis is whether there is a moral obligation.

You do not create a moral obligation with one phone call to an agent, nor with two or even 10 phone calls. Nor does one or a dozen emails create any kind of obligation. The Realtor owes you nothing, and you owe the Realtor nothing at that point. Realtors answer hundreds of emails and phone calls throughout the year to clients all over the country, and Realtors understand that is part of the business, but it certainly creates no moral obligation for anyone. 

Moral Obligation with a Realtor

Now suppose you have talked to a Realtor for a long time and emailed many times, and the Realtor has done many favors for you during the past six months or a year, such as taking additional photos of listings with insufficient photos, previewed a number of homes for you before you could arrive in Sequim, and perhaps he has incurred some costs sending your printed information in the snail mail. What we have here is a Realtor who has demonstrated a commitment to you with his own precious time on many occasions, and with his own money. He has clearly proven that he is willing to earn your trust, and if you have come to the conclusion after many phone calls and emails that he is competent, professional, trustworthy, and looking out for your best interests above and beyond, then there is some kind of moral obligation at that point.

Let’s take this a step further. Suppose a Realtor does all of that, but you learn that this Realtor is not so competent, or that she is not very professional, or perhaps you come to the conclusion that she has not been entirely upfront with you. In such a case, if you ever did have a moral obligation to her, she has effectively terminated that obligation. 

The first obligation on your part is to protect yourself and your spouse by making wise financial decisions, and that includes who you hire as a Realtor. So here’s a rhetorical question for you. Why would you hire any Realtor but the best one you could find after you have done your due diligence? There’s a lot at stake when you buy or sell a home–mostly your money, your liabilities, and your stress and happiness. Do not underestimate the importance of hiring the right Realtor, or avoiding hiring the wrong Realtor.

What is peace of mind worth to you? Do not create an artificial moral obligation when none exists. You have the right to hire the best Realtor you can find, and that’s the truth. If the first Realtor you communicate with is not “the one,” then find and hire the best. End of story. Some kind of artificial moral obligation should not become your ball and chain.

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What if a Buyer and Seller Talk to Each Other?

What if a buyer and seller talk directly without their Realtors involved as intermediaries? This can happen, sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes before closing a buyer and a seller have an occasion to meet each other and talk. What are the pros and cons of a buyer and seller talking to each other?

Buyer and Seller

Buyer and Seller Talking! OMG!

Most Realtors get paranoid at the very thought of a buyer and seller talking to each other. Realtors want to “control” their clients, because they fear their clients will say something wrong. There are many stories about the seller who says to the buyer, “Since we got rid of the termites, we haven’t had any issues.”

Buyer and Seller and Ethics

There is an ethics issue for Realtors. A Realtor cannot communicate with the other Realtor’s client directly or indirectly. That’s why a seller should communicate through his listing agent, and the buyer should communicate through his buyer’s agent. But the clients themselves are not subject to the Realtor’s Code of Ethics, so if they talked to each other, they would not be in violation.

As a general rule it certainly is not a good idea for a buyer and seller to talk directly with each other during negotiations. But I have had buyers who did talk to a seller to get instructions on how to operate an irrigation system.  And frankly, if buyers and sellers have to go through their Realtors just to say, “Hello,” or something else that does not effect the transaction, especially when the buyer and seller get along very well, a Realtor would be hard pressed to stifle the clients when it would just be rude and offensive.

I believe there’s a bigger danger. If a Realtor does not communicate well with their own client, and they are making poor decisions on behalf of their client without telling their own client what is really going on, the Realtor can be the cause of a transaction dying.

Good communications between the buyer and seller are important, and that also means that both Realtors need to be good communicators, too.

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Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC is currently accepting applications for the position of real estate agent. A limited number of agents will be hired. Compensation is commission only. Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate is the newest, most innovative, and powerful real estate brokerage in Clallam County, and we are now a branch office of eXp Realty, the first Web 3.0 Virtual Real Estate Brokerage.
1. Our entire focus is on our clients, not us. That means our business model, our customer relationship management, our marketing, and all that we do is designed with our clients’ best interests in mind. We practice what we preach 24/7.

2. Our marketing is some of the most effective marketing in the business. We do not share our marketing secrets with our competition, and virtually no one is doing what we do as effectively as we are doing it.

3. Our designated broker has tremendous real estate experience that is unsurpassed. His experience goes back to the mid 1970’s when he started his career in real estate as an agent and later as an associate broker while still in Alaska, then 20 years of real estate law in Washington, head of an escrow company, personally closed 100’s of transactions, negotiated 100’s (if not 1,000’s) of real estate transactions, drafted real estate residential and commercial documents of all kinds, litigated most real estate issue agents deal with, acted as an adviser to top producing agents for 15 years, and so on. Enough of that.

4. We have the most technologically advanced staff of any brokerage on this side of the Columbia Gorge. This information is top secret, so it will not be revealed here.

5. While our clients are the center of mass for our business and all that we do, our designated broker also considers the financial, professional, and personal welfare of our agents a top priority. Not only do we train and mentor for success, our agents get paid 80% of their commissions, plus residual commission if they choose to recruit other agents. Our philosophy is that our work should be enjoyable and our relationships at this company will be healthy and productive and profitable relationships. We love our clients and we love what we do.

6. Our agents pay all their own expenses, and either work out of their home office or their own public office. Sellers want to meet us in their homes, so we can see them and evaluate them. Buyers typically want to meet at their hotel or coffee shop if they are from out of town, or we meet at a central location (the broker’s office), and drive out to look at homes. Clients do not care about brick and mortar buildings. They care about effectively marketing their home for sale or finding their dream home. Our full business model, which is very extensive, will be shared only with our agents.

Serious agents will want to look closely at the eXp Realty opportunity.

Here is a short segment of an interview of the owner/broker of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate, LLC [read the full interview here]:

Blog Manager: Chuck, you did not join a major real estate franchise. Do you think people look for the big names?

Chuck: I’ll tell you what clients have been telling me for nearly 30 years. They want someone who will help them find what they are looking for. They could care less about the name of a company or the size of the building. They don’t sit in California or Arizona, or even in Seattle, and say, “Honey, let’s call a big name franchise in Sequim or Port Angeles, and see if they can help us find our dream home at a rock bottom price.” About 75% of buyers start their search for their next home on the Internet, and they’re not using real estate portals or franchise websites. Like all of us, they are searching with Google or Yahoo. Again, it’s not about me, it’s not about the company, but it is all about the client and what the client is looking for. I have a completely different business model than 99% of the crowded brokerage business. For me, it really is all about the client, not me.

Blog Manager: Chuck, since you talk about serving your clients more than anything else, can I assume that you have free resources that people can check out?

Chuck: Absolutely. I offer an incredible amount of information absolutely free. People might be surprised. They can start with
Agent Opportunity with eXp Realty
SequimPortAngeles.com
, and they can go to
SequimRealEstateBlog.com or
PortAngelesRealEstateBlog.com, and they can also find real estate law help at FreeRealEstateLaw.com, and there are more resources, but that’s enough for now.

Blog Manager: Well, there you have it folks. Check out those websites, and thank you Chuck for sitting under the bright lights for us.

Chuck: My pleasure.

Applicants should email their Resume and a cover letter explaining why Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate should hire them. Please email to chuckmarunde@gmail.com

Include your telephone number and email address. You will be notified if you are chosen for an interview.

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Chuck E. Marunde, J.D.

Sequim Buyer's Agent (Atty Ret.)
Founder and Broker of
Sequim & Port Angeles Real Estate dba iRealty Virtual Brokers
125 Olympic Ranch Ln, Sequim, WA
(360) 775-5424
ChuckMarunde@gmail.com

From Los Angeles

It's rare, but once in awhile life provides the perfect collaborator for an important endeavor such as buying your new home. For me that person was Chuck Marunde. His two decade background as a Real Estate Attorney, his prolific career as an author of articles and books on Real Estate and his forthright and moral character made choosing Chuck a no-brainer. Chuck is dedicated, thorough, incredible at the negotiating table, knowledgeable about all local laws & regs but, most importantly, Chuck loves what he does. And what he does is find his client the perfect property. Chuck isn't about making the sale, he's about making the sale that is OPTIMUM for his CLIENT and this makes Chuck a rare bird indeed. I love my new home in Sequim and I am indebted to Chuck for making it happen. Kevin E.

From Seattle

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chuck over the past three years in selling my parent's estate. It was a tough time to sell during the housing recession, but Chuck always kept things on the positive side. With his real estate law background, he offers sound, practical advice. He helps you along with the process using discussions and reason, rather than opinions and speculations. If Chuck doesn’t know the answers, he will get them for you. In several instances, Chuck took the initiative to meet with county officials to get up-to-date facts about zoning and regulations. I was always impressed with his company’s tech savvy communi-cations and internet presence: weekly email updates, blogs, videos, links, Linked-in networking, etc. He is truly pioneering the future of buying & selling real estate. Brian M.

From Florida

We do our homework for the task at hand and we look for and expect to enlist partners that do the same. It was our good fortune to select Chuck Marunde of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate to represent us as a buyer's broker in our search for a home in the Sequim/Port Angeles area. Chuck's site is all encompassing and super fast compared to many others, he knows the market at every conceivable level and his guidance through the process of selecting and purchasing a home is priceless - above and beyond that of anyone with whom we have ever worked. Add to all this his 20 year background in real estate law and you have discovered a superb asset in the adventure of purchasing a home. Greg and Marilyn

From Gilroy California

As an out of state buyer unfamiliar with the area, it was important to me not only to have a real estate agent who knew the area well, but also one who knew the value of the properties. I chose Chuck because he is also a real estate lawyer and it is reassuring to have that extra degree working for you. I selected the houses I was interested in on line before taking a two day trip to Sequim to look at them in person. I sent my list to Chuck, who gave me feedback, then organized our tour so we could see 16 properties in a short time. He was very accommodating, driving me all over Sequim, and rescheduling appointments when we fell behind on our time. On day two, I found my home and we drafted an offer on it that evening. By the time I arrived back home on the plane the next evening, my offer had been accepted. Chuck was honest about what it would take to get me into my new home, while having my back the entire transaction. Since I was unable to relocate immediately after closing, he and his assistant Ade, have been taking care of many additional responsibilities for me. He was a pleasure to work with. Chris D.

From Corona California

The best decision I made, once I settled on Sequim as the ideal place to spend the rest of my days, was to hook up with Chuck Marunde as my broker/go-to guy. He happily took on the entire complicated merry-go-round associated with a long distance move that involved selling in Southern California (with a different agent) and buying in Sequim – all in the span of just over a month. The unexpectedly quick sale of my previous home was already a week into a 30 day escrow when I got to Sequim for my house hunt. We had two days to find my slice of heaven. And day one was less than stellar, each home having at least one major issue. The killer was the dream home that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster once we got inside. I was crushed. Chuck had his work cut out for him that night. And he worked his magic. On day two there was one beautiful possibility, but not quite right. Suffice to say, in the early afternoon we pulled into a driveway and the first words out of my mouth were “That’s my house.” 29 days later I took possession of my new home. Every sale has its issues, but throwing in the complications of a short escrow on top of 1200 miles of separation from all documentation, etc. gives new meaning to “challenging”. Thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge coupled with a great sense of humor, Chuck was able to keep me on an even keel when things got dicey. He knows when to step in and when to let it evolve. I cannot imagine making this move without him. Rebecca B.
Sequim Real Estate

From Bakersfield California

"During the months of February and March 2012, Chuck showed my wife and I over two dozen homes from Port Angeles to Port Townsend. We found Chuck to be very helpful, friendly and courteous. With Chuck there is no pressure; It is all about finding the best home for the buyer. As a Buyer's Agent, Chuck will give you his honest opinion of a property, including a fair market price. In one instance Chuck wrote up an offer for us which was accepted. Chuck was very helpful arranging for home and well inspections which involved multiple trips to the property. Unfortunately, escrow failed to close when, during the home inspection process, it was determined that a septic system repair was needed which the seller was unwilling/unable to make. We will continue to work with Chuck as there is no better Buyer's Agent on the North Olympic" Bert and Sally

From Los Alamos New Mexico

"Over a year ago, during a visit to the Olympic Game Farm, we developed what we eventually called the “Sequim Syndrome.” We live in New Mexico and decided Sequim was where we wanted to live in retirement. On our second visit to Sequim, we met with Chuck and asked him to help us. Chuck's web site provides such amazing search capabilities. Chuck's site also contains a 1000 blog postings and a real estate video series detailing buying real estate in Sequim. We bought Chuck's book about Sequim real estate and set out to follow his advice carrying on an ongoing email and phone conversation with Chuck. Doing our due diligence “Marunde style” and using his MLS search site, we came up with about 50 homes that met our needs. We narrowed the list down to 15 properties that best met our needs. We came back to Sequim a third time with our list in hand, and Chuck spent two days with us showing us all the homes on our list. Not only did Chuck help us find that dream home, he spent time to educate us about the quality of construction, fair market values of various properties, home layouts, and the joys of Sequim living. We had a great time as we traveled from house to house. By mid afternoon of the second day, my wife said we had found “the house.” Chuck helped us draft our offer and sent our offer to the seller's agent. It turned out there was a second offer made on the property at the same time. Chuck's help to make a clean offer paid off. At breakfast two days later, we got a call from Chuck saying our offer had been accepted by the sellers. We are now back home in New Mexico. Chuck attends every inspection on our behalf, updating us at every turn by email and phone. Our dream home is becoming a reality because of Chuck and because we were smart enough to follow his advice. We absolutely would NOT have been able to do this without Chuck Marunde's expertise and enthusiasm. We recommend Chuck to everyone planning a move to Sequim, Port Angeles, or anywhere on the Olympic Peninsula. Chuck is a gold mine of information and expertise for home buyers everywhere, not just on the Olympic" Larry and Shirley
Sequim Real Estate Bookstore

From Sun Lakes Arizona

"We are ex-Washington residents who currently live in Arizona. We had been searching the Puget Sound area four years for a waterfront property to build a retirement home when we first contacted Chuck Marunde through his website. We had made multiple trips to various areas but most of the Realtors we contacted simply sent us an email, provided no follow up and did next to nothing to help us locate a property. On our first trip to Port Angeles, after connecting with Chuck, we purchased our dream property. We now own a high bank waterfront lot overlooking the Straight of Jaun de Fuca, and are excited to become part of the Peninsula community." Paul and Linda

From California

"Andy Romano is a successful motion picture character actor with over 40 years in 'the Biz.' Mr. Romano has a home in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, but he chooses to live most of the time in Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula in the great Pacific Northwest. Why? In his own words, 'Because it's even more beautiful and surrounded by more beauty in this incredibly peaceful and quiet place. With respect to real estate agents or brokers, well my friend Chuck Marunde, owner of Sequim and Port Angeles Real Estate, is hands down the best there" Andy R.

From Sequim

I’ve known Chuck Marunde for several years. My wife and I bought and sold one house through his services, and now have another listed through him for sale. Whether Chuck was representing us as the buyer or seller, I am confident he always had our best interests at heart. He helped us set or negotiate a reasonable price, and made sure there was a clear and open line of communication. He responded rapidly to email and phone calls and always knew the best person to contact for the various services involved in a transaction. I have worked with quite a few real estate agents and Chuck is right at the top of my list of good ones. Actually, Chuck is first and foremost just a good person, and he carries his personal honesty and integrity over into his profession. He has the greatest depth of experience in real estate of any agent or broker I have known. His years of practicing real estate law prior to becoming a broker are evident in the meticulous care he takes with the process and documentation. I am impressed by the way Chuck has integrated internet services into his real estate business. He probably knows more about this process than any other realtor in the country. In this tight market it is important to use every possible means to spread the word about available properties…to reach the few people who might be interested in a particular property. Steve L.

From The Netherlands

"We contacted Chuck about six months ago to help find a retirement property in Sequim. We had visited Sequim several weeks before and decided that this was the place for us to retire. We liked the friendly people and the natural beauty of the area. We had been looking for some time in other parts of the country - California, Oregon, North Carolina, and Vermont. In most of these other areas, we found real estate agents that were knowledgeable but did not follow up with us to continue narrowing down real estate possibilities. Once we were out of earshot, communications would stop. That is one of the reasons we were interested in working with Chuck. Besides having great knowledge of both the local real estate market and of law, his testimonials on the internet indicated a willingness to actively communicate with his clients. Chuck demonstrated this immediately. Even before we met, he responded very quickly and helpfully to any email question. After arriving for a second visit to Sequim in September, we finally met Chuck face to face. He was friendly, encouraging, and readily shared good practical information. We worked with him on a number of candidate properties - including an offer on a property while visiting that week. Although we could not come to terms with the owners on the final property price, we look forward to continuing to work closely with Chuck. He is an invaluable resource to help us identify and purchase the retirement property that's right for us." Paul and Virginia

From Fremont California

We can't say enough about working with Chuck Marunde. Luck would have it that we discovered his web site, spoke with him on the phone and had an instant feeling that we had found our realtor. And we were right. With Chucks help and expertise, our longtime dream to retire to the Pacific Northwest came to fruition with Chuck assisting us in finding the perfect home for us. Buying a home is always a big decision and these days can be complex with unexpected delays etc. In fact, our whole experience from offer day to closing, was very smooth. Chuck took all the time we needed to explain processes and made us feel at ease, even though we lived 800 miles away, tying up loose ends and getting ready for the big move to our new home in Sequim. We were impressed with Chuck's ability to listen to our needs and understand our concerns in buying from a distance. Chuck kept us informed all along the way, during the process and was so good at getting right back to us if we had another question. All went so well and Chuck really went above and beyond for us, taking time out from his busy schedule to assist us with some details regarding our beautiful property, even after the closing, because we were not yet arrived there. Without hesitation, our son and his wife will be contacting Chuck this summer, as they plan to follow us to paradise in this lovely town. Thanks again Chuck, for everything! Mary and Jerry

From Fontana California

My husband and I went to Sequim intending to interview several realtors to find one to help us locate and buy a home in Sequim. We knew we wanted someone we could trust and who would have our best interests in mind. Since we would be handling the transaction from S. California this was very important to us. We met Chuck and looked no further. We felt a connection right away and spent some time looking at homes together so Chuck could get a feel for what we wanted. Well, we left Sequim having made an offer on a home which the owner accepted. Chuck has helped us through the purchase process. We are positive it would not have gone so smoothly without his help. We give him 4 thumbs up. Wally & Cathy

From Tacoma

Chuck Marunde’s level of expertise in real estate investment is amazing. His knowledge, experience and legal training have given me a dramatic advantage in real estate investing. He works hard to stay on the cutting edge of real estate marketing, sound advice and value-added service for his clients. Kirk Wald, Financial Planner

From Wendell Idaho

My wife and I moved to Sequim six weeks ago, and prior to our move here I contacted Chuck Marunde and enlisted his help as our buyer's agent. Once we got here, it took us about two weeks looking at houses, and Chuck did a superb job of showing us places and letting us make our own decisions and guide us through the purchase of our home. We now completed our transaction and are very happy. We would recommend Chuck to anybody. Don & Marilyn

From Sequim

"Buying property either commercial or residential can sometimes be a tricky proposition. That’s why I would recommend Chuck to help you with purchasing or selling property. His background as a real-estate lawyer and his no nonsense to the point advice will help you make the right decisions. Experience and Integrity, what you need when you can’t afford to make a mistake. Dail Hurdlow, CEO, Hurdlow Enterprises

From Seattle

I am an experienced real estate buyer, but I am not from the Sequim area. I am somewhat flexible, realistic, but also particular. So the question was, “how do you choose the RIGHT real estate agent?”

I made my appointment with Chuck on a Sunday morning in March, 2013. He showed me 5 houses. Every house he showed me was within my parameters! I was amazed: a real estate who listened, did his research, and didn't waste my time showing me houses I would never buy! I made an offer a few days later. That was the easy part…

Buying a house is always a stressful time in life. Advice to Buyers: choose an agent who is competent, communicates well, and has exceptional follow-up and follow-through! You will spend a lot of time with your agent during the process. Choose someone likable. Go with your gut. I got to know Chuck during the process, and he's a great guy!

You need an agent who is competent to handle and help you negotiate the issues that come up during disclosure, home inspection, appraisal, etc. Chuck's competence is superb! I got truly professional, sound, straightforward advice.

Chuck's communication skills are exceptional: phone, email, fax. He has a wonderful ability to stay "on-point" with what is actually important and doesn't lead you astray on issues that aren't so important.

Chuck's turn-around time on questions, issue resolution, etc. was virtually always within 24 hours. He follows-up, follows-through. He does what he says he will do timely. This relieves a lot of Buyer stress!

Having a difficult time finding the right agent? Simplify your life! Choose Chuck Marunde. I did. [Name withheld by request]

Intro by Chuck Marunde

From Sequim to California

"In our Sequim real estate broker Chuck Marunde we found a Realtor who knew not only how to list a property, but most importantly, he knew how to sell a property. Chuck is very skilled in current technology and uses that skill to advertise your property nationally. We were very pleased with Chuck, his honesty and integrity." Jerry Levitan and Donna "Teva" Tetiva

Who is Chuck Marunde?

Chuck Marunde is the #1 Sequim Buyer's Agent, having sold more homes (by volume) to buyers than any other agent or any "team" of agents for the past seven years. He is the author of thousands of articles for buyers on this real estate blog, and he is the author of several real estate books for buyers and one for sellers. He is the creator of many free tools that buyers use and love every day. He is recognized as a national expert on real estate transactions, marketing, and negotiating. Please schedule your appointment to view homes with Chuck well in advance of arriving in Sequim.
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Chuck Marunde Text or Call 360-775-5424