If you’re a realtor, there’s good news and bad news for you in this article.
The good news is that the housing market is strong and people are buying property again. The bad news is that there’s a rise in the number of lawsuits being seen against realtors and brokers.
If you’re a realtor, here are the things you need to worry about the most if you’re trying to avoid a lawsuit:
This is a catch-all term for a lot of different problems and is likely the top reason for realtor-involved lawsuits.
You need to exercise an abundance of caution when you sell a property. A failure to disclose some material defect in the property can be a disaster. Some particular areas of concern are things like title problems, insect and mouse infestations, easements, boundary issues and structural problems.
You can avoid a lot of problems by qualifying any statement when you don’t have factual evidence in hand. For example, “the seller says the siding was replaced last summer” is acceptable. You’re allowed to rely on your seller’s information unless there is some reason to question it. However, don’t say, “the siding is a year old,” unless the seller can hand you a receipt from the contractor’s work.
2. Giving legal advice
It’s important to understand the constraints of your role as a realtor. You can fill in the blanks on a sales agreement using a form that’s been designed by an attorney — but you can’t create a document yourself. You can’t offer your clients legal advice either.
This can be tricky because you probably know a lot about real estate law — and it can be difficult to stay silent when you’re sure you know the information your client needs. It’s even worse when the issue could be holding up a sale — and your commission.
However, to protect yourself, the best thing to do is keep the numbers of a few real estate attorneys on file. That way, you can refer your clients to someone you trust for quick advice and get the sale back on track.
Source: realtormag.realtor.org, “Top 10 Legal Issues Facing Brokers,” accessed April 27, 2018