Most states have a broad body of statutory and case law which governs the relationship between real estate agents and brokers and their clients. Moreover, members of the National Association of Realtors must abide by the association's code of ethics in all their professional dealings with clients.
What is Real Estate Malpractice?
Real estate agents and brokers have a duty to act in accordance with the accepted standard of care in the real estate profession. They also have a fiduciary duty to their clients to represent and advise them about the real estate transaction. When an agent or broker fails to act in accordance with the required standard of care or breaches her fiduciary duty to the client, the client may have a claim for real estate malpractice.
Types of Real Estate Malpractice
A client may sue a real estate agent for malpractice for a variety of reasons. Among the most common grounds for a real estate malpractice suit are:
- Intentional Misrepresentation – A claim for intentional misrepresentation arises when a real estate agent intentionally misrepresents a material fact about the property or the transaction;
- Negligent Misrepresentation – A claim for negligent misrepresentation arises when a real estate agent or broker accidentally misrepresents a material fact about the property or the transaction;
- Breach of Contract – A claim for breach of contract may arise if the real estate agent violates the terms of the brokerage agreement between himself and the client; and
- Premises Liability – A claim for premises liability may arise if the agent knew of but failed to disclose a dangerous condition on the property which resulted in injury to a client.
Real estate malpractice lawsuits may also include allegations that the agent or broker failed to communicate with the client or failed to follow the client's instructions.
Damages and Recovery
If a plaintiff is successful in a real estate malpractice case, he may be awarded compensatory damages, nominal damages, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant whose grossly negligent acts harmed the plaintiff.
Getting Legal Help
If you believe you have been the victim of real estate malpractice, you should consult with a qualified malpractice attorney. He will evaluate your case to determine whether you have a valid claim and will advise you of your legal options.