So, You Want to Live and Work in Vieques..
                                                                                  
by Sheila Levin*

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Vieques- September 2006 NEW

Living and Working in Vieques..

Why use a Real Estate broker:

Real estate brokers in Vieques have recently been targeted by two factions: One, a group who blames brokers for all Vieques' problems, and secondly by individuals who are selling real estate without a license.

The tensions arising from the sale of real estate to North Americans and others are typical of this kind of development. Real estate brokers do not contribute to that tension; we do not force people to sell or to buy, we do not set prices. We can recommend prices, and by law are required to recommend to sellers that they obtain an independent appraisal. But the final price is always at the discretion of the seller. Vieques is bound to go through some dislocation, some growing pains as it develops. We, as residents, want to do everything we can to be helpful in this process. This is our home now too.

This article will attempt to explain how a broker is trained, what a Broker's responsibilities are and why it is best to use a Broker in real estate transactions.

Brokers must go through a rigorous course of study, ninety hours of class work, and pass a difficult test. It takes the better part of a year for a person to earn a real estate license, which must be renewed every four years, and at least six hours of continuing education must be taken every year, equivalent to two courses a year.

In addition to the Department of Consumer Affairs, DACO, there is a Real Estate Board at the Sate Department responsible for the ethical and professional behavior of real estate brokers.

Brokers in Puerto Rico usually represent the seller. Occasionally, a broker can become a "buyers" broker, representing only the buyer in a specific deal or in searching for property. The seller pays the commission, which is generally 6% but may be negotiated down, depending on the circumstances and the size of the deal.

It is a Broker's responsibility to do the following:
  • share information about exclusives with other brokers so that information is available to the widest range of individuals interested in real estate. Most brokers on Vieques cooperate. It is in your best interest as a seller to ask your broker for proof that they regularly co broke, if they don't, find a broker who does.
     
  • help evaluate the house or land for sale. This is based on comparative values in the neighborhood, the state of the market, (including interest rates on mortgages) and the condition and extra values of the property. It is important to know, however, that brokers are not appraisers, unless they have taken the corresponding courses and tests.
     
  • advertise and show the property, any day of the week, to individuals who express interest and to attempt to interest individuals who are looking in specific properties.
     
  • to negotiate the price between the buyer and the seller.
     
  • To inform prospective buyers about zoning regulations; possibility of subdivisions and other land and development prospects
     
  • write a purchase and sale agreement, which includes a deposit for the Broker's Escrow account
     
  • to maintain a non interest bearing escrow account
     
  • to set the closing date and to make sure that a lawyer is selected, generally by the buyers, and to attend the closing.
     
  • responsible for setting the final walk through before closing
     
  • responsible for closing statements, except when a mortgage is involved in which case the bank will prepare the closing statement

A broker can be held to account in the event he or she fails to do any of the above.

Individuals who elect to use someone who has no license take a risk of having no recourse in the event the individual is not ethical. In addition, since it is against the law to sell real estate without a license, one would be dealing with a law breaker.

These individuals will insist that they only get a referral fee, a rose by any other name...

They do not choose to go through the arduous regime of becoming a broker, they are breaking the law, and they deceive the public, both buyers and sellers, by disguising their fee and by their inability to reach the larger number of individuals looking for real estate which are available to licensed brokers.

There is little enough accountability in this world without asking for trouble by utilizing the services of people who can never be held accountable and start their "careers" by breaking the law. We know that knowledgeable and responsible owners do not "list" property with unlicensed brokers. We hope that this article helps explain what a broker's responsibilities are.

In the end, broker and seller, and broker and buyer must enjoy a good relationship - must trust each other. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the real estate companies represented here: Island Real Estate, Connections, Crows Nest Realty, Rainbow Realty, Vieques Realty
 

Have a wonderful visit,

Sheila

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Webmaster's Note * Sheila has many hats and is also a published author Her first book was "Simple Truths". She has asked that I put a short story she has written and I enjoyed it a lot, even though it has nothing to do with Vieques. You can download "Knowing" by right clicking on the link.

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