AZ Court of Appeals Looks at Independent Contractor Status of RE Agents

To view the contents of this post, you must be authenticated and have the required access level.

Foreclosure Resources



Avoid Using “On or Before” in Contracts

To view the contents of this post, you must be authenticated and have the required access level.

Steps to Increased Website Accessibility

REALTORS® throughout Arizona are working to make their websites more accessible to those with disabilities. In some instances, this step is taken in response to threats of litigation alleging that the real estate professional’s website violates the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. But more commonly, REALTORS® are taking this step because they deem it morally proper.

Additionally, web accessibility increases the available audience and, in turn, a REALTOR’s® potential customer base.

The lack of federal regulations governing website accessibility has made it difficult for REALTORS® to ascertain precisely what an accessible website should look like. But that should not stop REALTORS® from helping those with disabilities perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the web. With that in mind, there are a number of steps REALTORS® can take to increase website accessibility.

Many people with disabilities use assistive technology to help them navigate the web. This includes the use of screen readers, text enlargement software, and refreshable Braille displays that translate the text on the web page into Braille symbols (small plastic or metal pins that move up and down to display the Braille character). To optimize your site for these adaptive tools, below are some key principals of accessible design that can be implemented relatively easily and without impacting the overall “look and feel” of your website.

Text Equivalents
Because assistive technologies cannot interpret photographs, charts or other graphic information, adding a line of H.T.M.L. code to provide text for each image will enable a sight disabled user to understand the content being displayed. Such descriptions, called “ALT” text, should provide a text equivalent of the visual, thereby enabling screen readers to interpret the images for those with disabilities.

Subtitles and Audio Descriptions
If your web content includes videos, consider the use of subtitles or captions to assist those users with hearing disabilities. Popular video hosting sites such as YouTube offer tools that allow users to add subtitles to their clips. Similarly, audio descriptions of images can help make videos accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

Text-Based Documents
P.D.F. documents and related image based formats are often inaccessible to disabled users as they typically integrate poorly with screen readers and text enlargement programs. In addition to PDFs, documents should therefore be provided in alternative H.T.M.L. web pages. If this is not possible, provide a series of tags to accompany the P.D.F., which provide a hidden structured, textual representation of the P.D.F. content that is presented to screen readers.

Color and Font Control
Often times, disabled users need to manipulate color and font settings in order to make pages readable. As far as possible, do not “hard code” colors and ensure that the site can be viewed with the color and font sizes set in a user’s web browsers and operating systems. If the site is designed to prohibit changing the color and font settings, users with low vision may struggle to absorb the content. It is also advisable to use highly contrasting colors for text and background. Certain color combinations are extremely difficult to distinguish for people with poor eyesight. Generally speaking, black or dark colored text on a white background is the best practice because it is readable for most audiences.

Skip to Main Content Link
A typical website includes a variety of navigational links on each page. In fact, the main content is not usually the first thing on a web page. Unfortunately, this means that keyboard and screen reader users must navigate a long list of navigation links, sub-lists of links, icons, site searches and other elements before they are able to access the main content. Without a mechanism for bypassing these links, disabled users are unable to navigate the site in an efficient manner. By placing a “skip to main content link” at the top of each page, this problem can be avoided.

Periods in Abbreviations
Screen readers attempt to phonetically pronounce acronyms if the letters are not separated by periods. For example, the acronym “URL” will be read by a screen reader as “earl” if not written as “U.R.L.” Sites should therefore distinguish acronyms by the use of periods.

Descriptive Links
Some screen readers allow users to read only the links on a webpage. Therefore, every link should make sense in the abstract, meaning even if the link text is read by itself, the user will understand the content. Link phrases like “click here,” when read independent of context, will prove meaningless to a user relying on a screen reader. When embedding a link in a post, it is therefore far more useful to describe the link.

For example, “check out Arizona REALTORS® Bylaws” is better than writing “to check out Arizona REALTORS® Bylaws click here.”

This list is certainly not exhaustive and REALTORS® should consult with web developers to better understand Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which is a series of guidelines created by the World Wide Web Consortium for improving web accessibility. However, by addressing these basic principles, REALTORS® can increase accessibility to their website and avoid excluding a segment of the population that may want to retain their services.

Scott M. Drucker, Esq., a licensed Arizona attorney, is General Counsel for the Arizona Association of REALTORS® serving as the primary legal advisor to the association. This article is of a general nature and reflects only the opinion of the author at the time it was drafted. It is not intended as definitive legal advice, and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.

What You Should Know About Loan Contingency & Cure Period Notice

Guest writer Fletcher Wilcox, VP Business Development, Grand Canyon Title Agency

Since January 2004, more than 1,000,000 transactions listed in ARMLS have closed. Almost every one of them closed using the AAR Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract (the “Contract”). To many agents, the Loan Contingency and Cure Period Notice are some of the most misunderstood parts of the Contract. I often see this when a Contract has cancelled and there is an earnest money dispute.

Loan Contingency
A contingency clause defines a specific event or action that must take place for a contract to become binding. The Loan Contingency in the Contract says that if a buyer is not able to get a loan without Prior to Document (“PTD”) conditions the buyer is not obligated to complete the transaction. PTD conditions mean that loan documents will not be sent out because a lender requirement(s) has not been met by the buyer. Let’s read what the Contract says about the loan contingency.

Loan Contingency
2b. Lines 55-60. Buyer’s obligation to complete this sale is contingent upon Buyer obtaining loan approval for the loan described in the AAR Loan Status Update (“LSU”) form without Prior to Document (“PTD”) conditions no later than three (3) days prior to the COE date…No later than three (3) days prior to the COE Date, Buyer shall…deliver to Seller or Escrow Company notice of inability to obtain loan approval without PTD conditions.

According to the loan contingency language, while the buyer is not obligated to complete the transaction if they cannot get a loan, the buyer did promise to deliver notice that they could not get a loan three days before the close of escrow.

What happens if the buyer cannot get a loan, but breaks their promise and doesn’t deliver notice of inability to get a loan?

The Cure Period Notice
When a party to the Contract breaks a promise and, if there is not language in the Contract specifying what happens next, the remedy then is to deliver a cure period notice to the non-complying party.

…the seller also made a promise. They made a promise to deliver a Cure Period Notice to the buyer if the buyer did not deliver notice of their inability to get a loan.

Both parties in the Contract agreed, in Section 7a Lines 278-281 Cure Period, to deliver a Cure Period Notice to the non-complying party. In our example above, not only did the buyer make a promise according to the Contract, but the seller also made a promise. They made a promise to deliver a Cure Period Notice to the buyer if the buyer did not deliver notice of their inability to get a loan.

Once the Cure Period Notice is delivered, the non-complying party has three days to remedy their potential breach. In this case, it means that the buyer shall be entitled to a return of the earnest money if, prior to expiration of the cure period, the buyer delivers notice of inability to obtain loan approval.

Most of the time when you read the word “shall” in the Contract, a promise was made. As a rule, I recommend use of a Cure Period Notice when a promise is broken and the Contract does not have a specific timeline as to what happens next.

While the Loan Contingency in the Contract may result in the buyer getting the earnest money, there are other things to consider in this type of earnest money dispute. Was the buyer unable to get a loan described in the PQF or LSU? What did the loan denial from the lender state as the reason for the denial? Did the buyer have the down payment or other funds necessary to obtain loan approval? Was there a diligent and good faith effort?

Fletcher WilcoxFletcher R. Wilcox is V.P. of Business Development for Grand Canyon Title Agency. He sits on their escrow dispute committee and teaches contract law renewal hours.

Real Estate Teams FAQs

To view the contents of this post, you must be authenticated and have the required access level.

Lease Agreement Violated by Short-Term or Vacation Rental

In a notice to the Sedona Verde Valley Association of REALTORS® that was forwarded to the Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR), a member reports that a tenant violated their lease agreement by offering the property as an available short term or vacation rental.

Pursuant to the report, a tenant signed an AAR Residential Lease Agreement indicating that he/she would occupy the property. In violation of the Lease Agreement’s assignment and occupancy restrictions, the tenant proceeded to list the leased property on websites that cater to short term or vacation rentals such as Airbnb, VRBO and others.

When it came to the attention of the property manager that the property was being occupied by someone other than the tenant, the property manager immediately posted a notice at the property terminating the lease. The occupants she met at the property while posting the notice were under the impression that the person they had leased from was the rightful owner of the property.

To avoid a similar predicament, it is suggested that property managers check short term rental sites against the addresses of leased properties they manage to ensure that a tenant is not violating the existing lease agreement.

Revised Residential Lease Agreement

To view the contents of this post, you must be authenticated and have the required access level.

Make Sure to Use the Most Current Forms

To view the contents of this post, you must be authenticated and have the required access level.

The Perils of Social Media

To view the contents of this post, you must be authenticated and have the required access level.