When helping a former client gets you in trouble
02/26/2016 | Author: Editorial Staff
Remember those first-time homebuyers you helped a few months ago? They closed on their new home, moved in, and everything was going well … until a few days ago when their air conditioner died. The couple called you to complain—and to ask what you’re going to do to fix it. While you want to preserve a good relationship with your former clients, consider the following factors before you act.
Are you even allowed to help?
First, talk with your broker. He or she is ultimately responsible for your actions and may not want you to get involved. In addition, remember that you no longer represent the couple since they completed the transaction for which they hired you—in this case, the purchase of a home.
Watch your words
If you do get involved, avoid phrases that imply you’ll solve or fix the problem. Instead, focus on being a resource for them to help themselves—never assume responsibility for what happened.
Who is the best person to ask?
In this situation, tell the new homeowners to contact an HVAC technician to assess the problem. Be wary of recommending a certain service provider, as the buyers may blame you if they have a negative experience. Instead, you can provide a list of professionals in the area they may want to contact, while taking care not to favor one over another. If the homeowners contend the system failure was the result of negligence by the seller or the seller’s agent and they try to discuss this with you, suggest they consult an attorney.
Of course you never want a former client to be upset, but providing services or advice outside of an agency relationship can be risky. Even if you haven’t encountered this exact scenario yet, talk with your broker now about how you should handle a similar situation—your business may depend on it.
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