Real representation

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Last week, Gov. Matt Blunt signed into law a measure setting minimum service requirements for the real estate industry in Missouri.

The bill is meant to force agents who sign exclusive contracts with customers to represent them actively.

Under the new law, brokers with exclusive contracts would be required to handle offers to buy, sell or lease a house, to answer customers' questions and to help clients negotiate offers and counteroffers.

The law also prevents people convicted of violent felonies or sex crimes from acquiring a real estate license.

The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department had opposed setting the minimum standards on the grounds they could stifle competition.

Discount brokers who work on a fee-for-service basis could be hurt by the law, the federal government reasoned.

The Missouri Association of Realtors favored the bill, which passed both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate by unanimous votes.

Anyone who signs a contract with a real estate agency has a right to expect the agency to represent his or her interests fully.

We agree that the ability simply to post a house on a Multiple Listing Service system does not fulfill those obligations.

Sellers who list their homes expect real estate agents to actively market their property in an attempt to interest potential buyers. This new law enforces that expectation.

The law takes effect. Aug. 28.

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