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Cousin Rick asks for a blank contract? Don’t do it


Sept. 4, 2017 – "Sure, I'll send you a copy," sounds like good customer service when a potential home seller says: "I'd like a blank copy of the contract so I can read it over."

However, there are two reasons not to do it:

1.Florida Realtors contracts are protected by copyright law, and no one may distribute them other than Realtors or someone who has been granted express permission.

2.Giving away your association's contract dilutes your value as a Realtor.

The FloridaRealtors/FloridaBar Residential Contract and its As Is companion, for example, cover a lot of ground, and when Uncle Rick or high-school-buddy Bob asks to can use a copy for "just one private sale," it's hard to say no. It may even be a positive gesture that generates a referral one day.

However, inappropriately providing forms to non-Realtors not only risks a violation of Florida Realtors' copyright, it's a bit rude to the fellow Realtors who volunteered their time – hours and hours of it – to dissect every word to create the best possible contract. Each form update stems from members' comments, volunteers' discussions and lawyers poring over each new word and wondering how a court of law might interpret it.

In addition, access to association contracts is one of your top member benefits, and possibly one of the main reasons you joined. By giving forms away, you're watering down the value of your membership and giving power to people who haven't paid dues, both literally and figuratively.

There's also a bigger danger to sharing Florida Realtors contracts: Uncle Rick could innocently post it online and ask "friends" for comments or suggestions. Now anyone with a computer and a mouse has access.

While it's a potential copyright offense, many non-Realtors think it's just a bunch of legally mandated words, possibly created by Florida law, that lawyers put together. Many of these same people also illegally copy content and photos from websites without batting an eye.

In the end, sharing Florida Realtors forms directly, online or through social media hurts the Realtor brand and hurts you.

Questions about contract use, or do you believe someone has copied language from one of Florida Realtors' forms? Call Florida Realtors Legal Hotline with any questions.

© 2017 Florida Realtors


Related Topics: Florida Realtors Legal News