Ways Real Estate Agents Can Get Sued
Accidents happen, but in the real estate field, even a minor incident can ruin one’s career. Whether the mistake was intentional or not, it can lead to lawsuits, license suspensions, and other issues.
Real estate agents have to handle a lot of details, so they’re highly vulnerable. An issue can be stressful or costly. It can also cause damage to one’s reputation and career. By understanding how they can get sued, real estate agents can learn how to protect themselves.
Failure to Disclose
Many real estate agents tend to stay mum about property issues so they don’t jeopardize a sale. They play the “don’t ask, don’t tell” game because if they don’t mention an issue, they’re technically not lying. However, when the client discovers the issue after signing the papers, they’ll likely sue the agent. To prevent this, be upfront and honest about damage and defects. Document everything.
Failure to disclose is, by a wide margin, the most frequent basis for suits being filed against real estate brokers and sales associates. Failure to disclose can also be a basis for the Florida Real Estate Commission revoking a real estate broker’s or sales associate’s license.
To make a sale, real estate agents often have to be creative, and in the process, they can sometimes exaggerate. You need to make sure you are being 100% truthful, though. Any misleading statement can lead to legal action, so you need to make sure there is no room for misinterpretation. If the buyer feels misled, they may be compelled to sue you, so don’t take this chance.
Breach of Contract
If you don’t follow the terms of your contract, your client could seek legal action. There are many ways in which a contract can be breached but not following time frames is the most common one. Any type of fraud or negligence can be considered a breach of contract. Therefore, take the time to review the contract with the client and clarify for your client all the significant terms in the contract and all addenda to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
Lack of Security
Real estate agents have access to a lot of personal information about their clients. Many other people—like hackers—also want to get their hands on this information. As an agent, you have a duty to keep this data safe. This means keeping paperwork secure and installing security software on your electronic devices.
Giving Legal Advice
Real estate agents naturally want to help their clients but sometimes they just have to say no. The Florida Real Estate Commission has adopted the position that brokers and sales associates shall not provide clients with tax or legal advice to their clients. Therefore, the best advice you can give is to have your client seek professional help from a lawyer or tax professional.
Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Real Estate Sales Associate Licensing Lawyer
Real estate transactions require a lot of details. One mistake can be costly for a real estate agent, leading to lawsuits and license suspensions.
Tampa real estate broker and sales associate licensing lawyer David P. Rankin can assist you with real estate ethical issues. He has been involved in several hundred license discipline proceedings before the Florida Real Estate Commission and was the attorney for the Greater Tampa Realtors for 18 years. Schedule a consultation by calling (813) 968-6633 or filling out the online form.