Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peoria! Whatsamatta with you?

We are currently representing sellers who own property in the Peoria area. Our clients advised the real estate agent numerous times that we were representing them, to provide copies of all documentation and correspondence to us. The real estate agent has continually "forgotten" to do this. We had to request one particular document four times. Big surprise here--that document was written confirmation that the commission was to be reduced. We also informed the real estate agent that we would be taking care of obtaining title insurance, deed preparation, obtaining mortgage payoffs. You know, the usual attorney things.

We found out that the real estate agent had, against our clients' specific demand, ordered title insurance from its in-house title company. We were told that this in-house title company would be "hiring" one of the attorneys who owns the title company to "represent" our client. Talk about conflict upon conflict of interest. How can any sentient individual argue that this "attorney" would exercise independent judgment in the exclusive interest of the seller? The title company is beholden to the real estate company. The attorney is beholden to the title company. Is there room in that bed for all of them?

I told them they were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by ordering title insurance. This attorney the title company "hired" was not involved in this transaction at all. My guess is, this was going to be a "Deed and Green." I must have struck a nerve, since this was what I found in my email the next day. (Thay gots gud grammer an' spellin' two!)

"I have attached written conformation for the commission reduction for 1234 Main. Again, I request for title insurance threw a title company, they send it to the Lawyers that own their company. I do this for every closing, there is nothing illegal about the way we get these ordered. If you think so, maybe you should do some research." [sic, sic, sic, sic, and I changed the address]

Oh, young lady, but I have done the research. And this is from a real estate agent's assistant no less.

In Chicago Bar Association v. Quinlan & Tyson, Inc., the Illinois Supreme Court tended to disagree with their assessment:
". . . [W]hen the broker has secured the signatures on the usual form of preliminary contract or offer to purchase, completed by the insertion of necessary factual data, he has fully performed his obligation as broker."

Obviously, these folks know better than the Illinois Supreme Court. To summarize, after the purchase agreement is signed, the real estate broker's job is complete; as in finished, done, rifinito, acabado.

So, if I may be so bold: Sellers and buyers, do your own research, and find an attorney knowledgable in real estate law who is willing to represent only you. Someone who works for the title company that works for the real estate company might not be your best choice.

And please, somebody tell me it is just this particular real estate agent or company that does this, and that it is not common practice in the Peoria area.