Recommending Contractors Without Fear
A common situation for real estate agents is recommending contractors.
No matter who you are, many people seem to look to real estate agents as the “go to people” for recommendations.
So, if you are a real estate agent, how could you recommend trades safely, without getting into any trouble? Legally, you either don’t recommend anybody, or you must recommend a few contacts per supplier!
Who might you know: Plumbers, electricians, general contractors, home inspectors, carpenters, home appliance sales, home furniture sales, landscapers, roofers, window washers, door and window salesmen, lawyers, title insurers, paralegals, home stagers, insurance brokers, other real estate agents, life and heath insurance sales agents, accountants, bookkeepers, mortgage brokers, financial planners, stockbrokers, tax advisors, home handymen, grass servicing professionals, heating services, air-conditioning service, appliance repair, pool and spa service, eavestrough cleaners, septic system installers, well-diggers, car service, car sales, doctors, hairdressers, massage therapists, chiropractors, dentists, ashphalt and driveway repair, gas fitters, furniture refinishers, deck builders, painters, specialty home finishers, tile stores, plumbing stores, carpet and flooring stores, actuaries, investment counsellors, architects, engineers, suveyors, wall paper hangers, bricklayers, tile installers, website designers, logo drafters, photographers, virtual tour providers, printers, sign erectors, bloggers, assessors, appraisers, cleaners heavy duty, cleaners regular maintenance, psychologists, psychiatrists, fence installers, shed builders, town planners, property managers, coaches and trainers, videographers, advertisers, marketing and branding advisors, private security, private investigators, alarm companies & surveillance specialists.
All in all, that’s quite a list. Now, not only should you know someone in every category, you should be both familiar and up to date with everyone’s work ethic, prices, location and quality of performance. That’s a pretty tall order.
Not only that, but you should be able to give the names of three people to choose from in every category.
Try to keep track of some of the people you have done business with, or have been recommended to you. Certainly as a caution, everyone looking for a recommended contractor, should be advised to look for someone themselves using Google.
Today, with Linkedin, you may actually have a wealth of people in your network.
Linkedin has two options:
If you have direct knowledge of someone’s work, then write them a recommendation. One step down; would be an endorsement. But here, you should have some knowledge.
I must say, that over the years, I have probably been requested to provide a recommendation to someone concerning just about everyone on that list. But as you can probably imagine I really don’t know the quality of work, fairness of rates charged, or depth of experience of many of whom I might be inclined to “recommend”.
There are, of course, other websites including Facebook, Google+ and others that deal in referrals.
But, let’s have another look at the concept of a “recommendation”. That seems rather professional in nature. It should fall within my field of expertise, and I should be charging a fee, or be entitled to compensation for properly and professionally attending to this task on your behalf.
If there’s no fee and it’s not within my field, then really all it amounts to is a “suggestion”. Here’s someone you might call. I don’t know whether they are any good, I wouldn’t really know how to evaluate their work, I may even have suggested them to someone else, but I didn’t follow up for any feedback, so I really don’t know how that went.
I wouldn’t use that person again
Let’s assume that I do have some feedback and it’s negative. Oftentimes, the service recipient feels that they have just paid too much and didn’t receive enough value. Frequently, this is the case with lawyers. But, the better lawyers charge higher fees, and a few hours can add up very quickly. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to recommend that lawyer anymore. That lawyer is still very skilled and possesses a great deal of expertise. The real issue was one of price. I might think that they got a “bargain”, but they think that they paid too much.
CAUTION: the Disclaimer
If I provide you with the name of someone who might be suitable for you to use, it’s just a suggestion. And, if I provide three or more names, then they are simply suggestions too. Please use your own due diligence before you retain or hire them for your project. Don’t blame me, if anything goes wrong. I’m just offering up some names as “suggestions”. You can and should do your own Google search and see whom you come up with.
You are at your own risk proceeding to contract with someone I might suggest. If you are not certain, then I implore you, not to proceed. And, if you do proceed, I would ask that you kindly let me know if there is any aspect of poor service that I should know about.
CONTRACT: the Recommendation
This situation is also clear. Here, I’m actually taking professional responsibility to get it right. You are retaining me, and I will find someone for you, whom I am prepared to recommend. You will be compensating me directly, so my approach to this undertaking will not be capricious on my part.
There will be a written contract, so there won’t be any mistakes. If there’s no written contract, then, it’s just a “suggestion” and the above noted Disclaimer applies.
Documentation: Disclaimers, Contracts and Indemnification Agreements
Later, we’ll have a look at the nature of the documents from disclaimers to contracts, including indemnification agreements.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker is a Manager at RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage 416-745-2300. www.iSourceRealEstate.com