Nobody ever said that being a Realtor® was easy—and that’s particularly true now, when more Realtors are being sued than ever. Even a minor mistake can cost you more than money; it can cost you your reputation and, by default, your future business prospects.
The Most Common Reasons Realtors Get Sued
In many cases, Realtors on the receiving end of lawsuits haven’t actually done anything wrong. However, the time and expense of going to court are physically and financially draining.
The most common reasons Realtors get sued, according to Inman, include:
· Failing to disclose a property defect. You can protect yourself by doing everything in your power to inspect the property and have your clients sign a statement that declares their awareness of any issues the home has.
· Breach of duty. You and your clients know that it’s your responsibility to act in your clients’ best interests, and part of that is maintaining integrity. You can protect yourself by documenting everything throughout a transaction.
· Handing out legal (or tax) advice. Your clients expect you to have an answer for everything, but when it comes to offering legal or tax advice, the best answer is, “I’ll connect you with a professional.”
· Confusing or misleading clients. We have exceptionally high standards for our agents, but mistakes do happen; if a buyer feels misled, he or she may decide to sue. Make sure that when you make claims about a property, there’s no room for misinterpretation.
· Failing to protect your clients’ data. Make sure your paperwork is stored in a safe place and that your computer is protected with up-to-date security software. Make sure your data is encrypted, too; if a hacker gets your clients’ information, you could be held responsible for failing to take precautions.
· Bodily injury. If you’re liable for a client’s injury during a showing, you’ll be responsible for paying for the associated costs. This goes for kids, too. Make sure that when you’re showing properties, they’re safe (including icy sidewalks and driveways, mold problems, and other unforeseen issues).
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