By Sheryl B. Graham, Consumer Protection Officer
The Working with Real Estate Agents brochure (“WWREA”), first published in May 2001, is required to be used by brokers in every real estate sales transaction. Not only is the brochure to be presented in every real estate sales transaction, it is to be reviewed by the broker at the first substantial contact with both buyers and sellers.
What determines first substantial contact? It is not the length of a conversation or communication; it is the substance of that communication. Substantial contact occurs when a buyer or seller begins to talk about personal or confidential information. Examples include a buyer discussing their price range. It may be a seller talking about their motivation to sell or reason for the move.
Commission Rule 58A. 0104 ( c) states: In every real estate sales transaction, a broker shall, at first substantial contact with a prospective buyer or seller, provide the buyer or seller with a copy of the publication WWREA, set forth the broker’s name and license number thereon, review the publication with the buyer or seller, and determine whether the agent will act as the agent of the buyer or seller in the transaction.
The WWREA brochure explains the various types of agency relationships with the goal of educating the consumer and defining expectations. The WWREA is a broker’s opportunity to discuss and clarify what their agency role is in the transaction. The WWREA starts the conversation concerning the contemplated agency status and future options.
When first substantial contact with a buyer or seller is via telephone or email, a broker must transmit or mail the brochure to the buyer or seller within three days of that first substantial contact. A broker should then follow up with a conversation with the buyer or seller to review the brochure and answer any questions the consumer may have. Sometimes, a broker’s first substantial contact with a buyer or seller is in person, at the office or at an open house. The same rule and expectations apply: when a consumer acts as though an agency relationship exists by discussing personal or confidential information, the broker must present and review the WWREA brochure.
A link to the brochure provided at the foot of a broker’s email without further review or discussion is not sufficient. Similarly, sending both the WWREA and the completed agency agreement to the buyer or seller for electronic signature at the same time could indicate that the broker has delayed delivery of the WWREA past first substantial contact and may never have had the substantive discussion or review with the client.
Not every potential buyer or seller decides to sign an agency agreement with the first broker they meet. A broker would be expected to have a folder full of signed WWREA brochures for prospective customers who do not become clients. Every time a buyer or seller starts to communicate substantial information, the broker should present, review and have signed a WWREA brochure. Like all records of sales, rentals and other transactions, the signed WWREA brochure copies should be retained for three years. A broker may want to have a folder full of blank WWREA brochures, ready for the next conversation.