On January 1, 2012, NCAR began offering a new, expanded Legal Services Program to its members. This Q&A summarizes the benefits of the Program.
Q: Why should I sign up for the program?
A: First and foremost, you will get to make unlimited calls every weekday to the Hotline. Your call will be handled by one of NCAR's lawyers, who collectively have more than 20 years experience representing REALTORS on a daily basis. They're not just any lawyers-they're lawyers who really know and understand the legal issues you face.
Q: What kinds of questions do the lawyers take on the hotline?
A: They handle a wide range of topics, including questions about forms, contracts, disclosure, agency, real estate licensing law, REALTOR Code of Ethics, commission disputes, fair housing and landlord/tenant law, just to name a few. Click here for a list of FAQ's and do's/don'ts pertaining to the legal hotline.
Q: Are there other benefits of the program?
A: Yes! You'll also have exclusive access to the very popular Q & As that NCAR's lawyers write every week based on hotline calls they receive. Plus, NCAR has set up a subscriber-only blog that will allow you to follow up with comments on and questions about the weekly Q & As, and view comments and questions posted by other subscribers. You'll also be able to search all the Q & As in an online archive that NCAR has set up.
Q: Anything else?
A: Yes! As a subscriber, you’ll have exclusive access to an annual legal seminar put on by NCAR's lawyers.
Q: What is the cost of the program?
A: It's only $125 per calendar year.Sign up today and gain access to the benefits immediately, and through the remainder of 2013. Members who sign up anytime on or after July 1, 2013, will pay a prorated fee of $62.50.
Summary of Legal Services Program Benefits
Unlimited calls to experienced lawyers every weekday
Exclusive access to weekly Q&As and Q&A archives
Post and read other comments to Q&As online
Participate in an annual legal seminar by NCAR's lawyers
The Legal Services Program: Your Legal Lifeline.
Will Martin is a graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland and Wake Forest University School of Law, where he graduated with honors in 1985. He practiced law in his hometown of Mocksville and then in Winston-Salem before coming to work for NCAR in 1996 as its General Counsel. For the past 15 years, Will has advised NCAR's leadership and staff on a wide range of legal matters. He handles a large number of inquiries from individual members and local associations of REALTORS® on legal issues affecting the practice of real estate brokerage and association administration, and has been closely involved in the development of most of NCAR's standard forms. Will is a Member/Manager of Martin & Gifford, PLLC.
Bill Gifford is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a 1980 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. He was a trial lawyer in Chicago until 1996 when he returned to North Carolina to become Director of Litigation for Greensboro-based Oakwood Homes Corporation. Since 2005, Bill has represented NCAR as a Member/Manager of Martin & Gifford, PLLC. He regularly fields member questions on the Legal Hotline. Bill has also represented REALTORS in litigation matters filed across the state and in disciplinary proceedings initiated by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
Sample weekly Q&A's Question: I have a listing on a condo in a 100-unit condo complex. Does the owner have to complete a Residential Property Disclosure Statement? It seems like it should be required but the instructions for completing the Disclosure Statement state that it's only required for owners of single-family homes and buildings with up to four dwelling units.
Answer: Your owner is required to complete a Residential Property Disclosure Statement. The important fact is how many units are being sold, not how many units are in the condominium complex. Although we agree that the wording of the first sentence in the "Instructions to Property Owners" is somewhat awkward, the Residential Property Disclosure Act specifically applies to sales of residential real property "consisting of not less than one nor more than four dwelling units." Since your seller is selling a single dwelling unit, the Act applies. On the other hand, if your owner owned 5 condos in the complex and sold them all together, the Act would not apply.
Question: I know that as a real estate agent, I can't run a "blind" ad when I am advertising real estate for someone else, but must I include both my name and the name of my firm in the ad, or may I include one or the other? I am a full broker.
Answer: The Real Estate Commission's rule requires that the ad "conspicuously indicate that it is the advertisement of a broker or brokerage firm." So, as far as compliance with the Real Estate Commission's rule is concerned, you could include either your name or the name of your firm in the ad. However, REALTORS® are held to a slightly different standard under the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Standard of Practice 12-6 of the Code provides that "REALTORS® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property in any medium (e.g. electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that REALTOR®'s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. Thus, it would be a violation of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics for you as a REALTOR® to run an ad for property or real estate services without disclosing your firm's name in the ad. You would not have to include your name, too, although you certainly could.
What NC REALTORS® have to say about the Legal Services Program
We, as members of NCAR, are so fortunate to have access to two experienced lawyers like Will Martin and his partner Bill Gifford. The Legal Services Program is terrific, easy to use and extremely informative. I frequently call the Legal Hotline for guidance on a wide variety of issues and I’ve really enjoyed visiting the new site to read the weekly Q&As. The Q&As are a wonderful reminder of the legalities of our business and actually provide many a topic for discussion at sales meetings and for training classes.
--Sandra Larsh, Broker-in-Charge, Cottingham Chalk Hayes (Charlotte)
The NCAR Legal Services Program has proven itself as an irreplaceable resource for fast answers to the endless variety of questions that arise in today’s real estate business environment. Will and Bill’s unique focus on real estate-specific issues and their accessibility make our subscription one of the most valuable (and affordable!) line items in our budget.
--Richard Lane, Broker-In-Charge, Prudential Prime Properties (Greenville)
I can't say enough about the legal services help Will Martin and his partner Bill Gifford have given my company over the years. They are always very timely in their responses and completely up to date on form changes and the effects they have on daily contract situations. Will has also taken his time to provide information and advice on the new contract forms to our company and we look forward to continuing our relationship in the future.