The California Association of REALTORS®, a statewide organization that represents over 170,000 realtors, has issued a Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) that functions as something of a template for real estate purchase and sale agreements throughout the state. Since it contains a dispute resolution clause that requires mediation prior to litigation or arbitration, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with mediation before you sign it.
The Requirement to Mediate
The requirement to mediate, quite frankly, has saved a lot of people a lot of money. Once a dispute escalates to litigation or even arbitration, costs begin to mount in terms of time, money, and energy. The requirement to mediate is a contractual obligation. If you refuse to even attempt to mediate your dispute, you will be denied the right to demand that the other side pay your attorney’s fees in any subsequent contentious proceedings, even if you win.
How Mediation Works
In mediation, a third-party mediator is assigned to your case. He will be trained in the art of mediation, and it will be his job to help you reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to your dispute. The mediator cannot impose a resolution on any party -- all he can do is facilitate. If an agreement is reached, it will be memorialized in a settlement agreement that all parties will sign. Once it is signed, it will become a contract that binds all parties who signed it.
Who Attends the Mediation
The RPA requires the buyer and the seller to participate in mediation along with the mediator. You might ask a third party to attend, such as a real estate agent or an inspector, but the RPA does not require the attendance of any third party (and third parties are usually reluctant to attend). Another contract, such as a broker’s contract, might require the participation of a third party, however. You can bring your lawyer, or you can have your lawyer appear in your stead.
Costs of Mediation
Mediators range from novices to retired judges with intimate knowledge of real estate disputes. Many community organizations, courts, and online resources offer lists of qualified mediators and may even offer mediation facilities for a fee. You are likely to have to pay a mediator (costs are typically split equally). The more expertise the mediator possesses, the higher the price is likely to be. If your dispute involves a large amount of money, however, it could be well worth it.
Nobody Takes Advantage of Our Clients.
If you are involved in a real estate dispute or if you anticipate becoming involved in one, representing yourself is not a good idea. It’s also not a good idea to hire a jack-of-all trades lawyer with no particular expertise in the field of real estate law. Contact CKB Vienna by calling us today, or by contacting us online to schedule an in-person meeting or a telephone consultation.
We serve clients in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Riverside County.