Fraud, Negligence & Liability

Overview

The internet brings unprecedented speed and convenience to handling your finances and managing your business—but today’s always-on, go-anywhere communications technology also means it has never been easier for thieves to siphon funds, disrupt transactions and harm your clients. The same systems that allow you to access data from anywhere, handle approvals electronically and manage deals from your smartphone are magnets for sophisticated criminals, many hidden in obscure locations. To operate safely online, you need to actively protect sensitive information from hackers, steer clear of phishing emails and dangerous websites, and show buyers and sellers how to avoid scammers looking to steal their money by posing as people they trust.

Even a seemingly minor mistake while discussing a property, filling out disclosure forms, etc can potentially lead to a fraud or negligence claim.

As a real estate professional, your job is to stay on top of every transaction you handle and pave the way to closing for your clients. But while serving as the go-to source for information and expert guidance is central to the value you bring, you could face a lawsuit if something goes wrong— even years after the sale is closed—and you’ve provided inaccurate information. Even a seemingly minor mistake or oversight while discussing a property, filling out disclosure forms, or handling another aspect of a deal can potentially lead to a fraud or negligence claim. In addition to the financial costs to you, such problems can distract you from your business and damage your reputation. That’s why it’s essential to know what you are expected to do under the law—and when to say “I don’t know.”

Legal

Lawsuits alleging fraud are the top E&O claims asserted against real estate professional. The typical claim is brought by an unhappy purchaser who discovers a physical defect or other undesirable condition discovered following the purchase that the buyer believes should have been disclosed prior to purchase. Many states have also adopted statutory fraud laws that protect consumers from fraudulent disclosures made during commercial transactions; usually, these laws have a lower burden of proof and have statutory damages, such as attorney fees.

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