Explaining Legal Issues That Affect Real Estate
Updated: Aug 4
Legal Issues in Real Estate
Real estate is a dynamic field that can involve many legal issues. Whether you are a buyer, seller, agent, broker, or investor, you need to be aware of the laws and regulations that govern your transactions and activities. In this blog post, we will explain some of the common legal issues that affect real estate such as arbitration, fair housing, copyright, fraud, negligence, liability, hazards, disclosures, risk management, agency, and more.
Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows parties to settle their disputes without going to court. Arbitration is often used in real estate contracts to resolve conflicts between buyers and sellers, agents and brokers, landlords and tenants, etc. Arbitration can be faster, cheaper, and more confidential than litigation. However, arbitration also has some drawbacks, such as limited discovery, binding decisions, and lack of appeal.
Fair housing is a set of laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, or other protected characteristics. Fair housing laws apply to all aspects of housing transactions and activities, such as advertising, showing, renting, selling, financing, appraising, etc. Fair housing laws also protect against harassment and retaliation for exercising fair housing rights.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, display, perform, or create derivative works from their original work. Copyright applies to various types of works in real estate, such as photographs, videos, logos, slogans, designs, etc. Copyright owners can enforce their rights by suing infringers for damages or injunctions.
Fraud is a deliberate deception or misrepresentation that causes harm or loss to another party. Fraud can occur in various ways in real estate transactions and activities. For example:
- A seller may conceal material defects or lie about the condition of the property.
- A buyer may use false information or documents to obtain financing or approval.
- An agent may breach their fiduciary duty or act in their own interest instead of their client's.
- A broker may commingle funds or fail to disclose commissions or fees.
- An appraiser may inflate or deflate the value of the property.
- A lender may charge excessive interest rates or fees or engage in predatory lending practices.
Negligence is a failure to exercise reasonable care or skill that results in injury or damage to another party. Negligence can occur in various ways in real estate transactions and activities. For example:
- A seller may fail to disclose known defects or hazards on the property.
- A buyer may fail to inspect the property or perform due diligence.
- An agent may fail to advise their client properly or perform their duties diligently.
- A broker may fail to supervise their agents or comply with laws and regulations.
- An appraiser may fail to follow professional standards or use reliable data and methods.
- A lender may fail to verify the borrower's income or credit history.
Liability is a legal responsibility or obligation for the actions or omissions of oneself or others. Liability can arise from various sources in real estate transactions and activities. For example:
- A seller may be liable for breach of contract or warranty if they fail to deliver the property as agreed or promised.
- A buyer may be liable for breach of contract or specific performance if they fail to complete the purchase as agreed or promised.
- An agent may be liable for breach of fiduciary duty or negligence if they fail to represent their client's best interest or act with reasonable care and skill.
- A broker may be liable for vicarious liability if they are responsible for the actions or omissions of their agents.
- An appraiser may be liable for professional liability if they provide inaccurate or misleading appraisals.
- A lender may be liable for statutory liability if they violate federal or state laws and regulations.
Here are but a small sample of what legal issues a home buyer/seller might encounter during a sale of a home. By understanding the legal issues that affect real estate, you can protect your rights and interests, avoid disputes and litigation, and achieve your goals. If you have any questions or concerns about the legal aspects of real estate, you should consult a qualified attorney who can advise you on your specific situation.
Keep it Foxy,
Sales Manage & Founder