Effective August 18, 2014, Real Estate Licensees (Agents) who choose to recommend service providers in conjunction with a real estate transaction must “Verify that the recommended individuals are licensed to perform those services by checking their licensing status,” and they must “Give the customer or client an electronic link to the licensing information and the date on which the service provider’s licensing status was verified.”
Service providers are Title/Settlement Entities, Mortgage Brokers/Lenders, Appraisers, Home, Well, Septic, Termite Inspectors et al, Improvement & Repair Contractors, Heating/Air Service, Electricians, Plumbers….. Basically any entity or individual we refer the public to, we must verify they are licensed, and that their license is active/current.
Our reputations – not to mention our fiduciary duties to our clients – are already directly linked to our professional referrals, but apparently this isn’t strict enough. I am not sure if Maryland is cracking down on unlicensed practitioners and are giving us the job of choking them out, or if Maryland Realtors too often refer their customers & clients to unlicensed (therefore unscrupulous?) entities and have been sued because of it.
Whichever it is, it is yet another hoop agents must jump through – to ensure the public is protected AND to protect licensees from litigation. I know what we are protecting ourselves from [being sued,] but what are we protecting the public from? Agents are licensees – but we do not have to prove to a client our license is current. And just because we have a “current license,” can you trust this fact alone? Just because an Electrician is licensed, does that mean he/she is more reliable & honest than the one who is not?
The State of Maryland says this isn’t a big deal, that it is easy to do this – but it IS a big deal, and it is not easy – it is incredibly time consuming. There are several websites to go to to check licensing, not just one. And we don’t refer a new buyer to ONE lender – we will give them 3! That goes for all the service providers. It is up to the client to choose – and clients should certainly be offered more than one choice.
Team Bonnie & Maureen have already verified the license status of everyone we could think of. We’ve created a file. We have the links required to provide our clients & customers. But, I’m still not sure it is possible to comply with the new regulation. In every casual conversation we have in conjunction with real estate, which is our life, we talk about a “good title company,” a “great inspector,” an “electrican” that did a great job at a great price….
Bottom line – new rule or no rule – if we refer you to an Electrician, a Home Inspector, a Lender, a Settlement Company – anyone! – we know them personally, we’ve used their services, we would use their services in future, and if we do not know them or haven’t used their services, we have a reliable reference such as a client or family member who has “vouched” for them