81% of first tuesday readers (158 voters) have the erroneous belief that real estate agents cannot give their clients advice on the legal and tax aspects of their transaction, according to our September 2011 poll.

Not only are licensees permitted to share the knowledge they have worked hard throughout their career to accumulate, they are required to share their knowledge of information that might affect their client’s decisions under their trustee-defined agency relationship with a client, whether or not they are confronted with a direct inquiry.

Only 16% of readers (32 voters) said “Yes” when asked if they are permitted to give legal and/or tax advice to their real estate clients. The remaining 3% (6 voters) said they were “not sure.”

Much of the confusion surrounding this aspect of agency is rooted in the local trade union’s code of ethics, which scares agents away from providing any insight they possess into the manifold legal and tax aspects of their clients’ transactions.

Of the 783 article readers, only 196 voted in this poll.  Since this topic is of great concern to licensees, first tuesday will continue writing articles pertaining to an agent’s duty to share their special knowledge about real estate principles – the rules of real estate controlling most every facet of buying, owning, selling, leasing and mortgaging.

Opinions about agents better assisting a real estate client with advice and opinions on legal aspects of their real estate transactions will correct over time. Remember, when the impeachment of President Nixon was first broached, only 20% of the public favored it. One year later, 80% were in favor. What changed the public’s mind? More information.

We will take this poll annually to measure the change in agents’ willingness to avoid these omissions by silence.

To vote or to read more about an agent’s ability to give legal and/or tax advice, see the September 2011 first tuesday articles, Real estate licensees and the unauthorized practice of law and Raising the bar of real estate advice.