Do not try to be an Expert. Advise your client to retain industry professionals. Document in writing that you advised your clients to retain industry experts. If your clients refuse, it was their decision, and you cannot be held liable for their decision.
Document conversations, recommendations, and activities in written form even if it is a follow up email, especially regarding key decisions. Text message is a common form of communication among Realtors, but records of text messages do not make good pieces of evidence when defending yourself in court (especially when smiley faces are prominently involved).
Fully explain to your client the importance of reading the HOA’s governing documents, financial records and meeting minutes. Clients that buy into a community with substantial restrictions are unhappy clients. Clients that buy into a community with an upcoming special assessment are unhappy clients. If your clients have questions about the meaning of certain legalese in the governing documents, advise them to retain an attorney.
Identify the source of all information that you pass along to clients or other brokers. Indicate that you were merely forwarding information that was given to you and an independent investigation or verification may be necessary. You do not want to be held legally liable for others’ misinformation.
Agreeing to the completion of inspection items after closings, just means you have left a potential dispute lingering after closing for your client. Once the seller closes on the property, they have no incentive to get the work done. Your client will have to pay an attorney to enforce certain contractual obligations. Get the work done while your client still has leverage. While not ideal, moving the closing dates until the work is completed will save your client from a future headache.
Be professional in every facet of your real estate business. Cool off before you send that nasty email. While not relevant to the case, that nasty email may affect your credibility with a judge, jury or real estate commission.
Never tell your clients that breaking a rental lease is an easy thing to do. A client paying rent and mortgage is an unhappy client.
Trust your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about a transaction, home, or potential client, decline to become involved. Missing out on commission beats dealing with the stress of a lawsuit.
Joseph Kummer has extensive experience in advising real estate professionals and defending them in lawsuits, arbitration, and before the Real Estate Commission. He can be contacted at (303) 863-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.