Dan and Helen Crow Discuss The Law and Business of Real Estate

Photograph: Dan (left) and Helen Crow.Dan '93, and Helen Crow presented the Lunch and Learn "The Law and Business of Real Estate" on April 2, 2018. The were hosted by Washburn Law's Business and Transactional Law Center.

Dan and Helen Crow have been actively involved in the real estate business for many years. Dan, a Topeka native and Washburn University School of Law alumnus, currently practices with the firm Alderson, Alderson, Weiler, Conklin, Burghart & Crow, L.L.C. in Topeka, Kansas. Before entering law school, Dan was a real estate broker who initially became interested in a legal career when he encountered the profession firsthand as a broker. Helen, who is affiliated with Kirk & Cobb, Inc., Realtors and also a proud Topekan, has been a licensed realtor for over 40 years, and she fondly recalls having to wait patiently until her twenty-first birthday to get her license.

The duo began their presentation by distinguishing the roles of lawyers and brokers in real estate matters. Dan explained that the lawyer's role is to always represent the client. Unlike a broker who only gets paid if the deal comes together, the lawyer gets paid regardless of the outcome of a deal.

Helen explained to law students that in the real estate business, clients sometimes have agents that are brokers, but there are also brokers that are considered "transactional." While the goal of both types is ultimately to make a commission on the sale, transactional brokers behave more like a mediator between parties and do not advocate for one side of the transaction. Helen prefers to be this type of broker for her clients. She also explained that her role as a real estate broker is aided by the Multiple Listing Service, which she utilizes to match people to homes that best suit their needs and wants even if the home is not one she specifically listed herself.

Dan and Helen also spoke to students about inspection clauses in real estate transactions. They explained that inspections are a major component of real estate transactions, and because of this, issues regarding disclosure of defects arise within the context of inspection reports. Dan explained that disclosure become extremely complex when the choice between disclosing or not disclosing an unfavorable inspection report has an impact on the marketability and value of the home. Helen and Dan commented that when they are faced with a dilemma of disclosure, they like to ask themselves: what side of the lawsuit would I rather be on if this goes to court?

Washburn University School of Law thanks Dan and Helen Crow for taking time out of their busy schedules to speak with law students about some of the legal issues of real estate law and for providing insightful practice tips based upon real world expertise.