Ready to refer to your broker as your 'facilitator'?

February 07, 1993|By James M. Woodard | James M. Woodard,Copley News Service

"Have you hugged your real estate facilitator recently?"

Those words may be used on future bumper stickers. Some real estate brokerage groups are pushing for a major change in the legal role of brokers and a change in their title, to "facilitator."

The term facilitator, as opposed to broker, sales representative or agent, puts the real estate practitioner in the role of an intermediary in real estate transactions. It moves practitioners away from certain legal responsibilities and reduces their exposure to liability problems.

Many Realtors support the change. The proposed new title, they say, more accurately reflects the broker's service -- that of bringing the parties together and facilitating a smooth transaction that benefits all the principals.

Some Realtors doubt that the concept will take hold.

"I really can't see it happening," said Bobbi Courselle, a board member of a regional Association of Realtors.

"It's just not compatible with the mood of many legislators to pass laws that would permit the change," Ms. Courselle said.

"Lawmakers are generally pushing for more agency disclosure requirements. It's part of the consumerism wave that has been ** sweeping across the country over the past decade. Legislators want to keep brokers on the hook -- not relieve their liability risk. The legislative trend is in the direction of more paperwork and liability exposure for brokers, not less."

Other Realtors take a positive view of the possible change.

"What our agency really does is put real estate agents on one side or the other when, in fact, over the years our real purpose was not confrontation but cooperation, putting people together, not defending a side," said David Borden, a Realtor in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I much prefer to use all my skills and knowledge to help put buyers and sellers together. We now have entirely too much confrontation. Let's not give our legal system more cases to work on. If we willfully lie or misrepresent the facts, we'll be in court anyway. There are plenty of lawyers around to guarantee that. But let's not invite court cases."

Betty Brenner, a Realtor in Claremore, Okla., also thinks well of the proposed change.

"I think the facilitator concept is the only way to go," she said. "Buyer's agent, seller's agent, dual agent, subagent, special agent, general agent, secret agent -- wouldn't 'facilitator' be a breath of fresh air? Everyone could understand 'facilitator.' Buyers and sellers need someone to facilitate a sale."

Ms. Courselle said the change of title to facilitator is more likely in some states than in others: "Many states don't have strong laws that relate to agency representation. But others do, and it would be a step backward, in the view of those state legislators, to allow such a change."

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