Ensuring that all owners of record sign the listing agreement is imperative. The Matter of Martinez (SC REL Case No. 2014-412) illustrates the peril of failing to follow the statute and proper procedure.
Martinez was a duly licensed real estate agent located in Charleston, South Carolina. Her real estate license lapsed on June 30. She eventually renewed her license on August 16.
On July 7, while her license was lapsed, Martinez listed her brother’s marital house for sale. Her brother was going through a very contentious divorce at the time. Unfortunately, Martinez failed to have the listing agreement executed by all owners of record. First, Martinez failed to have the ex-wife execute the listing agreement even though she was an owner of record. Secondly, Martinez’s brother failed to sign the listing agreement. However, Martinez claimed that she had received his permission to sign the agreement on his behalf.
When the ex-wife discovered the marital house was listed for sale she notified Martinez that she did not give her permission to list the property and wanted her to cease immediately. Martinez continued to market the property despite the ex-wife’s appeal. In fact, she continued to market the property until she received a “Cease and Desist” letter from the ex-wife’s attorney. Due to Martinez’s action the ex-wife filed a grievance with the South Carolina Real Estate Commission.
The Commission held that Martinez violated SC Code §40-57-135(D)(4)(g) by failing to obtain a listing agreement in writing with the signature of all the parties. As a result of her actions Martinez was publicly reprimanded, fined $1,000 and required to attend a 30-hour post-licensing course.
When listing property it is imperative that you do a bit of research concerning the ownership of the property. Ownership information can easily be found at the Register of Deeds Office as well as on many county websites. Without doing this, there is no way to ensure that all parties execute the listing agreement. Your failure to follow the law could mean you end up wasting your efforts and find yourself in a lawsuit or grievance. Keep in mind that at closing, all owners must sign the deed to convey the entire interest in the property. If an ex-spouse is unaware the property is listed, it is unlikely the ex-spouse will sign the deed once a signed contract is presented. The same is true for estates and family property.
Lastly, when dealing with a divorcing couple, regardless of the status of the divorce, always make sure that all owners of record sign the listing agreement. Neither the Divorce Order nor any amount of cajoling from the divorce attorney changes the record title. The quickest way to a grievance is to violate the rights of an ex-spouse!
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