Realtors to meet in Ocean City

September 18, 1994|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,Sun Staff Writer

Hundreds of real estate professionals will gather this week in Ocean City in hopes of getting up to speed on the information superhighway and sorting out ever-changing rules reshaping their industry.

When the Maryland Association of Realtors meets Thursday for its 42nd annual convention, much of the talk will center on change -- in technology, regulations and the way in which agents work with clients. About 1,200 members -- real estate agents and brokers, appraisers and mortgage bankers -- are expected to attend.

"The hot topics are the computer age, the information highway and technology," said Donna Heavener, an association spokesman. "The agents are always looking for ways to improve their marketing, help with time management and give them income growth."

Many in the industry will be thrust into a sometimes bewildering world of globally linked computers and information on demand that could change the face of buying and selling homes, said Heather Humphries, managing partner of Chiron Communications, a Northern Va.-based technological consultant.

"There are things moving us into that era now, such as a movement toward advertising on the Internet," said Ms. Humphries, who will lead a seminar during the three-day conference.

Individual agents have begun to advertise homes for sale on the global network, while services that list information for a fee have begun to proliferate, she said. Ms. Humphries envisions a day when computerized home listings will be available at kiosks stationed in public places.

Agents also are using computers to spread ideas and get referrals from agents in other parts of the country, she said.

Often as bewildering as technological advances are new regulations governing the industry, also a focus of this year's convention. One session will cover the state's agency law, which will take effect Jan. 1.

Under the law, an agent must tell a client during the first scheduled meeting whether he will represent the buyer or the seller, said Alvin Monshower, counsel for MAR. The law will permit brokers to represent both buyers and sellers if both parties agree and different agents are assigned to each party. Brokers run real estate companies and agents, or salespeople, work for brokers.

That situation will likely become more common as more buyers )) hire agents to represent them, Mr. Monshower said. In some cases, buyers might find property listed through their agent's company, which in turn would leave the company representing both buyer and seller.

"The goal here is to identify at the earliest possibility and advise the buyer and seller who [the agent] is acting for," said Mr. Monshower.

Often, he said, a buyer mistakenly believes an agent represents him when the agent represents the seller.

Convention seminars also will address issues such as how to boost business under the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which governs relationships between real estate companies and affiliates, as well as how to meet new federal guidelines for writing nondiscriminatory advertisements.

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