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Legal Column

Mette Evans and Woodside, legal counsel for both the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® and the Greater Harrisburg Association of REALTORS®, provides a monthly column to our membership.

Vituperativeness: Is There Ever a Reason?

My wife and I were recently sharing a farewell dinner with a couple moving from the mid-state. Their home was sold and packed. They were letting down their hair after a week that was particularly demanding, both physically and mentally. The wife of this couple, Betsy (not her real name) had called me a month earlier about their buyers’ demand to visit the house with a contractor to take measurements and make observations… Read On

A Listing Agent’s Right to See Your Buyer Agency Contract

Does a listing agent have a right to see your buyer agency contract? At the moment, I can’t think of a good reason! It is not prerequisite to your being paid a cooperating commission. Your entitlement to that is wholly dependent upon whether you are the procuring cause of the sale. The terms of cooperation, established by your local MLS… Read On

Expletive Deleted

In news and other articles, another’s profanity is frequently replaced with “expletive deleted.” Some use the term in self‐censorship. More often, we just let the expletives fly. At that moment it might feel quite good to do so; upon reflection, not so good. Realtors® hold no ownership on profanity or expletives deleted, the inspiration for this article did… Read On

Buyer Agency Contracts: When?

Major revisions to the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act (RELRA) took effect in November 1999. The changes introduced the Consumer Notice and buyer agency and all that is tethered to it like dual agency and designated agency. I remember touring the State and helping licensees with these new concepts and practices. I also remember stubborn licensees who… Read On

Who’s Listening?

A recent call to the Hotline was from a listing salesperson who just ended an interesting conversation with her seller. The seller had called to relate some of the feedback he had “received” from potential buyers who had toured the property. Long story short, the seller had installed several web cams that enabled him to monitor both sight and sound! Read On


You may not have run into them, but options to purchase exist. What do you need to know about them, and why? An option to purchase exists when an owner conveys to another the right to purchase the property (options to lease also exists, but to keep this article to its customary size, we will talk about options to purchase)… Read On

Covenants not to compete

Covenants not to compete, non‐solicitation agreements, and confidentiality agreements are the subject of numerous Hotline calls. The simple question “Are they legal?” is met with the simple answer of “It depends.” They can be. Covenants not to compete, in particular, are disfavored by the law. Any agreement that limits a person’s right to earn a livelihood will be suspect and for that reason Pennsylvania provides that covenants that are too broad will not be enforced… Read On

Use Restrictions – How Do You Find Out?

You’ve experienced it. A prospective buyer wants to know if they can have horses or other animals on the property; a psychologist wants to know whether she can meet clients in her home; a sales representative wonders aloud if he can work out of a home office. What do you answer? These questions are all part of the due process that a buyer should undertake before settling on a purchase… Read On

Who Controls My Fee?

Broker fees are all over the place. And I am not referring to listing commissions. Rather, I am referring to the many documents that refer to the “fees” to be charged and paid in a transaction. Of course, the listing agreement is principle among these. It establishes the broker’s fee and informs the seller how much the broker will compensate the selling agent who produces the ready… Read On

Terminating the Agreement of Sale

Terminating an agreement of sale falls into one of three categories: 1) termination based on law; 2) termination based on a contractual right; and 3) termination unsupported by law or contract. An example of termination based on law is where the agreement of sale fails to include a statement of the zoning classification if the property is zoned other than to permit single‐family dwelling… Read On