Buying and selling real estate is an incredible career. Realtors get the joy of helping people buy their first home, sell their home when they are empty-nesters, and help investors get into the real estate market. It’s a rewarding path. But it’s a path filled with legal landmines that it’s critical to navigate if you don’t want to shell out a lot of money and potentially face jail time. One of the most important things to remember is that realtors and real estate agents are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice. You would need a real estate lawyer for that. Secondly, it’s important for realtors to understand housing laws and other laws related to real estate if they don’t want to get into legal trouble. Here are the top legal issues that realtors face.
Breach of Fair Housing Laws
Did you know that listings that prohibit children or limit the kinds of people who can purchase them breach fair housing laws? Just stating these details online can get realtors into trouble. It’s important to show properties to everyone who wants to see them. This can reduce the potential for discrimination. Much like other laws that protect people based on race, gender, and other factors, realtors and sellers cannot discriminate based on these factors. Fair housing laws protect buyers in these situations.
Deceptive Advertising Practices
It’s important not to deceive potential buyers. Advertising can be exciting and interesting without being deceptive. Exaggerating features of a home or outright lying in advertising is a great way to have a lawsuit against you. This is one of the top legal problems that realtors face. While their advertising team may want to downplay the negative features of a home, it’s important that their copy doesn’t mislead buyers. When agents in NYC like Wendy Juan and Samuel Kooris show properties, they are careful not to mislead potential buyers in their listings. They don’t twist the facts and they let the properties speak for themselves when necessary.
Limited Awareness of Environmental Protections
Did you know that things like lead pipes, asbestos, groundwater, and water well issues can cause legal problems for realtors? It’s important to know what issues a particular property has, and for agents to recommend professionals to mitigate these problems. This becomes especially important when an investor or buyer wants to revamp an old property. Agents need to know what to do if they encounter these issues. Investors like Ryan Scripps in Dallas and Samuel Kooris in Brooklyn work with the right agencies and authorities for each investment to ensure compliance with the law.
Conflicts of Interest
When real estate agents have interests in the property they are selling or the lenders they recommend, this information must be disclosed. If not, they can be held financially responsible. There are laws to protect consumers from shady practices where agents own a property and don’t tell the buyer or when they get referrals from other agents, lenders, and other companies involved in the real estate transactions. All conflicts of interest must be disclosed. And some are not even legal. When realtors start buying and selling property for investments, this becomes even more important to pay attention to so they don’t inadvertently break the law.
Inability to Serve People With Disabilities
Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, real estate offices must come equipped with ADA-accessible features. This can include ramps into the office, accessible parking, and restrooms for people with disabilities as well. When real estate offices don’t include these features, they can get themselves into legal hot water. It’s important to understand how to apply these laws to your business to ensure you aren’t discriminating against people with special needs. For realtors like Samuel Kooris, real estate investments are done with all the legalities in mind. This is to protect himself from personal liability and to protect his business interests as well.
Deeds and Liens
It’s important that the person selling a property has a legal right to do so. And in real estate transactions, it’s also critical to ensure that there are no liens against a property. If there are, all the liens will transfer when the property is sold to another individual. This also transfers responsibility for paying the lien to the purchaser. When realtors and investors buy property, they do their due diligence to ensure that there are no issues with the deed ownership and that the liens are all accounted for.